Bacik To The Dark Ages?

6 October, 2009

CrossSenator Ivana Bacik claims in Trinity News that “the Minister for Justice has brought us back to the Dark Ages” with the revision of Ireland’s law on blasphemy. Unfortunately, censorship may be reappearing in response to a newer and far more malevolent force than catholic conservatism.

This week, it will have been 4 years since a terrifying manifestation of this – the controversy and violence resultant from the publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed in the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten.

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The Economics of Blasphemy

2 May, 2009

Following Minister for Justice, Dermot Ahern‘s public statement, it is pretty clear now that the Irish Government is introducing the new legislation to appease the constitution, and that a referendum will eventually amend it subject to overwhelming public opposition to the curtailment. However, what follows is (purely hypothetical) consideration of the best way of protecting society from blasphemy.

First of all, imposing an externality charge on an individual when an act has negative repercussion for another individual in society makes no value judgement. It doesn’t indicate any hierarchy of rights, or preference for one over the other. Rather, it’s just a recognition that there is harm caused. In this case, religious groups have been offended.

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The Democratic Will of God

30 April, 2009

There is no single definition of harm, and rights can be traded off to ensure the most efficient outcome. If there exists enough political support for the blasphemy law, it does not represent anything more than protection against offense and a value judgement over the importance of unmitigated freedom of speech. Think of it like an externality charge.

The Irish Government is currently considering the introduction of a new law which would make blasphemy a crime, subject to a fine of up to €100,000 (which could be reduced to €1,000 if a revision is successful). While it would unfortunately be included as an amendment to the Defamation Bill, arguments against the introduction on grounds that it is a ‘victimless crime’ are superficial.

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