Hi all
We in Ireland have a big problem and we sure could use any help we can get.
The government Minister Dermot Ahern proposes to bring in a law proscribinh Blasphemy.
That's right, he actually wants to make blasphemy a criminal act, punishable by law.
Without going into it in detail (those wishing to can do so by visiting blasphemy.ie, irish-times.com, any irish newspaper atheist nexus discussion site etc.), the minister states that the Irish Constitution actually makes blasphamy a crime "punishable by law", and the problem is that the law has no defination of "Blasphemy".
He states that he has the duty to bring the law in line with the constitution and had to choose between changing the law or changing the constitution (which would require a referendum).
Now forgive me if I think that this is a load of Bollox.
This anomily between Irish law and the constitution has been there for approx. 62 years without any street protests, constitutional actions, prosecutions or even rude words been uttered.
The majority of Irish people (including the vast majority of Theists) feel that such a law is not only un-necessary, but unwanted. However as thete are no elections due for some time, the present government can more or less do as they wish for the moment, and unfortunately many of the majority in this country will not protest in a meaningful way anything that does not effect them immediately, and this does not at present.

So why now in the 21st centuary raise such a matter.
I don't now, but several theorys have been proposes -take your pick-
-The Irish government are presently way behind in the polls, their worst position on record
-The main government party from which Mr Ahern is drawn is a populist party, mainly Roman Catholic, and panders to its percieved electorate
-A look at Dermot Ahern's record (see Wikipedia) seems to reveal a right wing homophobic nature

Whatever, if you could you please take time to take a look at this issue and if possible make some suggestions as to how we can fight this.
Please take a look at Blasphemy.ie (not my site, but it has a lot of useful info.,
Sorry to rant for so long, but I'm worried,
Regards,
Jack

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Thanks Bryan, your help is needed
Jack, keep the conversation going...keep the debate going. Once something is accepted it is difficult to turn the tide. Just look at GW and the Iraq War...American people and press rolled over and now we are in a mess. Keep talking, keep questioning...more and more people are bound to rally for free speech.

All the best,
RtPt
A fine of €100,000! That's ridiculous!
It's not just the €100,000. A gaol term is envisaged for "serious" cases and should anyone refuse to pay the fine (as I think some people will) a gaol term is the usual alternative.
Hi All,
I have copied the following from www.blasphemy.ie
It is a list of suggestions compiled by Michale Nugent as to how we might fight the proposed blasphemy law.
If anyone has any more suggestions or ideas (perhaps the following may stimulate you?), please add them either here or on blasphemy.ie
Regards
Jack

1. Campaign Slogans

* Blasphemy is a victimless crime
* Blasphemy is not a right, It is a duty
* Oppose the religious bullying law
* Your religion is blasphemous to me
* Protect people, not their ideas
* Let gods deal with blasphemy
* Welcome to the Irish Inquisition
* Don’t blaspheme the Flying Spaghetti Monster

2. Campaign Ideas

* Organise public meetings around Ireland
* Organise a petition calling for a referendum
* Host and film a blasphemous comedy and music event
* Publish a blasphemous statement signed by many people
* Anti-blasphemy-law bus ads, like London atheist bus
* Build an alliance of anti-blasphemy-law groups
* Ridicule the idea of blasphemy
* Start an Irish Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

3. Political Lobbying

* Lobby and email Ministers, party leaders and local TDs
* Lobby and email members of Justice Committee
* Demand a referendum along with the Lisbon vote
* Address 4 main points of Bill: insult, sacred, outrage, intent
* Lobby Local and European election candidates
* Raise issue with election canvassers when they call
* Publish list of candidates’ positions on this issue
* Lobby international Govts. to put pressure on Irish Govt.
* Lobby Green Party - Ciaran Cuffe TD opposes the Bill

