Fuck your god up your…

(Brought about by the musings of Twenty Major)

It seems that the charming Dermot Ahern (you know the one, he looks like he was happy slapped with someone’s member) is suggesting a nice little add-on to the Defamation Bill that’s been discussed for quite some time within the halls of power that will make blasphemy a punishable offence legislatively. Well all I can say is fuck you Ahern.

I’ve been looking forward to this bill for quite some time as it was suggested that it would incorporate both libel and slander into one offence of disseminating defamatory information but now it seems to be turning into a vehicle for the ignorant to air their grievances. I’m not one to use the gay card but from a man that has labelled homosexuality as an abnormality and who is part of a government that continues to drag their heals over civil union legislation, it’s hard to come to any other conclusion. If this were allow to pass as it is suggested, it would grant the courts a large scope to deem what is and what is not acceptable to say from the perspective of those that are inherently religious; the non-religious and those philosophically opposed to particular religious teachings or simply those opinions opined by even the most fanatical, would do so under the constant threat of prosecution and undoubtedly, the gays would be top of the list along with other “moral reprehensible groups”.

One can accept that as the Constitution lays out, it is often essential to qualify rights within the context of another, no right is absolute but to allow such a blatant violation of the right to disassociate oneself from theology of any kind would be unacceptable. Not only is it firmly set out within the context of the Constitution which has been amended to allow for the protection of all religious schools, it would also fly in the face of all legislative equality provisions that are being incorporated more and more into Irish law.

Ahern would also be going against both established precedent and his fellow colleagues who have found the very principle of blasphemy to be vague and incompatible with the Convention on Human Rights, something Ahern’s provision does nothing to solve.
Beyond this, the large remit of power given to the courts to define what would potentially be blasphemous would also potentially violate the principle of the separation of powers between the legislature, executive and judiciary in that the courts would have the power to “fill in the blanks” within the provision – interpretation is one thing but the courts have themselves established that they cannot add or alter legislation, merely that they can find something to be compatible or incompatible with the constitution.

I have to hope that someone sees the harm this could cause if it were allowed to be enacted with such a large punitive ceiling attached to it – perhaps herself up in that big gaff might pull her finger out if it comes before her and refer it to the courts if it manages to survive long enough…

All I know is, this is not one step forward, it’s a DeLorean ride back to the dark ages.

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    • thefreemarketeers
    • April 30th, 2009

    For an alternative viewpoint, on why the blasphemy law might not be the worst thing in the world (using economic reasoning), see: http://thefreemarketeers.wordpress.com/2009/04/30/the-democratic-will-of-god/

      • thejackanory
      • April 30th, 2009

      Freemarketeers, I can see your rationale but it is flawed – you are relying upon the idea that the political and democratic will is there for such a provision to be inserted into the Bill when all the commentary I am aware of besides yourself (including my own) refers to the fact that both the courts and an Oireachtas committee found the idea to be extremely dubious.
      The Irish Supreme Court found that the Constitutional wording of the same was vague and Ahern’s provision does nothing to alleviate this beyond defining the subject matter as something sacred by any religion (religion not being defined) and that it must affect a substantial number of people within that group which isn’t much better – technically with such wording if I were to suggest that the idea of transubstantiation being illogical and improbable and it does not fall within Mr. Rabbitte’s additional exempted classes, I could have several inalienable rights under both the EU Convention and the Constitution itself violated by becoming a convicted felon and/or having my house raided by the police; it neither states if it is a subjective or objective test and if it were objective, would be taken objectively within the category of that religion which would make convictions easier (if the religion in question has found it sufficiently injurious to bring such allegations, it would be plausible to infer that it has objectively caused the necessary harm required).
      The other issues inherent to this are that the UK, who we share the basis of our own law with, have repealed the crime of blasphemy, obviously due to the flaws within it AND when a UN resolution was raised to counter defamation of religions, Ireland along with all other EU countries voted against such a measure.
      Therefore there is definitely neither a political will nor democratic within this state or the EU as whole if we are to take the logical assumption that within that UN vote, or Minister for Foreign Affairs was in fact, representative of our government and had not gone AWOL.

      Also, based up the last two decades where free-market standards were first allowed to create an internet bubble that unsustainable and then one based solely upon credit, I would have an issue with your free market ideals – perhaps a reading of a broadsheet newspaper and the following http://www.amazon.com/Roaring-Nineties-Paying-Greediest-History/dp/0141014318/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1241100730&sr=1-3 would serve to enlighten you somewhat.

    • thefreemarketeers
    • May 2nd, 2009

    First of all, the Minister article in the Irish Times makes it pretty clear that there won’t be any prosecutions and that the matter was only initiated to respect the Constitution – i.e. there’s no democratic will behind it. I suspect that the necessary referendum will be eventually bundled with another vote. So this is clearly going into the hypothetical/theoretical rather than being applied in the Irish context.

    I think that, did support exist, the current law would be fairly reasonable. I don’t think that anyone would ever be prosecuted for criticising or questioning religion in any reasonable way. Remember that we’re talking about matter “that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion”. You also need intent.

    As regards the subjectivity, I think the courts would just have to estimate the damage that was wrought to the religious group in terms of distress, and the maliciousness with which the act was carried out. I think that damage to so numerous adherents is a high burden, and that the outrage of the central authority of the religion alone probably wouldn’t be sufficient. It’s true that a lack of definition clouds this matter.

    Beyond that, your other points are mostly perfectly true in light of the state’s real motivation. I think it’s clear that the referendum will eventually happen, and the constitution will be amended. But I would stand by my remarks if there was popular support for the law.

    Also, as regards your half-hearted assault on the free market, I have a couple of things to say:

    First of all, free markets don’t exist in practice. A completely unregulated market is not necessarily the nearest approximation to it, and sometimes a well-regulated market is the best option. Governments tend to be pretty good at over-regulating and intervening where unnecessary, though. Perhaps a reading of a broadsheet newspaper and a look at Ireland’s bloated, uncompetitive, bureaucracy-ridden, over-administered, inefficient health service would serve to enlighten you somewhat.

    Second of all, imperfect application or understanding of free market principles doesn’t indicate that the theory is flawed. Democracy may have elected Adolf Hitler in 1934, but it’s still pretty good in general. Free-market economics, same.

    • thejackanory
    • May 2nd, 2009

    I can understand where you coming from on both points but I was discussing the wide reaching affects such a vague definition could have in how little it actually defines and what effects that could have. If the courts themselves do not like to preside over such instances, it can be deduced that that it does not work and will not work.
    Also, although regulation exists, most can agree on the fact that this was not practiced and that is what has led us into the global recession we are in, if the economy had be regulated properly, anyone could realised that the level of growth and the method through which it was reached was unsustainable. As for free-market economics as a principle, it can be seen using the current situation that the market will not reach equilibrium by itself as such theories establish, as it seeks to drive itself forward and up rather than what is “enough” or “sufficient”.

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