No, I’m not taking the piss. If Green Party TDs and Senators vote to pass the defamation bill, it will allow religious fundamentalists of all persuasions to demand censorship of things THEY find offensive, on pain of a €100,ooo fine if convicted. The Life of Brian, Father Ted, South Park, all could be bullied off the shelves and TV channels by a vocal religious minority. In the bill, blasphemeous material is described as material which ” 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.” In other words, any episode of Family Guy, or indeed appearence by Tommy Tiernan, or South Park taking the mickey out of scientology could qualify.
And this isn’t just about comedy. What about Darwin’s “Origin of the species” or anything by Richard Dawkins? Creationists and fundamentalist Christians are insulted by them. Do the Gardai get to round them up too? And what if we apply an Islamic standard?
We need to stop this now. How? Below are the email addresses of a number of prominent Green Party politicians. This bill will not pass without the Green Party, so email them and tell them what you think, and that we did not think a vote for the Greens was a vote for this kind of carry on.
I have also included a number of Fianna Fail representatives who are particularly vulnerable and so will be particularly sensitive to voters being pissed off with them.
Seriously, let them know. Irish politicians are actually quite sensitive because so many of them win by a few hundred votes, and so tend to pay attention to issues brought to them by substantial numbers of people. I’ve included below the draft of the email I sent them. You can chop and change to your own tastes.
John Gormley TD Dublin South East Minister@Environ.ie
Eamonn Ryan TD Dublin South Minister.email@example.com
Ciaran Cuffe TD Dun Laoghaire Ciaran.firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Gogarty TD Dublin Mid West Paul.gogarty@Oireachtas.ie
Mary White TD Carlow-Kilkenny Marya.email@example.com
Trevor Sargent TD Dublin North Trevor.firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Dan Boyle Cork South Central Dan.email@example.com
Sen. Deirdre de Burca Wicklow/Dublin Deirdre.firstname.lastname@example.org
Barry Andrews TD Dun Laoghaire Barry.email@example.com
Chris Andrews TD Dublin South East Chris.firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Maria Corrigan (Up for election in 6 weeks in Dublin South) Maria.email@example.com
Eoin Ryan MEP (Dublin) (Up for election in six weeks too. Nothing to do with the EU, true, but the guy could at leaset voice an opinion on his party’s policy.) Eoin.Ryan@europarl.europa.eu
Dear Deputy Cuffe,
I didn’t give you my first preference last time. Instead, I gave you my second preference. I did this because I felt that whilst I did not agree with all of the Green platform, I had great sympathy with your party’s progressive, reforming, tolerant and honest ethos.
I am now appalled to discover that you are considering voting in favour of the €100,000 blasphemy fine proposal. Whatever reason people have to vote Green, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t for a policy like this. If I wish to watch “Family Guy” or “The Life of Brian” or read a Richard Dawkins book that is my choice and not in the gift of a Christian or Islamic extremist, and I expect, not unreasonably, for the Green Party to stand up for that right.
The argument being made that the law will not be used in such a way doesn’t wash. As a member of the Oireachtas, you cannot possibly know how a conservative judge will rule in the future in terms of say “South Park”. We cannot take the risk.
As it happens, I am a Catholic, and I do find some comfort in prayer, but I believe in religious faith as a private matter and not one for the state to be interfering with, and certainly not in favour of the extremist views of one religion (Including my own) or another.
If, as minister Ahern states, and I’m not sure he is right as we have gotten on fine without one up to this point, that we need a blasphemy law, then at least make the fine a nominal €50 and let us be on our way. This country and this planet has enough to be getting on with without handing weapons to bigots.
This issue will inform how I vote the elections in June, and I hope you will do the right thing, and as you can see from the attached (www.jasonomahony.ie) I intend to lobby friends and family to do likewise in their voting preferences.