Blasphemy – noun – The action or offence of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things; profane talk.
Profane – adjective – Not respectful of religious practice; irreverent.
Under current Irish Law, Stephen Fry is a criminal. No, not for that! We've become adult about that. It is because he blasphemed in a 2015 television interview with Gay Byrne when he denounced God as “utterly evil, capricious and monstrous”. The lad Fry was asked what he would say to God when he met him at the pearly gates and referring to the pain, suffering and deaths of innocent children around the world, he blasphemed, (apparently).
Technically the Gardai should apply to the Old Bill and ask them to whack Fry over to us so we can lock him up but of course, bad and unnecessary laws don't work that way. I did not know it but there was a blasphemy law was written into our original 1937 Constitution, which has been added to and amended over the years, the last time in 2005. But it has never been applied. It is a threat rather than an actual.
Ireland’s former justice minister Dermot Ahern said that the law on blasphemy was amended in 2009 in a way that would make prosecutions difficult. “The Attorney General wouldn’t forgive me for saying it,” he said. “But we put in so many hurdles in order to ground a prosecution that we believed we’d never see a prosecution.” Even schoolboy Health Minister Simon Harris called Ireland’s blasphemy law ‘silly’ and ‘embarrassing’ and would like to see a referendum to remove the law from the Constitution sooner rather than later. So Stephan, if you are reading this, you have nothing to worry about.
However, “Blasphemous matter” is defined as matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion, and he or she intends, by the publication of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage. Taking a closer look we that abusive means extremely offensive and insulting, engaging in or characterized by habitual violence and cruelty or involving injustice or illegality. Sacred means connected with God or a god or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration and outrage is defined as an extremely strong reaction of anger, shock, or indignation. The reason the Fry incident came up recently is because someone somewhere in Ireland has been stewing over what was said and twelve years later has decided that he or she feels abused and outraged at the sacrilege in Fry's observations. What a plonker!
Red-faced with embarrassment then the Government is now considering a referendum to remove the offending blasphemy law from the big book. But here's the rub. Referendums have cost the State more than €133m since 2001. The Minister for Public Expenditure confirmed that between June 2001 and October 2013, the State spent €118.6 million on 14 referendums. And they more expensive to hold as time goes on too. The Irish Daily Star reported that up to €20million of taxpayer money was spent on the EU fiscal treaty referendum alone. Lisbon 1, held in 2008, came in at €22million while Lisbon 2 in 2009 cost us €17million. You might remember that Lisbon 2 was when we were sent back to get the right answer for Michael Martin and his cronies. Regardless of which party you vote for, it seems the motto is always, "When in doubt, waste taxpayers money."
Anyway, if the thing goes ahead then I predict a small turnout, with possibly as little as three people voting in total. Naturally the offended party will be camped outside his or her ballot centre from midnight the night before and the other two will wander in semi-drunk in the afternoon saying something like, "Jesus Christ, where does a guy vote around here?" The outcome will be a two to one in favour of dropping the blasphemy nonsense and life will go on, albeit twenty million poorer for the experience.
Stephen Fry, you have a lot to answer for!