blasphemy-laws-map16After considerable work behind the scenes in recent weeks, a new International Coalition Against Blasphemy Laws is launched today.

Our website is at

It includes the most comprehensive available country data and profiles adapted from the most recent IHEU Freedom of Thought Report.

You can also follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

The Founding Partners

The new Coalition is a merger between two concurrent campaigns,

  • one coordinated by the  International Humanist and Ethical Union and the European Humanist Federation,
  • and the other by Atheist Alliance International, Atheist Ireland, Centre for Inquiry Canada, Humanist Canada, Association Humaniste de Quebec, the Humanist Society of New Zealand, and the Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association.

When we each realised that both campaigns were to be launched at around the same time, we were delighted to decide to work together in a single campaign to maximise the impact of the work that we are all doing.

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This week PZ Myers seemed to finally be acting responsibly, announcing that FreeThought Blogs was setting up a new complaints department, with a dedicated customer service email address. He then revealed that this post was a joke, intended to mock the idea that FreeThought Blogs would do such a thing.

He added that there is no authority within FreeThought Blogs to police what any blogger writes. But the network recently expelled blogger Avicenna after receiving complaints of repeated plagiarism. So, unless that announcement was also a joke, there is an authority within FreeThought Blogs to police ethical breaches by bloggers.

PZ’s original post seemed to be a positive step in proactively welcoming and addressing such complaints in a structured way.

Instead, his second post has demonstrated, yet again, PZ’s steady drift from the principles of justice that he regularly demands of others, and his increasing irrelevancy, other than as a hindrance, to those of us who are trying to actually promote atheism, reason, compassion and justice.

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Should we welcome the end of organised religion? I debated this at Trinity College Dublin Metaphysical and Theological Societies on Monday. The full debate will be online later.


In 2006 Ed Brayton, who is now manager at FreeThought Blogs, complained about the same pattern of behaviour by PZ Myers as PZ has been using to smear me and others eight years later. Thanks to Jan Steen for bringing this to my attention.

Ed said then that PZ had lied about him several times, that PZ’s M.O. is to start personal attacks then pretend to be above it all and clam up when criticised, and that PZ seeks to demean and destroy enemies not caring whether his attacks are rational and justified.

(As an aside, while some people are comfortable accusing others of lying, I prefer to instead say that somebody has said something that is untrue, as I do not know whether they have knowingly said something untrue, which would be lying.)

Ed also said, and remember, this was eight years ago: “It simply has to do with the fact – yes, it’s a fact – that PZ has a long history of this behavior that far too many people have just rolled their eyes at and excused it away because “oh that’s just the way he is”.

Ed added that when PZ behaves like this towards him, Ed gets numerous private emails from mutual colleagues that say, in essence, “Look, we all know PZ is a jerk, he’s always been a jerk, but that’s just the way he is. You can’t let him provoke you like that.”

That was in 2006, long before PZ’s smears and misrepresentations about Richard Dawkins and other atheists that caused me to criticise his behaviour, and PZ’s subsequent smears falsely alleging that I defend, provide a haven for, and support rapists.

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My third email to FreeThought Blogs about their complaints procedure regarding PZ Myers

January 25, 2015

I have today sent this third email to FreeThoughtBlogs. To Ed Brayton, Manager, Freethought Blogs Network Dear Ed, This my third email to you asking about the procedures for bringing details of a complaint about the behaviour of one of your bloggers to the attention of your Executive Committee. My previous emails were three weeks […]

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Telly Savalas looks at Portsmouth, and a false memory visits my imagination

January 25, 2015

Today I discovered the second, relatively obscure, false memory that I am aware of having. When I was growing up in Dublin, Irish cinemas used to show short films before the main feature. They were, possibly deliberately, not as exciting as the main feature, and one 1981 short sparked a meme among me and my […]

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Opposing blasphemy law in light of Charlie Hebdo massacre – my debate at UCD Law Society

January 21, 2015

I debated the Irish blasphemy law, in light of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, at UCD Law Society yesterday. Above is my contribution, and below is the full debate. The speakers were James Green, Fionnan Long and Adam Boyle for the blasphemy law, and me, Barry Hickey and Julien Mercille against.

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Has religion too much privilege? My discussion on BBC Radio Ulster’s Sunday Sequence

January 19, 2015

Do we give religion too much privilege? I took part yesterday in this Sunday Sequence panel discussion on BBC Radio Ulster, with Usama Hassan of the Quilliam Foundation, Rabbi Jonathan Romain, and Peter Lynas of the Northern Ireland Evangelical Alliance, hosted by Audrey Carville.

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The violent rhetoric of Pope Francis and PZ Myers

January 17, 2015

Pope Francis yesterday used violent rhetoric about punching a friend if they insulted his mother. While I support the Pope’s right to use such rhetoric, in the context of a discussion about free speech, I disagree with its content. I think that it is unhelpful and irresponsible. I think that such language by a public figure […]

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Can we make fun of faith? My debate with Michael Kelly on RTE about the Pope’s claim

January 16, 2015

Pope Francis has said that we cannot make fun of faith. I debated this claim with Michael Kelly, editor of the Irish Catholic, on RTE1’s Drivetime hosted by Philip Boucher-Hayes yesterday. See also my analysis of the Pope’s statement here.

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