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Dec 07 2012

Netherlands Almost Ready to Remove Blasphemy Laws

The Dutch parliament is considering a bill that would remove that nation’s blasphemy laws, which have not been used in decades, from the books. With one exception — an insult aimed at the queen of that country would still be punishable by law.

While some countries convict people for blasphemy and tighten laws concerning insulting religions, the Netherlands aims to strike blasphemy from the books. But the Dutch are going to make one royal exception…

Now, the Dutch government would like to remove the law entirely. The Dutch parliament in The Hague has suggested abolishing section 147, under which blasphemy becomes a punishable offense. Any insults lobbed at the Dutch Queen Beatrix, however, shall continue to be a punishable offense.

Well that’s good, such laws should be done away with everywhere. But seriously, you want to continue to make it a crime to insult royalty? That’s about as offensive a concept as one can imagine, on nearly every level. Fuck the queen, and every queen or king or prince or princess. The very existence of such people is offensive.

25 comments

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  1. 1
    richardelguru

    If history is any guide, fucking a queen is likely to result in an STD.

  2. 2
    Modusoperandi

    To be fair, Queen is pretty awesome. I had no idea that the Dutch loved them so much, though. Did you know that their national anthem is “We will rock you”?

  3. 3
    matty1

    You want to see how she celebrates her mothers birthday.

  4. 4
    sumdum

    As far as I know, nobody has been convicted for insulting the queen since foreverAnd she’s been the target of jokes pretty often. Like Hans Teeuwen, a stand up comedian who simulated having sex with the queen on stage, including foreplay. On

  5. 5
    Raging Bee

    The very existence of such people is offensive.

    Powerless figurehead monarchs, who don’t have any actual power to do real harm, are offensive to you? I know you’re just trying to say you don’t like monarchy, but your statements here are just over-the-top ridiculous.

    Laws against insulting royalty are stupid and pointless (except maybe to enforce a tiny bit of decorum in national media discourse), but the royals themselves aren’t the terrifying bugaboos they used to be. So take a deep breath and step away from that copy of Rush’s “A Farewell to Kings.” Try some Iranian or Mongolian hip-hip instead…

  6. 6
    Olav

    Ed:

    Fuck the queen, and every queen or king or prince or princess. The very existence of such people is offensive.

    As a humble subject of Her Majesty Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard, by the Grace of God Queen of the Netherlands, Princess of Orange-Nassau, Princess of Lippe-Biesterfeld etc., I concur.

    Fuck them.

    The problem in the Netherlands is that from left to right, people are overwhelmingly still in favour of the monarchy. Either because they buy into the sentimental fairytale, or just because they can’t quite imagine another system.

    Of course the monarchy is largely symbolic and ceremonial nowadays, but not entirely. Beatrix is still involved in a lot of state affairs. Through those activities she has more power to influence government than the more radically neutered royals of some other European states.

  7. 7
    Nick Gotts

    The very existence of such people is offensive. – Ed

    It’s very important that we preserve sufficient monarchies – or how will we ever gain our freedom by strangling the last king with the guts of the last priest?

  8. 8
    Konradius

    Let me address a few inaccuracies as I am dutch :)
    First of all, the articles against blasphemy and insults to the queen are different articles. They are both under discussion, but the one against blasphemy now has a proposal to scrap it and a majority in parliament. So while it is interesting that we still have the other in the books, it’s actually really tangential to the story here.
    Then the linked article claimed the last time the blasphemy article got a conviction was 1968. Not true. The last time someone was tried under the article was that year, but he (Gerard Reve) was acquitted. The law hasn’t been used since, even though some christians have tried to get it invoked for instance against Theo van Gogh.
    After his murder in 2004 the discussion was actually first to revive this law. This was tried in 2004 and 2008, but both times that really backfired and so now this relic of anti communist legislation might actually kick the bucket.

  9. 9
    Ed Brayton

    Raging Bee wrote:

    Powerless figurehead monarchs, who don’t have any actual power to do real harm, are offensive to you? I know you’re just trying to say you don’t like monarchy, but your statements here are just over-the-top ridiculous.

    No, I’m not being over the top or ridiculous. And yes, the fact that these people get to live their entire lives in staggering wealth and adoration only because their feudal ancestors were rich and powerful enough to rule through force is, in fact, offensive to me. The very notion of royalty is offensive.

  10. 10
    Gretchen

    Powerless figurehead monarchs, who don’t have any actual power to do real harm, are offensive to you?

    Hell yes. They should be offensive to anyone who believes in basic human equality, and on that basis objects to the notion that a people should be showered with fame and riches by their country, specifically by their government, simply by virtue of having been born or married into that family.

  11. 11
    Olav

    Just wanted to add that Konradius, #8 is of course correct with regard to the inaccuracies that he describes. But perhaps he is missing the greater point that Deutsche Welle is making: that it is sort of ridiculous that the Netherlands would finally rescind the blasphemy law (art. 147 WvS) but not the lèse-majesté laws (111 through 113). Because these are equally stupid laws, and contrary to the blasphemy law, they are still (infrequently) used to convict people.

  12. 12
    matty1

    Plenty of people are showered with fame and riches by virtue of being born into a family (how many people called Hilton actually manage a hotel?). I agree that royalty is offensive but if we want to get rid of inherited status we’ll have to cast the net a lot wider than that.

  13. 13
    Olav

    Monarchy is not offensive in the first place because it provides fame & fortune to people who do not deserve it. That would just be an argument from envy. The real reason that it is offensive lies in its symbolism of authoritarianism. It propagates the notion that power/sovereignty flows from above, instead of from the bottom upwards.

