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Source: (consider it) Thread: Is blasphemy still a thing?
Crœsos
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# 238

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quote:
Originally posted by fletcher christian:
As it stands, I suspect it is covering what would otherwise be called a 'hate crime' but possibly specific to the religious sphere.

Nope. A "hate crime" is an otherwise criminal offense (assault, vandalism, etc.) motivated by animus towards a group. What you're describing is "hate speech", animus-motivated negative and false characterizations of a group. The two are often conflated, but they are distinct legal terms of art.

quote:
Originally posted by Twilight:
I feel like God isn't getting equal time. There's no one ever there to say that most believers think God created the world, but that he gave man free will and it is man who chooses to do evil.

Stephen Fry called God, "capricious, mean-minded, stupid," and then went on to be "astonished," that anyone was offended because he didn't name any one particular religion. I think it's Fry who's being rather capricious, mean-minded and stupid.

My favorite radio program is NPR's Moth story hour . . .

If your favorite radio program is on NPR you probably live in the United States, a nation awash in religious broadcasters and whole television channels devoted to promoting various flavors of Christianity. How many more Pat Robertsons and Jim Bakkers are necessary before you feel like God is getting "equal time"?

quote:
Originally posted by Bishops Finger:
I guess that this may be a throwback to the dreadful days when the Republic was firmly under the heel of the jackboot of the Roman Catholic Church.

Sort of, but not really. Blogger Thersites explains some of the history in this 2010 post:

quote:
Ireland provides a pretty good example of what I mean. Throughout much of the last century, the Free State, & then the Republic, had a notoriously strict censorship regime, based on the 1929 Censorship of Publications Act. The Irish censorship regime was (and still is) often characterized as originating from atavistic Catholic confessional impulses.

But if you look closely at the public and official debates of the 20s, it just was not that way. The major motivation for the censorship laws was a pervasive fear that the new state was behind the times. Ireland was left without the sort of active censorship mechanisms that characters like Anthony Comstock had blessed the US with. Even more worrying were the strenuous activities of Jix, particularly, because, well, what was the point of independence if you were not distinctly more moral than those you said were too immoral to keep themselves in charge of you anymore? (Irish, Canadian, Australian, and Indian censorship regimes all proved pretty grim, FWIW -- ostentatious official rectitude in regards to The Sex being a tempting way to say "we deserve autonomy" on the cheap.)

Hence, the machinery of censorship in Ireland was intended as a mark of modernity, not of backwardness. Every truly grownup nation could ban shit it did not like, so why not the Saorstat?

The rest is well worth a read, but the main take-away is that Ireland's current blasphemy law is more an outgrowth and relic of a trend towards censorship in the 1920s being seen as the right an proper attitude of a modern state than any specifically Catholic interference.

quote:
Originally posted by Twilight:
Christians analyzing their own religion is very different than someone outside it pointing their finger and calling us all stupid for worshiping an evil god.

Not all gods are the Christian God, and not all mentions of God are specifically about Christianity. It's not always about you.

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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I find it bizarre that anything Fry said should be considered either offensive or blasphemous.

As has been said, he gave an honest and completely understandable response to the toughest questions that theism throws up. The problem of suffering built in to creation itself, which is apparently allowed to happen as it will, despite the presence of an all-loving and all-powerful God. Surely everyone has thought these same thoughts themselves at some point?

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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Twilight

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Croesos Of course it's not always about me. I already said that I thought Fry had insulted anyone within any religion that worshiped a god. In that last sentence, I was speaking for my own views and not anyone else. Something you might want to do before you describe all Americans from your elitist viewpoint. It was also in answer to someone saying that the Christians on this board question those things. If you would every try reading the entire conversation, in context, you might understand it better. For example:

I also already explained that I wasn't talking about equal time in the entire world. The expression "equal time," usually refers to a chance for rebuttal on the same show. as in right there to respond to Fry's "questions."

All those "Christian," TV shows you talk about are never seen or listened to by me or anyone I know. I get 1500 cable stations and black out all but about 20. That's true for most people. I know you enjoy your anti-American prejudices, but we really don't all sit in front of Jerry Falwell all day or the tattoo shows or for that matter the Home Shopping Network, anymore than I think you listen to the Archers twice a day and swear by the Daily Mail.

