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July 24th, 2009:

I guess I have to strike Ireland off my list of places to visit

… cuz it would cost me BIG TIME! Like 25,000 Euros!

In a bold legislative move that further defines this as a nation that has yet to see its way clear of the Dark Ages, Ireland has declared blasphemy to be illegal!

I don’t swear TOO much, but I figger I’d be in hock inside a week.

blas⋅phe⋅my

–noun, plural -mies.

1. impious utterance or action concerning God or sacred things.
2. Judaism.

a. an act of cursing or reviling God.
b. pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton (YHVH) in the original, now forbidden manner instead of using a substitute pronunciation such as Adonai.
3. Theology. the crime of assuming to oneself the rights or qualities of God.
4. irreverent behavior toward anything held sacred, priceless, etc.: He uttered blasphemies against life itself.

In order to be found guilty, there has to be proof that the offender intended to cause outrage with a statement that is abusive or insulting. The statement also has to produce a violent reaction.

The bill states that a person publishes or utters blasphemous matter if:

  • 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.
  • He or she intends, by the publication or utterance of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage.

The bill puts the onus on a 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.

Note that the onus is on the defendant to show that there was “merit” in his or her blasphemous statement.

OK. Here’s the scenario, I’m in a pub in Ireland, sipping a pint and watching an EPR match.  Arsenal loses to Man. U on a poorly called penalty and I say:

GOD DAMN IT!

There’s a collection or righteous and pious citizens gathered in the corner and talking about which books they should burn next. Upon hearing my loud and proud exclamation, they get righteously and piously pissed and are outraged that I would speak such blasphemy.  In fact, one of them righteously and piously hurls a book of matches at me… quite a violent reaction, that!

So the cops show up and these righteous and pious good citizens explain the situation and how this blasphemer has caused outrage among them and how that outrage led to the violent act of throwing said matchbook.

My sorry ass is hauled off to the hold-up (I’m hoping they don’t have Tasers in Ireland!) and the next day I have to explain to a Magistrate how my

GOD DAMN IT!

was an expression of  genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific, or academic value.

Yeah, ching-ching! There goes a heap of Euros flying off to live with the Leprachauns.

Problem is that I, as an atheist, pretty much equate the belief of a god with the belief in those little green men with beards who will lead you to that pot-of-gold! And I’m pretty sure there are plenty of Irish who feel the same way.

WHOA! Was THAT a blasphemous statement or what!

Here in Canada, there is a libellous blasphemy law in the books but it is happily superceded by our Charter rights.

Woo-hoo!

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