Oh, come on, American Atheists

The American Atheists web site includes a very silly poll. Is Blasphemy a crime?

Yes: 3268
No: 94

Sure, it’s going in a strongly sensible direction, but wouldn’t a short paragraph explaining why blasphemy is not an actionable crime be more informative? Just asking atheists to state that their existence is not criminal is a no-brainer. And I sure hope they never try to claim that these results support the contention that blasphemy is not a crime.

Oops, wait…as is pointed out in the comments, I read this wrong — the poll was going in the wrong direction. I guess I just couldn’t believe that such a strong majority was actually endorsing such a ridiculous position.


  1. BobApril says

    Um, is it just me, or is that poll going the WRONG direction? Maybe I’m dense, but the idea of 98% of American Atheists agreeing that blasphemy IS a crime is somewhat disturbing to me.

  2. Didac says

    Buf! That was the stronger political debate… in French Restauration (1815-1830). Actually the debate on those times was if blasphemy was a crime punishable by death or only a crime punishable by prison, banishment or fine. The problem with blasphemy laws is that if your religion does not match the religious preference of your country (eius regio, cuius religio) you are as fuck-up as atheists.

  3. Wildflower says

    Do people read polls instead of just blindly clicking on the first option?

    No: 3268 96%
    Yes: 94 2%

  4. Holbach says

    A better question:

    Should the word blasphemy be relegated to the dustbin of useless and dead expressions along with religion?

  5. freelunch says

    The question was not whether it was sensible for it to be a crime, but whether it was. Despite the fact that it is a crime in some places, I still voted no. Most others appear to have answered the literal question.

  6. Phineas says

    Yeah, right now it reads 96% yes, 2% no, which is definitely not the sensible direction.

    It doesn’t seem likely that most members or regular visitors to the American Atheist’s website would vote “yes,” so I would imagine the most likely explanation is either that the wording got changed accidentally or that the poll is being crashed. Probably the 2nd.

    So, rather than get annoyed that one of our polls is being crashed, I propose we use this opportunity to underline the point that internet polls are non-scientific, non-binding and utterly worthless.*

    I may be wrong, but I’m just imagining someone like Johnny-Boy popping up out of the woodwork to gloat, and I would prefer he be met with all the additional derision he deserves.

    *Unless of course, proposition 304 passes. And we all pray it will.

  7. AnthonyK says

    A friend of mine is a blasphemer. Although he will clearly suffer god’s wrath in the afterlife I am a little concerned that the human law machine may make him suffer in this one. Am I right to be worried, and what should I advise him to do?
    Concerned of Earth

  8. Nerd of Redhead, OM says

    Voted from work, now to wait until I get home and hit it with all the browsers.

  9. the pro from dover says

    Of course blasphemy is a crime and the atonement for it is well known. Per each blasphemous thought, deed, or expression merely put $100 into an envelope and mail it to TPFD, Centennial Co. 80201. You won’t regret this and you can go on being blasphemous with no concern for locusts or ligtning bolts. What’s even better is that the March special also includes at half price ($50 per episode) atonement for heresy, eating shellfish, and touching your naughty bits.

  10. says

    Boy, anything to get us to stop thinking about the war or the economy. I guess this is in response to the UN commotion? Here’s the problem. When Fox News thinks the UN resolution is a problem I get really confused. Really, the only reason I try to respect other people’s religions, and thus rarely blaspheme, is that I’m a coward who doesn’t want to get his ass kicked in public. When Fox News raises this blasphemy thing as a freedom of speech issue, I find myself wanting to agree with them, but also thinking that there’s something wrong in general with agreeing with Fox News. So are they saying I should be able to blaspheme, or that I should be able to blaspheme against specific gods, or that it’s not a crime? So confusing. Almost as distracting as the Connecticut chimpanzee thing.

    But you’re right, the american atheists should have framed the question a little better.

