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Ireland Criminalizes Blasphemy 1376

An anonymous reader writes "Another European country clamps down on free speech. From the article: 'It does seem bizarre that, in 2009, a modern European nation would seek to shield religious belief from criticism — yet that is what is happening in Ireland right now. In repealing the 1961 Defamation Act, the Irish government sought to expunge the worst excesses of Ireland's draconian laws restricting free speech, but in the process it has ended up making offending religious belief a criminal offence. Aside from a 25,000 fine (reduced from the 100,000 originally sought by the government), the new Defamation Act gives the authorities the power to stage raids on publishers: the courts may now issue a warrant authorising the police to enter, using "reasonable force," premises where they have grounds for believing there are copies of "blasphemous statements."'"


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Ireland Criminalizes Blasphemy

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  • by allaunjsilverfox2 ( 882195 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @12:33PM (#28757525) Homepage Journal
    It's like watching V for Vendetta in real life. 0.o
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 20, 2009 @12:41PM (#28757655)

      In the US, people often wonder why the ACLU gets its panties in a knot over seemingly trivial government involvement in religious matters. This kind of shit is why.

      If you give the Bible-thumping idiots an inch, they will take the field.

      • by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @12:47PM (#28757757)
        You place the blame at religious people, but on the other side, things like "hate speech" still follows this absurdity of lack of freedom of speech yet there is (comparatively) less uproar about it. We need freedom of speech for absolutely -everything- one thing banned from freedom of speech is one thing too many.
        • by Fallen Seraph ( 808728 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @01:08PM (#28758121)
          Ummm, in the US, hate speech IS protected speech. The only time it loses this status is when it is used to directly incite violence, such as getting people to riot, hurt others, etc. That's why the KKK, the New Black Panthers, the Westboro Baptist Church, and other pieces of shit organizations continue to operate legally within the US. I may not agree with them, and hell, I may even think that some of them seriously deserve several hours of pain and suffering, but I will fight to the death to defend their right to free speech.
        • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @01:19PM (#28758315)

          You place the blame at religious people, but on the other side, things like "hate speech" still follows this absurdity of lack of freedom of speech yet there is (comparatively) less uproar about it.

          There is a lot less uproar about hate speech laws than there is about censorship laws because hate speech laws are a much broader and more loosely defined category. For example, most laws that fall within that category provide harsher penalties for people convicted of conspiring to commit other violent crimes against a group they speaking out against. Some hate speech laws provide harsher penalties for people issuing threats and directly advocating/ordering violence against particular groups. They are the same tradeoff of rights we've always used when limiting free speech, that is free speech is limited when it infringes upon other people's individual rights, like the right to live.

          Mind you, not all hate speech laws fit into the above category. Some of them to simply try to censor negative speech about groups, regardless of whether o not that speech directly infringes upon the rights of others. Many people do speak out about these and there have been several ACLU cases where the ACLU has fought hard against those hate speech laws.

          We need freedom of speech for absolutely -everything- one thing banned from freedom of speech is one thing too many.

          This is a sophomoric view. Free speech always has been limited when it comes into conflict with other rights. You don;t have the right to yell "fire" in a crowded theater because your free speech does not trump everyone else's safety. Your free speech is not protected if your speech is telling your underling to go shoot the shopkeeper who wouldn't pay up. Your free speech does not trump another person's right to not be threatened or even give you the right to slander or libel or falsely advertise or commit fraud.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Hawthorne01 ( 575586 )

        Well, I am a "Bible-thumping idiot". And this sort of thing scares me to no end. My family background is Scots-Irish, so that means we got kicked out of two perfectly good countries (including, ironically, Ireland) because our particular brand of "Bible-thumping" wasn't compatible with what others believed in. I don't want transubstantiation or premillennialism inscribed into the Constitution, I just want a country with laws that treats my beliefs with respect and dignity and not have to worry about people

        • by greenbird ( 859670 ) * on Monday July 20, 2009 @02:09PM (#28759215)

          I just want a country with laws that treats my beliefs with respect and dignity and not have to worry about people who label would me as a "Bible-Thumping idiot" attempting to take that right away from me.

          I want a country that doesn't treat your beliefs in any way, period, much less with respect and dignity. What makes you think your beliefs deserve respect and dignity? You think all religions should be treated with respect and dignity? Does that includes ones that advocate killing others that don't believe? Religious belief should be irrelevant with regards to the law not treated in some special manner.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by somersault ( 912633 )

      More like Father Ted. You know that Ireland isn't part of the UK, right?

