Is there room in law for blasphemy?

No.

I should probably expand on that a little.

A legal system and statute book fit for the 21st century modern nation must contain laws based on known facts, or at least extremely stong evidence in instances where the scientific evidence is inconclusive and some kind of law needs to be framed.

No court of law accepts any evidence without proof in normal circumstances. Court decisions and laws must be framed around hard evidence.

A new blasphemy law came into effect in Ireland yesterday, which seeks to widen legal protection for beliefs to faiths outside Ireland’s core Christian faith. This is blatantly silly.

If Ireland wishes to modernise its blasphemy laws, it should repeal them – not extend them further.

I would have less of a problem with blasphemy laws, if they were based on hard evidence of the existence of a corresponding deity or mystical figure. As it stands, it is both truly shocking and laughable that any modern democracy still has blasphemy laws on its statute book. Just think about that for a minute.

Regardless of your personal beliefs, any sane and moderate religionist can see that this is a ridiculous state of affairs. Even a true believer must see the importance of the separation of religion from state affairs when it comes to laws which affect peoples’ lives. Even a hard-core believer has to concede that there must be a burden of proof, or that the existence of any such supernatural being must be ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. Frankly, neither of these apply when it comes to the existence of a deity or many deities.

Ordinarily, personal convictions, hallucinations, or dreams count for nothing in courts of law, and nor should they in a country’s legal system.

This comes at a time when some nutter has just tried to kill Kurt Westergaard, the creator of the Danish newspaper cartoons.

Look people, you can’t be offended on God’s behalf. Let people say and write what they want about your imaginary friend with the unfailing smug belief that such people will surely spend an eternity in hell. In the meantime, can the rest of us please get on with our lives without having our liberties curtailed, based on your superstitions?

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