  11. says

    The question is poorly phrased. It seems to assume that whether something is a crime is connected to some sort of Platonic idea. Otherwise the question makes no sense. They should ask “Should blasphemy be a crime?”. Also, note that atheism is not inherently blasphemy. Blasphemy classically meant using the divine names in a disrespectful manner. Atheism is generally heresy or something similar, not blasphemy.

  12. Who cares says

    The question makes a false assumption which is; A god exists.
    Based on that premise I’d say blasphemy is a crime. Also you’d better live in a copper insulated house and wear lightning bolt proof clothing when you insult Thor or Zeus of who ever tosses the lightning.

  13. says

    Blasphemy is a crime (or should be); His Noodleness is very sensitive and gets hurt feelings very easily.


  14. Wildflower says

    Isn’t “In your opinion, …” assumed with every poll?

    Asking about the state of knowledge regarding the law seems to be even more stupid than your usual poll already is. Especially since the poll isn’t even limited to US residents (i.e. US law).

  15. Michelle says

    …Considering there’s so many ways to blaspheme every fairytale in the world, how could we ever live and stay out of prison?

  16. SeanJJordan says

    That’s what we in the world of research refer to as a “ambiguous and loaded question.” It isn’t clear on what blasphemy is, nor is it clear on what sort of crime it should be. The issue is far too simple for such a complex construct, and there’s no qualifying language (“do you feel” or “In a free society”) to contribute to the validity and reliability of the response.

    Not that a web poll is valid or reliable in the first place!

  17. Wildflower says

    “It’s embarrassing that our side has put up such a stupid poll. I thought we knew better.”

    Embarrassing but not unexpected. That’s the problem with atheism not being a worldview… anyone lacking the belief in a god qualifies.

    Just check the comments to Edward Current’s ( http://www.youtube.com/user/edwardcurrent?blend=1&ob=0 ) videos if you want extremely strong evidence that atheism != intelligence.

  18. Bryan says

    YES: 3274 (83%)

    Hmm. I wouldn’t expect those results on an atheist site.

    Maybe some dink out there pointed his blog fans at that poll, sort of like what PZ did to the poll at TDG?


  19. daveau says

    Slightly OT. Shortly after Harold Washington died, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago had a student exhibition. One of the pieces was a painting of Mayor Washington in a dress. Well, members of the City Council marched over to the Art Institute and took the painting down, claiming it was “blasphemy.” My wife and I have called him Saint Harold ever since.

    Blasphemy, the victimless crime.

  20. says

    Wildflower, atheism isn’t a worldview but it is a component that contributes to a worldview. This is like most ideas or concepts about the nature of reality. Very few of them are so encompassing that all other views follow.

    The problem here you are seeing is not unique to atheism. Pretty much any worldview component can be subscribed to by someone. And if the intelligence of the human population remains roughly constant and the fraction which are atheists increases we will see more and more dumb atheists.

  21. Strangebrew says

    That poll is seriously screwed methinks…how come most folks think blasphemy is a crime?

    Either I am reading it wrong or my browser is obliterating pertinent information!

    Is Blasphemy a crime?
    Yes: 3274 …82%
    No: 657 …16%

    Going back to bed me…woke up either in wrong century or wrong planet…but summat out of wack…probably me!

  22. says

    Of course Blasphemy isn’t a crime, and thankfully here in the UK they saw sense and repealed the blasphemy laws. Pity the UN are now trying to sneak some new ones in on all member countries.

  23. Africangenesis says

    The poll might be being biased by the article headline right next to it touting the UN making blasphemy a crime. The millenial generation is very trusting of institutional authority and government expertise. It goes without saying that such lemming like behavior is a potentially dangerous vulnerability. (That is why I wrote it rather than saying it). A little more skepticism is in order.

  24. conelrad says

    Chapter 272/section 36 of Massachusetts General Laws:
    “Whoever willfully blasphemes the holy name of God by denying, cursing or contumeliously reproaching God, His creation, government or final judging of the world, or by cursing [etc.]Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost, or by cursing [etc.]…the holy word of God…shall be punished by imprisonment in jail for not more than one year or a fine of not more than $300….”
    Your local ordinances may vary.

