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Friday, 1 May 2009

What’s sauce for the goose . . .

If you want a blasphemy law that denies people freedom of speech, then you should expect religion to be denied freedom of speech, too.

That seems to be the conclusion of John Waters, writing an opinion piece in the Irish Times today, on a suggestion that the ridiculous “crime” of blasphemous libel be brought onto the Irish statute book.

“[I]t is difficult to arrive at any insight into why the Minister for Justice has proposed the introduction of [this] new crime,” he says.

And he makes his case thus:

The right to give expression to the religious concept of reality itself depends on the right to freedom of expression. If we move to censor criticism or the satirising of religion, we move also to what will no doubt be deemed a trade-off: the complete removal of signs of religiosity from public view.

If the proposed legislation were to become law, it would become more difficult to argue with, for example, attempts to remove the Angelus from national radio and television, because the continuation of this tradition might then quite reasonably be deemed an unjust provocation to those whose dissent would no longer be a matter of freedom of choice, but a potential crime subject to draconian penalties.

Yup. What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

And you might like to have a gander at this: it was “blasphemous libel”, not blasphemy itself, that did it for Gay News in England the 1970s, and you can see a series of articles relating to that case here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent point. Nobody seems to have realized before that religionists have freedom of speech, and that there is no suggestion of their giving it up at all.