Hmm, it’s good to get rid of a blasphemy law, but it’s not good to replace it with “a new general provision to include incitement to religious hatred” – meaning, apparently, to include something that forbids so-called incitement to religious hatred. Unfortunately that’s just what Ireland’s constitutional convention has recommended, according to the Irish Times.
The constitutional offence of blasphemy should be replaced with a new general provision to include incitement to religious hatred, the constitutional convention has recommended.
Voting today on whether the reference to the offence of blasphemy should be kept as it is in the Constitution, 38 per cent said Yes, 61 per cent said No and 1 per cent were undecided or had no opinion.
In a follow-up question, 38 per cent of members believed the offence should be removed from the Constitution altogether, 53 per cent said it should be replaced with a new general provision to include incitement to religious hatred and 9 per cent had no opinion.
A provision that would criminalize “incitement to religious hatred” is in effect a blasphemy law, ffs.
But it appears that the problem with the law against blasphemy is that it’s drawn so narrowly that the “crime” can’t be prosecuted. It appears that the problem is not that “blasphemy” should not be a crime at all, anywhere, ever.
Dr Neville Cox of Trinity College Dublin said the relevant part of the 2009 Defamation Act, which sets a maximum fine of €25,000 for those found guilty of publishing or uttering blasphemous material, was too tightly drawn to be applied in practice.
He said the law’s requirement that a publisher must be proven to have intended to cause outrage among a substantial number of a religion’s adherents in effect meant “that will be very difficult successfully to prosecute the offence”.
The law also makes it a defence to the crime to prove that a reasonable person would find genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific or academic value in the publication of the material. “It makes it so hard to operate the law… that I think the 2009 act effectively kills off the crime,” Dr Cox said.
So the point of the provision that would criminalize “incitement to religious hatred” would be to make sure that “blasphemy” could be prosecuted after all, under a different name?