As of January 1st, 2010, it is no longer legal to speak freely about the subject of religion in Ireland*, thanks to a joint move made by Fianna Fail (The Republican Party) and the Green Party, as was reported by Blasphemy Ireland and The Independent. The owner of the Blasphemy site, Michael Nugent, has taken a prod at the “anachronistic blasphemy law” that has been imposed on the people of Ireland, by posting a list of 25 Blasphemous Quotations, with excerpts from Jesus, George Carlin, and Tim Minchin. Should the Irish government enforce its ruling that in neither written or “utter[ed]” form may one be “grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion, with some defences permitted,” Nugent could see a fine of up to €25,000 ($36,050).
This is most certainly a shortcoming to the realm of free speech. Am I religious? I think so, or else I could not make the sort of assertions that I do. However, I believe that suppressing expression is a terrible thing, that it is something which a progressive society would never impress upon its citizenry. Besides, a faith that is true would not care that so-called “lies” are being spoken about its foundations – a true faith could not take exception to verbal attacks to itself because the words themselves are, from a strong-willed perspective, flimsy from speaking through an unknowing place.
One can only imagine the sort of political concerns that have allowed such a piece of legislation to see the light of day, but in some small sense I can understand it. Such legislation would disallow the Palestinian media from the distribution of cartoons and television that endorse suicide for the murder of Israelis/Jews. But such legislation would also stop my friend Mark from speaking his beliefs vis a vis the Catholic Church’s rampant refusal to acknowledge the damage it has been complicit in via the children molested by their clergy. Hell, it is conceivable that the Murphy Report, which uncovered the sexual indiscretions of the priests of the Dublin Archdiocese, would be illegal given the wording of the Defamation Act 2009.
In the words of Blaise Pascal, who gave us Pascal’s Wager, “Make religion attractive, make good men wish it were true, and then show that it is.” Don’t go kill-crazy over abortions or cartoons, and certainly don’t let the right to argue against a faith be revoked, particularly considering how hard religions have fought for the rights they appreciate today.
*Page 26, Part 5, “Criminal Liability,” #36. “Publication or utterance of blasphemous materials”
Super thanks go to J.W. Hardin, Defender of the Realm AGainst Obvious Nincompoopery (DRAGON), for calling it to our attentions.