[ 08. May 2017, 14:32: Message edited by: Twilight ]

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Martin60
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I'm surprised it isn't the only topic of conversation. That there isn't a robust theodicy of raging, meaningless suffering in the helplessness of God. Rather than pious twaddle.

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Love wins

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Twilight:
I also already explained that I wasn't talking about equal time in the entire world. The expression "equal time," usually refers to a chance for rebuttal on the same show. as in right there to respond to Fry's "questions."

I'm not a big fan of the "Shape of the World: Opinions Differ" style of balance. For example:

quote:
Originally posted by Stephen Fry:
I’d say ‘Bone cancer in children, what’s that about?’ How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault. It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil.

It would be very hard to find a pro-pediatric-bone-cancer spokesperson and I'm not really certain of the value of airing the views of such a person. Not every statement requires an in-program rebuttal.

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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Twilight

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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:

quote:
Originally posted by Stephen Fry:
I’d say ‘Bone cancer in children, what’s that about?’ How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault. It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil.

It would be very hard to find a pro-pediatric-bone-cancer spokesperson and I'm not really certain of the value of airing the views of such a person. Not every statement requires an in-program rebuttal.
Fry's statement was in answer to what he would ask God. What part of his sentence makes you think he was saying he was "against bone cancer"
so that the rebuttal would be "pro-bone cancer?"

Do you really not understand that he wasn't saying he was against bone cancer. That is a given in most people's mind. What Fry was doing was asking God why he allowed bone cancer in a world he created.

Therefore the rebuttal would not be "pro bone cancer" but about whether or not God was responsible for the bone cancer, or whether or not he had a purpose involved in the bone cancer, or whether or not God created the world and then stepped back and let it take it's course through natural law, or whether or not the world is currently controlled by Satan as Jehovah's Witnesses believe, or whatever. There are opposing viewpoints that, I think, would be interesting to hear.

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Stetson
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From Croesos' blogpost:

quote:
(Irish, Canadian, Australian, and Indian censorship regimes all proved pretty grim, FWIW -- ostentatious official rectitude in regards to The Sex being a tempting way to say "we deserve autonomy" on the cheap.)
Just since he mentioned Canada, I'm not sure that particular country really belongs on the list of nations' trying to promote their own autonomy via censorship, assuming it's autonomy from Britain being referenced.

The movement to make the Canadian colony into an independent country wasn't really an anti-British movement at all. It was more an anti-American movement, the idea(which I can only really give the bare bones of) being that a united country would be able to better defend itself against American expansion.

If anything, the general gist of Confederation, at least as far as the English-Canadians were concerned, was to ensure that the people living in the northern half of North America remained British.

It is true that Canadian cultural mores had a reputation for being particularly prudish. But interestingly enough, given current perceptions, it was often the Americans who were perceived as the wild-eyed libertines. As late as the 1970s, it wasn't unheard of to hear Canadians say things like(direct quote): "With more American influence up here, we'll be getting more magazines like Playboy and Mad(*)."

(*) For British shipmates, think of a PG version of Viz.

[ 08. May 2017, 15:04: Message edited by: Stetson ]

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quetzalcoatl
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I don't think you can have instant rebuttals on programmes with interviews in them, it would become absurd. Brad Pitt is interviewed, and warns against booze, so we need someone now who recommends it? Or v. v.

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Twilight:
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by Stephen Fry:
I’d say ‘Bone cancer in children, what’s that about?’ How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault. It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil.

It would be very hard to find a pro-pediatric-bone-cancer spokesperson and I'm not really certain of the value of airing the views of such a person. Not every statement requires an in-program rebuttal.
Fry's statement was in answer to what he would ask God. What part of his sentence makes you think he was saying he was "against bone cancer" so that the rebuttal would be "pro-bone cancer?"
The part where he says "It's not right. It's utterly, utterly evil." A full rebuttal would require an argument that bone cancer in children was actually a good thing. It might additionally require someone who agrees that it's bad but not God's fault, and someone who agrees that it's bad and God's fault but God's not to blame because [insert reason(s)]. They'd require a lot of time to rebut every single thing Fry said. I'm trying to imagine this standard of rebutting everything in action:

quote:
Fry: My next project is very interesting and people should watch it.

Interviewer: Up next, someone to explain why Stephen Fry's next project is terrible and no one should watch it.

Seems cumbersome.

