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Old Greek Blasphemy Laws Stir Up Modern Drama
January 4, 2013 1:19 PM   Subscribe

"It seems like every time there's a crisis in Greece, there's a search for saviors," Philippos Loizos, a 27-year-old scientist, tells NPR. Loizos set up a Facebook page that criticized a Greek monk as xenophobic and close-minded. Last September, Greek police arrested Loizos and charged him with blasphemy, which carries up to six months in prison.
posted by winecork (28 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
I would argue that it's got nothing to do with Greece per se, or some kind of essential Greekness. Being poor, miserable, and powerless makes people angry & makes them want to find heroes and villains.
posted by facetious at 1:28 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


If the far right Greek Orthodox believers who are threatening and violently attacking people think that God would sanction their actions then I say they're blasphemers. However, I would not want them to go to jail for their bizarre understanding of Jesus. I want to see them go to jail for their threats and violence.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:31 PM on January 4, 2013


What. The. Fuck. Greece.
posted by Guy Smiley at 1:42 PM on January 4, 2013


Greece's slide to the far right has been the most routinely scary headline all 2012, and I don't expect another story to overtake it this year unless Catalonia secedes from Spain.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:46 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bring back the Ottomans. Return to them their entire empire.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:09 PM on January 4, 2013


Apocryphon: "Bring back the Ottomans. Return to them their entire empire."

That would be the absolute best way to really reinvigorate the Greek radical right.
posted by boo_radley at 2:14 PM on January 4, 2013


cough cough Nazi Germany cough cough
posted by phaedon at 2:16 PM on January 4, 2013


I heard this story on NPR yesterday. I was rather annoyed by the implication that we should be surprised Europe has blasphemy laws, not just those 'uncivilised Muslim countries'. It's not as if the United States hasn't tried it, despite the obvious constitutional problems, so I'm not quite sure why NPR is acting as if it's surprising that any other country has or has had a blasphemy law. (Okay, Turkey would be a wee bit surprising. Then again, see the US.)
posted by hoyland at 2:19 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well there's one destination I won't be visiting in my Fuck The Skull Of Jesus t-shirt.
posted by fleetmouse at 2:21 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not as if the United States hasn't tried it

From that link: The last U.S. conviction for blasphemy—at least that of any significance—was ... [i]n 1928.

1928 is a long time ago. The fact there is a EU country with blasphemy laws blows my mind. Sorry.
posted by aspo at 2:26 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, hard to believe in a country that up until recently was 98% Christian.
posted by phaedon at 2:29 PM on January 4, 2013


1928 is a long time ago. The fact there is a EU country with blasphemy laws blows my mind. Sorry.
Many of the laws are old, and have fallen into disuse rather than be repealed. They're likely unlawful under the ECHR articles 9 and 10. So if a country uses such a law rather than repealing it, that conviction needs to be challenged. If successful, that would make blasphemy unconstitutional in the EU, as all member states have to be party to the ECHR.
posted by Jehan at 2:48 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Blasphemy laws in in my country? It's more likely than you think.

For all religions X that think blasphemy is a thing: fuck you, X.
posted by b1tr0t at 2:50 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


1928 is a long time ago. The fact there is a EU country with blasphemy laws blows my mind. Sorry.

Sure, but the US had an explicit right to free speech and separation of church and state before 1928, which is the embarrassing bit.
posted by hoyland at 2:53 PM on January 4, 2013


Sure, but the US had an explicit right to free speech and separation of church and state before 1928

It didn't, really. Up until the 20th century the Bill of Rights was held to apply only to the federal government, not the states. It wasn't until the 1920s that, via the doctrine of incorporation, the first ten amendments were applied to the states through the 14th Amendment. The process was long and slow and is still ongoing.

Gitlow v. New York, the case that launched the incorporation concept (though arguably the concept arose earlier) and extended 1st Amendment freedom of speech protection to the states, was only decided in 1925. The guarantees regarding free exercise and no establishment of religion wouldn't be incorporated until the 1940s.

