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The Problem with Protecting the "Sacred":

 1 Radical Taoist, Thu, 7th Jun '12 2:45:42 PM from the #GUniverse
scratching at .8, just hopin'
I'm an unapologetic atheist and I see no reason not to be. It is to the credit of the religious tropers on this forum that they're willing to put up with me, and I appreciate it. That we are able to coexist on this forum indicates that some equilibrium has been reached - there's a degree to which people in this community accept criticism/rejection/dismissal of what they consider sacred. That's a sign that everyone here is a well-adjusted adult.

The world is not full of well-adjusted adults. This is why anti-blasphemy laws are a bad idea. They lead to stuff like this. From the Guardian:
A leading Spanish artist faces up to a year in prison after being prosecuted for "offending religious feelings" in relation to a short film he made more than 30 years ago that claimed to show "how to cook Jesus Christ".

Javier Krahe, who has been a popular and provocative figure in Spain for nearly half a century, made the film in 1978 but it was only shown on Spanish TV in 2004 as a backdrop to an interview with its creator. The little-known charge – comparable with but not identical to Britain's blasphemy law, remains part of the penal code despite never having been applied before in Spanish legal history.

Krahe's 54-second film uses the tone of a cooking programme, with chefs advised to remove Jesus' nails and separate him from his crucifix, which should be left to one side. Christ's tiny white body – a small figurine is used – is then shown being washed, lightly smothered in butter, placed on a bed of aromatic herbs in a glass tray and popped into an oven. "One gaunt Christ" is apparently enough to feed two, and when the dish is ready (after three days) it miraculously emerges from the oven without assistance.

There have been two previous failed attempts to prosecute Krahe, who is currently on bail for €192, 000 (£153, 000). The latest prosecution is the result of a court action by the Catholic legal association the Centro Juridico Tomas Moro.

Or worse, like this.
On 10th March, Sanal Edamaruku, President of the Rationalist International, flew to Mumbai. The TV channel TV-9 had invited him to investigate a “miracle” that caused local excitement. He went with the TV team to Irla in Vile Parle to inspect the crucifix standing there in front of the Church of Our Lady of Velankanni. This crucifix had become the centre of attraction for an ever growing crowd of believers coming from far and wide. The news of the miracle spread like wild fire. For some days, there were little droplets of water trickling from Jesus’ feet. Hundreds of people came every day to pray and collect some of the “holy water” in bottles and vessels. Sanal Edamaruku identified the source of the water (a drainage near a washing room) and the mechanism how it reached Jesus feet (capillary action). The local church leaders, present during his investigation, appeared to be displeased. See the investigation in detail on YouTube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUqhq9MuRG8

Some hours later, in a live program on TV-9, Sanal explained his findings and accused the concerned Catholic Church officials of miracle mongering, as they were beating the big drum for the drippling Jesus statue with aggressive PR measures and by distributing photographs certifying the “miracle”. A heated debate began, in which the five church people, among them Fr. Augustine Palett, the priest of Our Lady of Velankanni church, and representatives of the Association of Concerned Catholics (AOCC) demanded that Sanal apologize. But Sanal refused and argued against them. [The whole TV program is recorded. You can watch an abridged version of it on YouTube.]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfJ6_ftih0s

When they saw Sanal refused to bow to their demands, they threatened to file a blasphemy case against him. And they did.

Yesterday (10th April, 2012) Sanal received a phone call from a Police official of Juhu Police Station in Mumbai directing him to come to the said police station to face the charges and get arrested. He also said that FI Rs have also been filed in Andheri and some other police stations u/s 295 of Indian Penal Code on the allegations of hurting the religious sentiments of a particular community. Mumbai police has announced that they were out to arrest him. It is apprehended that he can be arrested any moment.
I remember cringing when news of recent anti-blasphemy legislation passing in India showed up on the internet. My cringes were sadly well founded.

What should be protected from criticism or mockery by law? I would posit nothing deserves that privilege, lest we have people getting arrested for pointing out water is water.
 2 Muramasan 13, Tue, 12th Jun '12 9:27:33 AM Relationship Status: Not war
I agree with you, Taoist. While there are some things I'd like to see people stop badmouthing, anti-blasphemy laws hardly seem to be the optimal way to go about it. Even if there were an opinion worth protecting with an anti-blasphemy law, I would likely argue against it because it would set a dangerous precedent.

The truth doesn't fear doubt.
Smile for me!
 3 Gabrael, Tue, 12th Jun '12 9:53:59 AM Relationship Status: They can't hide forever. We've got satellites.
A Polar Bear Named Gabrael
We have slander and liable laws for a reason. Those are good enough.

I've made my academic career in attacking and criticizing religion, so I'm all for continuing to probe. But there is a big difference between, "Do you recognize how this doctrine can have this specific logical fallacy" and "(insert religious icon here) is full of shit!"

If religious groups really want to keep things sacred, then they need to not project them in the secular arena. Example, if you want me to respect the sanctity of your very gory and detailed Crucifix, keep it in your church/worship area/home and away from the side of a public road where my young child can see it. A simple, unadorned cross can do just fine.

All religious groups deserve their rights, especially the right of the sacred. But the very definition of sacred is to be "set apart" and "clean". So keep it away from the secular.

Is that cake frosting?
I also agree, obviously. If somebody sets out to offend my religious feelings, I may think that they are being idiots (I certainly do so in the case of Krahe and his sad little attempt to generate controversy for the sake of controversy), but that does not merit or deserve prosecution.

