Do you remember the ridiculous blasphemy law that Fianna Fáil’s Dermot Ahern decided he must introduce in the face of massive public apathy?
Here’s section 36 of the Defamation Act 2009. Can you believe this nonsense in a country that claims to be a democratic republic?
(1) A person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €25,000.
(2) For the purposes of this section, a person publishes or utters blasphemous matter if—
(a) he or she publishes or utters matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion, and
(b) he or she intends, by the publication or utterance of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage.
“Held sacred by any religion”. In other words, it’s a crime to say anything that some random religious nutcase might choose to take offence at. It’s a crime to mock or ridicule a belief in the supernatural, despite the complete lack of evidence for ghosties or ghoulies. Star Chamber territory: the severity of my crime depends on how outraged a given religious maniac chooses to feel on any given day.
If I offend the Church of Scientology, by laughing at their idea that an alien lives inside your head, I might get fined 20 grand?
If I upset the Mormons by suggesting that the tribes of Israel never lived in North America and that Joseph Smith was a lunatic, the cops are going to come and arrest me?
Probably not, since these are utterly mad religions, unlike the perfectly sensible majority belief in Ireland that a priest can turn a biscuit into a man by waving his hands at it.
Luckily for us, an Garda Síochána has been in no massive rush to prosecute those of us who happen to think religious belief should hold the same status as the belief in any other fantasy, so there hasn’t been a rush to burn us at the stake for mocking their delusions. Otherwise, who knows what would have happened if the followers of Yog-Sothoth had complained to the authorities? Would the Pastafarians have tossed me in the slammer for straining credulity?
I did an annual Good Friday blasphemous post every year since 2009 in protest at the ridiculous Section 36, and long before it too, but strangely, no copper ever felt my collar.
Let me share some of them here with you for posterity.
Of course, this sort of thing always invites the incredibly boring troll who says something like, You’d never say this about the Muslims, would you?
Yes, actually. I would.