    • by ionix5891 ( 1228718 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @12:59PM (#28757973)

      It's like watching V for Vendetta in real life. 0.o

      it gets worse

      http://www.independent.ie/national-news/all-email-text-and-phone-records-to-be-kept-for-2-years-1820026.html [independent.ie]

      The records of every email, text and phone call will soon be kept to facilitate criminal investigations.

      New laws will be published today obliging internet service providers to store data of email and website activity for a year.

      All phone and text traffic from everyone in the country will also be stored for a two-year period.

      The GardaÃ, the army and the Revenue Commissioners can access the information as part of investigations into serious crime.

      Justice Minister Dermot Ahern says it will be well monitored.

      âoeItâ(TM)s very important that the police are able to insist that the data be retained by the Internet companies so that they can prove cases against these people who peddle child porn,â Mr Ahern told RTE radio today as he published the Communications (Retention of Data) Bill.

      The Bill implements an EU directive which brings Ireland into line with other EU member states.

  • god dammit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by malignant_minded ( 884324 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @12:33PM (#28757527)
    No see its ok. It's with a lowercase g so it's my god and not the real God.
  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) * on Monday July 20, 2009 @12:34PM (#28757529) Journal

    What happens if I have a religious belief that censorship offends god? Can I get those advocating censorship tried under this law?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 20, 2009 @12:36PM (#28757585)

    the Irish inquisition!

    • Their three weapons are stupidity, narrow-mindedness and oppression of freedom... and and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.
  • by Absolut187 ( 816431 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @12:36PM (#28757589) Homepage

    For example, if someone blasphemes my diety, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, will they be treated the same as somebody who blasphemes against Jesus of Nazareth, (who is clearly an undead minion of Satan?)

  • by sanosuke001 ( 640243 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @12:36PM (#28757595)
    This is the biggest reason why I can't stand religion. If you are so frightened by others' opinions as to attack them if they disagree with you then you have no right to make any decisions. It's the same with censorship. If you don't like it, ignore it.

    Can we outlaw thinking for ourselves while we're at it? (/s)
    • by JeanPaulBob ( 585149 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @12:52PM (#28757851)

      This is the biggest reason why I can't stand religion. If you are so frightened by others' opinions as to attack them if they disagree with you then you have no right to make any decisions. It's the same with censorship. If you don't like it, ignore it.

      Can we outlaw thinking for ourselves while we're at it? (/s)

      Hmm... Does broad-brushing "religion" with criticism that should be aimed at "forced religion" count as "thinking for yourself"?

      I suppose it does. Sloppy, unreasonable thinking is still thinking, after all. It just doesn't deserve any more respect than what you're (rightly) criticizing.

  • by meketrefi ( 1590185 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @12:37PM (#28757601)
    I feel sorry for all Irish black metal bands and for those in Ireland that would expect Cradle of Filth to play there...
  • Chilling (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jawn98685 ( 687784 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @12:38PM (#28757613)
    ...and I mean that literally. When I read that a modern western country has enacted a law that allows for the prosecution of the "crime" of "blasphemy", I got a cold chill down my spine. What's next? Imprisonment and torture for various forms of heresy?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dasunt ( 249686 )

      It is easy to point at this and say "OMG RELIGION MUST BE BAD!" But perhaps a better lesson to take away from this is that society tends to punish those who break commonly held cultural norms, at the expense of the health of society and personal liberty.

      Many modern western democracies have laws against "hate" speech. The US is one of the major exceptions because of the first amendment. I doubt racism is any worse in the US than most of Europe (other than there are more racial heterogeneity in the US t

  • by 0xdeadbeef ( 28836 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @12:38PM (#28757623) Homepage Journal

    Isn't it funny how the religionists keep whining about antagonistic and mean atheists are, and how that is their primary rebuttal to the arguments of public intellectuals like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, and yet, given the free hand to manipulate the government, they go and pass laws like this. They'd do it in America too, have done it in the past, if not for that pesky First Amendment and the strident efforts of "militant" atheists and civil rights organizations.

    • Its true. They keep saying how religion is under attack... but whats so under attack?

      It doesn't matter whether the issue is abortion, same sex marriage, prayer in school, its always the same broken record about how they need to "defend", and they are "under attack". Yet, are never able to actually articulate how other people having choices in life constitutes an attack on them and theirs.

      Apparently its an attack on their youth because of their children were to grow up with choices, they might choose not to be boneheaded, zombie worshiping, fucktards, and THEN what would happen to the world?!?

      I recently saw a facebook discussion between an old friend who went hardcore muslim and some of her friends about opening a dialog with other "people of the book" but how "we have to be sure they know we see them as wrong and they need to come to the light of allah" and all that bullshit.