  25. Sven DiMilo says

    This is another example of why I’m not interested in joining any club that would have me. [/groucho paraphrase]

  26. says

    Urrk! This poll is not silly; it’s teh stooooopid! “Is Blasphemy a crime?” is not an opinion question; instead, it is, for any given legal jurisdiction, a question that has an objectively correct answer, and is thus not a proper subject for an opinion poll.

    Even a more correct phrasing of the intended question — “Should blasphemy be a crime? — appears, as some have noted, to presume the existence of a god (else what could “blasphemy” possibly mean?).

    If you posit the question in a more precise way — “Should contempt for a particular religious belief system be forbidden by law?” or perhaps its converse “Should respect for a particular religious belief system be compelled by law?” — nobody who even pretends to subscribe to the values embshrined in the U.S. Bill of Rights can answer anything other than a resounding NO!regardless of their personal beliefs about the existence of a god.

  27. aratina says

    <Nelson>Ha ha!</Nelson> American Atheists FAIL. If there is one thing I’ve learned in the last few days due to pointless polls, a significant proportion of atheists do not yet regularly read Pharyngula much to their detriment.

  28. Christophe Thill says

    Blasphemy, a crime? Well, it depends against whom. I for one can’t stand people blaspheming against Bastet. Concerning the other ones, I don’t care.

  29. Helfrick says

    Has to be a mistake. Are there really more than 4,000 atheists on the Internet? Doesn’t seem like it sometimes.

  30. Canuck says

    Totally agree with that stance. It should NOT be a crime to be critical or contemptuous of any unprovable, unsupportable declaration, no matter how much reverence the believers have for it. Their slavish and sincere devotion to woo doesn’t trump your ability to call the woo a delusion.

  31. says

    “Um…I think you’ve got the “yes” and “no” votes mixed up there, PZ.”

    The results are now:
    Yes: 3396 (76%)
    No: 1045 (23%)

    “The poll might be being biased by the article headline right next to it touting the UN making blasphemy a crime.”

    That might have indeed influenced the poll results. It says, right next to it, “UN: Blasphemy is a Crime!: The United Nations Anti-Blasphemy Resolution aims to curtail speech that offends religion”

    Link to atheists.org is broken.

  32. Prometheus says

    Blasphemy is a misdemeanor in Oklahoma…

    and defined:

    “Blasphemy consists in wantonly uttering or publishing words, casting contumelious reproach or profane ridicule upon God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, the Holy Scriptures or the Christian or any other religion.”

    If you have a sense of humor you can’t claim the exception:

    “If it appears beyond reasonable doubt that the words complained of were used in the course of serious discussion, and with intent to make known or recommend opinions entertained by the accused, such words are not blasphemy.”

    Pro tip: Don’t be contumelious in Slapout, Gotebo or Hatbox Oklahoma!

  33. says

    Canuck, even if their beliefs were complete reasonable it shouldn’t be a crime to be contemptuous of them or criticize them. The only thing that maybe should be outlawed is saying Hastur’s name three times in a row because then bad things will happen. In that case, there’s direct cause and effect concern. Luckily, nothing actually happens. I’ll demonstrate that now. Hastur. Hastur. Hastur. oh shit! gfh98t3nn948943!#*(# s1 34

  34. says

    Blasphemy, sacrilege, heresy, etc, are all “thought” crimes.

    They are very useful in maintaining ‘orthodoxy’ where they are permitted to exist. They are perfect means of oppression because there needn’t be any ‘consequence’ of the “crime” other than expression.

    Fuck God!

  35. Sven DiMilo says

    Pro tip: Don’t be contumelious in Slapout, Gotebo or Hatbox Oklahoma!

    As a survivor of 6 years in Stillwater, I am oh-so-embarrassed to learn that an Oklahoma legislator once used a word that I had to look up.

    Personally I would be very chary of public contumely even in Tahlequah or Ponca City. You might get away with it in certain bars in Norman and maybe certain men’s rooms in Tulsa.