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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Callan
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quote:
Originally posted by Twilight:
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:

quote:
Originally posted by Stephen Fry:
I’d say ‘Bone cancer in children, what’s that about?’ How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault. It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil.

It would be very hard to find a pro-pediatric-bone-cancer spokesperson and I'm not really certain of the value of airing the views of such a person. Not every statement requires an in-program rebuttal.
Fry's statement was in answer to what he would ask God. What part of his sentence makes you think he was saying he was "against bone cancer"
so that the rebuttal would be "pro-bone cancer?"

Do you really not understand that he wasn't saying he was against bone cancer. That is a given in most people's mind. What Fry was doing was asking God why he allowed bone cancer in a world he created.

Therefore the rebuttal would not be "pro bone cancer" but about whether or not God was responsible for the bone cancer, or whether or not he had a purpose involved in the bone cancer, or whether or not God created the world and then stepped back and let it take it's course through natural law, or whether or not the world is currently controlled by Satan as Jehovah's Witnesses believe, or whatever. There are opposing viewpoints that, I think, would be interesting to hear.

That would take it out of the realms of "an interview with Stephen Fry" and into the realms of a panel discussion about theodicy.

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lilBuddha
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# 14333

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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
I don't think you can have instant rebuttals on programmes with interviews in them, it would become absurd. Brad Pitt is interviewed, and warns against booze, so we need someone now who recommends it? Or v. v.

Why not? It is what we do with issues like climate change.

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So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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quetzalcoatl
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
I don't think you can have instant rebuttals on programmes with interviews in them, it would become absurd. Brad Pitt is interviewed, and warns against booze, so we need someone now who recommends it? Or v. v.

Why not? It is what we do with issues like climate change.
The BBC tend to do it, on programmes like 'Newsnight'. After a chat with Varoufakis about globalization, over to our easy-fit right-wing columnist, who will tell us how wonderful it is.

But to do it with all interviews would be bizarre, and kind of infantilizing. Fry said something awful about religion, so here is nice kind Sister Flipflop to tell you how nice God is.

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everything must go.

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leo
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# 1458

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quote:
Originally posted by Twilight:
quote:
Originally posted by leo:
The real blasphemy is what people inflict on human beings, who are made in God's image.

What Fry said was very good and to the point.

If you agree with Fry that God is capricious, mean-minded, and stupid then it should only seem right that you inflict bad things on those who are made in his image, shouldn't it?
What Paul said about his answering a question.

There is a similar YouTube clip of Fry which many RE teachers use to open up a discussion about theodicy.

Should these teachere be prosecuted too?

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My reviews at http://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
I don't think you can have instant rebuttals on programmes with interviews in them, it would become absurd. Brad Pitt is interviewed, and warns against booze, so we need someone now who recommends it? Or v. v.

Why not? It is what we do with issues like climate change.
The BBC tend to do it, on programmes like 'Newsnight'. After a chat with Varoufakis about globalization, over to our easy-fit right-wing columnist, who will tell us how wonderful it is.

But to do it with all interviews would be bizarre, and kind of infantilizing. Fry said something awful about religion, so here is nice kind Sister Flipflop to tell you how nice God is.

The point is that not all issues have opposite sides that are equal. Alcoholism is good and humans are not affecting the climate are both the same kind of stupid and giving them equal time is ridiculous.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Anglican_Brat
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Theism as a philosophical position utterly fails at answering the question of suffering. To take one extreme example, why do some children grow up to be healthy, stable adults, who marry and have children of their own and lead wonderful lives,

and why do some children die of hunger or disease?

I don't believe that God goes eenie, meanie, miney mo, you will live, you will die, because a micromanaging God would be cruel, sadistic and coldhearted.

My theological hunch, or inadequate explanation drawn from my interpretation of the mythic creature Leviathan, which to me, represents chaos, disorder, and generally suckiness in the universe, is that God did not destroy Leviathan at the beginning of time, but simply allowed it to exist in our world. So yes, I think God allows chance to exist which opens a space for suffering, earthquakes, mosquitoes, and really bad politicians to screw everything up. At the same time, God still loves the universe.

How this all wraps together, I probably won't find out in this life time/

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Martin60
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# 368

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We'll ALWAYS have to take it on faith.

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Love wins

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Twilight

Puddleglum's sister
# 2832

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quote:
Originally posted by leo:
quote:
Originally posted by Twilight:
quote:
Originally posted by leo:
The real blasphemy is what people inflict on human beings, who are made in God's image.

