Thursday, May 07, 2009

How Are Things in Éirestan?

Gates of Vienna received several confluent emails today, all of them focusing on Ireland. None of them had any good news, and some of the bad news appears to this outsider to be a distraction from worse reports.

Most of the news concerned the new blasphemy laws being considered by the Irish government. After doing a bit of research, it’s still confusing, so perhaps our Irish readers can chime in with some clarifications on this.

If I have it right, there is a rule in the Irish Constitution banning blasphemy. Given that the Constitution was written when the Republic of Ireland was largely (and repressively Jansenist) Roman Catholic, one can see why such a rule might have appeared on the books at the time.

Up to now, there’s been no legislation enacted to enforce this part of the Constitution. Reports I’ve read and listened to say that the one time a case appeared before their Supreme Court, no ruling was able to be made because no one could adequately define “blasphemy”.

However, this hasn’t stopped the enthusiasm for tough legislation. From the Irish Times:

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern has said he is not trying to create a new law to criminalise blasphemy in new proposals he believes will clear up rules already on the books.

Mr Ahern has tabled an amendment to the Defamation Bill 2006, which defines blasphemy and threatens fines of €100,000 for those who commit it.

This will hit a person who intentionally produces material “grossly abusive” to anything held sacred by any religion.

I smell a burning Motoon here. If this law (being pushed by what group??) is enacted, cartoonists are on alert: be careful what you draw. Writers beware what you write. Theatre producers and film directors: self-censor or you’re in gaol.

They seem to have pinned down the meaning of blasphemy now. It is no longer ephemeral. Instead, it has been transformed into something completely subjective, to wit:

“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.”

Got that? Blasphemy has to be “grossly abusive”- so would someone define the standards of “grossly”, please? What if it’s only a little bit abusive? And who decides the gradient here, the abuser or the rager? Is this akin to being a little bit pregnant versus being very pregnant?

Which brings up the next airy-fairy part of this proposed piece of legislation. What constitutes a “substantial number of adherents” to a religion? Ten percent? Twenty? A large-ish crowd breaking windows in their rage? Is that really “a substantial number of adherents” they’re describing or merely thugs bent on acting out because the aggrieved ones like to smash things?

Lastly, we have that old bugaboo, intention. What if the cartoonist mentioned above had no intention of offending anyone? What if the actions of the ragers and flag burners take him totally by surprise? What if his intention is solely to amuse and he is affronted by the attempt to besmirch his art?

What if his drawings amuse a larger, even more substantial number of the populace than those who are outraged? Is blasphemy to be decided on a case-by-case vote? Those who thought it was funny, raise your hand. Those who thought it was blasphemous, break something.

The whole thing is a tempest in a teapot, the tea being furiously brewed by the left multi-culti who demand free expression for everyone they decide is worthy of same. The philosophical contortions these folks engage in are fascinating…kind of.

From the Irish Times again:
- - - - - - - - -
However, a spokes-man for the minister [Ahern] said he was merely acting on the advice his department received from successive attorneys general and was solving a long-standing legal problem. This was because the Constitution already demands that there be a law against blasphemy. Article 40 says either publishing or speaking in a blasphemous way would be an offence.

While the 1961 Defamation Bill included a provision to jail those who committed blasphemy, this was compromised by a Supreme Court ruling in 1999 which said it was impossible to define what the offence was. This effectively meant that without a definition no charges could stand up.

Mr Ahern’s spokesman said: “This is the elephant in the room, because it has to be sorted out one way or another. The people could decide to change the Constitution by way of Referendum, but without that there has to be some law.

“The minister has been given advice that this has to be addressed . . . [besides] with this amendment you cannot be jailed for the charge,” he said.

The amendment will leave it at the discretion of the Director of Public Prosecutions whether or not to press charges.

The “article 40”of the Irish Constitution mentioned above is found here (scroll way down). This is the relevant part of the text of Article 40:

6. 1° The State guarantees liberty for the exercise of the following rights, subject to public order and morality:

i. The right of the citizens to express freely their convictions and opinions.

The education of public opinion being, however, a matter of such grave import to the common good, the State shall endeavour to ensure that organs of public opinion, such as the radio, the press, the cinema, while preserving their rightful liberty of expression, including criticism of Government policy, shall not be used to undermine public order or morality or the authority of the State.

The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law”

For better or worse, the Republic of Ireland has largely abandoned its Roman Catholic identity. So what religion could possibly be in a dither about getting this new law enacted? Occam’s Razor would tell you the leaders of the influx of Muslim immigrants into Ireland are most likely behind the push for a blasphemy law.