  36. Prometheus says

    I forgot to note, we once calculated that, in Oklahoma, standing by the highway on Sunday morning with a sign advertising “F*ck Jesus” T-Shirts will net you four separate misdemeanors and depending on the city limits I think tarring and feathering may be a municipal option.

    § 901. Definition of Blasphemy

    § 902. Exception to Blasphemy

    § 903. Blasphemy – Misdemeanor

    § 904. Definition of Profane Swearing

    § 905. Profane Swearing – Punishment

    § 906. Obscene Language in Public Place, etc. – Punishment

    § 907. Sabbath Breaking

    § 908. Sabbath-breaking – Defined

    § 909. Defense to Sabbath-breaking

    § 911. Sabbath-breaking – Punishment

    § 915. Disturbing Religious Worship

    § 916. Acts Constituting Disturbance

  37. AnthonyK says

    contumelious reproach

    Now there are my new words for today! Although…isn’t that the “c” word that PZ dislikes? And no one wants to blaspheme against him.

  38. Oliver says

    If the poll has been crashed it is our great good fortune to have Jonny-Boy around. He will take the matter up with the appropriate authorities and we can be sure that whoever orchestrated this shocking behaviour will be banned from the Information Super Highway forever.

  39. says

    Rather than correct (or apologize for) my typo @35, I’m going to assert confidently that embshrined ought to be a real word, and invite y’all (y’all also ought to be a real word, since English lacks a distinct second-person plural pronoun) to provide a suitable definition.

    So mote it be!

  40. ChrisKG says

    Ok, so if they prove God exists (I’m not holding my breath) then it could be sin, but not a crime. A legal version of NOMA comes to mind.

  41. Ouchimoo says

    Oh NOES! The poll has probably been Anti-Pharyngulated!! Quickly, we must discover the perpetrator and find their comment boards and whine and cry about how they are being childish and meanies!

  42. SLW13 says

    *hangs head in shame* At least the numbers are slowly moving back in the other direction. But 68% voting yes is still utterly pathetic. C’mon, people, work with me!

  43. cpsmith says

    The extra ‘b’ makes me think ‘tomb’ so embshrined should be a cross between enshrined and entombed. So, enshrining something and keeping it enshrined long after it’s substance has withered away or become useless.

    For example, the role of the Queen has become embshrined in the Canadian parliamentary system.

  44. says

    The fine for “profane swearing” as defined in OK State Statute § 905. Profane Swearing – Punishment is a whole dollar. Adjust for inflation from 1910’s dollars that might be worth a whole $22 by now. (http://www.westegg.com/inflation/)

    That’s a law that might need some updating. Like getting rid of it.

    (Thanks, Prometheus @ #46. I needed a good laugh today.)

  45. Lotharloo says

    I guess I just couldn’t believe that such a strong majority was actually endorsing such a ridiculous position.

    Welcome to America, pal!

  46. Quidam says

    It’s a stupid question. If the question is “Is blasphemy actually a crime (in some jurisdictions)?” then the factual answer is “YES”

    That is not the same question as “Should blasphemy be a crime?” for which the answer would be “No”.

    A truly pointless quiz

  47. Patricia, OM says

    American Atheists are going to hold a mass blasphemy event at their convention….don’t we do that every day?

    yes 5960
    no 2523

  48. peter says

    Blasforme, blasforyou?

    Shirley, everyone blasphemes at one point? Ok, so it may be a different religion.

  49. Strangebrew says


    ‘§ 915. Disturbing Religious Worship’

    When xians worship religiously… that sure as hell disturbs me…Do I have a case?

  50. McBrolloks says

    He-he, how smart are these atheists? Or is the poll being manipulated?

    First of all, how can criticizing religion be considered a crime if you don’t believe in a god or gods?

    Secondly, if an atheist votes “yes” on that poll, isn’t that like picking the stick yourself and giving it to them to beat you with?

  51. McBrolloks says

    A line from Inherit The Wind. It can also be seen in the context of banning the right to criticize religion.

