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But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin. Mark3:29 God in hell I never thought I would ever use a bible reference!
January 1, 2010 7:31 PM   Subscribe

Blasphmey! It's vogue, ancient and modern. Just don't paint yourself into a box you can't shoot out of.
posted by Balisong (32 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
OK, sorry for two Wiki links...
The last two are new developments and I suck at making posts.
posted by Balisong at 7:34 PM on January 1, 2010


Blasphemous actions are way more fun than blasphemous words.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:34 PM on January 1, 2010


I was hoping this was going to be a flash game.
posted by shothotbot at 7:36 PM on January 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Presumably this post is precipitate of the new Irish law.
posted by clarknova at 7:40 PM on January 1, 2010


Oh yeah. it was the "modern" link.
posted by clarknova at 7:41 PM on January 1, 2010


I confess to blaspheming a little when I saw that picture of Bjork. Holy fuck, she looks rough.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 7:45 PM on January 1, 2010


law links are boring.
posted by Balisong at 7:46 PM on January 1, 2010


Please see also.
posted by milquetoast at 7:54 PM on January 1, 2010


I am not a follower of the Dark Lord myself, but I would be positively delighted if some enterprising Satanist were to bring suit against a Pastor for the contents of the Sunday sermon.

(yeah Ireland is mostly Catholic but it is the Protestants who go in for that ranting about Satan stuff, right?).
posted by idiopath at 8:16 PM on January 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


*takes Bjork's advice and goes off to fuck a buddhist
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:42 PM on January 1, 2010


"He said our prophet was a terrorist! I'll show him how wrong he was by committing terrorism in the name of the prophet!"
posted by empath at 8:55 PM on January 1, 2010


The Bjork comment makes no sense.
posted by ifandonlyif at 8:59 PM on January 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Exodus 22:18 Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.

I suppose they'll have to ban the bible.
posted by stavrogin at 8:59 PM on January 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Bjork comment makes no sense.

Bjork explains how a tv works.
posted by empath at 9:47 PM on January 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


Blasphmey?
posted by lumensimus at 9:55 PM on January 1, 2010


The empath link makes no sense.

(But I understand Tricky a bit better now...)
posted by ifandonlyif at 11:10 PM on January 1, 2010


I don't really get what the Irish atheists are trying to achieve.
Can't they read?

I mean check out the definition of blasphemy that they are railing against. It is based on two conditions:

"(1) publishing or uttering matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters sacred by any religion,
(2) thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion, with some defences permitted".

No outrage, no blasphemy. It is really quite simple.
Has any of the 25 statements caused outrage amont a substantial number of adherents?
(OK, the ones by Salman Rushdie and Pope Bendict have, but somehow I don't think they fall under the jurisdiction of Irish courts. Also, I don't think the outrage that followed was caused intentionally, so even those two statements don't qualify.)
Or more precisely, will the fact that the Irish atheists publish a couple of quotes on their website lead to any outrage, and therefore blasphemy? I doubt it.
I mean the outrage surrounding the Rushdie and Pope quotes was caused by Rushdie and the Pope and not by the Irish atheists. Therefore, simply repeating them without further outrage does not constitute blasphemy.
posted by sour cream at 12:11 AM on January 2, 2010


That caption for this picture in the Guardian link is actually slightly incorrect.
posted by koeselitz at 2:00 AM on January 2, 2010


OK, the ones by Salman Rushdie and Pope Bendict have, but somehow I don't think they fall under the jurisdiction of Irish courts.

If someone wants to publish Rushdie in Ireland then it will certainly fall under Irish law, leading to a conflict between freedom of speech and blasphemy.

Pope Benedict is the leader of an organisation with considerable personnel and assets in Ireland, which thus do fall under Irish law. Now it seems unlikely to me that the Irish government will go after the Pope for something he has said, but if someone else says something which people find offensive then should it be acceptable for them to be subject to pursuit in the courts? Do you really think the right not to be outraged should trump the right to free speech? Particularly in a nation which has long seen huge amounts of political control by the dominant religion?

