Monday, May 28, 2012

Bad news for comedians: You can still get convicted for blasphemy in Ireland

Freedom house's last year's report gives good scores to Ireland for almost all the concerned fields (legal, economical, political, press freedom) except matters concerning freedom of speech.

It seems that Ireland is at the same time highly secular and highly religious. Blasphemy is regarded as a criminal offence in Ireland, although it's unclear to me, how the grounds of blasphemy are judged. Wikipedia's article "Blasphemy law in Republic of Ireland" gives some insight. The article states that somebody got fined thousand pounds and got convicted to jail for a year for denying Divinity of Christ. This was about 300 years ago, but the law is still in effect and a few years ago Defamation act was reformed. Reformed Act, according to Wikipedia, states that uttering "material 'grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion', when the intent and result is 'outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion'."

I'm not indenting to test the limits of the law, but I would be curious to know how to get accused of blasphemy. In Finland there was (and still is in some form of) an Act which included blasphemy. Two Finnish artists got convicted and later pardoned by the President.

First case was when an author called Hannu Salama published a book called Juhannushäät (Midsummer dances) 1964. It included a scene called Pilkkasaarna (mockery of a christian sermon). It didn't help his case that he was known for his affiliation with working-class. He got a three months of parole in 1966, but got pardoned in 1968.
Second case happened in 1969 when a painter Harro Koskinen got convicted for a painting called The Pig Messiah, which featured a crucified pig.

Perhaps these two Finnish artists gives some ideas to people in Ireland how to provoke on the limits of legal boundaries.

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