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That’s Blasphemy!

A podcast I listened to recently discussed the idea and relevance of blasphemy. Even a country like New Zealand, where religion is largely irrelevant to the majority, has blasphemy laws and it’s technically illegal to say something like this: “Jesus was a cynical invention of the evil leaders of the early church”, even if there might be good reason to say that it’s true. OK, I’m waiting to be arrested for stating that blasphemous idea in public.

Of course no one has ever been convicted because of an act of blasphemy here and there has only been one court case, many years ago, which failed. So the whole thing is a bit of a joke really, like a lot of laws of this type.

You could say these laws were originally more relevant because at the time they were formulated society took religion a lot more seriously and it was an important part of life in that era. But like many other laws, time has made what might have been a reasonable idea obsolete and irrelevant. But the law is so silly and trivial now that’s it’s not even really worth removing.

A case could be made to say that some people would be offended by blasphemous statements and should be protected. But should they? Isn’t it a problem for the person who was offended, not the person who made the statement? If I say “Christianity is silly and based on ridiculous superstition” an appropriate response by someone who disagrees is to show how I am wrong through the presentation of facts. Relying on laws specifically designed to protect a belief system instead of presenting evidence to support it just shows that I am probably right in criticising it to start with!

The same applies to other organisations. An employee of Apple was recently fired for criticising the company on his Facebook page. So what? If he was wrong in his criticism why didn’t someone correct him, and if he was right Apple should do something about it. Individuals, organisations, and companies should welcome criticism. Otherwise how will they know when they need to improve something?

I should say here that I don’t know what the specific criticism of Apple was, and I do agree that there are some opinions which shouldn’t be allowed. If a person is inciting violence, hatred or other socially unacceptable responses then they should be stopped in some way.

But if they are just saying something like “the historical evidence for Jesus is very weak” or “Apple uses cheap labour in China to keep its costs down” then sure, that’s fine. If the statements are true then they should be made public, if they’re not then someone should refute them.

Religion has been given a “free pass” on so many things in the past, and continues to enjoy special treatment even today. If a religion is real and true and if a religious figure (Jesus, Allah, or whatever) is so powerful and great then surely they should be able to defend themselves. Why would they need a law which most people would consider a joke? That just makes the religion look even sillier than it did to start with!

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