Tuesday, 11 June 2013

the blasphemy law is dead: it must rest in peace

In the late 1800s, the National Secular Society published a pamphlet featuring a cartoon Moses meeting God on Mount Sinai. God, whose lower half we see, is pictured wearing a nightshirt billowing out behind him: he’s farting in Moses’ face.

To observant Jews and Christians this is shocking. But it’s part of the long, often unhappy conversation between church, state and citizens about what is acceptable comment and what strays into criminality.

Thus, in latter times, we’ve had The Love that Dares to Speak its Name, a poem about a centurion sexually abusing Christ’s dead body that was published by Gay News in 1977 in defiance of Britain’s blasphemy law. In a reading of the poem in 2002, Peter Tatchell said "The blasphemy law is now a dead letter. If the authorities are not prepared to enforce the law, they should abolish it". (It was, by the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008.)

What worries me is that we are accruing a blasphemy law by stealth, an undead version if you will, that is used to justify persecution and even murder of those who insult Islam. In the recent trial of the six would-be Dewsbury bombers, the defence attempted to justify the terrorists’ intention to bomb an English Defence League demonstration by playing a CD of EDL members chanting “who the **** is Allah?”

It might not be the most elegant sentiment, but it’s nothing compared to the content of Jerry Springer: The Opera, which the BBC refused to apologise for in the face of over 60,000 complaints, saying "nobody has the right not to be offended".

Now watch the contortions of so-called "antifascists" who will argue that some people do have the right to be offended and to act on this, and also attempt to deny that we inhabit a two-tier Britain.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


Blasphemy Law Is Dead - petertatchell.net - scroll down for The Love that Dares to Speak its Name

Six would-be terrorists were responding to EDL provocation, court hears - The Guardian

Governors' Programme Complaints Committee finding on complaints against Jerry Springer - The Opera - bbc.co.uk

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