What Fry said was very good and to the point.

If you agree with Fry that God is capricious, mean-minded, and stupid then it should only seem right that you inflict bad things on those who are made in his image, shouldn't it?
What Paul said about his answering a question.

There is a similar YouTube clip of Fry which many RE teachers use to open up a discussion about theodicy.

Should these teachere be prosecuted too?

I've said about five times now that I don't think Fry should be prosecuted so why would I think anyone else should? Nice try pretending, though.
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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
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I saw a tweet which indicated that the complainant was someone who wanted the silliness of the law to come to light.

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(formerly was just "no prophet") \_(ツ)_/

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Huia
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Now that assorted Members of Parliament here have discovered that, (horror, shame) NZ also has blasphemy laws, there is a mad scrabble to repeal them, with a humanist spokes person suggesting that it puts us in a similar position to certain Arab countries [Killing me] (the last, unsuccessful prosecution was in the 1920s)

I am all in favour of changing the law, but the reactions amused me.

Of course it is election year...

Huia

Huia

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Huia:
Now that assorted Members of Parliament here have discovered that, (horror, shame) NZ also has blasphemy laws, there is a mad scrabble to repeal them, with a humanist spokes person suggesting that it puts us in a similar position to certain Arab countries [Killing me] (the last, unsuccessful prosecution was in the 1920s)

I am all in favour of changing the law, but the reactions amused me.

Blasphemy laws are an affront to freedom of conscience and should be a source of "shame". It's kind of like finding out that your jurisdiction still has laws on the books permitting slavery. Yeah, no one actually owns slaves within your jurisdiction (at least not today), but it's an embarrassment on moral grounds (or at least it should be).

The other problem comes when some over-zealous enforcer decides to dust off those laws, or at least threatens to, which is more or less where we came in.

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by Huia:
Now that assorted Members of Parliament here have discovered that, (horror, shame) NZ also has blasphemy laws, there is a mad scrabble to repeal them, with a humanist spokes person suggesting that it puts us in a similar position to certain Arab countries [Killing me] (the last, unsuccessful prosecution was in the 1920s)

I am all in favour of changing the law, but the reactions amused me.

Of course it is election year...

Huia

Huia

Order.

Order.

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Love wins

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fletcher christian

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Gardai confirmed earlier this evening that the case has been dropped as they were unable to establish a section of the community that was outraged and hurt by the comments made by Fry or that felt they were under physical threat as a result. The person who initially reported the case has kept their right of anonymity but have described themselves as a 'witness' and not the target of the comments.

It's either been a joker or some lunatic fringe of the irish humanists, of which there are sadly many here.

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Stetson
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quote:
It's either been a joker or some lunatic fringe of the irish humanists, of which there are sadly many here.
The fact that the police even had to investigate the comments is proof of what a disaster the law is, even if the complainants point was just that.

Because if a humanist can launch an investigation just as part of an ad absurdum protest against the law, there's nothing stopping someone from doing it for more sinister reasons.

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Callan
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quote:
Originally posted by Stetson:
quote:
It's either been a joker or some lunatic fringe of the irish humanists, of which there are sadly many here.
The fact that the police even had to investigate the comments is proof of what a disaster the law is, even if the complainants point was just that.

Because if a humanist can launch an investigation just as part of an ad absurdum protest against the law, there's nothing stopping someone from doing it for more sinister reasons.

An enquiry is just an enquiry. When I was younger I was smoking a cigarette and minding my own business on a Saturday evening. The fuzz pulled over.

Fuzz: Can we have a word?
Me; Sure
Fuzz: What have you got in that bag?
Me: Classical Music tapes?
Fuzz: Where did you get them?
Me: My friend's dad gave them to me. He lives over there. (points to big house) You can ask him if you want.
Fuzz: No need for that sir. There have been a number of burglaries this evening and we just had to check.
Me: OK, no problem.

So basically, I was pulled over for being scruffy* and smoking a fag. But with a bit of luck and a prevailing wind they might have pulled over Wurzel Raffles, the fiendish cat burglar of the West Country. The thing is that by and large the police have to examine a number of lines of enquiry that turn out to be fruitless and if someone makes a complaint they have to be able to demonstrate that they checked that it was baseless before dismissing it. Obviously this ought not to be taken for granted - there are West Indian gentlemen of a certain age who remember when being black in a public place was a cause for suspicion, but if the police are courteous and move on when innocence is established then I would say no harm, no foul.

