Ich Bin Ein Blasphemer

Anthony McIntyre blasphemes in support of Stephen Fry.

The biblical God is a genocidal old tyrant who should be mocked, ridiculed, cursed, scorned, treated with contempt and whose baleful influence should be banned from all humane societies.

There was something of the madness associated with Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman: a this can’t be really happening sort of thing. Déjà vu as well because in terms of what actually is happening, we have been here before, but believed we had escaped it. 

The advance towards greater freedom in Ireland had been sauntering along nicely, and then over the course of a few weeks we find ourselves seemingly upended by collars bearing croziers. We now appear as a society that is trying to come off the secular rails, hit reverse gear and journey back in time to the era of John Charles McQuaid.

Hopefully the virus of  religiosity has not been so pervasive that as a society we only managed to get by courtesy of a daily dose of secular meds; that the thwarting of the supply has heralded the descent into a societal state of Tourette’s, where despite prolonged spells of stability, the state suddenly starts barking religious nonsense. 

One-off events happen everywhere but when happenings cease to be that and occur with such frequency as to form a pattern, eyebrows get raised, and we are reminded that our secular comfort must not assume complacency.

The government assented to the new National Maternity Hospital coming under the ownership of a religious order. Although it refuses to tell the people what way it acted in their name, it seems highly likely that it voted to have the religious misogynists of Saudi Arabia voted onto the UN's Women’s Rights Commission from where it will participate in “shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women”. Like putting Jimmy Saville on the UN Children's Rights Commission. 

Then there is the matter of how our schools are operated and the discrimination on religious grounds against those not of the Catholic faith, with parents reporting:

of how their non-Catholic children are forced to attend church services and how they often come home talking of Jesus or with ashes on their forehead on Ash Wednesday.

Just to make sure that we actually had noticed, and that the reversion to religious whackery was not a figment of the imagination, the parliament, supposedly representative of all its citizens, decided to enforce the daily prayer rule and make it compulsory for all TDs to stand during its recital. 

As if that was not enough, we have now learned that the Morality Tribunal is to sit in judgement of Stephen Fry. A warning to us all: An Garda Siochanas’s ecclesiastical branch will seek to enforce “Gardia Law” and prosecute us if we object too much to the attempts to put the brakes on secularism. This is something they are able to do under the state’s blasphemy laws. In this day and age, the use of a blasphemy law is on a par with using leeches to treat illness. 

Stephen Fry in his discussion with Gay Byrne offered, with an economy of words, the most incisive and discerning critique of the god myth.  It is his right to express his opinion no matter how critical it is of religious opinion. Pavan Dhaliwal of the British Humanist Association observed shortly after the "blasphemy" was broadcast:

The freedom Fry was exercising – his freedom to challenge religious beliefs and express his non-belief – is an indispensable part of democratic society, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The reality, however, is that not everyone is allowed to exercise this freedom. Blasphemy is illegal in 49 countries. In many countries, these laws are used to stifle free expression and promote a climate of fear and punishment for people of minority religious and non-religious groups.

It can only be hoped that the person who made the complaint against Fry is trying to force the issue and have the state’s ridiculous Blasphemy law exposed in all its majestic stupidity. The complainant stated that they took no offence from Fry's comments. This allows for the possibility that this is a test case.

Whatever the route or reason, it is important that the Blasphemy law be excised wholesale from the constitution, even if it requires a referendum: not because there is any real threat to people in Ireland from it, but because other countries who religiously persecute their citizens actually cite the Irish blasphemy law.

Stephen Fry is right to say that the biblical god is:

quite clearly a maniac, an utter maniac, totally selfish ... Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain ... We have to spend our lives on our knees thanking him. What kind of god would do that?

One that blasphemes against humanity.

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

3 comments to ''Ich Bin Ein Blasphemer"

  1. I think it is an attempt to force the issue, can't even remember this Law being discussed about in the last 30 years though!

  2. It would seem that this is beginning perhaps to be more of a resurgence drive than a revivalist exciting! They'll end up biting themselves on the arse but it is ridiculous that this blasphemy law exists at all....Saudi Arabia seems alright now!

    Too many happenings to be discounted as co-incidences! Byrne has played his part well...

    "Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the FRY"

    Harsh words by Fry though when we consider that it is exactly because of people from his privileged background who continue to make the world all those things he states and keeps most of it on its knees!

    Yet, his right to utter them free from prosecution should be exactly that, a damn right!

    Let's hope you are right AM and it is someone attempting to highlight the absurdity of it.

  3. We need to have a non-partisan movement that insists on the right to criticise ideologies or ideas. That includes Religion, but also less savoury things like Holocaust denial. I was in a UCL society with 'Nazi Nick' Kollerstrom, he was more than just a few odd observations about Auschwitz, but this now defines him. Since all rational people are limited by this censorship of thought, a broad movement should be possible. And any people that strive to exclude others should be seen a factional.


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