Monday, January 4, 2010

Back to politics. I didn't actually post about the Blasphemy Bill when it was all going on/ getting passed a few months ago. But now that it's gone into effect, you bet your sweet buns I'm posting about it now.

For those of you who don't know, Ireland passed a law last year that makes it a crime to say anything "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 he or she intends, by the publication of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage," punishable with a fine up to 25k euro. Now, on one hand, you might think well gosh, why would you want to make any kind of a statement that's insulting or would cause outrage to anyone, anyways? But you see, I am highly insulted by that question. And outraged. And abused.

My first point is this: who is to say what falls into this obtuse criteria? If a large enough group hysterically cries insult, is that enough? And how many is "a substantial number"? When I taught English Composition, I always warned my students against using unclear terms of measurement open to wide margins of interpretation. If a student of mine handed me this law, I would fail it. There is no true way to measure who is legally breaking this law.

My second point: What on earth is the purpose of this law? Haven't religious institutions been protected enough? And where did that get us. We should have laws protecting us from religion, not the other way around. So, the Catholic church doesn't want to be full of "outrage," the victims of abuse, or have insulted those things they deem sacred? Yeah - neither do the rest of us, but that hasn't stopped the Church from abusing, outraging, and insulting millions and millions of people over the past few centuries. So where's the law that protects us from it?

This law is such a piece of garbage, it's embarrassing. Why not draft a law that focuses on something that really hurts, like hate crimes? Didn't anyone in the government ever hear the schoolyard saying, "sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me"? I mean, grow up and realize that trying to control what people say does not work. And it doesn't change how people feel, and it will only make people feel that they need to act in a manner even more intense. Free speech can be a pain sometimes, because you have to deal with people being able to legally say things you don't agree with and find offensive. But it's free speech that protects institutions as well as individuals in the end. The blasphemy law protects no one, and time will show that.

Already journalists all over the world are writing about this law, making a mockery of Ireland. And you know what? Honestly, if I didn't already live here, I wouldn't visit based solely on this law alone, that's how offensive I find it. I would rather give my tourist money to a country that tries to promote and foster a way for people of various beliefs to live together peacefully rather than to try and dictate who can say what, and what is offensive, and what is not, and to silence unfashionable words and ideas. And surely, when it comes to religion in Ireland, did they not have bigger fish to fry than this?

1 comment:

  1. Right. It is embarrassing - and just at a time when we should be outraged and shocked at the religious orders. So much for the separation of Church and State in our so-called modern state.