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21-12-2011, 17:21   #16
JustinDee
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Originally Posted by gizmo555 View Post
There aren't many more important things than the right to freedom of expression.
Right now "freedom of expression" with regards to religion has f*** all prominence in my own or anyone else I know's Hierarchy of Needs.
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21-12-2011, 18:19   #17
Dr Galen
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Well tbh it should. Booms and busts are unfortunately an economic certainty. As sure as night follows day practically you get em. Then the cycle starts again.

Losing things like free speech, liberty and human rights are an altogether different thing, and are much harder to get back once lost, than money or possessions.
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21-12-2011, 18:45   #18
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Although I think that it is highly obnoxious and rude to attempt to rile people up by blaspheming against their belief system in their presence it isn't the job of Government to argue as to what is rude or what isn't.

I would support altering the Public Order Act too so that people can't be moved along and / or arrested for offending a large amount of people in an open space irrespective of how obnoxious I or others might find it. It isn't a right to not be offended, there is a right to free speech.

Some other posters have argued that the Government should influence societies culture, Teclo and Dr Gallen in particular. Personally, I don't think the State should reflect anyones culture. The State should legislate in terms of ensuring that people for the most part can live in liberty and to ensure that those liberties don't infringe on others. Both Teclo's approach, and Dr Gallen's approach seem to be getting the wrong end of the stick. Personally, I'd rather not have the State try to shove a particular ideology down others throats whether that be religious or not.

The idea that a secular state should promote secular values and culture is absurd to me. Who says that secular values and culture are any better than theistic forms of values and culture? Why should the State argue for this? All the State should do is be impartial towards peoples opinions, beliefs and whatever else have you and allow them the expression to communicate those beliefs in public.
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21-12-2011, 18:50   #19
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I agree with phil. the end cometh!!!
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21-12-2011, 19:04   #20
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More important things to be worrying about right now than 'blasphemy' and legislation surrounding it, in my view.
And when do you think would be a good time to look at it? When we have 100% employment and a balanced budget? If that was the way we thought about everything, nothing would get done at all.

This is why we have numerous Government departments. So that stuff varying importance and urgency can be dealt with simultaneously. Having someone deal with the blasphemy law would't necessarily have any impact on any of the other things going on.

I don't think anyone is saying to drop everything and deal with it, but there's no harm in getting it on the agenda.
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21-12-2011, 19:10   #21
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Right now "freedom of expression" with regards to religion has f*** all prominence in my own or anyone else I know's Hierarchy of Needs.
It's pretty high up Tarek Mehanna's hierarchy of needs, who has just been convicted in the US basically for expressing his admittedly extreme and pretty repulsive opinion and who is now facing possible life imprisonment.

For government authorities increasingly worried about the growth of the English-speaking extremist community and the possibility of homegrown terror, the Mehanna conviction may provide what is, in their view, a salutory chilling effect. For civil libertarians concerned about the government being able to prosecute ugly speech as a crime, that chilling effect is anything but salutory, because it could end up curtailing the rights of other critics of the US government, not just those who commit crimes based on their beliefs. It's hard to escape the conclusion that at some level the US government is now in the business of policing which views are appropriate to express.
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21-12-2011, 19:16   #22
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Originally Posted by JustinDee View Post
More important things to be worrying about right now than 'blasphemy' and legislation surrounding it, in my view.
Quote:
Originally Posted by gizmo555 View Post
There aren't many more important things than the right to freedom of expression.
Quote:
Originally Posted by JustinDee View Post
Right now "freedom of expression" with regards to religion has f*** all prominence in my own or anyone else I know's Hierarchy of Needs.
Phil

I think you are reading me wrong, or else I'm not being clear.

i was responding with regard to the above exchange.

JD would claim that we have bigger things to be worrying about than this leglislation, and what it stands for.

Gizmo's opinion (and the one that i share) is that free expression is of paramount importance.

JD then responds as above, stating that it's not top of his list of things right now. Correct me if I'm wrong, but thats likely a reference to the economic climate we find ourselves in, and how that should be the be all and end all of everything.

I was simply replying to JD that, things like the curtailment of liberty and free expression should be much higher up on the "list" no matter how bad times are.