    “Can’t you understand? That if you take a law like evolution and you make it a crime to teach it in the public schools, tomorrow you can make it a crime to teach it in the private schools? And tomorrow you may make it a crime to read about it. And soon you may ban books and newspapers. And then you may turn Catholic against Protestant, and Protestant against Protestant, and try to foist your own religion upon the mind of man. If you can do one, you can do the other. Because fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding. And soon, your Honor, with banners flying and with drums beating we’ll be marching backward, BACKWARD, through the glorious ages of that Sixteenth Century when bigots burned the man who dared bring enlightenment and intelligence to the human mind!”

  52. SASnSA says

    Just a note, from watching other such polls on that site, it’s become obvious that there’s an xtian that watches for just such polls and hits it with all the votes he needs to, to make it go strongly his way. If you do get it turned around, he’ll be back to pervert it again.

    It’s too easy to do on AAs web site, all you have to do is turn off cookies and keep voting continuously till the results show what you want.

  53. Wrought says

    Of course, in the UK, blasphemy isn’t a crime. Although, it was a crime right up until the law in question was abolished a few months ago. :/

  54. Robert Thille says

    Depends on the jurisdiction. The poll is stupid because it’s about what is (which varies), as opposed to what _should_be_.

  55. Greylander says

    Hey folks… looks like someone on the ‘yes’ side is running a bot… if you want to do multiple votes fast, just block cookies from atheists.org in your browser (and delete the existing cookies from same), then you can vote ‘no’ till your fingers bleed — you won’t see the tally of votes until you re-enable cookies. I just ran up the ‘no’ votes from 29% to 32%… but it will fall back down again. Either there is a ‘yes’ bot out there, or some extremely popular theist blog or web site has anti-pharyngulated the poll.

  56. Greylander says

    Hmmmm…. well it went up to 33% on its own… maybe that wasn’t all me (I thought 3% seemed a bit much for the number of votes I submitted — didn’t actually count). Someone got a ‘no’ bot going? Or did several others out there already figure out to block cookies and click away?

  57. Don says

    Meaningless question. Did they mean ‘Should blasphemy be a crime?’ or ‘Is blasphemy a crime where you live?’

    Today I’d answer ‘no’ to both, but a year ago ‘yes’ to the latter. Maybe the respondents were just answering accurately, that in their state it is a crime.

  58. E.V. says

    Who cares? This just points out the insipidness of online polls. I love the fact that some christofacists denounce us for Pharyngulating polls and then they do their own poll crashing. Ain’t hypocrisy grand?

  59. me says

    “I’d had a lovely supper and all I said to my wife was, That piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah!

  60. minusRusty says

    lol. Atheists pharyngulating an atheist poll!

    Is nothing sacred to you people? }:-)


  61. Don says

    Is nothing sacred to you people?

    Well, I have a turnip which, from a certain angle, looks a bit like PZ. It’s not actually sacred, but I’m working on it. Just waiting on having the goat delivered.

  62. tcb says

    Is nothing sacred to you people? }:-)

    I wish I had said that. /Wilde

    In anticipation of Blasphemy Day, may I just take this opportunity to say that Jesus can suck my cock.

  63. Alex Deam says

    Guys, if anything, the poll hasn’t been anti-pharyngulated, but more likely has been “anti-american-atheistisized”. Why should all Christian poll crashing be against this site – why not against the site it is perpetrated on?

  64. «bønez_brigade» says

    lulz @ Oliver [#49]


    Current state of the poll:

    Yes: 10210 – 57%
    No: 6356 – 36%

    Watching the poll over ~ 30 min span,
    Yes consistently rises ~ 43 votes/min
    No increases at a range of 20-45 v/m

    If yes wins, it will provide a good opportunity to show that we won’t whine about a poll not going “our” way (/ getting anti-Pharyngulized).

  65. Laura, CA says

    How do you get a poll with two options that only add up to 93%?

    I think botting isn’t the only issue that poll has.

  66. tcb says

    You will, tcb, you will.

    The only thing worse than playing squash together is playing it by yourself.

