The evil creator god 3

Irish police are now “investigating” Stephen Fry [“Jeeves”] for blasphemy.

Here’s a video of the television interview that caused offense: Stephen Fry on RTE, the partly state-owned Irish national public broadcaster, in February 2015.

From Wikipedia:

In Ireland, blasphemy against Christianity is prohibited by the constitution and carries a maximum fine of €25,000; however the offense of blasphemous libel, last prosecuted in 1855, was ruled in 1999 to be incompatible with the Constitution’s guarantee of religious equality. A controversial law was passed on 9 July 2009 and went into effect on 1 January 2010. The law prohibits publishing or uttering “matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion”.

No charges have been brought under that law until possibly now.

Stephen Fry is being “investigated”  – after all this time – but how likely is he to be prosecuted?

The complainant who set the wheels of justice turning in the case accused Fry not of blasphemy but of “defamation”. Blasphemy comes under the heading of Defamation in the Act, and is a crime.

Usually, defamation is a matter for civil action. But can someone sue someone for defaming someone else? Especially when the someone else is of dubious existence and no fixed address, so he cannot be subpoenaed to testify.

Hmm. But it would be delightful to hear Fry’s accusations repeated in court. And as long as his accusers insist that “God” is real, and really did create everything, how will they answer the defense that Fry’s accusations of his evil-doing are true and that by their own claims he is responsible for them?

It’s a fascinating encounter between moral indignation (Fry’s) and moral hypocrisy (his accusers’).

*

Update May 10, 2017:

Gardaí [the Irish police] have decided not to proceed with a blasphemy investigation against Stephen Fry after they failed to find a large group of people outraged by comments he made on an RTÉ show. …

Under the controversial legislation, introduced by then Justice Minister Dermot Ahern in 2009, it is illegal to publish or utter a matter that is “grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion”.

How many make “a substantial number”?

That the gardaí are not revealing.

Posted under Christianity, Judaism, Theology by Jillian Becker on Sunday, May 7, 2017

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Islam versus free speech 9

A new internet magazine called The Participator has been launched by our British associate and political like-thinker, Chauncey Tinker. (The title intentionally calls to mind the long-established journal The Spectator.)

The first article was published yesterday and may be found here

It is about Islam punishing blasphemy – which is what Islam considers any criticism of Islamic belief to be. As Islam is trying to make criticism of itself a punishable crime the world over, the topic is of universal interest and importance. It could be summed up as “Islam versus free speech“. In Europe, Islam is winning. Is it winning in Britain too?

These are extracts from the article:

On a BBC Asian Network program, the Muslim presenter Shazia Awan posed the question “What Is The Right Punishment For Blasphemy?”. The question is obviously loaded with the implication that there SHOULD be a punishment for blasphemy. … There have been a great many articles written about this radio program already, but so far they all seem to have missed the fact that the BBC have committed a criminal offence under current UK law by airing it. …

(We posted commentary on the program two days ago. See Where stands the BBC on blasphemy?, March 20, 2017.)

Examples of what callers to the program gave as answers to the question include these:

The second caller … was a man called Wajid Ali (Burki?) from Birmingham – a city in the UK. This caller supported the principle of a death sentence for blasphemers under Islamic law in Muslim majority countries, but he seemed confused about whether blasphemers in non-Muslim countries should also be killed. For example he said he was upset that Salman Rushdie had not yet been killed. Rushdie does not live in a Muslim Country, he has lived in the US since 2000 before which he was living in the UK under very necessary police protection. Shazia pressed the caller on his view, asking “do you not think that the death penalty is a step too far?”. By the phrasing of this question we might even suspect that Shazia herself thinks that there should in fact be a punishment for blasphemy, but that the death penalty would be excessive. The caller responded saying that the punishment should be determined by the law of the land, so we can only conclude from all this that he was disappointed that Salman Rushdie had not been murdered by a private citizen. At the very least this is inescapably a very grossly offensive point of view, at the worst it might almost be considered an incitement to murder.