Perhaps it would be useful to consider what charges of blasphemy can arise from:

Egypt, 2009: A woman was arrested for suggesting women should be able to marry four men.
Italy, 2000: Film director charged for mixing images of catholicism and sex.
UK, 2005: A Chrsitian group attempts to have Jerry Springer: The Opera prosecuted for blasphemy.
Germany, 2006: A man recives a 1 year jail sentence for stamping "The Quran" on pieces of toilet paper and sending them to mosques.

There are plenty more examples, particularly from predominantly Islamic countries, many of which are more serious in their implications and arise from what appear to my eyes to be less serious causes.

Even where laws exist with little application there is potential for their existence to lead to self-censorship and thus to the limitation of the arts and free expression. It is easy to assume that falling foul fo blasphemy laws requires going out of the way to cause offense, but it is entirely possible that the offense arises from the desire of the accused to engender significant social change away from an entrenched position upheld by a dominant religious movement with signficiant political and social influence, the freedom to make this protest and to campaign for change must outweigh the risk that some people might have their feelings hurt.
posted by biffa at 2:02 AM on January 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


[picture] --

It says "Björk's comment on Buddhism" was seen as blasphemous, whereas actually it's the picture itself which is blasphemous to Jews, Muslims and Christians, who believe that humans were "created in the image of God."
posted by koeselitz at 2:02 AM on January 2, 2010


Anyhow, this is interesting.

Here is something I was reading today by an Islamic academic, a former professor at the University of Arts and Sciences in Tehran and friend of the late Ayatollah Khomeini (until he was felt compelled to leave Iran for political reasons some years after the revolution) named Abdolkarim Soroush:
The venerable author of the essay on "Paradox of Islam and Democracy" [Mr Hamid Paydar] observes: "Islam and democracy can not be combined, unless Islam is thoroughly secularized." ... Democracy, however, does not require believers to abandon their convictions, secularize their creed, and lose faith in divine protection. Why should a religion that is freely and enthusiastically adopted be cast away? Why shouldn't the believers be allowed to strengthen and spread their belief? The practice that truly violates democracy is not embracing a faith but the imposition of a particular belief or punishment of disbelief. Needless to say, these practices are impermissible and undesirable in a democratic religious government...

The only thing that is required of a democracy is tolerance of different points of view and their advocates. Who says the precondition for tolerance of ideas and their bearers is the renouncing of one's own beliefs? One may consider an idea absolutely false while judging its bearer blameless, respectable, and even commendable. Consider the current debates among the scientists and the philosophers. They, too, do not always proceed from skepticism. It is not as though undecided schoars allow and appreciate criticism and deem their opponents worth of dialogue and debate. The purveyors of certitude do the same. Tolerance, as astute observers have maintained, concerns believers not beliefs.

This insight emanates from a second-order knowledge, a vantage point above and beyond the battlefield of ideas, from which one can survey complex causes and means that make minds receptive, hearts committed, and believers devoted to ideas. From this viewpoint, we can appreciate how one dedicates and truth-loving individual, Mohammed al-Ghazzali (1058-1111) turns his back on pleasure and power, endures years of agony, asceticism, and relentless search for the truth, and finally arrives at the validity of Sunni Islam, while another, Saint Francis (1182-1226), spends his youth in pursuit of worldly pleasures and is ultimately set ablaze by the love of Jesus and is led to a new life of mysticism and monasticism. Neither were, in the least, derelict in their respective quests, even though they reached different results. So it is that the "battle of seventy-two denominations" is excused, and the combatants (but not their ideas) are absolved. Each is deemed praiseworthy and honorable in his or her own place. Furthermore, divine guidance is believed to spread so widely that seekers can bask in its blessed rays. "Excusing the battle of the seventy-two nations" is the wise counsel of our righteous sages and is not a result of their "liberal-mindedness," faithlessness, or skepticism. It is the result of their profound philosophical anthropology and their intimate knowledge of the intricacies of the human heart.
— "Tolerance And Governance: A Discourse on Religion and Democracy"
[from Reason, Freedom, and Democracy in Islam]


