Stephen Fry and God
A chara, – I do hope that no one will be too perturbed by what the splendidly likable and lovable Stephen Fry (if the word “avuncular” was not coined with him in mind, then it should have been) had to say to Gay Byrne on the subject of religion (“‘God is clearly a maniac’, Fry tells Byrne”, February 2nd). After all, Mr Fry is angry with a god he doesn’t believe in; and the god he is angry with isn’t the god that those who believe in God believe in either. – Is mise,
Rev PATRICK G BURKE,
Sir, – Even before the broadcast of Gay Byrne’s Meaning of Life with Stephen Fry it was clear that blasphemy was about to be committed by RTÉ. The advance clip that went around the internet and social media shows Mr Fry explaining why God is “utterly, utterly evil”, among other opinions. This must surely cause offence to many religious people and how could it do otherwise. This is the definition of blasphemy under the Defamation Act 2009.
Are gardaí about to raid the offices of RTÉ to seize the programme, as allowed for in the Act? Are they about to raid my home to seize my Sky box where I have a copy of the programme, as they are allowed by the Act?
Can RTÉ claim the allowed defence that “a reasonable person would find genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific, or academic value in the matter to which the offence relates”?
If it is acceptable to call God “utterly, utterly evil” to a reasonable person (whatever that may be) then by definition only an unreasonable person would take exception, which will be disappointing to many religious people who consider it blasphemy.
The coverage of this programme around the world on mainstream media and the internet shows Ireland and its blasphemy laws for what they are, an anachronistic throwback to an earlier age. The civilised world has moved on and so should we, by getting rid of blasphemy from our Constitution as soon as possible. – Yours, etc,