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Ireland's Blasphemy Law Goes Into Effect 845

Posted by Soulskill
from the joe-pesci-is-angry dept.
stereoroid writes "As of January 1, it is a crime in Ireland to commit Blasphemy. The law was changed in July 2009 to fill a gap in the Irish Constitution, which states that it is a crime but does not define what it is, an omission highlighted in a Supreme Court decision in 1999. To mark the occasion, Atheist Ireland published a list of 25 blasphemous quotations on the blasphemy.ie website, from such controversial figures as Bjork, Frank Zappa, Richard Dawkins, Randy Newman, and Pope Benedict XVI. (The last-mentioned was quoting a 14th Century Byzantine Emperor, but that's no excuse.)"
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Ireland's Blasphemy Law Goes Into Effect

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 01, 2010 @07:17PM (#30617474)

    God damn it!

    • by Dan541 (1032000)

      is a victimless crime, in Ireland.

      • Re:Blasphemy... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by TheLink (130905) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @01:16AM (#30619980) Journal
        How sure are you?

        "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"."

        It says ANY religion. So what religions are legally recognized in Ireland? How about Scientology? Is there are list somewhere?

        There are a fair number of religions that have a high proportion of adherents who are easily outraged.
        • by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @04:28AM (#30620798)

          As the spokesman for Monosetians I want to voice our OUTRAGE caused by your demand for a list. Monosetians have few beliefs but asking for lists of things is shocking, abusive and insulting to our belief that all sets are of only one item. It's an obvious attempt to intentionally cause outrage amongst all of our members.

          I'll see you in court sir!

        • by Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @06:49AM (#30621334) Homepage
          I'd like to give a little background on whats going on over here. The governing party, Fianna Fáil (soldiers of destiny if you don't mind) have managed to run the country into one of the worst recessions in Europe by a fairly spectacular series of bad decisions, coasting through into a coalition with the greens mainly on inertia. The leader of that party, Bertie Ahern, was run out of office under a storm of corruption accustations, and his finance minister (the same one that ran the country into the ground) took over.

          This mandateless buffoon is one of the least popular leaders the country has ever seen, a morbidly obese fellow by the name of Brian Cowen. This stellar example of why sons shouldn't be allowed to run for office in the same constituency as their father was last seen jetting off to Rome to kow-tow to the Pope over the massive child abuse rings that were operated by Catholic priests in Catholic industrial schools in the 50s and 60s. Thats right, the Clowen apologised to a religious leader for abuse carried out by religious officials.

          I and the vast majority of Irish people feel sick to our cores at this new law, but the fact remains at this point that we have no real voice or means to overthrow the government - we can't force a general election so these yahoos have free reign to blacken the name of the nation internationally until 2012 at least. Its a monstrous situation and I sincerely ask that people hearing about this dont' use it to judge the Irish people as a whole. The government hasn't really represented us for quite some time.

          If you want to help out to fight this problem, there are some small groups struggling to get traction politicially, although the media doesn't really want to let them in. One of the most promising is Amhrán Nua [amhrannua.com], the new tune party, so send help if you can, well wishes, whatever to give these few the chance to be heard. The people of Ireland will thank you for it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 01, 2010 @07:18PM (#30617484)

    jesus fucking christ you have got to be kidding me

  • by devnullkac (223246) on Friday January 01, 2010 @07:21PM (#30617514) Homepage

    If atheists in Ireland really want to stir up trouble, a group of them should formally recognize that atheism is itself a form of religion, register with the government (or submit whatever paperwork is necessary to make their beliefs protected under this law), and then ask that the law be used against priests who advocate that those who do not believe will burn in Hell, since it's a pretty abusive thing to say about a person and surely shouldn't be allowed.

