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Blasphemy Bill

Posted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 7:02 pm
by Lord Supposer
Just out of curiosity, if/when this Blasphemy Bill becomes law, how would one go about reporting blasphemy?
Would the police have to investigate every report?
Would you have to prove yourself as believing in something before you could take offence?

Re: Blasphemy Bill

Posted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 1:23 pm
by lostexpectation
thats the question, its not just about being blasphemous but getting a complaint from a group of people,
the complaint getting investigated accepted by the pp etc...


at the moment it seems Michael Nugent wants to specifically verbally attack muslims above all other believers in this country, im not sure how he intends them to get them play ball.

would it be possible to arrange an offence and have a ready complainant, you can use dermotology to ridiculous the law but the authorities can continue to ignore it just as they have the campaigning to prevent the bill going through.

Re: Blasphemy Bill

Posted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 1:51 pm
by ctr
Should a veritable "Outrage" take place and a valid complaint by those "Outraged" be made then the Guards are obliged to investigate and prosecute if they have proof the crime was committed. Should they fail to do so there is a mechanism to lodge the complaint.

Re: Blasphemy Bill

Posted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 3:31 pm
by smiffy
ctr wrote:Should a veritable "Outrage" take place and a valid complaint by those "Outraged" be made then the Guards are obliged to investigate and prosecute if they have proof the crime was committed. Should they fail to do so there is a mechanism to lodge the complaint.
Yes and no. They are obliged to investigate, but don't make the decision on prosecution. They prepare a file which goes to the office of the DPP, which decides. Given that the decision to proceed or not is based to a large extent on the chances of securing a conviction. Given the high bar set for this crime, it's very unlikely you're going to see many prosecutions, if any. It's quite similar with the crime of Incitement to Hatred.

While the discussion about how to challenge the law is all good fun, a lot of it is irrelevant, as it focuses on individuals' own interpretations of 'blasphemy', rather than looking at the content of the law itself. All the stuff you hear about how all religions blaspheme each other, and could therefore be prosecuted is nonsense. Much as I admire Graham Linehan, his comment that "After all, there are things contained in the holy books of one religion that are blasphemy to another religion" has nothing to do with this legislation.

As has been noted on one of the other threads about this, in order to be prosecutable, the offence has to both (actually) cause outrage but also be intended to cause outrage. This suggests firstly that the Church of Dermotology stuff (fun and all it though may be) won't be prosecutable because any complaints made on foot of it would be essentially frivolous.

Similarly, it might also be worth considering what the point of some kind of 'mass blasphemy' would be. If it's to generate support for the campaign to have the law abolished, it might be somewhat counter-productive. For anything said to be prosecutable, it would have to genuinely offend a substantial number of people. However, anything that offensive is also likely to alienate a large number of those who are undecided on the subject of the law (which are, surely, the people whose support his sought).

I think the ship has sailed on preventing the law coming into force, not just because of the timing of the Bill, but also because there's now no possibility of having a referendum to remove the Constitutional provision on the same day as the Lisbon referendum. If you're serious about wanting to get rid of the blasphemy provision, a better response might be a more low-key, but focussed, campaign. I would target, in particular, the Labour Party. Labour are the only party with the magic combination of being both opposed to the law on principle while also being virtually guaranteed to be in government after the next election. Contact Labour members, councillors, TDs etc. Get them to put forward a motion to the next Labour conference making a referendum to remove the provision from the Constitution. Pressure them to include a commitment to a referendum in their Programme for Government when time comes (obviously the commitment should be to hold the referendum at the same time as some other referendum - too few people care about the subject enough to justify an isolated referendum on it).

No doubt I'll be accused of not being a proper atheist, or something equally ludicrous, for what I've stated above. However, the reason I'm trying to pour cold water on some of the more extreme suggestions for action, and turning people in free speech martyrs, is not because I think they're a little self-indulgent (although I do think that). It's because I think they'd be at best useless, if not actually counter-productive. I'd much rather a campaign with little publicity that succeeded than a campaign which receives massive coverage but fails.

Re: Blasphemy Bill

Posted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 4:17 pm
by ctr
I stand corrected.

An excellent analysis and one I believe to be correct.

Saying that we should have a Token blasphemy if only to show how pointless this law is!

Re: Blasphemy Bill

Posted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 4:27 pm
by lostexpectation
smiffy agree with a lot of what you say, the biggest flaw though, can we trust labour/fg/politicians?

i think your suggestions put too much trust in politicians, don't pretend you beleive that if we ask nicely they'll do as we ask or even keep their promises or follow through on their own convictions and that's why ridiculing of them sometimes works better, just cut past the disappointment and embarrass them into action.

-

would there be any way to challenge or break the law in conjunction with a set of believers?

i guess if your talking about going to court it turns into good ol defamation, how do the courts define groups of outraged people... how do you define outrage

is the outrage bill not the blasphemous bill

Re: Blasphemy Bill

Posted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 9:05 pm
by smiffy
lostexpectation wrote:smiffy agree with a lot of what you say, the biggest flaw though, can we trust labour/fg/politicians?

i think your suggestions put too much trust in politicians, don't pretend you beleive that if we ask nicely they'll do as we ask or even keep their promises or follow through on their own convictions and that's why ridiculing of them sometimes works better, just cut past the disappointment and embarrass them into action.
It's a very fair point, and I certainly wouldn't trust politicians. That said, I think from what you're saying that we agree that - ultimately - political will on the part of TDs is required if the law is to be repealed. The question is then a strategic one - how can this be generated.

I think we'll probably have to disagree on what motivates them. I wouldn't share the view that ridicule is likely to play much of a role. By and large, and with a few honorable exceptions, the only goal of a TD is to get elected and the only thing they fear is losing votes. That's why they play everything so safely, and avoid putting their necks on the line on any issue which is likely to be divisive, even if they have firm views in private (abortion is the classic example here, but it applies to a lot of things).

That's why I think Labour is probably the best bet for progressing this issue (for many reasons, including those outlined in the previous post). There would be few in Labour with any objection to removing the blasphemy provision from the Constitution. However, they're not going to want to turn it into a large, public campaign, with the potential to generate wide-spread opposition. That's why the actual campaign would have to be slow, low-key, strategic and pretty laborious. Big public demonstrations might generate coverage, but they won't generate support in the Dáil. Lobbying is required, identifying a few key sympathetic individuals who are willing to push the issue internally within the party. Once it becomes party policy, keep the pressure simmering until they reach government.

At that point, get the commitment to have a referendum (there's no way the law will be repealed without one), but base the case not on the issue of freedom of speech (although that's the ultimate reason) but on the more boring, uncontentious premise of regularising the Constitution, bit-by-bit, in line with the recommendations of the All-Party Committee. Tag the referendum on to some other, more important, referendum and my guess is that it would go through with relative ease.

There are a lot of ifs, ands and buts in there, but I think a choice needs to be made between the a high-profile campaign, and an effective one. Unfortunately, in this case, I think the two are mutually exclusive.

would there be any way to challenge or break the law in conjunction with a set of believers?

i guess if your talking about going to court it turns into good ol defamation, how do the courts define groups of outraged people... how do you define outrage

is the outrage bill not the blasphemous bill[/quote]

Re: Blasphemy Bill

Posted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 12:53 am
by lostexpectation
referendums are quite high profile if labour ever got there, thats when the controversy would arise, labour are in no hurry. even if you got all future labour cabinet minister to publically commit to it they could still long finger it, there as likely as the greens to do it.

Controversial Defamation Bill passes by a single vote
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ire ... 87384.html

so was it close, NO.