If you think Ireland isn’t struggling like the rest of Europe to avoid sliding down the dhimmitube, see this old post from 2007.

As Maire says, if the point is to modernize the laws of Ireland, why not just repeal this one? I’m not sure, but it may be that if it’s part of the Constitution itself, repeal would be a long, difficult process. However, just as she is, I am suspicious of this attempt to shut people up so the Rageboys won’t be offended.

We’re not the only ones who find this offensive. Here’s Kevin Myers, in the Irish Independent, with his view:

Blasphemy Law Only Panders to the Deranged Instincts of an Intolerant Immigrant Minority

How very thoughtful of Dermot Ahern to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the proclamation of the fatwa on Salman Rushdie for blasphemy by introducing our very own blasphemy laws.

Not merely will this enable any group of nutters to claim their religion has been insulted -- well, by whom? Kevin Myers? Ian O’Doherty? -- but it will also enable our many Muslim immigrants to feel thoroughly at home.

Because that is a defining feature of every Islamic society throughout the world: an intrusive and punitive legal code which destroys the lives of those adjudged guilty of insulting the Prophet or Allah. In Afghanistan, it is the death penalty. Pakistan too. Egypt as well. And so on. Why not the same, sooner or later, in dear old Eirestan?

Christianity as a potent, political and legal force is dead in Europe. Islam is not. Christians do not expect their religion to be protected by law from religious insult. Muslims do. A blasphemy code will, in effect, turn out a new variant of a local shop for local people: but here in secular/Christian Ireland, it will become a Muslim law for non-Muslim people.

Mr. Myers continues at eloquent length on this subject. I urge you to open the link and read the rest of his excellent polemic because I am leaving out the meat in the middle of the essay. But here is the conclusion:

We all know it. We just don’t say it. So I can call the Virgin Mary, who most Irish people believe to be the Mother of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of Mankind, a whore, and no-one will open my carotid. But were I to make any such remark about Mohammed’s wives, which is what Rushdie was accused of doing -- and I wouldn’t: O believe me, I wouldn’t -- then at best, I would be spending the rest of my life under armed guard, or at worst, I would be strumming my harp alongside Theo van Gogh. He was, remember, killed without fatwa, and his murderer, Mohammed Bouyeri, is now an Islamic hero.

That doesn’t mean we should corrupt our legal code in order to propitiate Islamicists. Yet all media discussion on this and related topics is dominated by state-subsidised bodies -- the intercultural this, and the multi-ethnic that. The primary function of these quangos is apparently to be gravely insulted whenever their quivering multicultural sensibilities are offended.

And then they can institute legal action to silence -- or even imprison, which was the threat hanging over me last year -- those whose voices they disapprove of. These arms of the State now constitute a cultural Fifth Column, possessing a clear and dangerous agenda. [my emphasis - D] The minister’s proposed blasphemy law can thus only pander to the deranged instincts of an absolutist, intolerant immigrant minority, and its politically-correct, pseudo-liberal native allies: Lenin’s useful idiots, yet again.

Maire, our tipster, included some You Tube videos about the blasphemy debate. I haven’t embedded them as they are long, and probably require some context to understand completely.

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

They’re both excerpted from Radio Telefis Eireann (RTE), which is Ireland’s state television.

I will be posting about Ireland again in the near future. Things don’t look good for the Emerald Isle.

Hat tips to Maire and to Islam O’Phobe


John said...

For better or worse, the Republic of Ireland has largely abandoned its Roman Catholic identityYou bet. Now we're in this situation.

But now the country has been harder hit by the financial downturn than any country in Western Europe. We may be about to discover what happens when a traditionally poor country returns to poverty without its culture.And boy are we finding out...!Thats evidence from the street. How many in that job line look Irish to you? In a time of dire economic conditions the government are wasting their time on this. There is no public demand for blasphemy laws, in over seventy years blasphemy laws were used once, this is to appease minorities in multicultural Ireland. We're making the same mistakes, and following in the same footsteps and going down the same road, as the Dutch and the French.

We've learnt nothing from their situations, simply jumped in with both feet and repeated their mistakes.

joe six-pack said...

And we all know how easily Islam is 'insulted'. Now we can justify the violence legally.

xoggoth said...

It seems to me that the rules for this sort of thing, if there should be restrictions at all short of promoting violence, should be similar to those for libel. If an assertion is substantially true there can be no complaint.

Abu Abdullah said...

This post has been cited in my updated map.