Come, let’s blaspheme 148

Today, September 30, is Blasphemy Day.

This is from Wikipedia:

Blasphemy Rights Day International encourages individuals and groups to openly express their criticism of, or even disdain for, religion. It was founded in 2009 by the Center for Inquiry. A student contacted the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, New York to present the idea, which CFI then supported. Ronald Lindsay, president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry said regarding Blasphemy Day, “We think religious beliefs should be subject to examination and criticism just as political beliefs are, but we have a taboo on religion,” in an interview with CNN.

Events worldwide on the first annual Blasphemy Day in 2009 included an art exhibit in Washington, DC and a free speech festival in Los Angeles. …

Justin Trottier, a Toronto coordinator of Blasphemy Day [said]:  “We’re not seeking to offend, but if in the course of dialogue and debate, people become offended, that’s not an issue for us. There is no human right not to be offended.”

Anti-blasphemy laws exist throughout the world. In many parts of Europe and North America they have been overturned, although there are still anti-blasphemy laws in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Italy, Liechtenstein, Iceland, San Marino, Spain, and the UK. (The UK common law offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel were abolished by the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 … The remaining law, Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006, concerns inciting hatred against a person on the grounds of their religion.) There are also “religious insult” laws in 21 European nations.

The Republic of Ireland passed the “Defamation Act 2009” in that year, which states in part, “A person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €25,000.”

Twenty-five thousand Euros fine for “insulting” a fictitious being!

Finland has been the setting for a number of noteworthy blasphemy trials in the 2000s. The Finnish linguist, political blogger, Helsinki City Councillor and subsequent member of parliament Jussi Halla-aho was charged with “disturbing religious worship” because of internet posts in which he called Muhammad a pedophile. Hala-aho was fined €330.

The article 525 of the penal law in Spain considers “vilification” of religious “feelings”, “dogmas”, “beliefs” or “rituals”. This extension to “dogmas” and “beliefs” makes it very close to a blasphemy law in practice, depending on the interpretation of the judge.

In some countries, blasphemy is punishable by death, such as in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.

Six US states (Massachusetts, Michigan, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Wyoming) still have anti-blasphemy laws on their books, although they are seldom enforced.

Origins:

Blasphemy Day is celebrated on September 30 to coincide with the anniversary of the publication of satirical drawings of Muhammad in one of Denmark’s newspapers, resulting in the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy. Although the caricatures of Muhammad caused [only] some controversy within Denmark, especially among Muslims, it became a widespread furor after Muslim imams in several countries stirred up violent protests in which Nordic embassies were set on fire and over 100 people killed.

In the light of all which, it is plainly our duty to blaspheme. If it is blasphemous to deny the existence of God or gods, and/or to abominate religion per se as the worst affliction of suffering mankind after disease, we are enthusiastically playing our part today and every day.

 

(Hat-tip our Facebook commenter John Bobbitt)

Posted under Commentary, Religion general by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, September 30, 2014

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