  67. says

    In a lot of countries blasphemy is a crime. Maybe the poll would be better if worded “should blasphemy be” rather than “is”.

  68. Joe S says

    What an amazingly badly designed poll. Asking if something is a crime is very different from asking if that thing ought to be a crime. Various posters have cited laws in a few states that do, in fact, prohibit blasphemy. While I suspect that these laws are not often enforced, they do exist. If you ask me whether there are such laws, I have to answer “yes”, regardless of whether I agree that there ought to be such laws.

    Incidentally, the MA statute was upheld by the state Supreme Judicial Court against a First Amendment challenge. The decision is quite old, dating, I believe, from the 1880’s or 1890’s, although I don’t have ready access to the Mass. Reports, so I could be off on the date. But, as of now, it is on the books and has been held constitutional. I don’t think anyone’s been prosecuted for it in many years, but it is theoretically possible.

  69. Gregory Kusnick says

    Bill Dauphin @ #50:

    (y’all also ought to be a real word, since English lacks a distinct second-person plural pronoun)

    Textbook English may lack a distinct pronoun, but English as it’s actually spoken has several. Where I grew up, “youse” or “yuz” were in fairly common use. These days, “y’all” and “you guys” are ubiquitous. That’s real enough for me.

  70. Max says

    I think that many people are confused by the phraseology.

    They mean, “Is blasphemy considered a crime in the US, or treated as such?”
    People are answering the perceived question, “Do you think that blasphemy should be considered a crime?”

    An atheist would answer “Yes” and “No,” respectively.

  71. Helfrick says

    The results aren’t what we expected. Who do we complain to? Surely someone must pay for the offense.

  72. says

    As of 3:54 PM EST on 03/02/2009:

    American Atheists survey — Is Blasphemy a crime?

    Yes: 13513 -60%

    No: 7697 – 34%

    As Johnny Mack would say: You can NOT be SERIOUS!!

  73. Katkinkate says

    Is it a case of “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” or “Fighting fire with fire”?

    Blasphemy in general shouldn’t be a crime. No human can be sure of not blaspheming against some god or other, according to the many human religions, past, present and future. A blasphemy law should be specific about what god/s is/are being targeted. Personally I think this is one issue that should be left up to the god/s in question. If a god considers something offensive let him/her/it sort it out.

  74. Prometheus says

    contumelious – arrogantly insolent

    Uh oh Dawkins is speaking on Friday and you know what they say about him….

    Notes to self: Send bottle of Scotch to favorite bail bondsman. Gas up Cessna. Have suit dry cleaned for Monday docket. Be prepared to jump in any direction.

  75. says

    #26: Exactly. The question is “is blasphemy a crime?”, to which the answer is–in some jurisdictions, yes, it is.

    *Should* it be? Of course not.

    As phrased, it’s simply a factual question about what laws are on the books.

  76. AnthonyK says

    Continue being heretical, and pass it on. That way we can create a blasphmeme.

  77. says

    This is the closest thread subject I could find for this. What is likely a decent report “by Hillary Clinton” has this in it:

    Guaranteeing the right of every man, woman, and child to participate fully in society and live up to his or her God-given potential is an ideal that has animated our nation since its founding.


    Not the worst thing in the world, but hardly likely to persuade atheistic countries who are named in the report. And whether it’s our “ideal” as a nation could be disputed as well.

    Glen D

  78. says

    I live in europe, and if i feel the urge to curse and swear (which is not often mind you), i will, wether i’m allowed to or not.

    If they would fine me, i would ask them which gods name i can or can’t use in vain.

    god? allah? thor? zeus?

    This law better be very very very specific.

  79. AnthonyK says

    I would be greatly disappointed if I had not wildly exceeded my “god-given” potential.

  80. Jeremy says

    But is the question asking whether we feel that blasphemy is a crime, or that if we think it should be a crime? There is no doubt that in many parts of the world you can face criminal charges and prosecution for blasphemy. This is a fact, and one we should work on changing. Voting yes is really just accepting the reality of the world – it’s not supporting it. One could even define blasphemy as “the crime of insulting religion,” and vote Yes even if it wasn’t part of any criminal law in the world.

