Anglican Samizdat

August 23, 2009

Blaspheming in Ireland

Filed under: Christianity,Islam — David Jenkins @ 4:12 pm
Tags: ,

Is to be no more: Ireland introduces a new blasphemy law:

The Irish government plans to bring into force a new law in October that critics say is a return to medieval justice.

The legislation, aimed at providing judges with clear direction on the 1937 Constitution’s blasphemy prohibition, imposes a fine of up to 25,000 euros — about $39,000 — for anyone who “publishes or utters matter that is [intentionally meant to be] grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion.”

Police with a search warrant will be able to enter private premises and use “reasonable force” to obtain incriminating evidence.

The truth is, there are already blasphemy laws actively operating in every Western nation: they only prohibit an offence against Islam, though and the penalty is often death at the hands of a demented Muslim. So effective are the existing laws that a new book from Yale Press – the fearless bastion of controversy and free speech – is self-censoring itself by not publishing the notorious Mohammed cartoons in a book about the cartoons.

At least the new Irish blasphemy law evens things up by prohibiting Christian blasphemy too – although the penalty is a measly maximum of $39,000, not death.

Richard Dawkins has an opinion, of course:

“It is a wretched, backward, uncivilized regression to the Middle Ages,” said prominent atheist author Richard Dawkins in a statement last month, arguing that the law risks shattering Ireland’s new image as a “modern, civilized . . . green and pleasant silicon valley.”

Now, Richard, since when did you care about civilisation? As long as we are evolving, surely that’s all that matters; why are you not happy with the remorseless evolution that produced this new blasphemy law?

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