Monday, 27 July 2009

On My Opinion On Ireland's Blasphemy Law

An interesting story of recent times has been the introduction in Ireland of a blasphemy law, which could see people being fined €25,000 for saying or doing things which are offensive to the overly-sensitive*.

There has been something of an outcry, with Atheist Ireland promising to release a blasphemous statement Sometime Soon, Ditchkins being virtually apoplectic with rage and... well... not a lot else**.

WhyNotSmile has mixed feelings on this. On the one hand, I can see how it is bad for freedom of speech and so on, but on the other hand, I am not sure that I am a big fan of freedom of speech anyway. I mean, in a political, sociological blah blah blah sense, I think freedom of speech is more or less a Good Thing, but in everyday life I generally wish everyone would just be nice to each other, and I'm not sure I couldn't get fully behind a law that enshrined that principle.

Also, since many people class 'Oh my God' as an exclamation of surprise as blasphemous, surely 90% of the country could be in court by the end of the month. Which seems a bit silly, although all those €25,000 fines would probably come in handy. In fact, maybe that's the idea. There's a recession, the government needs money, they can't raise taxes, so what do they do? Fine every fecker in the land. Quite clever, when you think about it.

* I have not been able to find exact details of the law, so this is part fiction and part speculation.

** The main reason I couldn't find exact details on the law was that when I Googled it, the first page of results was mainly atheists going beserk, and if I can't find what I'm looking for on page 1 of Google, I give up. I know, I know, modern technology has sent me to the dogs.


qmonkey said...

the problem is that offense is defined by the offendee. I could decide that the tone of this post offended me, but so what.

There is no freedom of speech with out freedom to offend. Of course i think people should try to be respectful and courteous, but never never should this be enshrined in law, its the ultimate thin end of a wedge

andmilestogobeforeisleep said...

yes - it is the subjectivity which is the big problem. In all these things... blasphemy, harassment etc. the balance lies with the perception of the victim which is paramount not the intention of the perceived perpetrator.

Wandering Photographer said...

Freedom of speech does not necessarily mean you have carte blanche to say anything at all, to anyone and at all times and all places.

I've come across some misguided individuals who believe their right to "freedom of speech" means they do have the the right to say anything at all, to anyone and at all times and all places.

Your right to freedom of speech is limited and limitable. For example, the right to freedom of speech does not extend to forcing someone else to provide a forum for you, or to compel someone to listen to you.

With regards to "freedom to offend" - it is not true that offence is only defined by the "offendee". The offender may be deliberately offensive and so offense may also be defined by the offender.

Where offence is defined by the "offendee" this situation is analogous to that of harassment. Your behaviour may be considered harassment by someone, but they must inform you of this and it only becomes harassment if you then continue ... although again, the behaviour may be intentionally harassing, and obviously so, in which case no notification is required.

I could write a tome on this, but I fear you would get bored.

qmonkey said...

Wandering: bad example. and a bit of a straw man. no one has ever suggested that freedom of speech means that you have a right to a forum for yourself... or to be on TV or something.

Whatever way you crack it offence is defined by the offendee. you (or a govt) arn't capable of deciding what i find offensive. Only i am. If i inform you that i find your blog name offensive, and you continue to use it.. what then. If by contusing to have that name, or say those things i threaten to riot... are you then guilty of behaviour likely cause a riot?

the real issue is with the thin end of the wedge. the next thing is politicians getting offended if you criticise their foreign policy etc

Wandering Photographer said...

Qmonkey, it wasn't a straw man argument ... I wasn't setting anything up to be knocked down. Nor was I referring to a legal code or involving government (who I think should be involved in as little as possible)

Offence is not and never has been solely defined by the recipient ... as exemplified by my blog name. Feel free to get all hurt and upset by it, but no-one is going to give a stuff (because the rest of us know that would be just weird)... which is funnily enough exactly how you started your post. However, my point was that my right to free is not all encompassing. I fear you were misdirected when I got diverted onto the notion of "offence". Please don't be offended that I wasn't really replying to you :-P

Wandering Photographer said...

Can anyone spot the word I accidentally forgot to type there?

qmonkey said...

"...because the rest of us know that would be just weird..."

hmmm. you see the problem don't you

Anonymous said...

Very Interesting!
Thank You!