Modern Blasphemy
May 6, 2017 6:15 AM   Subscribe

As reported in The Independent, actor/author/public figure Stephen Fry is being investigated after a complaint that he violated Ireland's Defamation Act (2009) by committing blasphemy. If found guilty he could fined up to €25,000.
posted by LastOfHisKind (36 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
In case someone was wondering, a bit more context from the journalist.
posted by effbot at 6:27 AM on May 6, 2017 [3 favorites]


I had to answer some demographic type questions to reach the article from this link, and I did. Is it possible to find another source for people who aren't keen on that?

It's weird that the person who reported the blasphemy insists he wasn't offended by it. Maybe he's trying to get the law repealed by drawing attention to it?
posted by harriet vane at 6:28 AM on May 6, 2017 [5 favorites]


"I told the Garda that I did not want to include this as I had not personally been offended by Fry's comments - I added that I simply believed that the comments made by Fry on RTÉ were criminal blasphemy and that I was doing my civic duty by reporting a crime."

Jesus fucking Christ on a rubber crutch, what an asshole
posted by Ten Cold Hot Dogs at 6:28 AM on May 6, 2017 [59 favorites]


That "not personally offended" quote is the most amazing, beautiful expression of humanity's ability to tie its brain in knots I've ever heard and I only wish Flann O'Brien were still around so he could cherish it. I'm going to metaphorically keep it in a tissue lined box so that I can draw it out and gaze upon it in wonder in times of trouble.
posted by Diablevert at 6:38 AM on May 6, 2017 [24 favorites]


God is (as I was brought up to believe) all-knowing, all-seeing and all powerful. Strange, then, how he seems to so often require the assistance of such demented hominids as us. It's a puzzle.
posted by metagnathous at 6:48 AM on May 6, 2017 [14 favorites]


There is nothing about this that doesn't scream "making a point to show how stupid the law is" to me. It's the "civic duty" but that screams it the most to me - it bellows "this is technically illegal under your stupid laws, so I'm going to make you investigate it and see how stupid it all is".

It's a very British way of protesting, so I'd be surprised if it wasn't a very Irish way of doing things too.
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 6:50 AM on May 6, 2017 [31 favorites]


Yeah, I also immediately assumed that this was someone trying to make a point about the stupid law.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:53 AM on May 6, 2017 [2 favorites]


I take it nobody read the tweet I linked to?
posted by effbot at 6:54 AM on May 6, 2017 [4 favorites]


I did. What is the opposite of a "religious loon"?
posted by chavenet at 7:09 AM on May 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


It's a very British way of protesting, so I'd be surprised if it wasn't a very Irish way of doing things too.

Why must you insult the Irish?
posted by Diablevert at 7:24 AM on May 6, 2017 [23 favorites]


Well of course one of the branches of the Gardaí involved this investigation is based in Donnybrook.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:30 AM on May 6, 2017 [5 favorites]


Fry's comment (about what he would say to God were he to meet him after death) was: "How dare you create a world in which there is such misery? It’s not our fault? It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?"

If that is illegal, we should also report anyone who quotes the opening words of Habakkuk:

How long, O Lord, must I call for help?
But you do not listen!
“Violence is everywhere!” I cry,
but you do not come to save.
Must I forever see these evil deeds?
Why must I watch all this misery?
Wherever I look,
I see destruction and violence.
I am surrounded by people
who love to argue and fight.
The law has become paralyzed,
and there is no justice in the courts.
The wicked far outnumber the righteous,
so that justice has become perverted.


Or these words Job spoke to God (in chapter 14):

As mountains fall and crumble
and as rocks fall from a cliff,
as water wears away the stones
and floods wash away the soil,
so you destroy people’s hope.
You always overpower them, and they pass from the scene.
You disfigure them in death and send them away.
They never know if their children grow up in honor
or sink to insignificance.
They suffer painfully;
their life is full of trouble.


Fry's only about a half-step removed from being proclaimed a prophet and added to the Bible.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:30 AM on May 6, 2017 [69 favorites]


What is the opposite of a "religious loon"?

a deflocked cardinal
posted by pyramid termite at 7:36 AM on May 6, 2017 [44 favorites]


Fry's only about a half-step removed from being proclaimed a prophet and added to the Bible.

"They say of the Acropolis where the Parthenon is, that there are no straight lines" (The Book of Stephen, chapter 1 verse 1)
posted by saturday_morning at 7:51 AM on May 6, 2017 [19 favorites]


Atheist pigeon?
posted by loquacious at 7:55 AM on May 6, 2017 [3 favorites]


He should have to pay the fine directly to whichever God physically, demonstratively manifests to collect.
posted by Catblack at 8:10 AM on May 6, 2017 [24 favorites]


I simply believed that the comments made by Fry on RTÉ were criminal blasphemy and that I was doing my civic duty by reporting a crime.