*I was once taken for being a junkie up to no good on similar grounds by a neighbour. The chap apologised profusely when he realised that the reason I was unshaven and fossicking around in the cupboard outside my flat was because I had woken up to find that there had been a power cut and I was trying to trigger the emergency overdraft on my meter, under the misapprehension that I had run out of credit.

{ETA: It doesn't follow from any of this that the law is bad. Just that its badness will likely founder on the natural desire of the fuzz to catch the bad guys rather than wasting their time badgering innocents to no good end].

[ 09. May 2017, 12:20: Message edited by: Callan ]

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How easy it would be to live in England, if only one did not love her. - G.K. Chesterton

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Crœsos
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# 238

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quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
quote:
Originally posted by Stetson:
The fact that the police even had to investigate the comments is proof of what a disaster the law is, even if the complainants point was just that.

An enquiry is just an enquiry.

<snip>

The thing is that by and large the police have to examine a number of lines of enquiry that turn out to be fruitless and if someone makes a complaint they have to be able to demonstrate that they checked that it was baseless before dismissing it. Obviously this ought not to be taken for granted - there are West Indian gentlemen of a certain age who remember when being black in a public place was a cause for suspicion, but if the police are courteous and move on when innocence is established then I would say no harm, no foul.

<snip>

{ETA: It doesn't follow from any of this that the law is bad. Just that its badness will likely founder on the natural desire of the fuzz to catch the bad guys rather than wasting their time badgering innocents to no good end].

Actually that is the problem with the law. It specifies that blasphemers are not considered "innocents" in the eyes of the law and that they are, in fact, "the bad guys". Sort of like a law that says being black in a public place actually is a crime, rather than a tissue-thin excuse for hassling by police.

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Callan
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My bad. Would have helped if I had typed "isn't" rather than "is" in that last paragraph.

The best sort of blasphemy law is no blasphemy law. The next best is the sort that the police aren't enforcing.

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Steve Langton
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Blasphemy law as such is only really appropriate in a state that either has a totalitarian state religion like Medieval Roman Catholicism or Tudor Anglicanism, or even if allowing a degree of plurality of belief, has one religion privileged above others and of course sees that religion as needing special protection against blasphemy.

In a truly plural society acts which are criminal anyway as unjustified interference with the religion's meetings, or are defamatory over and above matters of the truth of the religion, may also involve what the religion thinks is blasphemy. But the law would be dealing with it as harassment/defamation/etc, not as 'blasphemy'.

As an atheist, Fry cannot really be guilty in secular law of 'blasphemy'. In a plural society 'blasphemy' is a matter for the religion and for the limited penalties it can inflict as a private society - penalties equivalent to a sending-off in football or an exclusion from football more widely after really determined refusal to keep the FA's rules.

I must double-check what current UK blasphemy law is. Last time I checked in detail things were a bit unclear. Back in the 1960s-70s I seem to recall that it only applied in relation to the beliefs of the Church of England and even then the legal offence required some element of 'likely to provoke a breacvh of the peace' or something along those lines....

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Steve Langton
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Blasphemy law as such is only really appropriate in a state that either has a totalitarian state religion like Medieval Roman Catholicism or Tudor Anglicanism, or even if allowing a degree of plurality of belief, has one religion privileged above others and of course sees that religion as needing special protection against blasphemy.

In a truly plural society acts which are criminal anyway as unjustified interference with the religion's meetings, or are defamatory over and above matters of the truth of the religion, may also involve what the religion thinks is blasphemy. But the law would be dealing with it as harassment/defamation/etc, not as 'blasphemy'.

As an atheist, Fry cannot really be guilty in secular law of 'blasphemy'. In a plural society 'blasphemy' is a matter for the religion and for the limited penalties it can inflict as a private society - penalties equivalent to a sending-off in football or an exclusion from football more widely after really determined refusal to keep the FA's rules.

I must double-check what current UK blasphemy law is. Last time I checked in detail things were a bit unclear. Back in the 1960s-70s I seem to recall that it only applied in relation to the beliefs of the Church of England and even then the legal offence required some element of 'likely to provoke a breacvh of the peace' or something along those lines....