      All the same bullshit, all the same "we are the victim", "our way of life is under attack". All just sounding like somebody needs to grow the fuck up and realize that its a big world and not everyone is going to be duped into believing in some random set of myths about some god that you can't see, hear, touch, or taste, but assuredly, must exist.... and all the other mythological beings that you also can't see hear, touch, or taste must obviously not exist.

      Yet their all powerful god can't protect them from a small number of people who aren't even organized, and couldn't care less what silly crap they waste their time with. Yes, they have a very powerful god indeed.


      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Thing is -- religion *is* under attack, because it used to control everything, and now it doesn't. That's why it's under attack: it is slowly losing its power over people, governments, and countries. And unless/until it controls everything again, they'll keep on about how it's under attack. From their viewpoint, they're right. It's just that from the viewpoint of many religious people, not believing in God in the same way that they do, should be a crime.

        Religion is under attack, and I say more power to

    • by Belisarivs ( 526071 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @01:22PM (#28758379)

      Well, Christopher Hitchens (whom, while I disagree with him, do admire) is a polemicist and makes a living at stirring things up. But you're being intellectually dishonest when you reduce those who disagree with him on religion as being little more than thugs. For every Richard Dawkins you cite, I can come up with a theologian like William Lane Craig or C.S. Lewis. Should I judge atheism by the rantings of my college's atheists when they said the Christians killed Galileo (they didn't) and that the Church thought the world was flat (they didn't)? Or should I accept that there are loudmouthed idiots in the world?

      Europe has been moving towards a concept of religious tolerance that puts it at odds with the concept of free speech. This is evident in the reaction towards the Danish cartoons and British clamping down of criticism of Islam in recent years. To me, it doesn't seem inherently Christian, nor "religionist" in nature, but rather pan-European trend, that is a trend of the cosmopolitan bureaucracies that make up the EU.

      I am a little bit sad that the common reaction on Slashdot has been to try and be as offensive to Christians as possible. For those that RTFA:

      "In fact, the new law is a very modern phenomenon. Rather than harking back to the days of God-fearing, or at least priest-fearing, Ireland, the blasphemy law has more in common with contemporary politically correct measures of social control."

      So not exactly imposing papal doctrine on the masses. Going after Christians is petty and vindictive, especially when they have as much to lose with this law as anyone.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @12:40PM (#28757645) Homepage

    Seriously, the Southpark guys are frikken heroes when it comes to freedom of speech and expression and trampling on stupidity. They depicted Muhammad without causing riots somehow. They exposed scientology to the world for all its ridiculousness and countless other things. Southpark needs to create an answer to all of this and the spokesperson for Ireland really needs to be the Lucky Charms guy ... and/or the Irish Spring guy going around and cutting into everyone's soap.

    Religion is a choice that people make. It is rooted into culture and geography and nearly all other aspects of human existence, but it is not beyond question or criticism.

    All hail the flying spaghetti monster.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @12:44PM (#28757697)

    . . . The Irish Inquisition . . . ?

    "Our two main weapons are a pint of Guinness, a shot of Jameson and a Shillelagh . . . "

  • by kk49 ( 829669 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @12:46PM (#28757729)

    My domains are Blasphemous in English and the French Government seems refuse to recognise English and France is pretty ant-religious zealotry to boot.

  • Ugh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sircastor ( 1051070 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @12:50PM (#28757793)
    I'm a very religious person and this kind of stuff makes me sick. One of the foundations of my country is that it has no state-sponsored religion, or that it's not a (specific) religion-sponsored state. Governments have responsibility to protect their citizens from harm, but not at the expense of freedom. I may not agree with what you teach, what you share, what you distribute, but it is your God-given right (or as some may prefer, your natural right, or Spaghetti-given right) to believe, practice, share, and disagree. This kind of thing is a tragedy as it will hamper the rights of individuals and their ability to express themselves.
  • Step 2 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JJJK ( 1029630 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @12:52PM (#28757847) Homepage
    I guess now it's up to the religious leaders to redefine what "blasphemy" means. We'll see what they come up with...

    So when a religious person and an atheist meet and say something like "I find your views completely ridiculous" at the same time to each other then the religious person can sue the atheist but not vice versa?
    Reminds me of this [smbc-comics.com]
  • by number6x ( 626555 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @12:54PM (#28757889)

    If I had 2p for every time my grandmother took the lord's name in vain, I'd have enough to pay off several offender's fines.

    This is a woman who used to carry food to republican fighters hiding in fields and graveyards at night during the revolution.