A caller called Ishaan from Cardiff … said: “sooner or later Islam is going to be taking over anyway”, a statement that was surely grossly offensive to all the non-Muslims in the UK who do not wish to live in an Islamic state. …

Surprisingly, blasphemy was still a statutory crime in the United Kingdom until as recently as 2008, when it was finally abolished. But the last time anyone was prosecuted for committing it was in 1843, in Scotland. Will it now make a come-back when sharia law – already in use as a parallel legal system in Britain – becomes the only law of the land?

The context of the question was not current law in the UK (which abolished the blasphemy law in 2008), but the current law in Pakistan, where the punishment is currently the death penalty. In the case of Asia Bibi, who has been on death row for 7 years in appalling conditions, the authorities there are clearly hoping that she will die in prison and save them from the worldwide outrage that would necessarily result if they carried out the sentence.

Please read our post on Asia Bibi – whose right name is Aasiya Noreen. It is titled Thirst: a story of religious injustice, and may be found here.

At some point the BBC woke up to the fact that the question it was asking implied that there should be some punishment for blasphemy.  So it sent out a tweet:

We never intend[ed] to imply Blasphemy should be punished. Provocative question that got it wrong.

OK, now they are getting it. …

By now I think any “reasonable ordinary person” would agree with me that views were aired on this program that were at the very least grossly offensive. Under current UK law (Communications Act 2003) it is illegal to broadcast a communication on an electronic network that is “grossly offensive”.

The program may have been broadcast live (making it impossible to know exactly what would be said), but by the phrasing of the question the producers of the program have actively encouraged such sentiments to be expressed. At least one of the callers who expressed grossly offensive views was a regular caller on the show, and the producers will have been well aware of what sort of reactions to expect. As a UK Muslim herself, the presenter will also have been well aware that those views expressed are scarcely uncommon among Muslims in the UK today (polls have shown this to be the case as well). In short, the makers of this program knew full well what to expect.

All this considered then I think it is quite reasonable to suggest that the producers deliberately sought these grossly offensive opinions in order to create a sensational program and that therefore by broadcasting the program they are wilfully in contravention of the Communications Act. …

The question is then posed: “What is the right punishment for the BBC?”

So readers, I wish to ask you, what do you think would be an appropriate punishment for the BBC, for this criminal act? Unfortunately when the BBC is fined it is those who pay the licence fee who have to foot the bill. Therefore, fining the BBC will only serve to punish those who are already suffering from the BBC’s poor quality and wildly biased output.

I think that an appropriate punishment for the BBC would be that it should be privatized in totality. I believe that the BBC should also lose all their rights to broadcast TV channels and FM radio programs on the airwaves, and instead be forced to compete on the internet with everybody else. This is not a harsh punishment, certainly I am not calling for any BBC operatives to be beheaded or even to receive milder punishments such as flogging. All I am asking for is a level playing field, let the BBC compete in the free market. The BBC should also be renamed as it cannot be said to represent the views of most British people.

This will take a while to accomplish of course – it will require some legislation to be put forward in parliament. In the meantime the BBC Asian Network should sack the producers and the presenter.

If we lived in a country where equality before the law was upheld then I think a 12 month community order and 1 month’s forced labour for the producers and the presenter of this show, and the callers who expressed grossly offensive opinions, would most certainly be called for (at the very minimum). However, personally I would prefer to hear all these grossly offensive opinions, so that we know what people think.

An opinion with which we heartily agree. It is the essence of the case for free speech.

We recommend The Participator to our readers.

We also recommend blasphemy. Against all religions, all deities, all “sacred things”, and most especially and particularly – considering the threat Islam poses to us all – against Muhammad and “Allah”.

We urge our readers to blaspheme purposefully, publicly, and often, as we try to do ourselves.*

 

*Of course this is addressed only to readers who live in countries where it is safe to blaspheme – which is to say, no Islamic or European country.

Posted under Britain, Islam, jihad, Muslims, Pakistan by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, March 22, 2017

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Where stands the BBC on blasphemy? 1

The Guardian reports:

In an apology, the network said it never intended to imply that blasphemy should be punished and said the tweet was poorly worded.