Can't tell if Lawful Good or Chaotic Neutral /frye-thinking.gif
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:28 AM on May 6, 2017 [5 favorites]


Unfortunately, Fry can't use the Monty Python defense: "We are not committing blasphemy, we're committing heresy! There's a difference!"
posted by dannyboybell at 8:57 AM on May 6, 2017 [2 favorites]


Can't tell if Lawful Good or Chaotic Neutral /frye-thinking.gif

Lawful evil - stupid law, doesn't personally offend/affect them, literally go out of their way to report it in person to the garda.
posted by thecjm at 8:58 AM on May 6, 2017 [3 favorites]


I'm convinced this was someone trying to point out the stupidity of the law. Fry is a millionaire and he won't be seriously inconvenienced by any of this and it might get the law changed.
posted by Wretch729 at 9:11 AM on May 6, 2017 [6 favorites]


According to the quote of the law in the article: “....thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion”., Fry isn't guilty. He wasn't intentionally causing a moral uproar to a community.
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:15 AM on May 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


So this is a bit of garbage attention-getting related to a ridiculous law. That said, it's interesting that Ireland has a blasphemy law on the books, and that it was passed in 2009, given that Ireland also has freedom of religion.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:52 AM on May 6, 2017 [5 favorites]


Well of course one of the branches of the Gardaí involved this investigation is based in Donnybrook.

Yeah, I hear it's just down the road from Shenanigan and Fisticuffs.
posted by jonp72 at 10:05 AM on May 6, 2017 [4 favorites]


Stephen Fry is just going to hate all this attention, isn't he?
posted by Flashman at 10:18 AM on May 6, 2017 [5 favorites]


God is (as I was brought up to believe) all-knowing, all-seeing and all powerful. Strange, then, how he seems to so often require the assistance of such demented hominids as us. It's a puzzle.

Less of a puzzle, more of a joke. Omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence give enough safe distance for humanity's tendency to be just intelligent enough to be incredibly stupid less of a tragedy and more of a comedy.
posted by byanyothername at 10:23 AM on May 6, 2017


Harriet vane, Idk about oz, but the us has the option to skip the survey if one isn't a subscriber.
posted by brujita at 10:35 AM on May 6, 2017


Ireland also has freedom of religion.

Which, as we see in this case, is less useful than freedom from religion.
posted by BrashTech at 10:45 AM on May 6, 2017 [14 favorites]


But there is no case. There will be no prosecution. There is a cursory investigation, because someone demanded it, but the person demanding it had no belief in their demand.

Like, I'm a lot more interested in what a prosecutable case looks like. And, if such a case is impossible to find, what that says about the broader nature of Irish politics.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:01 AM on May 6, 2017


Maybe he reported himself.
posted by Segundus at 11:04 AM on May 6, 2017 [2 favorites]


One of the more interesting aspects of studying law has been learning about the really, really prosaic origins of many of the most important constitutional cases in Canada. Like, the fact that most of the native fisheries cases that have evolved our understanding of aboriginal title resulted not from random enforcement actions against random plaintiffs but from First Nations members calling up the fisheries enforcement division and saying "hey, you know, if you happen to be here on Saturday at 3pm there might be a First Nations person there fishing with the wrong type of apparatus/out of season/over the limit." And they would wink, and fisheries would wink back, and come Saturday at 3pm, a fine would be handed out and a test case would be born.

Or the number of division of powers cases that resulted from minor variations in provincial and federal laws that some corporation wanted to exploit by having the less favourable to them version invalidated.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:08 AM on May 6, 2017 [3 favorites]


We discussed the stupid blasphemy law back in 2009 when it was enacted. And it really is extravagantly stupid.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:09 AM on May 6, 2017 [5 favorites]


If ever there were a case for past lives, it would be Oscar Wilde and Stephen Fry.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 11:46 AM on May 6, 2017 [6 favorites]


a fine would be handed out and a test case would be born.

This would, alas, seem to require the state to still want to prosecute. Or is the fine brought by the fisheries? Either way, someone needs to care enough to make the case.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:43 PM on May 6, 2017


> Either way, someone needs to care enough to make the case.

they did: R. v. Marshall (1999). One of the big ones.
posted by scruss at 4:25 PM on May 6, 2017


Ah! I meant about the blasphemy law.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:29 PM on May 6, 2017


I think the Rubber Bandits did it.
posted by sneebler at 6:53 PM on May 7, 2017


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