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Archive for January 2nd, 2010

Funny, they don't look Irish ...

Where is Father Ted when you need him? That keen-eyed irreverent look all things Roman and Catholic would have a field day with the new … if something so archaic can be considered anything but so far past a sell-buy date that decomposition happened centuries ago … anti-blasphemy law coming into effect in Ireland as of yesterday.

The new law makes blasphemy a crime punishable by a fine of up to 25,000 euros (£22,000; $35,000).

Thankfully, the group Atheist Ireland is taking the Papal Bull but the horns, publishing a hit parade of Top 25 Blasphemous Quotes from people smart, famous, and some even religious.

Much in the fashion of countries where only Islam is tolerated, Ireland’s 1937 constitution protects only Christian beliefs, and that’s about as much a help to democracy and freedom there as it is in the heart of Muslimia.

Interestingly, an Irish take on this is included on the Atheist Ireland page:

Micheal Martin, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, opposing attempts by Islamic States to make defamation of religion a crime at UN level, 2009:

“We believe that the concept of defamation of religion is not consistent with the promotion and protection of human rights. It can be used to justify arbitrary limitations on, or the denial of, freedom of expression. Indeed, Ireland considers that freedom of expression is a key and inherent element in the manifestation of freedom of thought and conscience and as such is complementary to freedom of religion or belief.”

Just months after Minister Martin made this comment, his colleague Dermot Ahern introduced Ireland’s new blasphemy law.

I’ve always been a bit vague on the actual offense of blaspheming, even during my Catholic school days when it was difficult to get a straight answer out of gay priests on just about anything concrete.

Years of Monte Python didn’t clear things up much, which is why I was happy to see as number 8 on the Blasphemy Top of the Pops, this quote from Matthias, son of Deuteronomy of Gath, in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, 1979:

“Look, I had a lovely supper, and all I said to my wife was that piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah.”

That was, if you recall, just before a group of women in facial hair started lobbing rocks at the old git … the usual punishment for blasphemers back in donkey days.

Perhaps Irish leaders long for the days when women wore beards and rock-chucking to the death was a day's entertainment, but no matter how amusing some might find this genuflection to men in dresses in Rome it's serious business that needs nipping in the bud.

Holding the Irish up to ridicule is a national pastime in England, and maybe on this subject the rest of the world can jump in, too. After all, sometimes we shouldn't always look on the bright side.

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