Ireland passed the blasphemy law.
What does this mean for Irish citizens? It means you can be convicted for trashing someone’s beliefs if you cause “outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion.” (Again, what is a “substantial number”? Who knows.)
Paliban Daily offers up some frightening consequences, given that “blasphemy” isn’t very well-defined:
- Atheists can be prosecuted for saying that God is imaginary. That causes outrage.
- Pagans can be prosecuted for saying they left Christianity because God is violent and bloodthirsty, promotes genocide, and permits slavery.
- Christians can be prosecuted for saying that Allah is a moon god, or for drawing a picture of Mohammed, or for saying that Islam is a violent religion which breeds terrorists.
- Jews can be prosecuted for saying Jesus isn’t the Messiah.
Those aren’t all accurate… for example, Jews can say Jesus isn’t the Messiah because their religious beliefs are protected under the law. But I suspect if they went around saying as much, holding posters that said he wasn’t the Messiah in a dickish sort of way, and made a “substantial number” of Christians angry, then we’d have problems.
We’re also told that academic and theological debate isn’t subject to the rules. But again, it’s tough to say what constitutes those kinds of debates. Can bloggers tear apart religious arguments and those who make them if they’re not professors? Can Irish people call certain Catholic priests rapists and attribute it to their faith and just say it’s part of theological debate? Can we call out certain adherents of a fundamentalist version of Islam as terrorists if that is warranted? Either everything in these categories is blasphemy or nothing is.
The law also allows for “Seizure of copies of blasphemous statements” (Provided you have been convicted of blasphemy already and the police have a warrant.)
Again, what does that mean for Irish citizens?
Ireland’s Blasphemy Bill not only criminalizes free speech, it also gives the police the authority to confiscate anything deemed “blasphemous”. They may enter and search any premises, with force if needed, upon “reasonable suspicion” that such materials are present.
So if you’ve already been convicted of blasphemy, you better hold on tight to that copy of God is Not Great…
At least we can be sure that this law will be tested repeatedly by any fierce advocate of free speech. My hope is that in the process, we hear even more “blasphemy” than usual challenging this bill, leading to an eventual repeal of the law altogether.
(Thanks to Tydal for the link!)