Richard Dawkins writes to the Irish Times, offering himself for arrest

Okay, Ireland, you nation with your stupid blasphemy laws: here’s a good test case for you. Arrest Richard Dawkins!

Here’s a week-old letter from Dawkins to the Irish Times:

Sir, – As a gesture of solidarity with Stephen Fry, I quote a sentence from my book, The God Delusion: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

Every one of these adjectives is amply documented, with full biblical citations, in Dan Barker’s book, God: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction.

I shall be giving a public lecture in the National Concert Hall, Dublin, on June 12th, and I shall therefore be available for arrest on a charge of blasphemy.

– Yours, etc,

RICHARD DAWKINS,

New College,

Oxford.

Unlike Stephen Fry, Dawkins will actually be in Ireland when he blasphemes. Now surely he’ll be protected by a loophole in the 2009 Defamation Act, which states, as pointed out by Grania:

It shall be a defence to proceedings for an offence under this section for the defendant to prove that a reasonable person would find genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific, or academic value in the matter to which the offence relates. (Art. 36.3)

 If Dawkins can’t get himself taken in charge of the Gardaí (the Irish cops), then the law is worthless. But we knew that already.

24 Comments

  1. Posted May 15, 2017 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Genius!!!

  2. Posted May 15, 2017 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

    This doesn’t really qualify as blasphemy since Genesis clearly states that “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him.” So according to that, this description of God would seem pretty accurate–no?

    • ploubere
      Posted May 15, 2017 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

      Good point.

  3. Ullrich Fischer
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Great idea! Kudos to Dawkins! Whether or not the authorities take the bait (unlikely), the publicity will help push forward the demand to repeal this ridiculous law. Every religion blasphemes against every other. Blasphemy laws simply do not work in an open society where more than one religion is permitted to exist.

    • somer
      Posted May 15, 2017 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

      Good on Dawkins. Blasphemy laws are just wrong

  4. Posted May 15, 2017 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    Jesus blows his nose and looks at it.

    Come at me, Ireland!

    • Diki
      Posted May 15, 2017 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      Well that’s right, the defense is so broad that any statement would have to be gratuitous and completely lacking in any merit, however defined, whatsoever. Perhaps “God eats shit” without any context to the statement. Maybe Dawkins should sell “God eats shit” T shirts at his talk to promote the possibility of an arrest and prosecution?

      • Diki
        Posted May 15, 2017 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

        Also of course “Jesus eats his bogeys” Dawkins could offer a range of T shirts

    • grasshopper
      Posted May 15, 2017 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      Jesus blows his nose and looks at it.

      “Hey,that looks like me!”

  5. serendipitydawg
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    How does Ireland’s blasphemy law comport with EU human rights legislation? I guess that’s why it is unenforcable. 😆

    • Diki
      Posted May 15, 2017 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      Given that the Republic has managed to immiserate generations of women with anti abortion laws I wouldn’t get your hopes up of the European courts interfering.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 15, 2017 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

      I doubt EU has anything to do with it in this particular instance. It wouldn’t even get that far.

      It’s unenforceable because it has a loophole the size of a bus written right into it – deliberately.

      cr

  6. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    If religious liberals supported blasphemy laws one would want to arrest Fred Phelps (oh, wait, he’s deceased) for the obvious reasons, Pat Robertson for saying that the Haiti earthquake was a punishment for overthrowing slavery, Jerry Falwell (also deceased) for saying 9/11 was due to feminism & humanism, etc.

    Then there’s William Lane Craig’s justification of Biblical genocide including children.
    Ann Coulter tends to leave God out of some of her most outrageous statements, so her lawyer training is paying off there.

    The statute of limitations may have passed for the J author of the Old Testament, and St. Anselm, the fellow who formulated the modern penal substitution theory of the atonement (technically, its ancestor, the satisfaction theory).

    =-=-=

    I still think the most notable characteristic of the God of the Old Testament is multiple personality disorder.
    As such, the fellow is a bit less like Hannibal the Cannibal, and more like Norman Bates.
    Thus, up to a point, I courteously disagree with Dawkins. (This is due to the Old Testament being due to the work of over a dozen different authors.)

    On the other hand, if we look at the scale of the misdeeds in question, the sheer number of folks on the receiving end of G/OT’s bad hair days is still formidable.

    Thus my chief quarrel with the Old Testament deity is the evident falseness of title of a 2005 inspirational book “God Doesn’t Have Bad Hair Days”. It seems evident that he does.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted May 15, 2017 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

      Ah! I hate to go off topic but you started it with the frightening photo. I think Trump is now on the way out. This last screw up with the classified information should get the job done. I can almost hear the helicopter running. Maybe he can just get a one way ticket to Russia.

  7. Posted May 15, 2017 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    If the Gardai want to hear blasphemy, they need only visit any Dublin pub at last call. Come to think of it, that is where you will find many of them.

  8. Posted May 15, 2017 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    If there are to be blasphemy laws, direct them towards the listeners who perceive blasphemy. Punish the offendees, not the offenders.

  9. Brujo Feo
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    One small caveat…

    Here in the U.S. (and I expect that it’s pretty much the same everywhere), there are 4 distinct classes of rights…those held by:

    1) Citizens inside the border. (Very strong rights…unless you’re black, or…)

    2. Citizens outside the border…like if you’re returning from a vacation abroad. (Weaker…)

    3. Non-citizens inside the border. (Weaker still…)

    4. Non-citizens outside the border. (Rights essentially non-existent.)

    3 and 4 have gradations. Obviously a “green-card” holder has more rights than an illegal entrant.

    My point being this: Dawkins is a non-citizen outside the border. He may have certain rights as an EU member, but that’s sort of in flux at the moment.

    They don’t need to arrest him to make an example out of him. They could simply refuse him entry, for any reason or no reason. “Oh, you’re here to give a college lecture? Now isn’t that special! Well, now you’re not, because you’re *persona non grata*. Piss off.”

    • Posted May 16, 2017 at 11:51 am | Permalink

      Well, presumably that would almost have the same effect! (I.e., draw attention to a silly but dangerous [as an example] situation.)

  10. eric
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    It shall be a defence to proceedings for an offence under this section for the defendant to prove that a reasonable person would find genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific, or academic value…

    If Dawkins really wants to prove the point, this law as written should allow him to do that; he could choose, as the defendant, to not offer any argument that his speech has value. And have his lawyer offer no defense either. Give the Irish judge no chance to weasel out of a politically embarrassing case by doing so.

    JAC:

    If Dawkins can’t get himself taken in charge of the Gardaí (the Irish cops), then the law is worthless.

    Sadly, I have to disagree. IMO the effect of laws like this is to let the state punish those citizens who are poor and powerless, while giving more wealthy people a relatively easy way to get out of any such charges (i.e. just pay enough for a reasonable lawyer, and/or make a stink in the press).

    Ireland is certainly not alone in this. The same thing happens in the U.S., for example, with many of our drug laws; how heavily they are enforced depends on how well off the defendant is (and, in some cases, the color of ones’ skin). However, the fact that other countries have laws that are similarly arbitrary in practice, does not mean we should ignore this one. It’s a bad law, both because it just shouldn’t exist and because it’s probably used unfairly on the most vulnerable people in the population.

  11. kieran
    Posted May 16, 2017 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    We will have a referendum but don’t be surprised if they try to get inciting religious hatred in there instead. Currently law in Ireland but given our obsession in having everything in the constitution. It’ll probably be on the same day as the 8th amendment and a pointless one on water which is already there in the blasted document.


Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *
*
*

%d bloggers like this: