In the beginning was the word

There was a time when book burning mattered. Once upon a time, religions enforced dictates by burning books containing the wrong opinions. To be orthodox was, literally, to hold the right opinion. And just in case that didn’t work, heretics were burned at the stake for good measure. At the end of the medieval era, […]

Hairetikos

So I’ve got some unleavened bread here. To some people, it’s just a piece of flour, mixed with water and heated. And to some people, it’s the body of a god, sacred beyond imagining. Plain unraised bread, made without yeast or other raising agent, is ‘unleavened’. A few years ago, a Florida student called Webster […]

The welcoming committee

You know how it goes. A bunch of guys (and they probably were guys, not gals) sits down to make some plans. For the most part, the meeting is businesslike, focused on the task at hand. But inevitably, because we are social animals, someone will crack a joke at some point. And just occasionally, someone […]

Basic Law

In a attempt to appear radical, Fine Gael are pitching a series of constitutional amendments if elected into government. Some are cosmetic. Reducing the president’s term of office from seven to five years, the right to petition the Oireachtas. Some are welcome. More powers to (some) Oireachtas committees. Some are sheer populism. Cut the number […]

Free Speech or Worthy Speech?

There’s a meme going round, and I’m not sure what to make of it. One recent example forms the lead in to an article in Forth, and goes as follows: “We have to defend Lars Vilks because free speech matters but he’s a fool and his alleged would-be assassins arrested in Ireland are bumbling idiots, […]

Blasphemy

1 January 2010: Atheist Ireland Publishes 25 Blasphemous Quotations on Commencement of New Irish Blasphemy Law From today, 1 January 2010, the new Irish blasphemy law becomes operational, and we begin our campaign to have it repealed. Blasphemy is now a crime punishable by a €25,000 fine. The new law defines blasphemy as publishing or […]

Section 35

‘The common law offences of defamatory libel, seditious libel and obscene libel are abolished.’ That’s the entirety of section 35 of the Defamation Act 2009, signed into law by the president, Mary McAleese, last Thursday. The next two sections are devoted to blasphemy. Blasphemy, you may remember, was included in the bill at the last […]

Tús Maith

A nascent campaign to repeal the constitutional provision on blasphemy has received support from an unexpected source: the Anglican Bishop of Cork. Atheist Ireland, a group established ‘to build a rational, ethical and secular society free from superstition and supernaturalism’ has decided it will oppose the new law, signed by President McAleese today. And the […]