    That is why the monarchs of Europe usually claim they are kings and queens “by the grace of God”, government executives are said to be in the service of the monarch (not of the people), justice is spoken and taxes collected “in the name of the Queen!”, et cetera.

  14. 14
    Gretchen

    Plenty of people are showered with fame and riches by virtue of being born into a family

    Which is why I said “by their country, specifically by their government.” The government has not established the Hiltons in castles and given them boatloads of cash and ceremonial authority over the country.

  15. 15
    frog

    matt1@12: Wealthy (non-aristocracy) capitalists do occasionally lose their fortunes, usually due to their own incompetence or bad business decisions; or often by adding criminal activity to their business and getting sent up the river and having their assets confiscated.

    Aristocracy only loses their fortunes through revolution. It might be peaceful revolution–elections or parliamentary decisions–but they go right on collecting revenues from their subjects until their subjects decide they don’t want to support them anymore.

  16. 16
    criticaldragon1177

    Ed Brayton,

    I was actually under the impression that they had already gotten rid of them completely. Hopefully they will be off the books over there soon, not just there and not being enforced. I’m glad they haven’t been enforcing them much anyway.

  17. 17
    jefferylanam

    The Netherlands monarchy is just under 200 years old; the first of the current line was installed by the Congress of Vienna in 1815, after the defeat of Napoleon. Before that, the United Provinces were mostly republics. (Dutch historians, I freely admit I’m simplifying the story. It’s complicated.)

    Anyway, they don’t have an ancient line stretching back to mythical demigods, like the Japanese. Or the Swedes, who trace theirs back to Odin.

  18. 18
    donkensler

    Now if we could only get the blasphemy law in Michigan repealed. Yeah I’m sure nobody’s been prosecuted under this one in eons (if ever), and I’m sure if anybody were convicted under it the law would be tossed out as unconstitutional. So what’s the deal? Is god supposed to be impressed we’ve got a law on the books that’s never enforced?

  19. 19
    Nick Gotts

    Or the Swedes, who trace theirs back to Odin. – jeffreylanum

    Orly? First, the Swedish royal family are officially Lutheran Christians, who therefore don’t believe in Odin. Second, the current Swedish royal line is descended from Jean Bernadotte, one of Napoleon’s marshals, who was adopted by the childless Charles XIII, and adroitly changed sides to fight against Napoleon in 1813.

  20. 20
    Nick Gotts

    Which is why I said “by their country, specifically by their government.” The government has not established the Hiltons in castles and given them boatloads of cash and ceremonial authority over the country. – Gretchen

    Why does that make any difference? If inherited wealth and power are offensive (which they are), they are offensive whether that wealth and power is directly backed by the state or not.

  21. 21
    Konradius

    Just wanted to add that Konradius, #8 is of course correct with regard to the inaccuracies that he describes. But perhaps he is missing the greater point that Deutsche Welle is making: that it is sort of ridiculous that the Netherlands would finally rescind the blasphemy law (art. 147 WvS) but not the lèse-majesté laws (111 through 113). Because these are equally stupid laws, and contrary to the blasphemy law, they are still (infrequently) used to convict people.

    I’m not missing that point. I would love to see the other articles rescinded as well. I am also under the impression that both these articles have had their longest times on the books.
    But it looks like that will have to be done in a different move and to be honest I’m fully ok with splitting them up.
    First of all this will improve the chances of passing both as it will not allow people to dodge the one issue by saying they were just against rescinding the other.
    Also it will mean we will be able to milk 2 events where we can say that the Netherlands are rescinding these kind of laws; why arn’t other countries doing that as well?

    The past year we’ve seen numerous incidents all over the world where blasphemy type laws were quoted to imprison people. I’d love to see the media contrast those incidents with the rescindication of this law. These are the PR opportunities our side should not pass up.

  22. 22
    Marcus Ranum

    an insult aimed at the queen of that country would still be punishable by law.

    God save the queen
    The fascist regime
    They made you a moron
    Potential H-bomb

    God save the queen
    She ain’t no human being
    There is no future
    In England’s dreaming

    (I know it was aimed at a different queen, but it works for all of them)

  23. 23
    Marcus Ranum

    BTW, mandatory prayers for the soverign can be considered an epidemiological-scale study in the effectiveness of prayer. Although, I must say, Elizabeth II really does appear to be responding well to all the prayers for her health and salvation.

  24. 24
    Marcus Ranum

    Powerless figurehead monarchs, who don’t have any actual power to do real harm, are offensive to you?

    If they werem completely powerless, they wouldn’t be monarchsm they’d just be Ms Smith or whatever.

    I’m less familiar with Sweden but in the UK, the Queen has got a say in how things happen. It’s not a final say and it’s not a decisive say, but the idea of inheritable political power and influence (as well as wealth) ought to be offensive to anyone with a brain. Richard Feynman said it well, “being a hereditary leader makes about as much sense as being a hereditary physicist.”

  25. 25
    lpetrich

    Good idea about removing blasphemy laws.

    But about monarchy, it’s been the nearly-universal form of government for any nation larger than a city-sate for nearly all of recorded history, and likely well before that. Yet over the last few centuries, it has disappeared from many places, and many people don’t seem to want it back. I like to say that we are living in the twilight of the monarchies.

    Over the last century, monarchy after monarchy has fallen, with their successors preferring to create republics, and with nobody seeming to miss monarchy very much.

    As to the Dutch monarchy, the first post-Napoleon Dutch king was the son of the last stadholder of the Dutch Republic. That position had become hereditary in that republic’s later years, meaning that it was turning into a monarchy.

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