    Due to this possible variety of understandings of the question, the result of the poll is meaningless.

    I also try to vote on what I think the intention of the pollster is, rather than on my interpretation of what the question actually means.

  81. John Scanlon FCD says

    ‘antipharyngulated’: does that just imply ‘fixed’ in expectation that we’d be along to redress the balance (i.e. that’s our handicap), or are you saying there’s an Antipharyngula flash-crowd already?

    #15 ‘Boy, anything to get us to stop thinking about the war or the economy’ – I read that as the war on the economy, which pretty much fits with US policy on most things (War on Everything!) But hey, you’re right – NOBODY’s been thinking about the war or the economy for months now, right?

  82. says

    What a bizarre question. It’s a crime in some jurisdictions (I believe that it’s a crime in Germany, for example, and it may even be a crime at common law in Australia; I don’t think that’s been definitively settled by the courts). It’s not a crime in most Western jurisdictions. I don’t see how it could be a crime in any jurisdictions in the US, since that would be contrary to the First Amendment.

    I suppose I’d have to vote “Yes”, since it’s clear that blasphemy, however defined, is a crime in some parts of the world.

    But why are they asking their readers to offer opinions on something like that? Now if it said, “Should blasphemy be a crime?” that might make sense.

  83. says

    And it’s interesting reading above that one blasphemy provision on a state statute book in the US survived constitutional appeal to the level of the relevant state Supreme Court (back in the 1800s). All the same, I think we can be confident that that judgment is now bad law. I’d continue to argue that blasphemy is not a crime in the US, as it’s almost inconceivable that existing blasphemy statutes would survive constitutional challenge. But the position is obviously different in many other parts of the world.

    Maybe “yes” is supposed to be the right answer and the poll is meant to raise consciousnesss of this Bad Thing. It’s as if the poll had asked: “Is it true that a large proportion of Americans are Young Earth Creationists?” Obviously, though regrettably, the answer would be “Yes”. But I think that stupidity in poll design is a better explanation than anything so subtle.

  84. says

    lol, and now I understand Dave Silverman’s post and see that the question has been changed. With the changed question, “Should blasphemy be a crime in the US?” I voted “No” … of course.

  85. kiltedbrick says

    Uh… The poll must have been reset after changing the question to “Should blasphemy be a crime?” The numbers are much different now:
    NO – 40% (279)
    YES – 51% (351)

  86. Gregory Kusnick says

    Still getting a TON of naysayers though.

    You say that like it’s a bad thing. Isn’t “nay” the answer you’re hoping for?

  87. says

    It isn’t the YES or NO vote that worries me, its the statement AFTER the YES:

    YES – Freedom ends where other people get offended.:

    What. The. Fuck. atheists.org aren’t just asking if Blasphemy is a crime, but if “freedom of speech” isn’t a right.


    :) I reported it as a bug with their bug tool

  88. black wolf says

    Russell #110,
    we have a weak version of a blasphemy law in Germany. In reality, it is unenforceable for anything but active disturbance of a religious ceremony in their own premises.
    Because it’s so weak and watered down, the conservative Christian Social Union of Bavaria (dominant party there), more specifically a few of its leading representatives, tried to iniate a tightening of the law (I think they’ve given up by now). They tried to have it include things such as caricatures and artworks.
    Funny how they weren’t at all concerned about the Catholic bishop who called some modern art ‘degenerate’, using the exact term you-know-who (Godwin) used.
    Or about how their Christian moral sense and unity in belief in a higher calling apparently had no impact on their party’s gradual descent into envious bickering and power-hungry backstabbing.
    Sort of like what happens to hypocrites who try to keep their act up for too long, don’t you think?

  89. Miko says

    Well, in most parts of the world and indeed even in large chunks of the U.S., it IS a crime. Nothing about whether it should be; just a simple fact: blasphemy is a crime in the sense that if you do something that others consider blasphemous, you can expect them to tie you to a stake and burn you.