    • by clarkkent09 (1104833) * on Friday January 01, 2010 @07:42PM (#30617686)
      What I don't understand about the blasphemy laws in general is how do religious people get around committing blasphemy against other religions just by pretty much quoting from their holy books whenever they contradict other holy books. Every Muslim will tell you that Jesus is not really a son of God, hence the Bible is full of lies. Isn't that blasphemy against Christianity?
      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday January 01, 2010 @07:56PM (#30617846) Journal
        In terms of a strict reading of the text, that is exactly how a blasphemy law would work. Pretty much all religions are, at least to some degree, contradictory to all the others, and so to practice one is to blaspheme against the others. The only groups that could actually function under a strictly applied blasphemy law would be agnostics and the purely apathetic. Obviously the supporters of blasphemy laws(who tend either to be fanatically religious, or strongly of the "Aw, can't we all just get along and never say mean things about each other" camp) don't actually intend this outcome.

        In practice, though, that isn't how they are used. In practice, anything that enjoys the sanction of tradition and/or substantial popular support, even if formally blasphemous under the text of the law, will not be charged. Anything that is legally blasphemous and arouses public or state ire will be. Depending on the character of the state and the people, this can either involve fairly vicious crackdowns on minority religions and atheists, or the occasional takedown of fringe leaders within generally accepted religions.
        • Anything that is legally blasphemous and arouses public or state ire will be.

          Blasphemy was the charge that got Jesus crucified.

    • by Totenglocke (1291680) on Friday January 01, 2010 @07:55PM (#30617842)

      then ask that the law be used against priests who advocate that those who do not believe will burn in Hell, since it's a pretty abusive thing to say about a person and surely shouldn't be allowed.

      Except atheists don't believe in heaven or hell, so how can you threaten them with going to hell? That's like threatening me with sending me to the Phantom Zone - since I don't believe it exists, why would I be afraid of you trying to send me there?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BlindRobin (768267)
      Your argument would be fine if it's premise, "that atheism is itself a form of religion", were not false.

      I, being one of many, have grown particularly weary of this old canard which, while it may be applied (weakly) to social movements such as "Humanism", does not in the least apply to atheism. Strictly speaking atheism is simply the lack of belief in any or all deities and has none of the attributes of a religion most especially a statement of faith. There is indeed a total lack of dogma, there is no str
    • by Lord Kano (13027) on Friday January 01, 2010 @09:15PM (#30618628) Homepage Journal

      If atheists in Ireland really want to stir up trouble, a group of them should formally recognize that atheism is itself a form of religion

      Except, of course, that it's not. Atheism is ATHEISM, not ATHEISM. There's a huge difference.

      LK

    • by nabsltd (1313397) on Friday January 01, 2010 @11:33PM (#30619482)

      I think the best way to get this overturned is to have people who aren't atheists to bring suit over every possible "blasphemy", because they realize that this law infringes on everyone's freedom of speech and religion. This law basically makes it criminal to have two religions that have opposing beliefs.

      For example, any religion that believes that Jesus Christ was the son of God and speaks about it will be "blasphemous" to any religion that does not believe the same thing.

      Or, if your religion doesn't believe Mohammed was a prophet of God, it can't say that any more. Likewise, one that does believe it can't say it.

      Or, if your religion doesn't believe that 75 million years ago, Xenu brought billions of his people to Earth, stacked them around volcanoes and killed them using hydrogen bombs [wikipedia.org], you can't say that, either.

      It also would appear to outlaw any printing of the Bible, Koran, or any other religious publication.

      The question is, how "grossly abusive" does the "publishing or uttering matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters sacred by any religion" have to be? Are restaurants that serve pork/beef/whatever guilty? How about stores that are open on Saturday/Sunday/etc.? What about people who work on Saturday/Sunday/etc.?

  • by jtobin (988724) on Friday January 01, 2010 @07:22PM (#30617530) Homepage
    The law was just brought in so that the law matches the constitution (and this was acknowledged by those that passed it). It's written in such a way no one will ever be prosecuted. The only alternative would be a referendum to change the constitution, and what politician wants to seem like they support blasphemy? As well as that, when the law was passed the next referendum was for the Lisbon treaty, and the government wouldn't have wanted to hold the two referendums together (as it'd make the Christian Right more likely to vote, and so possibly sink the Lisbon referendum).
  • yet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ionix5891 (1228718) on Friday January 01, 2010 @07:22PM (#30617534)

    another nail in the coffin of the corrupt and incompetent Fianna Fail government (yes the leading party in Ireland has word fail in its name) who voted this in

    never will forget what they have done to this country

  • by exley (221867) on Friday January 01, 2010 @07:23PM (#30617540) Homepage

    Apparently the new "laws" actually just prescribe getting blasphemous sites Slashdotted instead of actively taking them down.