So that lets the BBC off the hook then, does it? Rare for the BBC to apologize! And how should the tweet have been worded? To mean what?  That blasphemy should not be punished?

Unlikely the fawningly Islam-appeasing BBC would dare to say that in Pakistan, to Pakistan; because,  as the Guardian goes on to say …

Pakistan has asked Facebook and Twitter to help identify Pakistanis suspected of blasphemy so it can prosecute them or pursue their extradition.

Under the country’s blasphemy laws, anyone found to have insulted Islam or the prophet Muhammad can be sentenced to death.

The interior minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, said an official in Pakistan’s Washington embassy had approached the two social media companies in an effort to identify Pakistanis, either within the country or abroad, who recently shared material deemed offensive to Islam.

He said Pakistani authorities had identified 11 people for questioning over alleged blasphemy and would seek the extradition of anyone living abroad.

The Guardian does not say whether Facebook and Twitter will do as they’re asked and help identify Pakistanis at home and abroad who have insulted Islam or the prophet Muhammad, so that they can be sentenced to death.  

Will Twitter and Facebook deliver their users up for execution?

Maybe there should first be a debate about “what is the right punishment for blasphemy”. Maybe a death sentence is too extreme. We need the BBC to tell us what to think is the right punishment. That’s the BBC’s assumed business. To tell the world what to think. We wait in suspense for its ruling.

Posted under Islam, Muslims, Pakistan, Religion general by Jillian Becker on Monday, March 20, 2017

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Comedy corner: a clash of religions on Twelfth Night 3

A delightfully rib-tickling true story this, a farce in which half a dozen religions are involved.

The setting is a grand place sacred to Christians – a cathedral in Scotland.

The date of the farce is January 6, the twelfth night of the Christmas season. It is traditionally a night for joking, at least in the Anglophone world. Shakespeare has a bunch of naughty characters playing practical jokes in his play Twelfth Night. (Forbidden reading though  – “boko haram” – in the English departments of American universities, because Shakespeare is dead, white, and male, and could you think of any better reasons than those?)

Christians call January 6 “Epiphany”. The  Roman church decided sometime in the 4th century that “Jesus” was baptized by John the Baptist on that date.

It was also, Christians say, the date on which Three Magi (Zoroastrian priests) came to pay homage to the newly born “Baby Jesus”. (Which just goes to show Zoroastrians that Christianity wins – so there!)

Now the cathedral wasn’t just any old cathedral. It was St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow, and (says the Washington Times) “on its website the cathedral touts that it adheres to ‘liberal theology’ and engages in ‘ministry which is affirming, inclusive, open and non-judgemental’.”

So already we have four religions in play: Protestant Christianity of the British kind, the reigning sovereign being its head; Zoroastrianism, long since capitulated; and Marxism acoupled to Catholic Christianity in Latin America, under the name “liberation theology”.

Enter religion number five:

On that day holy to Christians, right there in the cathedral, a Muslim woman – on the invitation of the clergy – “read a passage from the Quran denying the divinity of Christ“.

It might be expected that the head of the faith in the United Kingdom of England and Scotland would and should raise an objection, call it an outrage, summon those responsible to explain why they did it and stand reproved if not condemned.

And, indeed, one of the Queen’s chaplains did object, in strong terms.

Breitbart reports:

The Scottish cathedral that allowed a girl to read a passage from the Quran denying the divinity of Christ should apologise to Christians “suffering dreadful persecution at the hands of Muslims”, the Queen’s chaplain has said. …

A [Muslim] girl sang Surah 19, which specifically denies that Jesus was the Son of God and says He should not be worshipped, during a service to St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow.

Now the Rev Gavin Ashenden, one of the chaplains to Queen Elizabeth II, has said the reading could be described as “blasphemy”. …

In a letter to The Times, Rev Ashenden says:

Quite apart from the wide distress (some would say blasphemy) caused by denigrating Jesus in Christian worship, apologies may be due to the Christians suffering dreadful persecution at the hands of Muslims in the Middle East and elsewhere. To have the core of a faith for which they have suffered deeply treated so casually by senior Western clergy such as the Provost of Glasgow is unlikely to have a positive outcome. There are other and considerably better ways to build “bridges of understanding”.