Apparently, then, the purveyors of modern Islamic Democracy would say that Ireland is making a terrible mistake in outlawing blasphemy; they would say, in fact, that this is not only a democratic error but a religious error, that is, it is against the teachings of the Saints and the Imams. In fact, I find it extremely ironic that, while Mr Mousavi and his compatriots, devout Muslims all, fight their battle on the streets of Tehran for freedom of the press and freedom of expression, Ireland can't be arsed to decide whether they really want to give that freedom to their (largely secular) people or not.
posted by koeselitz at 2:43 AM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I came in here thinking this was going to be a post about voguing, and I was hoping that the last link was going to showcase gun-wielding dancers fabulously busting out of some enclosed nightclub. Oh well, at least Bjork's fierce.
posted by tractorfeed at 5:06 AM on January 2, 2010


I was just listening to the BBC series "Unwritten Law" about case law in Great Britain. The first episode was about the successful prosecution of the editor of The Gay News for the crime of blasphemy in publishing "The Love That Dares Speak Its Name" in 1976. To this day the poem is banned.

I guess that is the beauty of living in a country that does not recognize a state religion--nobody can be prosecuted for blasphemy.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:04 AM on January 2, 2010


This shouldn't be an issue for atheists. If you don't believe in god, why would you say "God dammit?"

Personally, I'm going to book my vacation to Ireland ASAP. I have an idea for a new YouTube viral in the vein of "Where the Hell is Matt?" called "Let's Get Deported."
posted by Eideteker at 7:38 AM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


No outrage, no blasphemy. It is really quite simple.

I don't see what is so simple here regarding a law that creates a demand for outrage. The government has basically incited the next riot over a simple comment that hasn't even been made yet. It seems the Irish are hostage to simple minds however.
posted by Brian B. at 7:51 AM on January 2, 2010


I was just listening to the BBC series "Unwritten Law" about case law in Great Britain. The first episode was about the successful prosecution of the editor of The Gay News for the crime of blasphemy in publishing "The Love That Dares Speak Its Name" in 1976. To this day the poem is banned.

I guess that is the beauty of living in a country that does not recognize a state religion--nobody can be prosecuted for blasphemy.


The poem was never banned, simply that reading or publishing it was found to be blasphemous libel in Whitehouse vs Lemon. The issue about the blasphemy prosecution is that it was the first such for 50 years and most people thought the law was dead. The laws of blasphemy and blasphemous libel were finally repealed in 2008, but even before that the poem had be publicly read without any prosecution. It was a weird episode in the history of English law, but hardly representative of the state of religious freedom. They could have published the poem in Wales - where there is no established religion - and still have been prosecuted.
posted by Sova at 8:18 AM on January 2, 2010


The poem was never banned

Ah Ok, I was just going by this: The poem was banned in 1976 under the UK's blasphemy laws, and remains banned to this day. which comes from the third link-- which may be an unreliable source.

it was found to be blasphemous libel in Whitehouse vs Lemon

According to the BBC series, Mrs. Whitehouse wished to pursue charges againt the author as well, but he lived in China. The distributors were not charged either, if I remember correctly it was because they were too numerous. The great question seemed to be why wasn't it a charge of obscenity rather than blasphemy.

hardly representative of the state of religious freedom. They could have published the poem in Wales - where there is no established religion - and still have been prosecuted.

This confuses me. How can you can charge blasphemy if there is no state religion? Why would the state be concerned with what is or is not heretical to any one religion? Certainly a poem about Jesus' sex life would not be blasphemous to a Hindu or a Shintoist.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 1:11 PM on January 2, 2010


I confess to blaspheming a little when I saw that picture of Bjork. Holy fuck, she looks rough.

I'm not sure when it dates from, but she's adorable in empath's link.

The tension of waiting for her to discharge a capacitor and knock herself on her ass was unbearable though.
posted by CaseyB at 2:57 PM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


This shouldn't be an issue for atheists. If you don't believe in god, why would you say "God dammit?"

I would like to be able to explain why I think religion is ridiculous without going to prison. Particularly when Tony Blair is free to compare my lack of belief in his invisible friends with the mass-murder of children with no consequence.
posted by rodgerd at 3:35 PM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah Ok, I was just going by this: The poem was banned in 1976 under the UK's blasphemy laws, and remains banned to this day. which comes from the third link-- which may be an unreliable source.