    Slashdot... A tool of the oppressor(?)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 01, 2010 @07:24PM (#30617544)

    There is no god, and Mohammed is his prophet.

    (Awesome, my captcha is "opiate.")

  • by mrphoton (1349555) on Friday January 01, 2010 @07:26PM (#30617562)
    This is one of occasions where the French have it about right, they have separation of church and state. They do not even allow religion in schools in any form. I don't understand why people think it is ok to force their beliefs on me.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Hurricane78 (562437)

      It has nothing to do with “beliefs” that’s a straw-man word.
      Religion is a mild schizophrenia. A disease where people don’t use the outside world as a reference for their internal model of it, but a made-up internal model. E.g. “God wants it to be that way, therefore it’s OK that I lost my house, and I don’t have to break down and shoot myself.”
      In some way it is a useful mechanism, because it helps people who can’t cope with the actual real world, not to

      • by bitrex (859228) on Friday January 01, 2010 @11:13PM (#30619374)

        .Religion is a mild schizophrenia. A disease where people don't use the outside world as a reference for their internal model of it, but a made-up internal model.

        You seem to have a quite simplistic view of religion. Religious beliefs arose out of one of the characteristics that makes us human - our seemingly innate desire to ask questions about reality and know chains of cause-and-effect. Science has answered many of the questions that religion once was used for, but that doesn't mean there are many deep questions to which the scientific method cannot be applied. Some atheists appear to expect humans to throw up their hands in the face of these questions and say "Well! These are not scientific questions, therefore they cannot and will not be approached." It won't happen, our natural desire to know which gave birth to the scientific method in the first place prevents that.

        If you see someone who is very religious (and normally also very easily driven out of his calm state, when faced with the disparity of reality and his model of it), try to find the roots, help him face and fix them, and let him work the way up again, fixing the disparities in the process. Or at least don’t make his life even worse. :)

        Do you suppose this approach would work at say, the Harvard Divinity School? Do you feel that all religious people are a priori ignorant bumpkins, simply waiting for you to bring the blinding light of reason to raise them up?

        • by IICV (652597) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @01:56AM (#30620168)

          Science has answered many of the questions that religion once was used for, but that doesn't mean there are many deep questions to which the scientific method cannot be applied. Some atheists appear to expect humans to throw up their hands in the face of these questions and say "Well! These are not scientific questions, therefore they cannot and will not be approached."

          Please, feel free to provide examples. I frequently see statements like this, but there's rarely any actual substance to them.

  • by fyngyrz (762201) on Friday January 01, 2010 @07:27PM (#30617572) Homepage Journal

    ...and Ireland joins other butt-ignorant countries like Saudi Arabia, while here in the USA, freedom of speech reigns paramount.

    Well, except in theaters, and near funerals, and at political rallies (unless you're in a "free speech zone" some distance away)...

    And some art, well, we just can't have people looking at (or even creating) that...

    It'd be nice if congress fixed these things. But of course, we have to wait for them to finish their prayers before they can get started. Oh, and the blessing. By a preacher paid for with tax money.

  • this will be fun (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DMoylan (65079) on Friday January 01, 2010 @07:27PM (#30617574)

    they banned life of brian making it one of the most pirated films in the 80s in ireland. every body i knew had a copy.

    banning something in ireland automatically encourages it.

    we'll probably need a blasphemy per comment counting system.