He also wrote in a post for the Archbishop Cranmer blog that it was highly unlikely a Christian would be invited to proclaim the divinity of Christ at Friday prayers in a mosque.

There was no dialogue in the Epiphany Eucharist; only a refutation of what Christians hold most dear and upon which salvation depends. In over 30 years of interfaith conversations, I have never yet come across a Muslim community which allowed those passages in the Gospels acclaiming the divinity of Christ to be read in Friday prayers.

As outrage grew over the reading, the head of the Scottish Episcopal Church [David Chillingworth] said he was “deeply distressed at the widespread offence”, saying Christians cannot offend their own religion in the name of inter-faith dialogue.

He declared:

We approach others with open hearts but we stand in the truth of the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

However, the cathedral’s provost, Kelvin Holdsworth, was unrepentant and even suggested that those who were offended were actually attacking him because he is gay.

So here now is the sixth religion: Political Correctness, affirming its doctrine of “anti-sexism”.

Kelvin Holdsworth wrote:

Having a recitation from the Qur’an in a Christian cathedral in worship is not a new thing. So it has indeed come as something of a surprise to find accounts of last week’s service appearing online and stirring up the most incredible pot of hatred I’ve ever encountered. This same Qur’anic reading has been given before in services and no outcry has happened. Is it because this is in a cathedral run by a gay man? Is it because the recitation was given by a young woman? Clearly those things are factors as they feature in some of the abuse.”

Oh yes, “clearly” that’s what this was all about! Not about Christianity, and not about the everlasting jihad of Islam against all who do not submit to its god. It was about being inclusive, open, and non-judgemental. Kelvin Holdsworth is not judging those who see a clash of doctrine in the event – which in any case should not be condemned for the decisive reason that it has happened before –  merely reproaching them for blasphemy against his religion.

So did the Established Church judge, or reproach, or reprove, or even just gently correct Mr. Holdsworth?

Not on your nelly, as the British used to say.

The Established Church of the United Kingdom fired the Queen’s chaplain.

Though they didn’t put it quite like that. They put it like this:

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said: “Dr. Gavin Ashenden has tendered his resignation from the honorary position of Chaplain to The Queen. The Royal Household has accepted the resignation with immediate effect.”

You couldn’t make this stuff up. And you gotta laugh.

Atheist Ireland 3

Such a transformation has come upon Ireland, not long ago so staunchly Catholic.

When did it come? With prosperity? With mass immigration?

From Creeping Sharia – a website we recommend to our readers – we learn this:

Ireland is to hold a referendum on removing a blasphemy ban from the constitution, the justice minister announced yesterday.

At the beginning of the year, the republic introduced legislation making blasphemy a crime punishable with a fine of up to €25,000 (£22,800).

Interesting that the constitutional ban needed to be augmented by legislation. And then, so soon after the new law is passed, the referendum is proposed.

The law defines blasphemy as “publishing or uttering matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion, with some defences permitted”.

The referendum will be held this autumn.

The advocacy group Atheist Ireland welcomed the decision today. When the law became operational, Atheist Ireland published 25 blasphemous statements on the internet to challenge it, including Richard Dawkins calling the Old Testament God a “petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; … a capriciously malevolent bully” …

Atheist Ireland chairperson Michael Nugent said: “This is a positive move by the minister. We look forward to the autumn referendum as part of our overall campaign for an ethical, secular Ireland. We ask all reasonable citizens to work together to ensure that the referendum is won.

“We reiterate that this law is both silly and dangerous: silly because it is introducing medieval canon law offence into a modern pluralist republic; and dangerous because it incites religious outrage and because its wording has already been adopted by Islamic states as part of their campaign to make blasphemy a crime internationally.

“The blasphemy reference is one of several anachronisms in our constitution that will ultimately need to be changed. Other examples are the religious oaths that prevent atheists from becoming president, or a judge, or a member of the council of state.”

Posted under Atheism, Christianity, Islam, Muslims, News, Religion general by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, March 23, 2010

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