To the point, blasphemy laws intrude on the right of free speech and reflect a religious affectation meant to control what others say about theologically based matters. The idea of offending religious sensibilities to the point of punishment is in and of itself disgusting and distasteful, but there are venues where such regulations attempt to control any defamation of religion.

Such censorship goes against the entire concept of free speech and by doing so seeks to control the thoughts, actions and speech of others free from such constraints. In December of 2010, the Organization of the Islamic Conference’s resolution against "defamation of religion" passed in the United Nations General Assembly. Defamation of religion is an issue repeatedly addressed by some member states of the U.N. since 1998. Up to now, the resolution is nonbinding on U.N. member states.

The Pakistani led OIC want the United Nations to recognize "blasphemy" as a principle of international law, thus limiting free speech rights of more than half of the planet’s population. Free speech is on the line as blasphemy laws base themselves on levels of outrage meaning that a simple statement like “God is Not Great,” may offend slightly or outrageously. Such a rule tramples free speech because it is based on emotional response in levels of anger, the variance that may range between 0% offensiveness to 100%, making it difficult if not impossible to measure.

Levels of anger include, annoyance, irritation, aggravation, displeasure, fury, and rage to name just a few. How does one go about selecting the proper level for inflicting punishment? In Ireland blasphemy is defined as any statements that are "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 punishable by a $36,081 fine.

That seems a little harsh for a victimless crime. Hurt feelings, injured egos, and bruised beliefs come with life and living. If the worst thing that ever happens in this world is to have one’s feelings abused, whoever it is should consider themselves fortunate. Although Ireland’s law seems a bit harsh, it is kid stuff when compared with the Pakistani Penal Code.

According to Section 295-C of the Penal Code, “Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine.”

Conversely, many of those pushing for such laws feel no conflict when criticizing entire groups of people that actually exist in the flesh and can be offended and angered by “imputation, innuendo, or insinuation.” For instance, “Great Satan and nigger” are terms I find especially offensive, but under the rule of free speech as odious as I find them, I cannot limit the speaker without limiting myself.

For true freedom, it is necessary for tolerance of others views, beliefs or words. Proposed blasphemy laws are not only intrusive to the rights of others rights, they intrude unnecessarily into the lives of others and encourage despotism. Perhaps, in the prosecution of such cases it should be required that the primary stakeholder or master be required to show up as the plaintiff with no proxy’s, stand-ins or substitutes. Any punishment handed out must follow the same rule.

The idea of blasphemy law is not only offensive it is unreasonable and dictatorial in nature. A relic of the Middle Ages, blasphemy laws allows mob rule and political sabotage especially in third world counties. When considering the benefits of free speech vs. blasphemy laws, I am required by reason to side with free speech. Prosecution of thoughts, ideas and speech based on religious doctrine is nothing short of The Inquisition revisited.

Update: According to a World Public Opinion poll 13 or 20 nations support the right to criticize religion. Support for the right to criticize religion was strongest in the United States at 89 percent (and only nine percent in support of government restrictions). Interestingly, one-third of respondents felt that governments "should have the right to fine or imprison people who publicly criticize a religion because such criticism could defame the religion." Of course, the strongest supporters of restrictions on criticism of religions are in Muslim countries. Additionally, those supporting restrictions are among the most impoverished countries in the world.

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Comment by Donald R Barbera on August 3, 2013 at 7:44pm
Loren,

I certainly go along with you. If that is what they want to do to themselves that is their business. What I think of it is my business. The Vatican may think they call the shots, but the numbers say otherwise, especially in the United States.
Comment by Loren Miller on August 3, 2013 at 12:01pm

Actually, I would say that outlawing blasphemy is one of a number of ways that muslim leaders use to control the conversation and, by extension, the people conversing.  They don't want to hear opposing points of view and they SURE don't want to hear people lampooning what they believe.  Insofar as it is possible, they want their control to be absolute, much as the Vatican used to (though I think they finally realized that absolute control was beyond their capacity).

Obviously, I would say that none of us are interested in indulging them.  If their precious deity can't withstand some criticism or outright mockery (or, far more likely, those who adhere to said deity), I have no pity for them.  Neither will I stand idly by when they attempt to restrict my right to free speech.  Worthy of note: it is not the people I mock so much as it is the belief system.  If they wish to equate themselves with that system, that is their mistake.

They want to make the rules in their favor.  I for one have no intention of letting them do so.

Comment by Daniel W (Sentient Biped) on August 3, 2013 at 11:42am

Donald,

I can't think of any valid reason to support blasphemy law.   Even though it's part the Biblical 10 commandments, little of the 10 commandments applies to any aspect of modern life, and much of modern life is counter to those archaic laws.

There is offensive speech that I can't tolerate and won't use, and if used in my presence I leave.  Fortunately that is rare.  There is also offensive speech that incites violence, and I abhor.  Interestingly, some of that offensive speech is given by Muslims or Christians who incite violence against others, and use the name of their god to vainly promote their agenda - which could be considered blasphemy, as one of the meanings of "Taking the name of god in vain".

I don't know Islam.  I guess outlawing blasphemy is a way for Muslim leaders to "submit" to Allah. 

Blasphemy is freedom.  Blasphemy is speech against non-existent beings.  Blasphemy is part of the road to freedom from oppression by religious autocrats.  Blasphemy gives a sense of cohesion to secular community.  Blasphemy is good.

Comment by Donald R Barbera on August 3, 2013 at 6:24am
James

I recall the incident, but I am uninformed as to the facts.
Comment by Donald R Barbera on August 3, 2013 at 6:22am
God'aye

I have to agree with you. There are things people could say to me or about the people--people--I love that would anger and insult me, but even though I might not like it they are free to say it. In fact, believing in free speech requires that I fight for their right to say it. Blasphemy law is censorship for the emotional and rational immature.
Comment by James Yount on August 3, 2013 at 2:53am

I'm reminded also of the band Pussy Riot in Russia. 

Comment by Dyslexic's DOG on August 2, 2013 at 10:32pm

Well, as far as most rational people in the world are concerned, if Muhammad was an idiot, we should all know about.  Since he was an idiotic, narcissistic megalomaniac that preyed on very young girls and told everybody else that this was okay. 

Then rationally, Muhammad's supporters should never be allowed to wrongly foist that he was a great man and punish all far more rational and  knowledgeable people who state that he was a usurping criminal.

Blasphemy is not a crime, it is a Right we all deserve to honor!

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