Wednesday, April 29, 2009

For the love of God, no

I don't think we need to strengthen the blasphemy laws in Ireland. I think anyone who feels strongly will not be so unsettled by the wild rantings of some loon or supposed comic to want to see prosecutions.
“Blasphemous matter” is defined as 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 he or she intends, by the publication of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage.”
Well, this would be an invitation for cranks and the eternally offended to waste all sorts of police time and resources on nothing. Honestly, I sometimes have a hard time reconciling our Christian devotion to the martyrs with our over-sensitive prickly skin nowadays. It seems to me that enduring a disrespectful joke or even some ugly bigotry is not on a par with getting thrown into the ring with a hungry lion.

We don't need blasphemy laws. We need to toughen up, turn the other cheek and – if you want, I guess – boycott and petition. Oh yeah, and pray for the one who offends you. (I often wonder if the Catholic League in New York issued a press release calling on all Catholics to pray for whoever is being offensive if that wouldn't be more effective than expressing outrage.)

And, given all that's going on in Europe at the moment, this is exactly the wrong time to be introducing this legislation. Publications that want to reproduce the Danish cartoons should be entitled to do so. Booksellers who want to sell The Satanic Verses should be able to without fear of prosecution (or worse, of course).