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  • By Cathal McMahon

    Gardaí have decided not to proceed with a blasphemy investigation against Stephen Fry after they failed to find a large group of people outraged by comments he made on an RTÉ sh […]

    • @OP – Gardaí have decided not to proceed with a blasphemy investigation against Stephen Fry after they failed to find a large group of people outraged by comments he made on an RTÉ show.

      Detectives spoke to the man who made the original report this evening and confirmed they will not be carrying out further enquiries.

      Independent.ie understands that detectives were unable to proceed with the investigation as there was no injured party.

      I would have to wonder why they were wasting their time and public money looking for an imaginary mythical “offence” in the first place!!??

      What next in Ireland? – a police investigation into complaints of people being harassed and stalked by leprechauns??? 🙂

    • I’m sure Stephen would put up a Stella defense, he’s very popular and having someone of his intellect and who is loved by so many charged with this ridiculous law might be just the thing to bring about its change once and for all but the man does suffer from manic depression and I would hate to see the man suffer is one of his down phases as a result of this offense to a non-entity. Some people will take any opportunity they can to take offense. This prat who reported him to the law I sure doesn’t spend his days reporting the license plates of every one who J – walks or goes a few kms over the speed limit. This guy if what Stephen had to say was so wrong should have a little think about why he finds it disturbing – perhaps a little too close to the truth?

    • Yes it is embarrassing. As way of explanation:
      Protection of religion from blasphemy is part of our constitution. A constitution that was written in haste but in the round has served us very well, especially when it comes to the EU. Rather than hold a costly referendum to change it in the midst of almost going bankrupt a few years ago, the then minister with responsibly put on the statue a blasphemy law. A law that was purposely made cumbersome, realistically rendering it useless. I expect it to be tacked on to the next important referendum.

    • I saw the original broadcast and Stephen is one person I would tolerate the patronising Gay Byrne to see and hear. I didn’t think he was blasphemous at the time although I’m sure he could have been if he wanted to. If he had made a suggestion of Mary aborting her pregnancy it might have inspired the Youth Defence crowd to the necessary outrage or he could have targeted the Islamic religion who are child’s play to inflame. One thinks of cartoons or using their book in the smallest room of the house or some such. It would really make a nice project to a media study class. To see who could whip up the necessary outrage.

    • Alan

      What next in Ireland? – a police investigation into complaints of people being harassed and stalked by leprechauns??? 🙂

      No, not that. It will be an investigation into complaints regarding some people who harass, stalk and disrespectfully slander the good and honorable leprechauns of Ireland.

      I wonder why the Gods and leprechauns who suffer these insults don’t just up and fire off a volley of lightning bolts to smite their disrespectful opponents and leave them in a pile of smoking dust. But no. They need us feeble humans to wail and gnash our teeth, issue death threats and attempt to carry them out, and launch court cases on their behalf. Gods and leprechauns ought to defend themselves and leave us poor human slobs to get on with our own business here on earth.

      😉

    • Further to Glasseye’s accurate comments, the more important reason for not holding a referendum to remove the clause from the constitution, is that it is likely to be very socially divisive. Ireland is moving to being a post Christian society, but the rump of the Catholic church is well organised and very active. We are due to have a referendum about liberalising abortion in the near future, my hair curls at the thought of the field day the Iona Institute could have if the two issues were brought to the people at the same time. There are far more important issues to be voted on, other than a law framed to make successful prosecution impossible.

    • But I am outraged at the charges against him. So does that mean that they should investigate his accusers?

    • [The] Gardaí were unable to find a substantial number of outraged people. For this reason the investigation has been concluded

      The Police in the Republic of Ireland apparently apply the laws of the land using the following guidelines:

      A – If people cannot contain their emotions, laws protecting hurt feelings might apply – investigate
      B – If a sufficient number of child-like people, unable to contain their emotions, complain (a.k.a. Mob Rule) – file charges
      C – In the absence of complaints, if the result of a police poll stirs the emotions of enough people (at least some of whom were, presumably, unaware that their emotions were in danger of being excited) – file charges

      The ordinary people of Ireland are to be congratulated for their good sense.

    • Chris

      investigate his accusers?

      Forget them. Let’s devote resources to progressive change. Everyone wins.

    • Stephen of Wimbledon is being unfair to the Gardai. Like all police forces in the civilised world, they are bound to investigate when they receive a complaint. How rigorously they investigated in this case is open to question – let’s hope that no one presses the issue.

