Blasphemy and the Constitution
Sir, – Aisling Bastible (September 29th) considers that religions should be protected from “sacrilege”. I do not accept that any category of ideas should be exempt from criticism or even mockery. Religions are based on “faith”, that is, belief with lack of evidence or in defiance of the evidence, and must be legitimate areas of robust discussion, just like any other set of ideas, from semiotics to quantum physics. – Yours, etc,
Raheny, Dublin 5.
A chara, – It is a little strange to see such a push for the removal of blasphemy from our Constitution. The offense is vaguely defined in law and in any case never prosecuted; the only reason it is there seems to be to serve as a symbolic gesture toward reminding the people of Ireland to show some degree of respect when it comes to the religious beliefs of others.
Far more insidious is what might be termed “secular blasphemy” these days – offenses against the unwritten and ever changing laws of political correctness. Offenders against these are swiftly and severely punished, usually by way of an instant furore led by an online lynch mob – who may or may not be appeased by a grovelling apology and fulsome promises to never offend again ever.
I know which we would all be the better off for seeing gone. And I also have little doubt as to which we are more likely to see go – blasphemy in the more usual understanding of the word. After all, its continued presence in the Constitution serves as a token reminder that those with a distaste for religion might be advised to show just a smidgeon of restraint when it comes to trashing the cherished beliefs of those around them – which now is in itself a secular blasphemy that can no longer be tolerated. – Is mise,
Rev PATRICK G BURKE,