Picture of a judge's wigThe Judge RANTS!Picture of a judge's wig

Date: 01/01/10

Forward With The Backward

Just as the rest of the world goes forward into a new decade (although it doesn't - not until this time next year - but that's an argument for another time), Ireland has decided to make A Great Leap Sideways into the 16th Century.

It should come as no surprise that that priest-ridden land should have had a provision in its laws since about 1937 that that meaningless phenomenon called 'blasphemy' should be an offense. Nor should it be a cause of any astonishment that the law was effectively unenforceable because it didn't actually define what constituted 'blasphemy'.

This was all 'remedied' last year when, despite repeated recommendations from Dáil committees and other inquiries to ditch the idea - and indeed, to remove any mention of god from the Constitution itself - and in spite of even the UK quietly consigning its own laws against 'blasphemy' and 'blasphemous libel' to the grave, the Justice Minister Dermot Ahern shoved through a law (which was supported by Fianna Fáil's junior partners in The Greens, to their enormous and eternal discredit) which makes 'blasphemy' punishable by a fine of up to €25 000. This time however, to give credit where it's due, the new law does define 'blasphemy'. It is defined as:

"...publishing or uttering matter that is 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."

There are one or two get-outs, but it will be for the courts to decide whether they can be invoked or not.

Leaving aside the folly of granting even greater refuge for religionists following a year of damning revelations regarding the conduct of Ireland's prime cultist institutions, let alone the dangerous notion it promotes that anyone has the right to have his/her beliefs protected from challenge by force of criminal sanction, this new law will be a godsend (pun intended) to any group of self-righteous nutters and mediaevalists, who will be able to encourage an atmosphere of repression and self-censorship which will ill-serve the people of that land.

With this stupid and hateful piece of legislation finally coming into effect todaty, I'm glad to say that my fellow atheists in Ireland are continuing to fight for its abolition, even to the point of deliberately publishing on their website a list of twenty-five potentially 'blasphemous' quotes, and daring the fundies to come after them. The quotes come from as wide a range of sources as Jesus of Nazareth, Mohammed, Mark Twain and Richard Dawkins.

So, if you're reading this (or the page I've linked to above) in The Ould Sod, then you have immediately committed a crime against intelligence and should turn yourself in at the nearest Gardaí station for re-education. However, you can always tell them that you're in Holy Orders. That should get you a free pass to do what the fuck you like; it usually does.