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Stetson
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Steve wrote:

quote:
As an atheist, Fry cannot really be guilty in secular law of 'blasphemy'.
So, you're saying that, under the law, whether or not you can be found guilty of blasphemy depends on your personally held religious beliefs? I find that a little hard to believe.

For starters, if an accused blasphemer were to say "I was an atheist when I printed up that cartoon of Jesus flashing old ladies in the park", how could anyone prove him wrong? Ask his friends and neighbours about his privately expressed religious views? Subpoena the registry of his local Anglican church?

[ 09. May 2017, 14:58: Message edited by: Stetson ]

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
Obviously this ought not to be taken for granted - there are West Indian gentlemen of a certain age who remember when being black in a public place was a cause for suspicion, but if the police are courteous and move on when innocence is established then I would say no harm, no foul.

Yeah, but no.
  • It still happens.
  • Black and brown men are well likely to encounter this more than once.(Happens to black/brown women as well, but men have it worse.
  • The level of unpleasantness is dramatically less for white people in general.
Being scruffy and being black are not the same reasons for harassment, BTW.
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:

As an atheist, Fry cannot really be guilty in secular law of 'blasphemy'.

More than one atheist has been tried and convicted, so that would be wrong.
quote:

I must double-check what current UK blasphemy law is.

England and Wales - abolished.
Scotland - Still on the books, last prosecuted 170+ years ago. And might well be challenged by the Human Rights Act 1998.
NI - Still on the books, abolishment having been considered and rejected. Daft buggers.

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If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

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lowlands_boy
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The Irish Police have closed their investigation, concluding that there was no injured party due to the remarks made by Fry....

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by lowlands_boy:
The Irish Police have closed their investigation, concluding that there was no injured party due to the remarks made by Fry....

It remains, though, that there should be no such law therefore; never any such investigation to start.

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So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

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Russ
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If you look in the Irish papers today, you'll find that the case has been dropped because gardai can't find the requisite substantial number of people who were offended by the remarks.

And the complainant has said that he is satisfied with this.

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Wish everyone well; the enemy is not people, the enemy is wrong ideas

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Steve Langton
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Stetson and lilBuddha;
In your remarks about my comment that
quote:
As an atheist, Fry cannot really be guilty in secular law of 'blasphemy'
you have both ignored the context of 'in a truly plural society', and my point that basically unless other laws about harassment/defamation/etc are clearly broken, the only penalties 'blasphemers' should suffer in a plural society are the penalties that a private society like a sports club can properly impose. Which can reasonably include penalties such as exclusion of the offender till he renounces his conduct, of course.

It was rather my point that though people have suffered criminal penalties in the past that was wrong.

You do have a potential problem here that many religions do believe that they should ideally be manifested, for want of a better word, in a 'religious state' which would then expect criminal legal protection. Christianity according to the NT is not such a religion - though sadly since the 4th Century that point has not always been recognised.

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
If you look in the Irish papers today, you'll find that the case has been dropped because gardai can't find the requisite substantial number of people who were offended by the remarks.

It seems troubling that this seems to be a statutory 'right to not be offended', something that really shouldn't be a right at all. I'm having trouble coming up with other restrictions on speech (laws against fraud, defamation, etc.) that depend on the reaction of the audience rather than the content of the speech itself. Incitement to riot comes closest, but that still depends on the intent of the speaker, not the reaction of the audience.

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fletcher christian

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For me, it raises the question of how free, free speech is and whether it bears a cost - which I believe it does bear a cost. Sometimes that is obviously worth the risk, but there are other times when I wonder about the value of it. For instance, looking at all those relatively recent cases of the publication of cartoons of Muhammed, I failed to see what the purpose of that was and in all honesty I couldn't defend their right to do it. I saw two of the cartoons concerned and both were quite honestly vile. They reminded me very much of those caricatures produced by the Nazi party. As far as I could tell, the whole things with those cartoons wasn't actually about exercising free speech in a responsible manner, but rather about looking to see who could be offended the most. I do wonder if it is worth having some sort of law that restricts this type of activity. I don;t want to see religious and racial slurs produced without consequence, and frankly I think it's far more dangerous than we realise, and I don't want to see it in relation to any race or religion, let alone my own.

Now in the case of Fry, I thought he was reasonable, considered and thoughtful. I don't believe he was deliberately being malicious and had intended top cause harm or offence. The law was brought and found none, so in that sense it seems reasonable. If the parameters of the law included all religions and not just Christianity, and if a newspaper here decided to publish one of those anti-Islamic vile cartoons and the law prosecuted, I think I'd be very happy with that to be perfectly honest.