I would agree that the state has little role to forcing an ideology (religious or otherwise) on the people. I can only assume that you are picking up on a previous comment I made in response to Teclo, who to my mind tried to say that a secular state would be less able to to reflect the values and the history and culture of the country than one with religious dogma in the constitution. Thats something I wouldn't agree with, but don't take that to mean that I think the state should be interfering and imposing their own version of a dogma upon the people.

Protecting freedom and liberty for all is the role of the government alright, and thats were it should more or less stop.
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21-12-2011, 19:26   #23
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More importantly, what happened to the changes to abortion laws the gvt has to make following the European court ruling?
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21-12-2011, 20:05   #24
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Personally in favour of the law, not from a moral standpoint however but for the practical reason in that it would be a usefull legal tool if somebody decided to start burning Korans or other actions that could severly hamper this states (and its people) interests, and as other posters have pointed out there would be outrage if this law was applied inappropriatly.

We don't have free speach here anyway due to the Libel laws and laws about incitment to hatred etc, and long lists of proscribed organisations, and the gangland laws, so to me this is really a non-issue.
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21-12-2011, 20:27   #25
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if somebody decided to start burning Korans
Let public order acts deal with this type of situation. The ideal for me is a pluralist secular society where religion is kept out of legislation. Keep it simple and you will have less unforseen complications in the long run.
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21-12-2011, 20:34   #26
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Let public order acts deal with this type of situation. The ideal for me is a pluralist secular society where religion is kept out of legislation. Keep it simple and you will have less unforseen complications in the long run.
If I had an ideal to strive for in respect to church - state relations it wouldn't be to keep voices quiet in society. Everyone should be allowed to speak, but decisions should be determined on the basis of merit rather than on what creed they come from. I don't agree with telling religious voices to simply shut up on the basis of social issues, I just don't agree that they should be favoured (or disfavoured) because they are of a particular faith grouping in society. All ideas should be considered on an equal basis.

A quote that I found particularly useful on this was from the former PM of Australia Kevin Rudd:
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A [truly] Christian perspective on contemporary policy debates may not prevail. It must nonetheless be argued. And once heard, it must be weighed, together with other arguments from different philosophical traditions, in a fully contestable secular polity. A Christian perspective, informed by a social gospel or Christian socialist tradition, should not be rejected contemptuously by secular politicians as if these views are an unwelcome intrusion into the political sphere. If the churches are barred from participating in the great debates about the values that ultimately underpin our society, our economy and our polity, then we have reached a very strange place indeed.
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21-12-2011, 23:42   #27
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Most people in most countries want the state that governs them to reflect something of their values and the history and culture of the country, a purely secular state could not do this.
Wow, that's quite an assertion. Are you suggesting that a secular society cannot have values? Culture? History?
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21-12-2011, 23:55   #28
JustinDee
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Well tbh it should. Booms and busts are unfortunately an economic certainty. As sure as night follows day practically you get em. Then the cycle starts again.

Losing things like free speech, liberty and human rights are an altogether different thing, and are much harder to get back once lost, than money or possessions.
Firstly you're telling me what I should think important. Sound familiar? Not very 'free' of you.
Secondly, quality of life involves more than just "money and possessions" yet can be affected by the current recession.
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22-12-2011, 11:47   #29
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Originally Posted by philologos View Post
If I had an ideal to strive for in respect to church - state relations it wouldn't be to keep voices quiet in society. Everyone should be allowed to speak, but decisions should be determined on the basis of merit rather than on what creed they come from. I don't agree with telling religious voices to simply shut up on the basis of social issues, I just don't agree that they should be favoured (or disfavoured) because they are of a particular faith grouping in society. All ideas should be considered on an equal basis.
I think one of the big problems with discussing "secular society" is that there's misunderstanding of what the term means. Some people assume secular means "anti-religious", which isn't the case. Secularism isn't about keeping voices quiet, it's about insuring that religious organisations (not religious people in the population) don't have an undue influence on the state. It's also about insuring that religious minorities, or those of no religion, aren't discriminated against.

