Saturday, January 02, 2010

You Want Outrage?

As a member of religion about which people often say "grossly abusive or insulting things" that "cause outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion," (never mind that the person making the statement is often a member OF my religion), I'd say the Irish atheists have this about right:

SECULAR campaigners in the Republic of Ireland defied a strict new blasphemy law that came into force on New Year's Day by publishing a series of anti-religious quotations online and promising to fight the legislation in court.

The law, which was passed in July, means blasphemy in Ireland is now a crime punishable with a fine of up to 25,000 euros.

It defines blasphemy as ''publishing or uttering matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion, with some defences permitted''.

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern has said the law was necessary because while immigration had brought a growing diversity of religious faiths, the 1936 constitution only extended the protection of belief to Christians.

But Atheist Ireland, a group that claims to represent the rights of atheists, responded to the legislation by publishing 25 anti-religious quotations on its website, from figures including Richard Dawkins, Bjork and Frank Zappa.

Michael Nugent, the group's chairman, said it would challenge the law through the courts if it was charged with blasphemy.

Mr Nugent said: ''This new law is both silly and dangerous. It is silly because medieval religious laws have no place in a modern secular republic, where the criminal law should protect people and not ideas. And it is dangerous because it incentives religious outrage, and because Islamic states led by Pakistan are already using the wording of this Irish law to promote new blasphemy laws at UN level.

. . .

''Blasphemy laws are unjust: they silence people in order to protect ideas. In a civilised society, people have a right to express and to hear ideas about religion even if other people find those ideas to be outrageous.''

Mr Nugent said the group's campaign to repeal the law was part of a wider battle to create a more secular republic. ''You would think that after all the scandals the Catholic Church endured in 2009, the introduction of a blasphemy law would be the last thing that the Irish state would be considering in terms of defending religion and its place in society.''

More here.

Here, BTW, are the 25 blasphemous quotations. They include some good ones:

Amanda Donohoe on her role in the Ken Russell movie Lair of the White Worm, 1995: “Spitting on Christ was a great deal of fun. I can’t embrace a male god who has persecuted female sexuality throughout the ages, and that persecution still goes on today all over the world.”


Mark Twain, describing the Christian Bible in Letters from the Earth, 1909: “Also it has another name – The Word of God. For the Christian thinks every word of it was dictated by God. It is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies… But you notice that when the Lord God of Heaven and Earth, adored Father of Man, goes to war, there is no limit. He is totally without mercy — he, who is called the Fountain of Mercy. He slays, slays, slays! All the men, all the beasts, all the boys, all the babies; also all the women and all the girls, except those that have not been deflowered. He makes no distinction between innocent and guilty… What the insane Father required was blood and misery; he was indifferent as to who furnished it.”

They left out HecateDemetersdatter, who said, "Fuck you, Padrick, you woman-hating, Celt-hating, nasty slave."

Picture found here.

Hat tip to my amazing friend NYM.


Terry C, NJ said...

What they call blasphemy, I call the truth.

Kate said...

I think Xtianists are their own antichrist. The longer they hold the authority to make ridiculous laws like this, the further they get from the core of their own professed belief structure. Their words/deeds are the blasphemy.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

There is no freedom of religion without the freedom to criticize religion. But really, the quotes that the Irish Atheists picked are pretty lame compared to old Tom Paine:

"Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is none more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory in itself, than this thing called Christianity. Too absurd for belief, too impossible to convince, and too inconsistent for practice, it renders the heart torpid, or produces only atheists and fanatics. As an engine of power it serves the purpose of despotism; and as a means of wealth, the avarice of priests; but so far as respects the good of man in general, it leads to nothing here or hereafter."
[Age of Reason, part II, Conclusions:]

Aquila ka Hecate said...

And how long before some Satanists decide to test this new law?

Terri in Joburg

CrackerLilo said...

I had no idea this was going on in Ireland, so thank you very much for that information. I am astonished and disgusted. I'm grateful that the Irish freethinkers took their stand. As a Pagan, I don't like to go out of my way to be hurtful if I can help it--I don't care about the feelings of Gods, for they can take care of Themselves, but I do care about people. Still, just about anything anyone can say is blasphemous to someone, and I believe the right to hold and express our own opinions is vital. As you say, people in the majority casually blaspheme minority religions *all the damn time*!

BTW, I came via your comment link at the Wild Hunt and will probably be back.

Makarios said...

I am not a supporter of blasphemy laws, and I would very much like to see this one done away with. A couple of points, however, to put this in context:

First, article 40.6.1.i of the Irish constitution provides that the publication of blasphemous matter “is an offence which should be punishable in accordance with law.” In an ideal situation, there would be a referendum on repealing this provision of the constitution, but the practicalities are against it, so the government has an obligation to have some such legislation in place.

In view of this, the legislation now in effect is an improvement on the previous act. Under the old law, people who were convicted faced a possible prison sentence of up to seven years. Also, alleged blasphemers could be subject to private prosecution, which means that any busybody who felt offended by someone's allegedly blasphemous writing or speech could drag that person into court. Under the new legislation, the only penalty upon conviction is a fine, and all prosecutions must be brought by the public prosecutor.

Again, I'd like to see the whole sorry mess done away with, but, given the facts on the ground, this may be the best that can be expected.

FWIW, there was only one prosecution ever undertaken under the old act, and it resulted in acquittal.

Teacats said...

Well this story should provide years of study at law schools everywhere! And many great discussions in pubs! And I vote for the George Carlin quote as the No. 1. Carlin would have been proud to be in such a list! Comedians everywhere will find a wealth of fresh material in this one too!

Jan at Rosemary Cottage