Blasphemy law proposed in Ireland, Apr 2009.
Fianna Fail proposes law to make it illegal to publish material
"grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion".
Note that the useless
Irish constitution of 1937
"The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law."
Defamation Act of 1961
lays out penalties for anyone
"who composes, prints or publishes any blasphemous or obscene libel".
But it is not enforced.
FF want to make it enforceable.
We have to fight the battles of the 1960s-80s all over again.
This is a vote-defining issue for me.
This issue would be enough for me to want FF, who I have supported for years, kicked out.
Dermot Ahern has past form.
23 June 1993,
he spoke in the Dail against legalising homosexuality:
"As legislators, we have a duty to legislate for the common good. We seem to have reached the stage where we are legislating for pressure and minority groups.
We have a duty to legislate for the standards and norms which we regard as appropriate for the Irish people. This does not necessarily have to include all the people, but we should strive to achieve a certain standard and norm in our society."
Such an argument, of course, can be used to justify banning almost anything
(such as blasphemous speech).
Homosexuality was legalised without a vote the following day.
As Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs,
attended the funeral of Islamic terrorist and unelected dictator
on 12 Nov 2004.
Now he wants to make blaspheming against Islam illegal.
Again, as in
the left and right Irish blogs are united in outrage:
"Because with the economy in the shitter, thousands unemployed and gangsters murdering each other in the street, what we really need to be worrying about is offending imaginary magic men."
Atheist Ireland opposes new blasphemy crime:
"The Irish Government's new proposed blasphemy crime combines the oppressive religious thinking of 1950s Catholic Ireland and modern Islamic fundamentalism.
we should be removing 1930s religious references from the Irish Constitution, not legislating to enforce them."
They point out that Ireland already has sharia-like provisions:
"Blasphemy is not the only anomaly of running a 21st century state with a 1937 Constitution. You cannot become President or be appointed as a Judge unless you take a religious oath under God asking god to direct and sustain you in your work. We should be amending our Constitution to remove these theistic references, not creating new crimes to enforce provisions that were written in the 1930s."
And the broader Irish left and right are united in outrage too:
John Waters, May 1, 2009, points out that the blasphemy law may threaten religious expression itself:
"If we move to censor criticism or the satirising of religion, we move also to what will no doubt be deemed a trade-off: the complete removal of signs of religiosity from public view. ... it would become more difficult to argue with, for example, attempts to remove the Angelus from national radio and television, because the continuation of this tradition might then quite reasonably be deemed an unjust provocation to those
would no longer be a matter of freedom of choice, but a potential crime"
Diarmuid Doyle, 3 May 2009, claims this outrageous law is being suggested because:
"Ahern is a Catholic fundamentalist in a position - for how much longer is uncertain - to introduce a law on blasphemy, and he is exploiting that advantage while he has the chance."
initially came out
But then he had reservations.
He worries (quite rightly)
in the Senate
that religious people, not atheists, may be targeted:
"the Minister has deemed it necessary to buttress the requirement of intentionality with further protection where people can show that a reasonable person would find genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific or academic value in the matter which is alleged to be blasphemous. Unaccountably, however, the Minister has omitted the possibility that a reasonable person would find genuine religious value in the matter to which the offence relates.
Here lies the great irony: in legislation which is designed to offer some protection to people of whatever faith, the Minister has included a bulwark against that protection to every category imaginable except the person of faith,
despite the fact that it is most likely to be in matters of religion, through utterances of people of religion, including ministers or officials of religion, that the offence might be given.
It is in debates between religions that controversy is most likely to arise.
There is no evidence that the sensitivities of religious people, who might want to express religious views that may cause offence to others, are in any way considered here.
If I say that the Koran leads people away from God, that is a religious view, it is not political, scientific, academic or literary but the protection is still deserved."
voted against the bill.
People supporting this bill:
FF Senator Jim Walsh
comes out openly in support of the law.
Almost the only people in Ireland outside FF supporting this law are
Muslim conservatives and fundamentalists
who do not believe in liberal democracy
The big question is why?
Why is Fianna Fail introducing this ludicrous, divisive, offensive law?
Dermot Ahern's explanation
makes no sense.
He arrogantly asserts that a referendum to delete the offensive passage from the constitution would be
"a costly and unwarranted diversion",
despite the fact it could be easily tagged on to other upcoming votes.
"Those who argue that, where the Constitution has ordained an offence, a minister should simply ignore it to suit his ideological positions, seem to me to be arguing for a clear constitutional provision to be wilfully ignored. This would be to undermine the Constitution
there is a legal obligation to ensure that article 40.6.1.i is operable. ... To do otherwise would imply an a la carte approach to the Constitution and its precepts and principles."
And yet that article has been ignored as pious nonsense for decades.
Why try to enforce it now, when doing so will only cause massive division and anger?
Maybe Dermot Ahern is just stupid.
Maybe he is a Catholic fundamentalist.
I don't know. I cannot understand why he is doing this.
His article comes across as bull-headed and narrow-minded.
Ahern to press ahead with 'arcane' blasphemy law, May 21, 2009.
Ahern's response to the criticism
suggests that "stupid",
rather than "Catholic fundamentalist",
is the answer.
Fianna Fail didn't used to
stir up controversy
and throw away votes like mine
for no reason (other than pedantic legalism)
and no net gain to them.
on Ahern's ridiculous claims that we need to fix the law:
"If you're being compelled by the Constitution to have a blasphemy law, surely one that is unenforceable is exactly what you want.