    • @ ADuffy,

      I saw it shortly after it aired it made some of the current affairs shows over here and they played the whole interview. He was simply asked a question “What would you say to God if he was real?” a weak Pascals wager question from the host and Stephen simply answered it. How can that be Blasphemy? If they don’t want to know what you think don’t bloody ask! And if you don’t think you’ll like what someone might say leave the TV off. Very simple. And here’s an idea, how about giving a sensible answer to his response? The religious always seem so upset when you answer their questions.

      I made an off-hand comment at work yesterday and as a result my religious background came up. A religious workmate then started peppering me with questions which to his distress I answered. If you think you might not like the answers best not to ask the question. But apparently I’m not only supposed to manage my own ego but look after everyone else’s as well. I’m just a little tired of pretending I’m on board with other peoples nonsense.

    • Protection of religion from blasphemy is part of our constitution.

      I was unaware of this issue until now. My God, I had no idea Ireland had fallen so low. This is like the Taliban or like earlier (Medieval) times. Blasphemy? Well they cut Giordano Bruno’s blaspheming tongue out. (b. 1548) and burt him at the stake. I assume that’s not the law of the land; but what if it was? You just accept it?

      Don’t investigate the accusers; change the policy, the law.

      If protection against calling religion nonsense or insane or a scourge or superstition or horse manure, etc. is in their constitution that constitution is an ass.

      Btw, Christ was a sexless degenerate. I am glad I don’t live in Ireland. I feel bad for Ireland. I like Ireland. J. Joyce would be saddened. I read a biography. He once told his wife that he hated the very sight of priests, and said and wrote things that some might consider blasphemous. There was more freedom in the 1920s and 30s over there than there is now, it seems.

    • eejit

      let’s hope that no one presses the issue.

      No! Let’s hope they do!

      Anti Blasphemy laws in western culture license Pakistan’s disgusting position and its license of dull witted bullies endangering and taking free thinkers’ lives. The need to confront this nonsense head on is pressing. We need to be able to say, “Look this is how the civilised behave. Its called tolerance and you may need it yourself one day.”

      I suspect Fry is disappointed at this damp squib. Elsewhere I proposed the need of an Irish Blaspheming Competition. I will add that it needs to be in the name of murdered Asian free thinkers.

    • Fete the tolerant always and ever over the merely inoffensive.

    • Dan #13
      May 11, 2017 at 6:18 am

      Protection of religion from blasphemy is part of our constitution.

      I was unaware of this issue until now. My God,
      I had no idea Ireland had fallen so low.
      This is like the Taliban or like earlier (Medieval) times. Blasphemy?

      Southern Ireland – ie. The Irish Republic: – was run as a Catholic theocracy (just like Franco’s Spain).
      It is not so much “so low”, as “slowly climbing out of the theocratic pit”!
      ( That’s why the priests and nuns were able to get away with child abuse for so many years.)

      It has only recently acquired government politicians who are prepared to stand up to the Catholic Church, and still has a lot of work to do!

      Northern Ireland politics are dominated by Protestant and Catholic politicians in conflict with each other. It is only since the “Good Friday Agreement” that they stopped exchanging gunfire and bombings with each other and the police!

    • Re: most of the comments above.

      Jeeze! Some of US are more fanatical, strident and unfair than THEY are! No one’s been prosecuted yet, and nor will they ever be. What we need is a Fox News for atheists, I’m sure youse’ud all enjoy it.

    • eejit

      Hi,

      I think anti-blasphemy laws are pernicious, that’s all. There are “strident” people amongst all groups, by the way; that’s a straw-man. Defend the law or don’t; but this was my point of departure: surprise, and concern for the quality and condition of Irish life, and fear – that this will spread. We are all entitled, or should be entitled, to speak our minds about religion and to ridicule it and to say whatever we want.

      (The prohibition against blasphemy is in my view expressive of an unconscious awareness of a lack of faith. And one should lack faith. Why have faith in Nothing? I see no difference between God and Nothing, but this is a separate point – which is why it’s in parentheses.)