    the first person to try and prosecute somebody with this will be the laughing stock of this country for quite a while.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fermion (181285)
      The funniest thing that could happen is that a religious person is brought up on charges. It is almost impossible to create a sermon or whatever without being blasphemous to fragment of some religions. Some Christian sermons I hear about are out right blasphemous to non-christian religions. At the very least, many mention jewish and muslim people in a very negative manner, and tend to disrespect Mohammed. On a subtler note, there is quite a bit of blasphemy between the Christian sects. if one says that
  • Dumb, dumb, dumb (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FrozenGeek (1219968) on Friday January 01, 2010 @09:31PM (#30618788)
    For the record, I am an evangelical Christian and this strikes me as something that can only end in tears. When will politicians (and, more importantly, voters) realize that trying to protect feelings only undermines free speech and, ultimately, democracy? We need our leaders to tell the cry-babies to grow up.
  • by okmijnuhb (575581) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @03:06AM (#30620460)
    It's all just proof to me that religion is a form of insanity, or mental impairment, inability for objective free thought, or rational analysis, or failure and inability to reach logical conclusions.
    How far of a leap is it really, from believing, without proof, of a magic being in the sky, to believing that the dismembered body parts of albinos in Africa possess magic powers? Or that suicide bombing will land you in paradise? Or that getting on your knees and begging a supposed omnipotent being for help, would yield results? The same being, mind you, who impotently, or indifferently observed the extermination of 12,000,000,000 humans in the concentration camps of Europe.
  • by knarf (34928) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @06:42AM (#30621314) Homepage

    Imagine the following scenario: you are sitting outside on a log in the snow. There is a nice January sun shining down on you, the temperature is a crisp -8 and you are minding your own business. Suddenly someone comes along and shouts out loud 'YOU DO NOT EXIST'. What would your reaction be?

    The most likely reaction would be one of scorn and ridicule, right? Being secure in the fact of your existence you would not feel the need for others around you to confirm your existence. You KNOW you exist so what do you care what others say?

    Now imagine you are..... GOD. Big Capital Letter GOD, creator of the universe (or at least separator of light and darkness if you want to follow the most recent translations) and everything that moves and lives and breathes. Your denizens are like microbes on a human's skin, so many of your creation walks and crawls and creeps and slithers around that blue planet. What would you care if one of those creatures, one of those microbes, proclaims you non-existence? Would you clamor for confirmation of it to those other creatures, those other microbes? Of course not. You are GOD! You don't need confirmation of anything! You are the past, the present and the future, everything moves only by your grace, you are omnipotent and omniscient.

    Why, then, do these religious nutcases claim that it is a criminal act to claim the aformentioned?

    The only possible explanation is that they are not sure at all that this deity they proclaim to believe in actually exists. They will do anything to keep up appearances, anything to keep their mind-construct from failing. Anyone who shakes the tree has to be stopped before they fall out. Anyone who points out that the book they read is actually an allegorical work of fiction has to be punished.

    By trying to stop anyone from claiming god does not exist they prove that god does, in fact, not exist.

  • The Vatican® has stated that the rape© of children by Catholic priests is protected by a "special and unique" copyright, and anyone attempting to discuss the matter will be sued, excommunicated and declared a Suppressive Person.

    "Recent years have witnessed a great increase of affection and esteem for the person of the Holy Father, L. Benedict Ratzinger®," said the statement. "As such, any person or organisation seeking to name, defame or allude to His Holiness®, any of his Bishops or Priests, or any activities of any of said persons in any capacity, shall be deemed to have violated the Sacred Covenant of Berne, to be a 'no case gain' Suppressive Person and to be duly excommunicated and sued into atomic dust. ALWAYS ATTACK, NEVER DEFEND."

    Evidence only recently brought to light, "which we can't show you, it's copyright," apparently demonstrates that playwright William Shakespeare was secretly Catholic. "So we're claiming copyright in everything he did too. And Francis Bacon. And the Earl of Oxford."

    The Church's lawyers have worked hard to defend their intellectual property rights on such creative works as those of the Irish priests upon their young charges that only recently came to light. "Our determination to protect and preserve the rights to view, discuss or know about these three-dimensional kinetic performance works, and our tour support for the priests to take these works 'on the road' to new parishes, demonstrates the unimpeachable sincerity of our stance — firmly behind the artists. Legs wide, of course."

    The Pope himself has been appalled at the reaction to his recent decision to beatify Adolf Hitler, and described his visit to the Pius XII memorial as "an upsetting encounter with cruelty and senseless hatred. I didn't like it much either."

God doesn't play dice. -- Albert Einstein

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