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29-04-2009, 08:49   #1
GhostInTheRuins
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Proposed Blasphemy Law

Heard this on the radio this morning and couldn't believe it. It's like we're heading back in time in this country.


http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/...245599892.html
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A NEW crime of blasphemous libel is to be proposed by the Minister for Justice in an amendment to the Defamation Bill, which will be discussed by the Oireachtas committee on justice today.

At the moment there is no crime of blasphemy on the statute books, though it is prohibited by the Constitution.

Article 40 of the Constitution, guaranteeing freedom of speech, qualifies it by stating: “The State shall endeavour to ensure that organs of public opinion, such as the radio, the press, the cinema, while preserving their rightful liberty of expression, including criticism of Government policy, shall not be used to undermine public order or morality or the authority of the State.

“The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent material is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law.”
Last year the Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution, under the chairmanship of Fianna Fáil TD Seán Ardagh, recommended amending this Article to remove all references to sedition and blasphemy, and redrafting the Article along the lines of article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which deals with freedom of expression.

The prohibition on blasphemy dates back to English law aimed at protecting the established church, the Church of England, from attack. It has been used relatively recently to prosecute satirical publications in the UK.
In the only Irish case taken under this article, Corway -v- Independent Newspapers, in 1999, the Supreme Court concluded that it was impossible to say “of what the offence of blasphemy consists”.

It also stated that a special protection for Christianity was incompatible with the religious equality provisions of Article 44.

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern proposes to insert a new section into the Defamation Bill, stating: “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 €100,000.”

“Blasphemous matter” is defined as 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 he or she intends, by the publication of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage.”


Where a person is convicted of an offence under this section, the court may issue a warrant authorising the Garda Síochána to enter, if necessary using reasonable force, a premises where the member of the force has reasonable grounds for believing there are copies of the blasphemous statements in order to seize them.

Labour spokesman on justice Pat Rabbitte is proposing an amendment to this section which would reduce the maximum fine to €1,000 and exclude from the definition of blasphemy any matter that had any literary, artistic, social or academic merit.
I'd be very worried if this went ahead.
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29-04-2009, 08:59   #2
Crumble Froo
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including criticism of Government policy, shall not be used to undermine public order or morality or the authority of the State.
dude, this isnt for A&A, politics or AH more likely.

but fuuuuuuuuuuuck. that's pretty nuts, a part of me can't imagine it going through... another part almost expects it.
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29-04-2009, 09:03   #3
GhostInTheRuins
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Originally Posted by Crumble Froo View Post
dude, this isnt for A&A, politics or AH more likely.

but fuuuuuuuuuuuck. that's pretty nuts, a part of me can't imagine it going through... another part almost expects it.
The text you quoted is part of the constitution, which won't be changed unless a referendum is held. That's not the issue here.

I think It's suitable for this forum.
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29-04-2009, 09:13   #4
Nodin
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Originally Posted by GhostInTheRuins View Post

I'd be very worried if this went ahead.
Waste of time, effort and money. And Ahern can go blaspheme himself with his little suggestion.
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29-04-2009, 09:16   #5
philologos
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Actually Nodin, it could be quite an earner at €100,000 a pop for blasphemy
I don't think this is the correct course of action mind.

It seems to be a protection against incidents such as the Muhammad cartoons arising here.
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29-04-2009, 09:17   #6
Crumble Froo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GhostInTheRuins View Post
The text you quoted is part of the constitution, which won't be changed unless a referendum is held. That's not the issue here.

I think It's suitable for this forum.
fair enough, i gotta re-read it later when there's less talking around me.
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29-04-2009, 09:21   #7
philologos
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Originally Posted by GhostInTheRuins View Post
The text you quoted is part of the constitution, which won't be changed unless a referendum is held. That's not the issue here.

I think It's suitable for this forum.
It's already in the constitution. The minister is trying to define it in the Defamation Bill (not the constitution) therefore no referendum is needed.
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29-04-2009, 10:00   #8
seamus
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The problem is that it leaves the definition of what's grossly offensive wide open.

Everything should be fair game. If a theory is valid it should be more than capable of defending itself against criticism, it shouldn't need the government to legislate protection for it.
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29-04-2009, 10:13   #9
Dades
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Since it's already in the constitution, which relies on legislation to define it, it seems to be a matter of clarification.

The definition in the proposed bill is interesting, in that it makes it quite difficult for something to fall into the definition:

"It must be 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".

So there must be clear intent to cause outrage, which is very difficult to prove.

All things being equal, however, why legislation is even necessary I do not know. It's not as if we have a huge population of outraged theists shouting for it, and libel laws serve their purpose in cases of attacks on an individual.
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29-04-2009, 10:20   #10
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Regardless of if and how it might actually be used, the very fact it is even up for discussion is illiberal, disturbing and disgraceful. Religion does not deserve protection, and I will alway insist on the right to treat it with ridicule and contempt.
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29-04-2009, 10:24   #11
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Utterly digusted with this.
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29-04-2009, 10:24   #12
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First job for the new UCD Humanist society, ChocolateSauce?
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29-04-2009, 10:29   #13
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I hope Tommy Tiernan's got a good lawyer
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29-04-2009, 10:43   #14
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I feel outraged that the Catholic Church teaches that homosexuality is a sin. All the current evidence points to a given person being born gay, just as they are born Irish or Indian. Thus there is, in my eyes, no difference between homophobia and racism. The Church are guilty in my eyes of racism.

I feel outraged by the treatment of women in some Muslim countries, where they live in fear of God and society if they dare not submit to Allah. (see Ayann Hirshi Ali)

I feel outraged by these things but I do not feel that people should not be able to believe them. Why should someone who supports these views have to protection of the law when they get outraged at my beliefs?

Last edited by eightyfish; 29-04-2009 at 17:56.
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29-04-2009, 10:53   #15
Stephen
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**** this bull5hit. What's the best way to let the minister know how we feel about this?
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