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lilBuddha
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Still rubbish. Hate speech laws protect the religious, blasphemy laws oppress everyone. The solution is not in a reasonable application, for that might vary, it is in the removal of the blasphemy law and the use of hate speech laws.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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quetzalcoatl
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Agree. I thought that free speech includes vileness, except for sexual violence.

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fletcher christian

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Posted by Lilbuddha:
quote:

...blasphemy laws oppress everyone....

I'm struggling to think of a concrete example of this in relation to the Blasphemy law here. Can you give a concrete example of how it oppresses everyone?

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quetzalcoatl
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Pakistan shows how blasphemy laws can become tyrannical, as mild criticisms of Islam or Mohammed can end up in court, and then in jail.

Thankfully, they have been abolished in UK.

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everything must go.

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Martin60
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And Indonesia yesterday. A sign of strong, weak, hostile religion.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by fletcher christian:
Posted by Lilbuddha:
quote:

...blasphemy laws oppress everyone....

I'm struggling to think of a concrete example of this in relation to the Blasphemy law here. Can you give a concrete example of how it oppresses everyone?
Blasphemy laws are a restriction of speech, beyond anything needed to protect the faithful from real harm.
Intent appears to be the standard by which Fry was not prosecuted. That not enough people were offended. That is the oppression, the limit on what may be said by such a ridiculous standard. The oppression is on the limit of freedom to speak. The oppression is also in the protection of a narrow set of beliefs, the 2009 broadening notwithstanding.
Why should religion have special protection, anyway?

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

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Stetson
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Steve wrote:

quote:
Stetson and lilBuddha;
In your remarks about my comment that
quote:
As an atheist, Fry cannot really be guilty in secular law of 'blasphemy'
you have both ignored the context of 'in a truly plural society', and my point that basically unless other laws about harassment/defamation/etc are clearly broken, the only penalties 'blasphemers' should suffer in a plural society are the penalties that a private society like a sports club can properly impose. Which can reasonably include penalties such as exclusion of the offender till he renounces his conduct, of course.

Okay. Your original phrasing, with the words "in secular law", had me confused, since it made it sound like you were describing the law as it is actually written right now.

[ 10. May 2017, 16:24: Message edited by: Stetson ]

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fletcher christian

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Posted by Lilbuddha:
quote:

Why should religion have special protection, anyway?

I think that's an interesting question; one I'm not sure of the answer to, but am conscious that it seems to be the last grouping of what is humanity after all, which isn't afforded the same rights as anyone else (on the argument that it's a religion). If you chose to dehumanise it into a machine, then that certainly makes it easier to answer your question. It can operate in a machine like manner, it does have it's problems and can restrict people into set roles with invisible barriers; but can gender or race not also function in this restrictive way? It just seems odd to me that religious groupings within a community or country should be open season for abuse and/or grave offence for anyone who would just like a pot shot for the sake of it. So I don't mean Fry's comments specifically or anyone who criticises religion - that's not what the law actually refers to. What it does refer to in Ireland has a vagueness which leaves me unsettled, but I think if it were to be removed it would in all likelihood be replaced with something very similar looking but with a different name. It seems on this thread that its the term 'blasphemy' which raises the righteous indignation, but perhaps I've misunderstood (hence why I asked for an exact example). I gave the example of the cartoons because I felt, after seeing them, that they served no other purpose to society other than to cause offence, an I don't think that is particularly useful to anyone, although I can certainly see the difficulty of prosecution in such circumstances.

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Stetson
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Fletcher Christian wrote:

quote:
It just seems odd to me that religious groupings within a community or country should be open season for abuse and/or grave offence for anyone who would just like a pot shot for the sake of it.
But we don't have a similar taboo against declaring open-season on political groupings. At least not in most democracies.

Short of personal libel against living people(the laws on which can also protect religious figures if they are still living), we don't consider it a criminal offense to say "Conservative voters are a bunch of brain-dead fascists who get their kicks thinking about impoverished klds starving to death". Offended Tories are expected to just suck it up and accept that as part of everyday political discussion.

Now, I assume the rationale for free and easy political attacks is that political groups ARE trying to impact the way we all live, and have thus opened themselves up for criticism. But surely, that applies to almost all religious groups as well?

