Friday, 8 January 2010

Jesus, Bjork, Tom Lehrer, the Pope and 21 others are quoted in Irish court

No, not really. Sadly, it is unlikely that even the looniest of the faithful will launch an action against the atheists who have published a selection of 25 quotations in defiance of the revised Irish blasphemy law which came into force on 1st January. The law now provides for a fine of €25,000 to be levied against anyone found guilty of "publishing or uttering matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion, with some defences permitted".

You can study the quotations here. Some people may well find them offensive, particularly as the new law, unlike the old one, covers all religions; this means that not only Christians of any kind but also worshippers of Siva, Allah, Xenu, Zoroaster, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Yahweh/Elohim/Adonai and all the rest of the pantheon now have (in Ireland) the legal right to be offended and to sue.

Five years ago I published a French limerick:
Il y avait une personne de Dijon
Qui n’aimait pas trop la religion
Il disait ‘Ma foi!
Ils m’emmerdent tous les trois
-Et le père, et le fils, et le pigeon.’

...but modestly refrained from appending my own English version of it:
There was a young man of Dundee
Who didn't much like the Big Three
He said, 'I despise
Those God-awful guys
The Father, the Son, the H.G.'

Blasphemy, undoubtedly, but I print it now without fear of the consequences, since the Irish Act states "...that it shall be a defence to proceedings for the defendant to prove that a reasonable person would find genuine literary [etc.] value in the matter to which the offence relates”. I am sure that, as in the Lady Chatterley trial, it would not be difficult to find any number of distinguished literati happy to attest to the important place these limericks should occupy in their respective literary canons.

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