      I was disappointed to read that Fry felt compelled to say that he didn’t mean to offend the devout. He had to have known that it would offend them and be willing to do just that. People that goad others are not mean per se; that isn’t being mean. It’s goading, nudging, jabbing the believers — to awaken them. This is an act of kindness, designed to make them aware of themselves, their potentialities. “Most of us are living far below our potential.” (H. Miller) We should encourage these deluded and victimized (indoctrinated) people to think critically and for themselves. Most believers do not choose in freedom to become believers. That is my assumption, my premise. However, I do think that there is also a decent limit to ridicule and even criticism. If someone is sitting next to me and asks me to stop making fun of his religion or criticizing it I would consider it rude and mean (and unproductive) to persist. It all depends on the situation. But anti-blasphemy laws are dreadful.

    • This is the issue

      There is a death penalty for blasphemy in Pakistan. Those prosecuted are usually minorities such as Ahmadiyya and Christians but it seems that they are also increasingly other Muslims.[113] Persons accused of blasphemy as well as police, lawyers, and judges have been subject to harassment, threats, attacks, and murders when blasphemy is the issue.[114]

      In November 2008 Pakistan’s government appointed Shahbaz Bhatti as Federal Minister for Minorities and gave him cabinet rank. Bhatti had promised that the Asif Ali Zardari government would review Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.[115] Pakistan has been an active supporter of the campaign by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference to create global laws against blasphemy.[115] Minister Bhatti was shot dead on 2 March 2011 in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. On March 19, 2014, Pakistani English-language newspaper, The Nation, conducted a poll of its readers that showed 68% of Pakistanis believe the blasphemy law should be repealed.[116]

      In Ireland

      A controversial law was passed on 9 July 2009 and went into effect on 1 January 2010.[72] The law prohibits publishing or uttering “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”.

      The OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) is forever pushing at the UN Human Rights Council for restrictions on speech. Particularly Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. It is a fundamental (sic) tool of oppression and control. Voiced concerns always terminate in ideas of “upsetting the state”.

      Goodness, the right to utter religious derogations will lead to apostasy next.

      The western world, at the very least, must comply with Comment 34, if any traction is to be gained over the bully states and their willing thugs.

      The UN Human Rights Committee followed this in July 2011 with the adoption of General Comment 34 on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) 1976 that binds signatory countries. Concerning freedoms of opinion and expression, General Comment 34 made it clear that “Prohibitions of displays of lack of respect for a religion or other belief system, including blasphemy laws, are incompatible with the Covenant”. General Comment 34 makes it clear that countries with blasphemy laws in any form that have signed the ICCPR are in breach of their obligations under the ICCPR.

    • What i specifically do not understand are the people that want freedom to say whatever they want AND simultaneous protection from what others say. How is this at all “free”?

      I’ve said it often. Freedom has costs and one of them is vulnerability. You want free ? I really don’t think you do.

      I, on the other hand, want free. The difference is, that I am in control of and answer to MYSELF.

    • Dan

      I was disappointed to read that Fry felt compelled to say that he didn’t mean to offend the devout. He had to have known that it would offend them and be willing to do just that.

      Fry simply meant to answer the question honestly. It would not be honest to say he meant actively to offend. And this is the most important point about blasphemy. It is not about the right to offend anybody for the sake of mere offense, though there is no right not to be offended. It is most to allow someone simply to utter what they believe a Truth.

      Religion poisons everything. Well past its best before date it is a growing moral disaster stealing children’s future choices and ensuring the modest cultural spaces between folk become chasms.

      Telling this and detailing its very horrors comes well before the light relief (ok sometimes its cathartic) of Fuck the Fucking Pope.

    • Defend the law or don’t

      Binary thinking Dan. Unfortunately human relationships and their expression in societies and states are more nuanced and complex than that. Of course I don’t support the law, but I fully understand why the government had to pass it, and why they are shy of putting it to a referendum. The fact is that it is a phantom law, designed to keep the Iona Institute and other religious nutters quiet, and out of the Supreme Court. ‘Twould be a good little earner for the lawyers though.

    • the best blasphemies originate in ireland

    • Enjoy your quieter life eejit. Fortunately, the costs lie elsewhere.

      Pantigate was the essence of Ireland’s institutional moral cowardice.

    • I am Irish. My family comes from Ireland, I am two generations removed from that place. Uncle spoke with the brogue, grandfather came over on a boat. None of them. NONE OF THEM are candidates for heaven behavior wise, when compared to me. They are all “father, son, holy ghost” blessing themselves while treating their families and (especially) wives like garbage. I’d compete with any of them for a spot on the “eternal team”, simply based on my morals, all day; every day. Yes, they stand in church. No, they don’t live a single minute according to any code of conduct that you’d recognize as kind, humble, cogent, polite…. They are all raging narcissists and even the ones who don’t drink are lousy examples of what a MAN should be. Most treated me like dog shit at all our family get togethers until I got large enough to answer them back. Now we eat and look at each other over our plates.