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I have the power...Lucifer is lord!

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by fletcher christian:
Posted by Lilbuddha:
quote:

Why should religion have special protection, anyway?

I think that's an interesting question; one I'm not sure of the answer to, but am conscious that it seems to be the last grouping of what is humanity after all, which isn't afforded the same rights as anyone else (on the argument that it's a religion).
I disagree. Blasphemy laws typically protect the powerful from criticism. Broadening the law, such as was done in 2009 in Ireland, is a way to keep that protection, hidden under the blanket of inclusion.


quote:
It just seems odd to me that religious groupings within a community or country should be open season for abuse and/or grave offence for anyone who would just like a pot shot for the sake of it.

They shouldn't any more than any other category. Hate speech laws protect religion the same as any other category. And this is the point; the same.


quote:
I gave the example of the cartoons because I felt, after seeing them, that they served no other purpose to society other than to cause offence, an I don't think that is particularly useful to anyone, although I can certainly see the difficulty of prosecution in such circumstances.

Freedom of speech v. hate is always going to be a bit soft.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Stetson
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And, Fletcher, I'd be curious to know what you think about this...

(Possibly NSFW, double-click)

Diarrhetics

A blatant attack on Scientology, in which, among other things, L. Ron Hubbard is portrayed as receiving sexual favours from his female followers, who are described in the most insulting terms. It's at least as vicious as anything in the Danish cartoons.

Would that be something you think should be actionable under proper blasphemy laws?

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I have the power...Lucifer is lord!

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Stetson:
we don't consider it a criminal offense to say "Conservative voters are a bunch of brain-dead fascists who get their kicks thinking about impoverished klds starving to death".

Because it is true? [Devil]

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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fletcher christian

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Well, yes. If an announcement is made that is true then surely there is no issue to be had. If something is untrue, then yes, I think people do deserve protection against false accusation. I don't know enough of the intricacies of hate speech law here in Ireland to know what is and isn't covered in exact terms. I know that individuals are able to be prosecuted for hate speech against another individual; I'm not sure if groupings are covered in that. The blasphemy law is a constitutional issue, so I'd like to see the independent arguments for and against its removal before we go down that route of a referendum (and its really only possible to get that independent view of it once a referendum begins). Referendums are expensive, so we'd need to be sure that it is a necessity and we'd need to make sure it doesn't permit a gap in the law that allows for criminal activity to go unprosecuted.. If it's one of those weird laws left on the books that everyone ignores then that might seem a better result. If someone does end up being prosecuted, in all likelihood they end up with a 75euro fine which would probably be worn like a badge of honour in this part of the world; unless of course it was something altogether more serious. What that seriousness might be in real terms, I honestly don;t know.

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Arabella Purity Winterbottom

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quote:
Originally posted by Huia:
Now that assorted Members of Parliament here have discovered that, (horror, shame) NZ also has blasphemy laws, there is a mad scrabble to repeal them, with a humanist spokes person suggesting that it puts us in a similar position to certain Arab countries [Killing me] (the last, unsuccessful prosecution was in the 1920s)

My immediate thought when I saw that was "what else are they doing they want to distract us from."

Having worked in the Office of Film and Literature Classification (censorship in a dressed up form) I have spent quite a bit of time on blasphemy. The last major incident was over the awful Mel Gibson Passion of the Christ - while every other Christian group was saying that their children ought to be allowed to see flogging and torture (which they'd usually be well against), one brave (extremely fundy) group tried to get the film banned because it was blasphemous. It ended up with the R15 classification, kind of over the dead bodies of the censorship staff, who felt that the violence of the film was more R18, given the serious nature and ponderous detail of the filmmaking.

The classic blasphemy outing before that was The Life of Brian. There was so much material in the archives that I made a Year 12 study unit out of it. When I started working on it, I hadn't watched the film, but once I did it became my all time favourite religious film. Like Stephen Fry, it pokes holes in many strongly held views. To my mind, it is a deeply thoughtful film which demonstrates many tenets of Christianity more faithfully than many Christians.

Edited to add: And its funny, something I don't often associate with serious ideas about Christianity.

[ 11. May 2017, 09:44: Message edited by: Arabella Purity Winterbottom ]

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Hell is full of the talented and Heaven is full of the energetic. St Jane Frances de Chantal

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