Maybe it depends on how we define banned. That it was a private prosecution under a long-disused law doesn't really qualify it as being banned in my opinion. If Whitehouse hadn't pushed it into the courts, the state wouldn't have, and church leaders certainly not - they refused to back her. According to this short article a reading of the poem took place in public only shortly after the prosecution began, and no action was taken. The poem was a rallying point against the blasphemy laws, but not really a sign of state censorship.

hardly representative of the state of religious freedom. They could have published the poem in Wales - where there is no established religion - and still have been prosecuted.

This confuses me. How can you can charge blasphemy if there is no state religion? Why would the state be concerned with what is or is not heretical to any one religion? Certainly a poem about Jesus' sex life would not be blasphemous to a Hindu or a Shintoist.


Well, I kinda cheated, and it's only because of the funny legal and church setup we have here that such a thing is possible. But I wouldn't worry about state religion interference with censorship in the UK anyway. The Church of England is quite "soft", and if a government wanted to disestablish a meddling church, antidisestablishmentarians would not be strong enough to prevent it - hence they tend to behave and retain what powers they have.
posted by Sova at 7:27 PM on January 2, 2010


Sova: “Well, I kinda cheated, and it's only because of the funny legal and church setup we have here that such a thing is possible. But I wouldn't worry about state religion interference with censorship in the UK anyway. The Church of England is quite "soft", and if a government wanted to disestablish a meddling church, antidisestablishmentarians would not be strong enough to prevent it - hence they tend to behave and retain what powers they have.”

This is where the irony comes in; and I think most people here may not have seen the issue as it is on the whole. There's a tendency for pragmatic atheists who feel somewhat put out by this kind of thing to start pointing up freedom of religion and separation of church and state, as though these were even the important issues in the disagreement in Ireland. In reality, as far as my conception of the situation goes, it seems that the only people boostering for preservation of blasphemy laws (or at least not agitating for their removal) in this case aren't religious people or people who want to censor blasphemy but rather well-meaning and somewhat overwhelmed liberals who fear that certain people in society will be so loud-mouthed that they will offend and harm certain other religious people. So this isn't an issue at all of religion imposing its views on society, but rather a fully liberated society which, having reached a state of relative freedom of speech, worries that it might not have gone far enough in its deference to minorities.

Whereas the truth is that religious faith does not in any sense require the faithless to cease blaspheming, and, as the quotation I gave above points out, true religion can actually be said to urge its adherents to welcome differing viewpoints. I've always felt that this is something the non-religious often miss about the benefits religion can afford: that, by providing the very dogma they fear might paralyze the mind, religion can actually free us to consider other views and perspectives by giving us a context from which to consider them and giving us an implicit question: is what I believe the truth?

In any case, insofar as religion can coexist with secular societies, that religion which welcomes and expects differing viewpoints is the kind of religion that can do so. And therefore while it's probably the most difficult thing for democratically elected leaders to do, the leaders of secular democracies must make it a point to be very stern and direct with members of religious faiths, while being prepared to be equitable with them. Leaders of secular democracies (like Ireland and the UK and the United States) must say to the religious: "You are welcomed, and you are tolerated, in our society; but you must keep in mind that we extend this welcome to all our citizens, and therefore you must tolerate others to the degree to which you wish to be tolerated yourself."

What people do not often realize is that such toleration of opposing views is actually a hallmark of religious institutions. This is not to say that all religious people are tolerant, but rather to point out that religion and secular democracies can coexist without contradiction. And I think that often liberal leaders of secular democracies, fearing offense, are sometimes too afraid to be as stern with their citizens, religious as well as non-religious, as they ought to be.
posted by koeselitz at 8:10 PM on January 2, 2010


So this isn't an issue at all of religion imposing its views on society

I think you need to learn a little more about the Irish constitution and the position of the Church in Ireland before spinning fantasies out of whole cloth.
posted by rodgerd at 10:19 PM on January 2, 2010


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