The Mother and Child scheme crisis of 1950's is an example of undue influence by the Church (as an organisation) in the Government's affairs. The Church were presented with the scheme for approval, and when they disproved, Minister for Health Noël Browne not only had to abandon introducing the scheme, but had no option but to resign as a result. In his resignation statement he said:

Quote:
Furthermore, the Hierarchy has informed the Government that they must regard the mother and child scheme proposed by me as opposed to Catholic social teaching. This decision I, as a Catholic, immediately accepted without hesitation.
The State gave in to Church teaching on the matter.

The Church also effectively threatened Browne with excommunication if he pressed ahead with the plan. In 1950's Ireland, that would have been a serious (extra-judicial) punishment, so he had no choice but to relent. This was an appalling interference in democracy and republican government by an unaccountable force. It would be a bit like the Government abandoning a Criminal Justice bill on pressure from a crime gang.

Thankfully, things aren't so bad now. But that's only thanks to the slow march of secularism. And it is slow. The Catholic Church still has an undue influence in the administration of public policy and the provision of public services in this country.

In 2005, Liz O'Donnell from the Progressive Democrats made a speech in the Dail calling for an end to the State consulting with the Church on medical issue such as IVF, and stem cell research. We have a situation in Ireland at present where there is no regulation of assisted reproduction because successive governments have been afraid to confront the Church on their opposition to these matters, so we have the typical "Irish solution to an Irish problem" of pretending the issue doesn't exist, and do nothing about it. Fertility clinics are therefore operating in Ireland as best they can without proper guidelines, and can't provide some services to couples with fertility problems that are routine in most other EU states.

This, by the way, was Berty Ahern's Reply to Liz O'Donnel's complaint of undue influence from the Catholic Church on the Government:

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I am very proud of All Hallows. Yes I do ring All Hallows. I will ring All Hallows, my father has worked in All Hallows or did for half a century. My house is in All Hallows. It is on the lands of All Hallows so I am going to make apologies to nobody including Liz O’Donnell for being in touch with All Hallows.
We also have a bizarre situation where the Catholic Church controls about 90% of the state's primary schools, despite the fact that the state pays for them. Basically, we're outsourcing our public education system to a religious monopoly.

The Church also has a hand in running many of the public hospitals in this country - again basically outsourcing much of our health service to a single religious organisation. In 2005, the Matter Hospital in Dublin (run by the Sisters of Mercy) suspended a trial of lung cancer medication because the program involved the use of contraception by female patients, contrary to Catholic teaching. So even non-Catholic lung cancer patients of the hospital couldn't take part in the trial.

So we have a situation where a majority of public schools and hospitals have various State rules and guidelines that govern them, but then they an "ethos" (Catholic teaching) that often takes precedence.

If these were private institutions, that would be fine. They could have all the ethos they wanted.

Secularism isn't about silencing the religious views or convictions of the population. People are perfectly free to defer to their religious beliefs when voting in elections or referendums, and rightly so. It's not about "state atheism". It's not even about stopping the Church from expressing it's views and teachings.

What it is about is removing an undemocratic and unaccountable direct religious influence, (in the form of any religious organisation, but in Ireland's present case, this means the Catholic Church) from public policy and services. We're a democracy, and the power of the Government should come from the people alone - not diluted by the unelected executive management of one particular denomination of one particular religion.

Last edited by phutyle; 22-12-2011 at 11:59.
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22-12-2011, 18:38   #30
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phutyle: I'm simply saying that secularism doesn't mean drowning out faith-based voices in society or ignoring them. Rather it simply means that all belief systems should be regarded equally by the Government. I'm supportive of that general principle. I'm not supportive of when people argue that faith has no role in society, or that people arguing from a faith based perspective should be ignored. That's going beyond the definition.

An example would be that if a Jewish politician brought a piece of legislation inspired by the Talmud to the parliament, if the idea had merit and was indeed useful, I wouldn't reject it, I'd welcome it. Likewise in terms of the Qur'an or the Bible or any other document, or indeed if an atheist or agnostic presented legislation that was useful for society. I'd welcome that too. Ideas should be considered on merit, things should only be dismissed on validation.

As useful as the above post was for a general runthrough of where Ireland is, it wasn't really tackling my point.

Last edited by philologos; 22-12-2011 at 18:41.
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