  90. «bønez_brigade» says

    Current state of criminality of blasphemy:
    Freedom: 1506 – 24%
    Censorship: 4484 – 72%

    FWIW, I’ve watched the numbers change in the last 20 min, and for about the first 10 min, Yes (option 2) was steadily increasing at ~40 votes/min, and No (option 1) was creeping up at ~5 votes/min. And then the Yes votes just stopped, and the No votes started rising at ~ 45 votes/min.
    Methinks a supporter of blasphemy had his bot set for the old poll’s option 2 (which was No) and recently realized it.

    Sadly, though, the poll percentages still don’t quite make it to 100%, even after the reset.

  91. a lurker says

    “It is our blasphemy which has made us great, and will sustain us, and which the gods secretly admire in us.”
    — Roger Zelazny,
    “A Rose for Ecclesiastes”

  92. John Phillips, FCD says

    @ollie, you obviously haven’t read The Gospel of the FSM, better known as the eight I Really Rather You Didn’ts have you? If you had you would know that his noodliness doesn’t care a whit whether you blaspheme against him or not. This is covered in I Really Rather You Didn’ts 1 and 2. Oh and apparently 7 in your case as well, i.e. claiming special knowledge of what his noodliness thinks :-)

  93. Kevin says

    “Posted by: ollie | March 2, 2009 10:32 AM Blasphemy is a crime (or should be); His Noodleness is very sensitive and gets hurt feelings very easily.”

    That is so wrong. You know nothing of his/her/its word. The FSM is very laid back. They are not called the 14 suggestions for nothing (see the bottom of this thread: http://www.venganza.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1614&sid=041fb51b1c9fac4df4cdd764c2e50569&start=75)

    You sir, are getting flat beer for a least a week.

  94. Dennj says

    is there something i’m missing here?? ..blasphemy still IS a crime in some places…and it used to be a crime in the west, long ago

  95. SquidBrandon says

    I worked very hard to come across a poll at atheist.org completely by accident. I mean I can’t believe that the SAME poll happens to be the topic of discussion on this very blog! I do declare that I was free from the nefarious influence of a certain SleaZ Myers at the time I voted.

    I picked the correct answer, i.e. not the one that reflects my opinion, but rather the choice less likely to offend some anonymous internet stranger’s delicate sensibility. That is how we’re supposed to be doing it, right? I only voted at least two hundred times once.

  96. «bønez_brigade» says

    And the tides have been turning…

    NO – 11975 – 65%
    YES – 6013 – 32%

  97. paul evans says

    Someone’s botting “Yes”.
    However, the poll currently reads:
    68% no
    29% yes

  98. «bønez_brigade» says

    It appears that bots have been hard at work for both sides, but the NO bots currently seem to be working far harder(er).

    NO – 20373 – 69%
    YES – 8464 – 28%

  99. Nija says

    They changed the wording – not sure if they reset the tally, but now the question makes more sense.

  100. mllawso says

    Should Blasphemy be a Crime in the USA?

    NO – Freedom is freedom, and everyone should be free to express themselves: 27286

    YES – Freedom ends where other people get offended.: 8481

    Wow, talk about delayed pharyngulation.

  101. stormen_per says

    The problem with the poll was that votes for no (top alternative) where then shown as yes (top result). For some reason the yes/no got swapped in the results.

    I think someone made an error when creating the poll and tying it to the results box.

  102. Gregory Kusnick says

    I think someone made an error when creating the poll…

    I think that can be said about virtually all Internet polls.

  103. Deepsix says

    Well, the wording of the poll changed, which then changed the meaning of the “yes” and “no” votes.

    The original question: “Is Blasphemy a Crime”?

    New wording: “Should Blasphemy be a Crime in the USA?”

  104. «bønez_brigade» says

    Blasphemy poll replaced. It is now:
    Should Obama take the role of President of the Boy Scouts?
    No – it’s a bigoted private club: 8 – 80%
    Yes – and try to change it from above: 1 – 10%
    Yes, just do it and move on, it’s not important.: 1 – 10%