So, the Irish constitutional provision authorizing the criminalization of blasphemy has now been repealed. This means that to the extent that the constitution of Ireland protects speech, it will now protect it just as extensively when that speech has religious content as it previously did when the content was other than religious. The Guardian notes that, while this is a win for all of Ireland (with 65% voting on the winning side and all Irish gaining in freedom), Michael Nugent and Atheist Ireland have been advocating for this for a long time:
“It means that we’ve got rid of a medieval crime from our constitution that should never have been there,” said Michael Nugent, chairperson of Atheist Ireland, which had campaigned for years to have blasphemy taken out of the constitution.
Nugent said the result was another important step towards realigning national laws with contemporary Irish life.
“The population has moved on, [people are] no longer controlled by the Catholic church, but a lot of the laws that were put in place are still there,” he added. “We have to chip away at them and get the state to catch up with the people.”
I know nothing about Irish politics, but this bit sounds good too:
Voters also returned president Michael Higgins to office, giving the 77-year-old poet and human rights campaigner another seven-year term by a comfortable margin.
65%+ voted a few months ago to repeal the Irish constitutional ban on abortion. 65% voted to repeal the Irish constitutional blasphemy exemption from free expression protections. And 55% voted to reelect a “human rights campaigner” to the office of the Irish presidency.
Of course, there is a snake in the grass, Ireland or no. The 2nd place finisher in the presidential election was Peter Casey who was polling dismally just days ago, but shot up to 20%+ by throwing hatred and demeaning stereotypes at Irish travelers, then defending his prejudice by insisting that it can’t be that bad, because it’s not racism, because the travelers don’t constitute a race.
The fact that Casey got more than 20% should be an embarrassment as well as a check on the potentially pacifying exuberance that can easily come in the wake of successful campaigns for positive change.
So congratulations, Ireland, but please don’t get overconfident.