    • Phil,

      To be honest, I read another article about this situation, and he was quoted as saying that he didn’t mean to offend anyone. I didn’t know the context, and assumed he was trying to appease the enemy. You’re right; to deliberately offend is different than having the right to make honest statements that have the effect of offending people. Hope that’s clear.

      It is not about the right to offend anybody for the sake of mere offense, though there is no right not to be offended. It is most to allow someone simply to utter what they believe a Truth.

      Well put. I do also think, as I said, that ridiculing people deliberately can be an act of kindness. It could be that actively and deliberately offending people has its place as well. I have to think about that.

      Unfortunately human relationships and their expression in societies and states are more nuanced and complex than that.

      eejit, I appreciate that (although I wouldn’t say “unfortunately”). I only know what I read here. I also read one other article. I was and am unaware of the full context. However, I still think this law is appalling and pathetic in itself. It has to go.

    • Dan,

      Offence, deliberate and seemingly for its own sake can certainly be useful sometimes. Like a slap in the face it can bring people out of an unreal world of their own making. It can mirror an offence of theirs so they better understand the emotional import of their trespasses against us. It can show a contempt or anger that you want others to see. I will gladly offend anyone poisoning children’s minds until they realise the scum they appear in my eyes… It may stop me punching them out.

      Offence has some important jobs to do on occasions. Like the safety valve of the satirical scatological cartoons of the eighteenth century lampooning Kings and politicians, it can help keep the peace.

    • Offense as a reaction to something is entirely within the recipient’s own mind. Some people are offended by things that others are not. Therefore I submit that it is not possible to “cause” offense in any provable or leglisatable way. It is only possible to choose to take offense and that’s ones own problem.

    • Indeed, Arkrid, which is why toleration is the queen of virtues and inoffensiveness a mere also-ran.

      So I might add to my list of reasons to seek to incite offence is the demonstration of the possession (or not) of this virtue. “Roasting” US Presidents is reassuring to the electorate that they have a stable, not easily incited leader….hmm.

    • Hi Dan,

      reading your comments about being disappointed at Stephen Fry commenting he hadn’t intended to offend anyone. I think you’ll find he does mean this but that doesn’t stop him being very strong about his opinions on these matters. I refer you to the debate he did with Ann Widdecom and an African Archbishop with Hitchens. He made a statement at the start which I think sums up his position very well but if you watch the debate you’ll find in-spite of not wishing ill of any Catholics or religious people in general he tore bloody strips of the Catholic Church. Worth a look if you get a chance.

      Here’s the Youtube link

      here

      Regards

    • @OP – Independent.ie understands that detectives were unable to proceed with the investigation as there was no injured party.

      For a god-delusion to be “an offended or injured party”, some believers would need to prove that the god actually existed, rather than simply being a delusional figment of someone’s imagination!

      A bit of a challenge there methinks! 🙂

    • Thanks Phil for comment 27. Very well put – and we meet again. And your earlier comment: “no one has the right not to be offended.” —Yep.

      Thanks RM. I look forward to checking that out.

      By the way, there’s some footage of Michael Palin and John Cleese (two great guys) being verbally attacked by some religious folk on a chat show after the mediocre film (mediocre compared to The Holy Grail) Life of Brian was made. You can find that, I’m sure.

      Palin was very diplomatic, a little too diplomatic. Cleese started to get seriously annoyed; but it was too little too late.

    • What next in Ireland? – a police investigation into complaints of people being harassed and stalked by leprechauns???

      Actually, here in the US there is a scary clown outbreak. They are harassing and stalking scared people. If you get caught in the woods in a clown outfit they will take you to jail.
      Which brings up Donald Trump……..

    • Hi Dan,

      Loved that interview, Micheal and John stood their ground nicely I thought, the archbishop ended up looking like the kind of pompous buffoon that I suspect has resulted in the level of atheists in the UK. I can’t remember the other guy that well but he was terribly conservative and up tight from memory. We need a modern Life of Brian.

    • Thanks Alan4Discussion,

      That puts a face to a name I’d heard, but not put into context before.

    • Reckless Monkey #40
      May 13, 2017 at 8:17 pm

      Around 1970, the silly old buffoon Muggeridge often had a BBC TV religion slot, where his rantings were quite irritating when I was waiting for a following programme – until I found they could be very entertaining, with the TV sound muted, and a Beatles record substituted for the sound track accompanying his characteristic animated gesticulating antics and facial contortions!

