It seems that in the Republic of Ireland, a truly characteristic Irish law has been passed: viz.: to “defame” or poke fun at ANY religion is now “blasphemy”, and hence illegal!
I quote: "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 25,000 euro."
Furthermore, "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."
Previously, blasphemy, anywhere, was usually only an offence because it ridiculed or criticised the established (i.e. state) religion, making it a political offence rather than a religious one. Since religion of one sort or another has always been a tool of social control by the dominant political power, this is understandable.
However, in Ireland it is now ANY religion that is protected from criticism or ridicule; a law pertaining to religion passed by politicians! Interestingly, Jews declared Jesus to be a blasphemer because Jesus called them all sons of the devil (John 8:44
), while Mohammed cursed the Jews and Christians (Hadith of Bukhari, Vol 1 Book 8 Hadith 427
) and had Allah turn them into pigs and monkeys, making him a blasphemer, too.
So, in effect, Ireland has passed a law that would convict not only Jesus and Mohammed, but even God himself (wearing his Allah turban) as blasphemers, and which makes it illegal for anyone to insult or poke fun at religion per se
; a law that is as risible as it is absurd, which could never survive long any close examination in any but a strictly religious court of law, and brings down justifiable ridicule upon its proponents. The passing of this law is both ludicrous and dangerous. It is a law that takes us right back into the bleak religious and political atmosphere of "Auld Ireland" – that grey and stagnant backwater of automatic deference to cleric and politician that allowed such as the notorious Magdalene Laundries, child sex abuse by priests, and arrogant and amoral little "Il Presidente" figures like Taoiseach
Charles Haughey (who firmly believed he could get away with corruption, as others no doubt had done before and have done since, and in the event was proved correct) to flourish – that we all thought had finally vanished decades ago.
Now this is interesting, and sets me thinking... Could this law be part of a general response (all too common in history, and not just in Ireland) to Ireland's current straitened economy due to the "credit crunch": a snivelling reversion to older, darker, smaller-minded and more Conservative modes of thought and action; modes and attitudes that never truly went away, but merely sank into the mud of history until events uncovered them again to once more roam the corridors of power? Things seemed to be going so well in new, dynamic and modern Cosmopolitan Ireland, that Celtic Tiger (remember that?), lit by the bright lights of the 21st century, with the opening of horizons thanks to, for instance, the adoption of the euro as currency leading to greater opportunities for young and talented Irish men and women. If I thought this backward-looking law stood any chance of standing for long, it would make me quite despondent. Thankfully, I foresee this law being repealed eventually – and, hopefully, soon.
Since "abuse" is not closely defined in this new law, any indignant or strongly-worded criticism could be so described. Thus, the Aetherius Society, the Mormons, Scientology – these three and more besides are now effectively protected in Ireland from any ridicule or criticism by this law. Ah! Dermot (Father Ted
) Morgan! We have need of you now!
Also interestingly (and by contrast), the British Parliament, in 2008, at last abolished its own long-outmoded, disused and – in a modern liberal democracy – embarrassingly unacceptable blasphemy law. Good riddance!
More details here: http://www.atheist.ie/