4. Religious Arguments

* Blasphemy is a religious idea, not a legal idea
* If gods existed, human comments would not offend them
* How strong is a god that needs legal protection?
* Many religions are blasphemous to other religions
* Most religions were considered blasphemous at first
* Jesus was condemned for blasphemy in the Bible
* Most religious Irish people oppose a blasphemy law
* Pope John Paul II opposed Pakistan’s blasphemy laws

5. Social Arguments

* Church and State should remain separate
* Freedom of expression is a fundamental right
* Freedom from being offended is not a fundamental right
* Religious and secular ideas should be treated equally
* All ideas should be open to insult and ridicule
* Protect people from harm, not ideas from ridicule
* Blasphemy laws hamper debate and social progress
* This will encourage and incentivize religious outrage
* We know how some Muslims react to cartoons

6. Political Arguments

* Referendum can be held alongside Lisbon referendum
* We should remove all God clauses from Constitution
* 1991 Law Reform Commission advised removal
* 1996 Const. Review Group advised removal
* 2008 All-party Committee on Const. advised removal
* 2008 Irish Govt. opposed similar law at UN
* 2008 UK abolished its blasphemy laws
* 2009 Norwegian Govt. dropped similar proposal
* 2009 UN dropped proposal on defamation of religion
* Islamic States will use this to justify their own laws
* Ireland will look like a backward country internationally

7. Legal Arguments

* Hate speech is already dealt with by incitement laws
* Defamation is already dealt with by defamation laws
* Supreme Court cannot dictate how to legislate
* Constitution does not require blasphemy in a Defamation Bill
* McDowell as Justice Minister didn’t think this was needed (Ex Minister for Justice RW)
* Protecting all religions from blasphemy is contradictory
* We don’t know how the courts might interpret it
* Definition of sacred?
* Definition of religion?
* Definition of substantial number of adherents?
* Definition of outrage?
* How is outrage manifest and measured?
* Definition of intent?
* Law Reform Comm. advised “sole intent” not “intent”

8. Matter that could be Illegal

* Letters from the Earth by Mark Twain
* The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
* God Is Not great by Christopher Hitchens
* The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
* Submission by Theo Van Gogh and Ayan Hirsi Ali
* The Danish cartoons about Muhhamad
* Jesus Is Magic by Sarah Silverman
* Jerry Springer the Opera
* HL Mencken ridiculing religion
* George Carlin ridiculing religion
* Bill Maher ridiculing religion
* The Ballad of Jaysus Christ by Ding Dong Denny O’Reilly
* Bless Me Father by Ding Dong Denny O’Reilly
* Ridiculing Pope’s opposition to condoms in Africa
* Ridiculing Scientology
* Ridiculing transubstantiation
* Ridiculing Sharia law
* Ridiculing Mormon’s magic underwear
* Insulting the injustices in sacred texts
* Insulting the cruelty in sacred texts
* Insulting the misogyny in sacred texts
* Insulting the homophobia in sacred texts
* Ridiculing the absurdities in sacred texts
* Ridiculing the absurdity of theism generally
* Articles by Kevin Myers on religion
* Articles by Ian O’Doherty on religion
* Articles by Fintan O’Toole on religion
* The Life of Brian by Monthy Python
* Jokes about Water and Wine

9. Quotes about Blasphemy


* “I am not an ordinary playwright in general practice. I am a specialist in immoral and heretical plays. My reputation has been gained by my persistent struggle to force the public to reconsider its morals.” George Bernard Shaw, 1909

* “No nation can prosper or even continue to exist without heretics and advocates of shockingly immoral doctrines.” George Bernard Shaw, 1909

* “The blasphemy laws are the legal protection of nonsense. Why is there not an equivalent of the blasphemy laws for science? The reason is that science can take any criticism leveled against it.” Nick Harding, 2007

* “To criticise people for their race is manifestly irrational, but to criticise their religion is surely a right. The freedom to criticise or ridicule ideas – even if they are sincerely held beliefs – is a fundamental freedom.” Stephen King, Irish Examiner, 2009

* “With one satiric touch Ahern has honoured the memory of Shaw, Yeats and Gregory and reminded us that blasphemy laws exist to protect, not religions, but bigots. For his next trick, he will mark the Darwin bicentenary by threatening to make creationism compulsory.” Fintan O’Toole, Irish Times, 2009

* “I want everybody to realise what this Constitution states about authority… What we have here is clear at any rate - that authority is from God. That is fundamental Catholic doctrine, and it is here. It is true doctrine.” Eamon de Valera, 1937


10. Summary

The best of these ideas will form the basis of our campaign in the coming weeks against the Irish blasphemy law.

