Irish Blasphemy Law Passes

Not content with worshipping tree stumps, my fellow citizens of Ireland have allowed their politicians to pass a blasphemy law that is vague, unnecessary, and asinine. In other words, it is the typical actions of the Fianna Fail government.

36. Publication or utterance of blasphemous matter.

(1) A person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €25,000

(2) For the purposes of this section, a person publishes or utters blasphemous matter if (a) 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, and (b) he or she intends, by the publication or utterance of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage.

(3) It shall be a defence to proceedings for an offence under this section for the 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.

Short version: if you say anything that a believer thinks is “grossly abusive or insulting” be prepared to prove it has “genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific, or academic value” or you’ll be fined (up to approximately $35,000) and the material seized by force (under section 37 of the legislation). All for offending some believers sensibilities. At least the Government removed an imprisonment clause.

I’m guessing that students in my alma mater (University College Dublin) won’t be watching The Life of Brian as we did in groups in the 1980’s. Bill Maher won’t be touring. Dawkins will be persona non grata. Makes you proud to be Irish, don’t it.

Turns out that the Government lost the first vote (22-21) only to call for a second “walk through” vote which took ten minutes, enough time for the Government to find two more senators and seal their victory.


17 thoughts on “Irish Blasphemy Law Passes

  1. As the land of my ancestors falls into the abyss of mind control I weep for those left to contend with a government run amok. Orwell must be smiling in his grave…”I told you so.”

  2. As the evil lawyer wannabe, I must say that you have an error in your post. The law states that the fine shall be no more than 25,000 Euros, in your post you say the fine is approximately $35,000. Your wordage implies that every instance will result in a fine of approx. $35k. This is not true. It’s only the maximum. They may only fine someone 50 cents, or $20.

    Sorry for nit-picking, but I felt the need to drop some legal knowledge as I only know so little.

  3. You are indeed correct. I did know that the sum was a maximum fine, I just was loose with my language. And thanks for reminding us why the approval rate of lawyers in only 23% 🙂

  4. 50 cents or $20 for speaking what you are thinking……the ultimate tax.

    I like what Shakespeare said about lawyers.

    Did you ever think it’s time for the world to revolt and throw off the yoke of these petty and useless governments??

  5. Let’s just remember that the Shakespeare quote was the preface to establishing a country without the rule of law…

    That said, this law is ridiculous.

  6. How about a revolution to get rid of useless and disruptive laws and those who keep making them; do they even listen to the man/women in the street anymore??

  7. Now the best way to show how stupid this law is would be to file a complaint against a Christian organisation that prints Bibles. Or at least a fundie one so that you couldn’t argue that they didn’t intend to offend other religions.

  8. so they’ve taken a giant step backwards in time. I had Ireland on my “places to go before I die” list too. (not that I’m planning on dying anytime soon!)
    I guess I still will, but I’ll not enjoy it as much.

  9. John,
    I was planning to visit Ireland in the next few months. I’ll change my vacation’s destination, even Vatican seem more safe for an often blasphemous guy.

    What is the definition of “reasonable person” by Irish laws? Does it exclude theists & deists? 🙂 Well, I’m too much optimistic, but maybe Kenny could answer this question.

  10. John M. Lynch

    I read somewhere (can’t recall where) that the makers of Father Ted planned to blaspheme in a major manner if the legislation went through. So there may be a test case soon enough.

    Michael Nugent of Atheist Ireland plans to do the blaspheming. Father Ted’s makers just support him.

    Arthur Mathews and Graham Linehan backed moves by a group of Irish secularists to challenge the bill against blasphemy introduced in the Dáil last week. Atheist Ireland said this weekend that it will publish a statement blaspheming all the major religions in Ireland, including Christianity and Islam. The group said it would be a calculated challenge to the law. […]
    Michael Nugent, of Atheist Ireland, who has also written comedy with Mathews, said the bill was silly and dangerous. “It is silly because it revives a medieval religious law in a modern pluralist republic, and it makes Ireland seem like a backward country. People need protection. Ideas do not. Ideas should always be open to criticism and ridicule. If the law is passed, we will be immediately testing it by publishing a blasphemous statement.”The Guardian

  11. Oups, mixed up my html tags…
    The quote from the Guardian starts at “Arthur Mathews and Graham Linehan…

    Fixed that for you -jml

  12. What, in the legal sense, is going to count as a ‘religion’ for this law?

    For example, would the parish priest commenting on the tree stump have been in breach of the law?

  13. There are times when I’m a little ashamed that my mother’s maiden name was O’Brien. My grandfather, J.E., is spinning in his grave. He was a world-class blasphemer when the mood was upon him.

  14. Having just returned from the west of Ireland, can I offer a little perspective to calm everyone down? Over the two weeks I was there, the major topic of conversation and headlines was not the blasphemy law. It was Michael friggin’ Jackson. It was the tumult in Iran and various local stories about politicians being put on the spot, and the local Hurler team, etc.

    The priest at the small service we went to in Mayo spent the entire ten minutes of his sermon congratulating his congregation for shelling out $200,000 euros to help people in Zambia build houses for their families. $6,000 per house is pretty impressive, when you consider, he went on to say, that in the days of the ‘Celtic Tiger’ $6,000 wouldn’t pay for a bloody door handle on some of the houses being built during the boom.

    The blasphemy law is stupid. But let’s not go off the rails about Ireland. Or the people there….

  15. Mr. Farrel – You must admit the law is dangerous and potentially deadly. I think that voting with the pocketbook is an old yet effective way to send a clear message to the Dail that this was a truly stupid, backward, dangerous law that should be overthrown ASAP. I for onw will NOT be going back to Ireland. And BTW – the Pope and the entire Irish Dail can kiss my American-Irish Hairy Arse.

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