Sunday, 3 May 2009

Holy Crucified Christ! Blasphemy law is relic of the past.

Dermot Ahern has suddenly decided that Ireland needs a law against blasphemy, in order to tally with the provisions of our backward 1937 Constitution which forbids taking the good Lord’s name in vain.

Why do we suddenly need to outlaw blasphemy? Our own home-grown religious fundamenatalists might well be on the run, having stifled Irish life for most of the State’s history, but in world terms, fundamentalism is very much on the rise – particularly in its most virulent form: Islam.

Why should we be required to have automatic respect for religion? Why should we be tolerant of people whose beliefs are the diametric opposite of tolerance? Should we also be tolerant of fascism? Domestically, you only have to look at the tribalism in Northern Ireland which is still riddled with sectarianism and division even now. You only have to look at how we had Catholic morality forced on us in the Republic by denying us access to condoms and divorce until relatively recently – and how we still don’t have abortion rights.

But this law will not only give succour to our decidedly un-Christian Christians, it will do so for every brand of lunacy and superstition, including the rising tide of darkness that is Islam. You only have to think back to the furore when Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, printed some cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet, Allah (see above). Journalists had to go into hiding, having been issued with death threats.

Then there was the case of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, who was murdered by an Islamic extremist for making a film that was critical of that religion’s oppression of women. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somalian-born anti-Islam campaigner who was subjected to genital mutilation in the country of her birth, is still in hiding having collaborated with Van Gogh. Then of course, there is Salman Rushdie and the fatwa which still stands against him. His crime? Writing a book.

Rather than create a crime of “blasphemous libel”, the Government should call a referendum to remove the article on blasphemy from de Valera’s reactionary 1937 Constitution, which is itself a relic of the past.

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Anonymous said...

GM - this is a brave flag that you are flying. Let me be the first to salute it

The Gombeen Man said...

Cheers for the support Ponyboy.

Anonymous said...

So if its suddenly so important to implement such a law because of something thats in the constitution When are they going to introduce that social welfare payment for non-working mothers who might be struggling to pay the mortgate (Art 41-2-2) not to mention resolving the legal black hole regarding the Eight amendment (Art 40-3-3 "with due regard....")

Ella said...

Hi GM, I'd like to echo Ponyboy's sentiment's too.

If the Minister of Justice, Dermot Ahern succeeds in putting the crime of blasphemous libel on the statute books, it could be open season on anyone who strongly criticises their own, or anybody else's religion. Expect abusive e-mails

The proposed legislation says: "blasphemous matter" will mean anything "that is 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: and he or she intends, by the publication of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage."

The fine for the publication of such views could be anything up to EUR 100,000, enough to make you think twice about committing your views to paper. The possibilities are endless: criticism of the Resurrection, of the Virgin Birth and of the Assumption as frankly ludicrous; criticism of the celibate Catholic priesthood; critical observations on religions or religious customs involving the ritual genital mutilation of baby boys, as in Judaism or of young girls as in Islam; criticism of religious laws that stipulate death or mutilation for crimes including adultery, or that allow multiple marriages, honour killings, restrictions on women based on interpretations of religious teaching by one faction or another; the list is endless really.

Opinions will, of course, appear "grossly abusive or insulting" depending on the willingness of groups or communities to find them so. Some seem only too pleased to be outraged, and to enjoy the heart warming experience of communal hate. The refusal of the very nice and very reasonable Director of Public Prosecutions (DDP) to take a case against an individual might only fuel their outrage.

The whole thing has surely been dreamt up by Dermot and Co. to divert our energies elsewhere, ie. Away from the state of the economy?

Anonymous said...

Folks, you'd better get your copies of Father Ted now (as long as it's still legal to watch)...

Anonymous said...

Come on now, it's one thing to proudly scoff at political correctness (as I proudly do myself), but buddy, saying shit like "the rising tide of darkness that is Islam" is pathetically ill-informed. I don't know why folks who deal with this subject always seem compelled to over state their argument to the point of absurdity and in a manner that appears entirely at odds with the spirit of their position ("Why should we be tolerant of people whose beliefs are the diametric opposite of tolerance").Gotta keep those subscribers fuming I guess. Good one.

Bernd said...

Have to agree with the last comment regarding this outbreak of Islamophobia. Islam as a religion is as diverse as Christianity, with the odd idiot claiming to have the solution to the world's woes via a bomb. You'll find such idiots in any religion, yet we tend to tar all Islam with the same brush ...

By the way ... female genital mutilation is not a Islamic issue (and leading Islamic clerics have taken a stand against it now) and circumcision was the norm in the secular US too.

The Gombeen Man said...

Yes folks, I realise my "rising tide of darkness" statement was a bit Daily Mail. And I take the point about FGM too. Fair enough.

I would ask,though: when is the last time someone was executed for blasphemy or adultery (or idoltory!) in a non-muslim country?

And I'm highlighting real-life cases where people have had their throats cut (Theo van Gogh) or have been forced into hiding (Rushdie and Hirsi Ali) because they have expressed a contrary view on a religion.

I also believe that those of us in Ireland who have fought our own indigenous theocracy (and I feel the Catholic Church's influence is still too strong) should not be afraid to criticise another brand of dogma simply because it is not indigenous.

Netgeek said...

The former (?) anti-fascist activist admits to coming out with a "statement was a bit Daily Mail" GM you really do need that holiday :-)

Ella: your list of possibliities doesnt include taking a swipe at those religions which are slightly more absurd than the mainstream (since we presumably wont be allowed use the word "cults" anymore)

GM: If de Valera’s reactionary 1937 Constitution is a relic of the past then why on earth would we waste a time on a referendum to remove the article on blasphemy.

Surely we should have a referendum to remove the whole stinking lot?

Anyway the constitution has been in place for 71 odd years so why the sudden need to introduce this legislation now ?

Ella said...

Hi Netgeek, all religions are the same to me, be it catholicism or moonies or whatever. Grant it some religions are a little more established than others. To my mind they all appear to be based on superstition or some such claptrap. I only chose the mainstream religions as they are the ones I know a little about.