My discussions of Charlie Hebdo cartoons and Irish blasphemy law on BBC and Today FM

by Michael Nugent on January 9, 2015

Here are my discussions of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons and Irish blasphemy law today on BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback with William Crawley, and on Today FM’s The Last Word with Matt Cooper and David Quinn. I also discussed it on RTE’s Prime Time, which will be online later.

BBC Radio Ulster with William Crawley

Today FM with Matt Cooper and David Quinn

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Steven Carr January 9, 2015 at 8:14 am

I will give PZ Meyers some credit.

He is a huge supporter of ‘Draw Mohammad’ day.

2 Jan Steen January 9, 2015 at 2:07 pm

Myers’s deranged commentariat seems mainly intent on pointing the finger at Charlie Hebdo for publishing allegedly racist and misogynist cartoons. They even dare to use the ‘Freeze Peach’ meme in this connection. These disgusting halfwits happily murder the cartoonists a second time.

The few decent people who speak out against the insane accusations are called tone trolls or worse. Sigh.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2015/01/08/making-excuses-for-violence-while-demonizing-those-who-question-violence/

3 Aneris ✻ January 9, 2015 at 9:21 pm

If western countries have blasphemy laws still on their books, and Germany has a similar (albeit slumbering) paragraph, then it makes it indeed hard to point to other countries and pressure them to change. And when outrage is the factor that activates such laws, it indeed incentivizes feeling offended. However, when preachers need to whip up the masses, then it could be argued that they have produced the outrage and not the blasphemous material. In any case such laws, whether they slumber or not, are to be scratched from the books.

People are protected from hurtful speech that is levelled at them personally, at least in my country and so God Himself could file a complaint. But it is not possible to file a complaint on the behalf of some other person, especially when the target person isn’t forthcoming – and in fact non-existent. Blasphemy is just victimless crime.

It is weird that societies put up with such laws when their purpose is transparently about anchoring religious respect and putting up a caution to not criticise religion, “just to be safe” since what is considered blasphemy is also not crisply defined.

Terrorism proves to be efficient. People don’t want to risk limb and neck just to criticize ideas as long as doing it is not a too pressing matter. We all rather go on with our lives without worrying about being ambushed by religious fanatics. Someday, when critcizing ideas have become a pressing matter, it’ll be too late. Blasphemy laws are like the other prong of the strategy. If violence follows on outrage, and outrage follows on what is perceived as blasphemy, the public might decide someday that it’s better to have some peace and to better not “rock the boat” and that is a dangerous path to take. I am happy that German newspapers did print blasphemous material.

As John Stuart Mill puts it in his classic “On Liberty”:

“Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough: there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling; against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them […] There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence: and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs, as protection against political despotism.”

I am sure I’m not alone here in the belief this is best realized in the freedom of and freedom from religion and the freedom to criticize any idea, as well as believe in any idea. But I would scratch the explicit freedom of religion from the books, too, since religions are reducible to ideas and expressions.

John Stuart Mill, On Liberty
_econlib.org/library/Mill/mlLbty1.html

Considering German blasphemy laws:
Charlie Hebdo’s Muhammad cartoons – to print or not to print?
_dw.de/charlie-hebdos-muhammad-cartoons-to-print-or-not-to-print/a-18182391

4 A Bear January 9, 2015 at 11:28 pm

As anti-blasphemy laws still exist in Ireland, perhaps the best way to get rid of them would be start demanding they are enforced.
Maybe a good start would be to try and prosecute the Muslim gentleman mentioned in the first video if he could be encouraged to deny the godhood of Jesus for example? Surely one could find Christians that would be outraged at that statement.

5 Shatterface January 10, 2015 at 1:40 am

Some sick excuses for the murders from Tony! and friends at Pharyngula (naturally), comparisons of the cartoonists to the Ku Klux Klan, and all the usual horseshit about percieved ‘privilege’ and ‘punching down’.

Benson, on the other hand, appears to be quite lucid and sensibly slapped down a commentor for attacking the editor for being a middle-class whitey, so not surprising they are turning on her at Thunderdome (even if the current pretext for her nomination for Witch of the Week has shifted to her posts on pregnancy being trans-exclusive.)

http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2015/01/anti-racism-and-a-passion-for-equality-among-all-people-are-and-continue-to-be-the-founding-principles-of-charlie-hebdo/#comments

6 MacGruberKnows January 10, 2015 at 9:03 am

At Pharyngula you actually have them debating if the US has the worst human rights record. On a thread about the Charlie Hebdo slaughter. The old ‘really lousy what happened BUT …..’, garbage of the single-minded zealot. A bit of lip-service and they just have to get right back to their ‘white hetero-males are the source of all evil in the world’ craziness.

7 Michael Nugent January 10, 2015 at 12:40 pm

Aneris*,

Terrorism proves to be efficient. People don’t want to risk limb and neck just to criticize ideas as long as doing it is not a too pressing matter. We all rather go on with our lives without worrying about being ambushed by religious fanatics. Someday, when critcizing ideas have become a pressing matter, it’ll be too late. Blasphemy laws are like the other prong of the strategy. If violence follows on outrage, and outrage follows on what is perceived as blasphemy, the public might decide someday that it’s better to have some peace and to better not “rock the boat” and that is a dangerous path to take.

I agree. This is a major part of the problem. And in fairness, it is hard enough to get people involved actively in normal politics, so when you add in the fear of being killed it becomes even harder. So we have to keep articulating the need to protect rights and democracy, until we reach critical mass when enough people recognise the need to protect those rights.

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