Iceland repeals blasphemy law

Via Darren Smith, I learn that Iceland has repealed its blasphemy laws. The bill that was introduced by the Pirate Party (how cool is it to have such a party in parliament?) and passed by an almost unanimous vote repealed Article 125 that stated that, “Anyone who publicly ridicules or insults the dogmas or worship of a lawful religious community in Iceland, shall be fined or imprisoned for up to 3 months.”

Needless to say, religious people are upset that now people can attack them, using such vicious instruments as (brace yourself) satire, irony, and parody, seeing those things as being tantamount to hate speech.

The Fíladelfía Pentecostal Church expressed its position: “Does a person’s human rights include the right to mock the beliefs of others? Do people really need the right openly to incite contempt for a given group of people on the grounds of their faith? […] Repealing existing legislation on blasphemy is tantamount to legalising hate speech. Current legislation does not ban freedom of expression or criticism of religion – it bans parody, irony and prejudice-inciting expression.”

The Catholic Church commented:

“For people of faith, religion and the image of God are important aspects of their existence, identity and dignity, and this should be protected by law. Should freedom of expression go so far as to mean that the identity of a person of faith can be freely insulted, then the personal freedom – as individuals or groups – is also undermined. Unlimited and unrestricted freedom of expression, without any sense of responsibility or natural social constraints, may lead to psychological abuse of individuals or groups. The Catholic Church in Iceland cannot and will not accept this new possibility of inflicting psychological abuse on individuals or groups.”

The sensibilities of religious people are so delicate, the poor dears. When will this persecution of religious people by means of words end?


  1. Chiroptera says

    Does anyone else think it’s kind of odd that it’s perfectly okay to mock people who have correct beliefs, like human activity is changing the global climate for the worse or that the species of life evolved from a common ancestor over three and a half billion years, but for some reason it’s not okay to mock people who basically believe in fairy tales and legends that would make a poor Disney movie?

  2. says

    Religious belief deserves as much respect and protection from mockery as a person’s taste in music, movies, enjoyment or pornography or choice of spectator sports.

    They deserve the right to have it, and that’s it. If they don’t want to hear criticism of it, then they should keep it to themselves, private and behind closed doors. All the criticism and mockery of religion (and the other things mentioned) come because they tried telling everyone else to think, feel and like the same things.

  3. says

    Obviously, religious people will still be protected from slander and harassment in exactly the same way as everyone else. What they’re complaining about it that they’re no longer going to get additional, special protections.

  4. Who Cares says

    Off topic:
    The greeks just voted No. At 75% of the votes counted more then 50% of the population who voted put a red mark next to Oxi.

  5. says

    When will this persecution of religious people by means of words end?

    Yeah, it’s like a kind of spanish inquisition.

    Their faith in their god is so puny.

  6. Al Dente says

    Who Cares @5 & 7

    Neither vote was particularly palatable to the average Greek. I’m not surprised they voted No since that gives Greeks pride in their country. However pride won’t help pay €3.5 billion (US$3.9 billion) to the European Central Bank in two weeks.

  7. Who Cares says

    @Al Dente (#8):
    Which they won’t pay or rather can’t . There was a reason that Tsipras wanted a debt holiday for 20 years and debt relief. This no vote combined with the IMF admitting they went wrong and that the debtors need to take a haircut on the debt of about 30% will see to it that Tsipras and Varoufakis will stand firm on that.
    This presents a bit of a problem since the EU doesn’t want to give Tsipras a win in this. The reasons are many political and personal, Tsipras and Varoufakis are to put it mildly not liked thanks to their behavior. Add into this the statements and actions with which the EU tried to scare the Greeks into voting yes (nothing short of mafia tactics IMNSHO) that categorically denied that there was anything to negotiate other then the deal presented makes it hard to make any concession on this from the EU.

    I expect at least 7 countries of the Eurozone countries to say no against anything but the final deal offered.
    Those are Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland since the parties currently making the government majority are already threatened by opposition parties similar to Syriza and they don’t want to strengthen these parties. Then there are Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania which fled into the EU and the Eurozone to escape being controlled by Russia and for which the integrity of the Euro is seen as essential to keeping Russia at bay. That is 7 out of 19 countries in the Eurozone (18 if you exclude Greece).
    Germany might agree to debt relief. Merkel seems to value keeping the Euro intact above staying in power. Aside from that Germany is quite hypocritical in this seeing that in 1953 it got a debt holiday until west and east would be reunited which they refused to honor, saying in 1990 they would never pay those.
    France will probably vote with Germany. Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg , Poland, Austria and Finland will do the same. That is 8 out of 18
    That means that if Germany starts talking about debt relief it needs 2 more nations (out of Slovakia, Slovenia and Cyprus ) to commit to it to get a majority of finance ministers behind it. At this point the Euro will be saved for a while until the whole thing will restart with Italy, Spain, Portugal or Ireland.

    The other option will be the following up on the threats of kicking Greece out of the Eurozone. Or at the very least continue to present the same demands as before which will eventually have the same effect.

  8. WhiteHatLurker says

    Congratulations to Iceland for taking a step toward religious freedom.

  9. Scr... Archivist says

    I wonder if it is significant that this law was passed in 1940. Could it have been a way to protect the tiny number of Jews living in Iceland at that time? And was it passed before or after the British arrived?

  10. Gunnar Gällmo says

    The Bible mocks “the beliefs of others” a lot. When did Christians respect Paganism?

  11. Crimson Clupeidae says

    left0ver1under, don’t you be mocking my choice of p0rn!!

    Who doesn’t like tentacles!?!?

  12. Pierce R. Butler says

    Current legislation … bans … irony …

    Which would necessitate keeping the entire island of Iceland hermetically sealed from the 21st century (among other things, including Alanis Morissette).

  13. moarscienceplz says

    Vercotti: Anyway a week later they came back, said that the cheque had bounced and that I had to see Doug.
    Interviewer: Doug?
    Vercotti: Doug (takes a drink) I was terrified of him. Everyone was terrified of Doug. I’ve seen grown men pull their own heads off rather than see Doug. Even Dinsdale was frightened of Doug.
    Interviewer: What did he do?
    Vercotti: He used sarcasm. He knew all the tricks, dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes and satire.

  14. says

    Who Cares@9
    I suspect one of the things that really rattles the creditors is that the actions taken by Greece, so far, have put the lie to Voodoo trickle-down economics. The rich (otherwise known as job creators) hardly pay any taxes at all — admittedly through evasion rather than accounting. The middle-class are being taxed out the wazoo, and aren’t getting anything for it. And, now the Greek government is figuring out how skim a percentage out of all bank accounts. In the meantime, the rich have moved their money out of country (assuming they ever kept it there in the first place), so the skimming will fall hard on the already struggling, and rapidly shrinking middle class. If the creditors allow Greece to shirk stringent austerity programs, and the Greek economy starts to show signs of improvement, how will those creditors ever keep screwing the middle-class in their own countries?

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