Please let us know what you think of them, and thanks again for your suggestions so far.
This looks very comprehensive. I should be reading Fintan O'Toole more often.

I can think of dozens of songs that could be illegal, such as "Moving Statues Movement" by Scithereedee. It would make me sad not to be able to play it in the land of moving statues!
Yes, I know... but a huge fine adds insult to injury.
Hi all,
I copy link to Irish Times article on blasphemy in today's (Wed.) paper. It makes for interesting reading. May be we're getting through to someone. It would seem from the article that Ireland's passind of the legislation may have a knock-on effect in other countrys (it just might effect you too).

The salient section reads "The new section of the Bill will state: “A person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €100,000.”

Mr Haraszti (of the OECD) welcomed the Government’s plan to decriminalise defamation, but said the proposed new offence risked “jeopardising OSCE media freedom commitments”.
Irish Times link-
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2009/0520/1224246953537...
There seems to be some movement by Minister Ahern on the blasphemy issue. He intends to ammend the bill and "soften it" somewhat.
However the amendment does not go far enough. the new version would stilll allow police to still seize and destroy blasphemous statements. No court seemingly will decide what is ir is not a blasphemous statement or litrature, and why should a court have such a right? example, sharia courts -what if.......

As far as I am concerned the only acceptable amendment is a complete dropping of the issue.
I attach a report filed by Mr Michael Nugent of blasphemy.ie

-The Minister for Justice is proposing to amend his new blasphemy law by providing, as a defence, that (if) a person accused of blasphemy can “prove that a reasonable person would find genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific, or academic value” in the blasphemous matter.

He is not proposing to reduce the fine of €100,000, the onus of proof is on the defendant to prove this new line of defence, and the police may still seize and destroy blasphemous statements.(my italics) The Minister’s proposed blasphemy law now reads like this:

1. A person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €100,000.
2. For the purposes of this section, a person publishes or utters blasphemous matter if (a) he or she publishes or utters matter 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 (b) he or she intends, by the publication or utterance of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage.
3. It shall be a defence to proceedings for an offence under this section for the defendant to prove that a reasonable person would find genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific, or academic value in the matter to which the offence relates.

The revised amendment has been published on the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament/Congress) website. The All-Party Committee on Justice will discuss it tomorrow, Wednesday May 20. We in the campaign against the blasphemy law would welcome your opinions on this development as we consider our response to it.
Regards,
Jack
How's it going, Jack?
“A hundred years ago this month, Bernard Shaw’s little play The Shewing-up of Blanco Posnet was refused a licence for performance by the English censors… How brilliant of Dermot Ahern to mark this important event in Irish intellectual life by reminding us of the absurdity of blasphemy laws.

Does he really think that it should be a crime to offend members of the Jedi church (from census returns that includes 70,000 people in Australia; 50,000 in New Zealand; 390,000 in the UK) by saying that a light sabre makes you look like a dork? Of course not.

With one satiric touch he has honoured the memory of Shaw, Yeats and Gregory and reminded us that blasphemy laws exist to protect, not religions, but bigots. For his next trick, he will mark the Darwin bicentenary by threatening to make creationism compulsory.”

Fintan O’Toole, Irish Times, May 5 2009
There are several countries that have been trying to force the same via U.N resolutions. (Lead by Muslim theocracies of course) I have heard it is actually gaining a bit of a foothold. I think Pat Condell has had a couple videos regarding this topic on his Youtube channel.

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