    • Outrage!! Fox News! Trump! Religion! Aaaaaahhh!

      Liberty University student reacts to Trump’s speech” on YouTube.

    • @Alan4Discussion

      Non-Christian religions have significantly higher retention levels; overall, only 2% of “nones” were raised in religious homes other than Christian. The “nonversion” rate was 14% for Jews, 10% for Muslims and Sikhs and 6% for Hindus.

      And that figure may well go the same way in time as the Catholic and Anglican figures provided the West can hold onto its secular culture and cohorts do not isolate themselves into enclaves. The social isolation not to mention in extreme cases threat of violence is just not really present to anywhere near the same degree in Catholic and Anglican families (although shunning does happen more in churches like LDS and JW’s) so the cost of leaving is much, much higher.

      How does the quadrupling of Hindu’s, Muslims and Sheiks relate to immigration intake from O.S? How many generations from moving from country of origin are these figures counting? Do the rates increase in second or third generation?

    • V. good, Ollie #39

    • Listen if you can to those two guys from Gerry Falwell’s Liberty University in this short, painful video I posted talking about Trump’s great message, and look at those two loathsome Fox News hit-men trashing Warren and spreading their poisonous propaganda. Now that offends me; but I wouldn’t want it to be unlawful to offend me!

    • Reckless Monkey #44
      May 14, 2017 at 4:53 pm

      How many generations from moving from country of origin are these figures counting? Do the rates increase in second or third generation?

      I think that depends on the level of integration.
      Some re-visit their relatives in their countries of origin, so I suspect this reinforces the original culture, and counters integration to some extent.

    • Hi eejit,

      Sorry for the slow response, ‘real life’ keeps getting in the way …

      [You’re] being unfair to the Gardai. Like all police forces in the civilised world, they are bound to investigate when they receive a complaint

      I don’t doubt that’s true. Also, they are duty bound to uphold the law – irrespective of how asinine it might be. On that basis, yes, perhaps I was a little unfair.

      On the other hand: What do we think of a police force that receives one complaint – count them: one – then waits, and, when it doesn’t receive any more decides it needs to drum up support for a prosecution by asking around?

      Is it a police task to victimise someone who has had a single complaint made against them, by attempting to form an angry mob with a different opinion?

      Is it the job of the police to pre-judge and use their time to build a case by stirring up otherwise absent resentment by asking otherwise unconnected people if they, too, would like to be victims even though it had previously not crossed their minds?

      You mean they didn’t set up a video booth in the local Mall and ask passers-by to view the X-rated video then fill out a loaded questionnaire? Could it be that there is something wrong with that?

      I mean … I may be wrong … maybe the Gardai are a bunch of Judge Dredds?

      How rigorously they investigated in this case is open to question …

      I disagree, the evidence before us speaks clearly of a police force that assigned significant resources to a simple complaint. Whether those resources were legitimately applied is, as above, open to question.

      Whether the Gardai were rigorous, or not, will depend on your definition of rigour and is in some respects open to conjecture. Nevertheless, we can see clearly that police time was wasted pursuing a prosecution without sufficient evidence using highly questionable methods.

      I will go further; in this case the Gardai pursued a course of action identical to an act of attempted political authritarianism. The fact that they failed is entirely beside the point. The fact that the blasphemy law exists is equally redundant. Polling people in order to question them about hurt feelings is no different to gathering a posse to administer rough justice. Civilised World, you say?

      … let’s hope that no one presses the issue

      I agree with Phil, bring it on.

      Peace.

    • Blasphemy laws protect the stupid from ridicule and give them a position of authority without the inconvenience of having to explain themselves. A world without blasphemy laws and they’d have the insurmountable task of relying upon rational thinking to defend their daft ideas.

      The stupid are to be feared, they wield immense power.

    • Vorlund #49

      “The stupid are to be feared, they wield immense power.”

      The stupid themselves do not wield any power, they are to be feared because they can be so easily seduced by the power-hungry criminals, like Duhnald Trump. Whatever one may think of J.R.R. Tolkien’s mythology and Middle-earth, his concept of Orcs certainly describes the odd or even billion of the human inhabitants of this planet, who are in scientific nomenclature named “Homo sapiens” – the most egregious error in this nomenclature by orders of orders of magnitude.