    Though she was a deeply devout woman, she would have had no qualms about any divine beings know just how screwed up they were. If she felt she should take the belt to God or Jesus, no blasphemy laws would have stopped her.

    If they classify the abuse of minors by clergy and religious orders as a form of blasphemy, there might night be enough room in gaol.

    Good Luck!

  • by buddyglass ( 925859 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @12:55PM (#28757909)

    From the article, which is just one journalist's opinion:

    while the Catholic Church grumbles about a decline in spiritual values it has not actually demanded this law, nor are there many votes to be picked up on a âCatholic Irelandâ(TM) ticket. Even the other usual suspects, the âmad mullahsâ(TM) of Islam, are notable by their absence from the debate. Put simply, the religious lobby is not behind the move to criminalise blasphemy.

    Dawkins appears to have misunderstood the nature of the proposed legislation. The reintroduction of blasphemy as an offence isnâ(TM)t evidence of Ireland backsliding into traditional religious superstition â" in fact, it shows just how up-to-date Ireland is when it comes to contemporary conceits.

    In fact, the new law is a very modern phenomenon. Rather than harking back to the days of God-fearing, or at least priest-fearing, Ireland, the blasphemy law has more in common with contemporary politically correct measures of social control.

  • I'm of Irish ancestry. I've been to Ireland. Stopping blasphemy would require shuttering the Guinness plant and every bar in Ireland, and believe me, that will cause a LOT more swearing!

  • by DragonPup ( 302885 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @12:57PM (#28757951)

    Fuck the corrupt politicians and religious leaders of Ireland who passed this travesty of freedom. In fact, I hope they just fuck themselves rather than underage boys. Again. Oh, and a special fuck you to the religious leaders whose faith is so weak they can not stand any criticism of their beliefs.

  • Step (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @01:00PM (#28757999)
    That's one small step for man, one giant step for mankind ...... backward
  • by Doug52392 ( 1094585 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @01:03PM (#28758033)
    Ironically, blasphemy has been illegal where I live (Massachusetts) for hundreds of years. M.G.L: Chapter 272: Section 36. Blasphemy [mass.gov]

    Chapter 272: Section 36. Blasphemy Section 36. Whoever wilfully blasphemes the holy name of God by denying, cursing or contumeliously reproaching God, his creation, government or final judging of the world, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching or exposing to contempt and ridicule, the holy word of God contained in the holy scriptures shall be punished by imprisonment in jail for not more than one year or by a fine of not more than three hundred dollars, and may also be bound to good behavior.

    It's one of those old laws that's been in the books for years, but never removed. Someone could still be arrested and charged with blasphemy in Massachusetts (although that would probably cause a shitstorm of controversy these days), but the last time that happened was in 1838 [wikipedia.org].

  • Complaints here (Score:3, Informative)

    by funkatron ( 912521 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @01:14PM (#28758237)
    If this bothers you try contacting the office of the Taoiseach [taoiseach.gov.ie] (seems to be like a prime minister). I've already sent a message saying that I don't want to be in the same EU a country that thinks this law is a good idea.
  • by Budenny ( 888916 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @01:16PM (#28758259)

    The really deep problem they have is with those sections of the Bible and the Koran which do not simply denigrate, but actively promote violence against, non believers. What are they to do with them?

    Blasphemy laws can only work if the protection of the law is confined to one religion, or if there are no religions that condemn other ones. Alas, there are very few indeed of the latter.

  • by jipn4 ( 1367823 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @01:21PM (#28758355)

    Islam is blasphemous to Christianity, Christianity and Islam are blasphemous to Jews, Catholicism is blasphemous to protestants, and protestantism is blasphemous to Catholics. Does that mean the Irish can (finally!) kick the entire lot off the island?

    And why should Christians be allowed to insult atheists [christianpost.com] with impunity?

    Or does this law only apply to protect big, arrogant sky-god religions? Oh, why do I even ask, it's Ireland we're talking about.

  • by Orleron ( 835910 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @01:34PM (#28758589) Homepage
    They may not make laws against blasphemy...but politically correct speech and other things that "hurt my feelings", they take the cake on that.
    Therefore, I'd say it's not religious zealots OR liberal idiots that are responsible alone, but rather people in general who fall to the extremes.
  • ladies and gentlemen (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @01:45PM (#28758765) Homepage
    as you depart the plane here at Dublin international, remember to please set your watches back 6 centuries.
  • http://blasphemy.ie/ (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 4D6963 ( 933028 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @03:28PM (#28760457)


    Just thought I'd share.

Evolution is a million line computer program falling into place by accident.