But Dermot Ahern, despite his protestations, doesn't seem to want that. He seems to want a blasphemy law that can be enforced."
Sean Carroll, February 10, 2010:
"Politics in Ireland is a strange business. What we have now is a law that causes more outrage then it seeks to prevent.
... A law that promotes an ethos to the world that the nation actually opposes. ...
Whatever the cost of holding a referendum to remove the need for a blasphemy law from our constitution, I can assure you the cost of keeping this embarrassment on our statute books is far greater."
Dermot Ahern even agrees this law is idiotic, and yet, for reasons that he never explains, he passes it anyway!
says his aim is: "In effect, we raise the bar so high that it is more than likely no prosecutions will be brought."
Not good enough.
Right now, it is impossible to bring prosecutions.
He is making it possible.
Who knows what will happen as a result.
even says in the Senate that this is crap law, yet he is the one introducing it!
"I would not disagree that the optimal approach, and certainly one which I would find most preferable, would be to abolish the offence of blasphemous libel.
... However, for a number of reasons, it would not be my intention to bring forward proposals for a referendum at this time."
He also says:
"Probably most of us accept that having the offence of blasphemy is anathema to the type of society we have today."
And then he introduces the blasphemy law anyway!
(Green) even says in the Senate:
"The offence of blasphemy is archaic. ... It is an offence that should be made obsolete and has been made so in other jurisdictions."
And then he votes for the blasphemy law anyway!
makes a good point, that Dermot Ahern is not respecting the Constitution:
"Mr Ahern's claim that the Constitution obliges him (after 62 years!) to formulate a blasphemy law is disingenuous. For the way he designing it runs far beyond what Eamon de Valera and his fellow framers could have envisaged. ... when Article 40.6.1.i was written proscribing blasphemous matter, and in the same breath indecent matter, it is clear that it was the Catholic/Christian faiths and morals that were to be protected. ...
The notion that the framers intended similar protections for non-Christian faiths is preposterous.
If the Minister were really concerned about the constitutional provision ... he would construct his new law in terms of Christian blasphemy only, as the framers of the Constitution undoubtedly intended."
Fianna Fail Minister for Justice
the man who introduced a working blasphemy law in Ireland in 2009.
He is gone, but his embarrassing and sinister blasphemy law lives on.
Image from UK Foreign Office.
FF loses my vote
This is a vote-defining issue for me.
I was going to vote for Fianna Fail, before they introduced this nonsense for no reason.
As a direct result of this, they lost my vote in the 2009 elections.
I wrote to all my Fianna Fail local and European and by-election candidates
in the 2009 elections
and told them I was going to vote for them before this (which is true)
and they lost my vote because of this (which is true).
Fianna Fail's attempt to construct a working blasphemy law
cost it my vote in 2009,
at a time when, because of the economic crisis,
FF was in appalling trouble at the polls.
Submission to Dail committee, May 2009:
"If this law is passed, we in Atheist Ireland intend to test its legitimacy as soon as practicable. We will not accept another "Irish solution to an Irish problem" on a matter as fundamental to us as this."
Argument that the bill is unconstitutional, July 2009:
"The current Defamation Bill attempts to move towards this by redefining blasphemy as protection from outrage and extending such protection to citizens of any religion. However, in doing so, it arbitrarily excludes such protection from citizens who have a fundamental belief system based on no religion (or indeed based on a religion which a court rules not to be a religion.)"
Indeed. Why should religious people be protected from offence
and I not?
They point out that the "outraged" may find themselves criminals too:
"For example, if the Danish cartoon incident was to be repeated here, and if the cartoons were found to be blasphemous, then the Muslim campaigners who republished the cartoons, by bringing them to the attention of other Muslims, would themselves be guilty of publishing or uttering blasphemous matter. They would not be saved by the defence in section 36(2)(b) as they clearly would have intended to cause outrage among their fellow Muslims. Nor would they be saved by the defence in section 36(3) as that refers to the value being inherent in the matter itself, not in the motivation for publishing or uttering it."
The cartoon that was the subject of the
only attempt since 1937 to mount a prosecution for blasphemy.
After the 1995 divorce referendum, the Sunday Independent published this cartoon
on 26 Nov 1995,
suggesting the government was moving beyond the church.
The tag-line is a play on the anti-divorce slogan
"Hello divorce - bye bye daddy". In 1999 a case against this cartoon came to court
but was unsuccessful.
Scan from here.
Someone in Ireland burns the Koran,
and posts the video to YouTube
in Oct 2012.
The Sun claims he is a neo-Nazi, but that is not clear from the video, and may be confusion with someone else.
I've no interest in this person, but I am struck by the fact that the Gardai are investigating this.
Burning the Koran is illegal?
Is burning the Bible illegal also?
Is there a list of books that cannot be burnt?
Of course The Sun fails to tell us that
believes in sharia law.
Hate speech against Christianity:
"They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary. The Messiah (himself) said: O Children of Israel, worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord. Lo! whoso ascribeth partners unto Allah, for him Allah hath forbidden paradise. His abode is the Fire. For evil-doers there will be no helpers.
They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the third of three; when there is no God save the One God. If they desist not from so saying a painful doom will fall on those of them who disbelieve."
What book contains such hate speech?
It must surely be banned.
It's, um, the Quran.