So it really isn't all that surprising that blasphemy laws would exist into the 1920s as the Court had just barely begun extending the protections of the Bill of Rights to the states. The article you link to even cites a 1977 Pennsylvania blasphemy that was struck down in litigation in 2010, so even now there are states that still want to fight the issue.
posted by Sangermaine at 3:29 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mass still has a blasphemy law on its books, although it hasn't been used in ages.

I wonder if anyone has compiled a chart correlating enforcement of blasphemy laws vs. "your country sucks and I hate it." I bet that correlation would be pretty high.
posted by 1adam12 at 3:50 PM on January 4, 2013


I should clarify... with criminal blasphemy laws that authorities are actually enforcing. I understand that old laws often stay on the books forever until you get some pigheaded bureaucrat using them as a excuse to deny a request or something, at which time they quickly get struck down. But someone getting arrested for blasphemy in an EU country? That's still mind blowing.
posted by aspo at 4:05 PM on January 4, 2013


It's not clear from reading the article, but the page of Loizos was taken down after Golden Dawn railed against it in parliament. I can remember a couple of cases where the blasphemy law was invoked, but I think all of them ended up getting dropped or upended in the court of appeals before reaching the supreme court or the ECHR.
posted by ersatz at 4:25 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


cough cough Nazi Germany cough cough

There is push-back at least.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 5:16 PM on January 4, 2013


For completeness, this is the pastafarian procession through Exarhia in support of Geron Pastitsios. The litany is pure comedy - I couldn't really provide a translation that would do it justice. The point made by ersatz above is crucial - GD accused the government of Doing Nothing in the face of such eeeevil blasphemy, and they felt like they had to Do Something.
posted by Dr Dracator at 5:55 PM on January 4, 2013


I haven't read much about Germany before the Nazi takeover, but I'm given to understand that there was heavy street-fighting between communists and fascists during that period. Fear of the Reds led the liberals in government to give Hitler a little power, which proved to be a mistake.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:14 PM on January 4, 2013


I should clarify... with criminal blasphemy laws that authorities are actually enforcing. I understand that old laws often stay on the books forever until you get some pigheaded bureaucrat using them as a excuse to deny a request or something, at which time they quickly get struck down. But someone getting arrested for blasphemy in an EU country? That's still mind blowing.
The EU doesn't have competence over criminal law, even more so when it's only internal. The only thing the EU can do is hope that any such arrest/conviction is appealed up to the ECHR to rule unlawful. Then they could lean on Greece to fulfil its obligations. Other than that, it's soft power all the way.
posted by Jehan at 6:58 PM on January 4, 2013


Greece's Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party is Coming to Chicago.They already have a branch in Melbourne, Australia, home to one of the largest Greek populations outside of Athens.
Even in villages that had been wiped out by the Nazis in the second world war, such as Distomo and Kalavryta, Golden Dawn averaged 6%.
posted by adamvasco at 8:07 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


From that link: The last U.S. conviction for blasphemy—at least that of any significance—was ... [i]n 1928.

1928 is a long time ago. The fact there is a EU country with blasphemy laws blows my mind. Sorry.


Leaving plenty of extra free time for the authorities to help cover up all those lynchings.
posted by biffa at 8:39 AM on January 5, 2013



Greece's Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party is Coming to Chicago.


I still hate Illinois Nazis.
posted by gimonca at 8:43 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Golden Dawn, Shining Path . . . perhaps it's best to make a general rule to be extremely wary of political parties that promise you something gleaming.

That Golden Dawn "Greek key" logo could not be less subtle. It's almost genius.
posted by Countess Elena at 9:20 AM on January 5, 2013


The tourists held by Greek police as illegal migrants. Some have been beaten up by police.
posted by adamvasco at 2:39 AM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Golden Dawn Gets EU Human Rights Seat
posted by jeffburdges at 1:32 AM on January 25, 2013


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