Saturday, 6 May 2017

Fry done for blasphemy

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I was at first delighted to see that Stephen Fry, who was two years above me at college but is of course about six years older, has been charged in Eire with blasphemy. But my pleasure disappeared when I discovered it was under a newish Irish PC law that makes offering the followers of any religion a crime. I liked the English common law offence of blasphemy which existed not to protect people from being offended but to protect the Christian God from being offended. The Labour government repealed this. 



Thankfully they did not replace it with a multi-faith version. They almost did. Had they done so people would have been arrested for saying the Koran was nonsense. Although I suspect they can anyway.

And more good news. Some horrible American comic who made an obscene joke about Trump is now in trouble for homophobia, dread word, because of it.

The words  'hoist by his own petard' come to mind with both stories.

12 comments:

  1. The bad news is that apparently the offence doesn't carry a prison sentence.

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  2. Thankfully for you neither does crassness

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  3. I don't approve of blasphemy laws. The battle of ideas cannot be won by the police.

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    1. I agree. Though I backed Mrs Whitehouse in her private prosecution of "Gay News" for publishing a poem about Jesus Christ being sodomised. Dear old Mrs Whitehouse.
      However, blasphemy laws must now be resisted. There is a parallel with arresting people for faulty historical judgments?

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    2. I'm not so sure. It's a complex issue and I can see the arguments on both sides.

      I personally think that the attacks on Christianity have gone way too far. A certain bigotry has started to become evident among many atheists. They have gone beyond merely criticising Christianity. They are behaving as Thought Police - they consider Christianity to be not merely mistaken but evil and therefore they are entitled to bully and harass Christians.

      I'm not even a Christian but I'm tired of the anti-Christian rantings of militant atheists. And Stephen Fry's comments in this case do seem to fall under the heading of ranting.

      Criticising a religion is one thing. Mockery is another.

      I think some people allow their hatred of Islam to persuade them that it's a good idea to encourage mockery of religion in general. I'm not convinced that's a good idea.

      But as I said it's a complex issue and I'm not entirely sure where I stand. I'm open to arguments from both sides. In an ideal world people would have enough sense and judgment not to indulge in vicious mockery of other people's religious beliefs. But then the fact that Stephen Fry is taken seriously on any subject is evidence that we do not live in an ideal world.

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    3. I must have been watching a different video then because I don't notice the use of mockery in this interview. Christians cannot prove we are not ruled over by a maniacal or sadistic god. Who is to say that the god of the universe is not a koala bear? There is just as much evidence for this as there is for the omniscient loving Father that Christians believe in.

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  4. "Criticising a religion is one thing. Mockery is another." And who shall be the judge of which one it is, the head of the Department of Religious Harmony in Society? Just because you don't like something doesn't mean it is a good idea to unleash the power of the state to squash it - it's actually a horrible idea. At least the we've got one last hope with the Americans who remain sane when it comes to issues of free speech.

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  5. Despite Stephen Fry's sins (and terrible political views), he seems to be a strong advocate of free speech and academic freedom. So I disagree that he was "hoisted by his own petard".

    "Stephen Fry has faced a fierce backlash after likening opponents of free speech on university campuses to “self-pitying” sexual abuse victims. “One fears the advances of the Enlightenment are being deliberately pushed back,” he told the Rubin Report."

    “It's now very common to hear people say, 'I'm rather offended by that.' As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more... than a whine. 'I find that offensive.' It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that.' Well, so fucking what." - S.F.

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    1. “One fears the advances of the Enlightenment are being deliberately pushed back,” he told the Rubin Report."

      Well personally I'd very much like to see the advances of the Enlightenment pushed back.

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  6. D don't worry you're doing an excellent job. It appears that when no injured party was able to report to the Garda the charges have been quietly dropped.

    I do wonder though Paul when rereading the post if in your treatment of Mr Fry you were more upset by his alleged blasphemy, his overt homosexuality or his success ?

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  7. David in Moscow10 May 2017 at 19:45

    "I liked the English common law offence of blasphemy which existed not to protect people from being offended but to protect the Christian God from being offended."

    I would think that an all powerful and omnipotent creator of the universe doesn't need any help from man to protect him.
    In any case, sticks and stones ...
    Of course, a blasphemy law only protects the followers not the god.

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    1. He doesn't need help and that's the point. It was thought He might punish communities that offended Him. Sodom and Gomorrah for example.

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