I would refuse to shake Krahe's hand if I met him; but I think that the people who attempted to prosecute him are doing a disservice to Spain, and to the very religion that they are aiming to protect.
But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

 5 Balmung, Tue, 12th Jun '12 10:03:41 AM from Omaha, Nebraska Relationship Status: GAR for Archer
Cosmic Star Troper
Just need to point out that the word is "libel", not "liable".

I suppose related, but I never understood people feeling the need to "defend" the almighty. If it's omnipotent, what threat are my petty mortal words? And what threat would an infidel or blasphemer even be to such a being?

edited 12th Jun '12 10:06:28 AM by Balmung

 6 pagad, Tue, 12th Jun '12 10:07:38 AM from perfidious Albion Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
Sneering Imperialist
I don't believe anything should be sacred in terms of satire, religion perhaps least of all. Some of my favourite stand-up comedians would be put out of a job tongue
Is that cake frosting?
[up][up] Well, if somebody insulted your mother, or your brother, or your spouse, you would be offended, right? Even if the insult did not cause them any harm?

That's about the same.

As I said, I am not in favor of prosecuting blasphemers; but if somebody blasphemed in my presence, I would make my disapproval clear in no uncertain terms, and if they insisted in doing so in my presence I would refuse to have anything to do with them (except perhaps in a professional setting, and even then I would limit my contacts to the barest minimum.)

I am fine with people who think that God does not exist — well, I think that they are wrong, obviously, but that's not the issue here. But I refuse to associate with people who purposefully insult God, for the same reason why I would refuse to associate with people who purposefully insulted my family.

edited 12th Jun '12 10:16:28 AM by Carciofus

But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

Unchanging Avatar.
This is why I support free speech.

It's worth commenting that this forum is universally against anti-blasphemy laws, but has a even split between supporters and opponents of free speech in general. Little funny, no?

Anyway, this is a bad thing. The Spanish "artist" is a dick, but he's got a right to express his opinion, same as everyone else.

Anti-blasphemy laws shouldn't happen. People have a right to say what they believe.
Except for 4/1/2011. That day lingers in my memory like...metaphor here...I should go.
 9 Balmung, Tue, 12th Jun '12 11:33:02 AM from Omaha, Nebraska Relationship Status: GAR for Archer
Cosmic Star Troper
[up][up]There's taking offense/expressing disapproval and there's "You insulted my mother/father/god/foo, YOU MUST DIE/go to jail/THIS MEANS WAR." And anti-blasphemy laws fall into the latter, as do a few wars that have been waged.
Is that cake frosting?
Well, strictly speaking, if you insulted a family member of mine badly enough that could count as defamation, for which you could be sued and, yes, go to jail. A blasphemy law could be understood as a similar provision, maybe.

But in any case, I agree that blasphemy laws are unnecessary and a bad idea.
But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

NCC - 1701
I get really really REALLY tired of coming to TV Tropes.....

....and being reminded about the fake bullshit poser "believers" out there.

Anti-blasphemy laws? Taking a man to court because your alleged miracle *gasp* has a logical explanation?

What the fuck is this 1984??

First of all, Krahe is grade-A dickhead, but c'mon, I'm a devout Christian but the joke about a cooked Jesus emerging from the oven in three days is hilarious, and you know it. Second, so what if some dipshit director wants to mock Christianity? Honestly, what's the big deal?

The truth doesn't fear doubt.

Fuckin' A!

edited 12th Jun '12 12:08:05 PM by TheStarshipMaxima

It was an honor
I want Kat's glasses!
@Carciofus: What if someone insulted your father to his face and your father didn't budge? Would you try to take matters up for him?

Because that's exactly what happens whenever someone blasphemes: If God is omnipotent and omniscient and father to all, any insult to God is said to His face. And if God doesn't answer immediately with lightning, neither should people.

edited 12th Jun '12 12:46:10 PM by Medinoc

They Called Me Mad!! I decided to show them all; but when I looked on my works, oh mighty, I despaired: for it made me realize they were right.
Is that cake frosting?
@Carciofus: What if someone insulted your father to his face and your father didn't budge? Would you try to take matters up for him?
Honestly? Yes. And similarly, if somebody insulted me in front of my father, you can bet that he would take issue with that.

No, God does not smite blasphemers; and frankly, I don't want that to be the case, nor do I wish to hurt blasphemers in any way. Just like I wouldn't punch in the face somebody who insulted my father.

But still, blaspheming is a majorly assholish thing to do.

edited 12th Jun '12 1:05:10 PM by Carciofus

But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

 14 Best Of, Tue, 12th Jun '12 1:05:49 PM from Finland Relationship Status: Falling within your bell curve
FABRICATI DIEM, PVNC!
Blasphemy is a victimless crime.
Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur.
 15 lord Gacek, Tue, 12th Jun '12 1:13:50 PM from Kansas of Europe
KVLFON
Unless you interpret it that believers are the victims. cool
"Atheism is the religion whose followers are easiest to troll"
Is that cake frosting?
Blasphemy is insulting Somebody for whom, no matter whether He exists or not, a number of people feel a huge amount of respect and devotion.

I don't think that it should be a crime; but I wouldn't say that it is "victimless". If God exists it makes no sense to insult Him, and if He doesn't it makes no sense to insult a fictional being: hence, its only possible purpose is to try to get a rise out of the people who believe in Him. And indeed, you don't hear much blasphemy against Mithras — nobody bothers insulting a deity if there are not enough people who might feel offended by it (also, people might get nervous about offending a being who stabs bulls in the testicles with scorpions).

It is a low action, and this independently on what the truth on matters of religion is.

edited 12th Jun '12 1:20:28 PM by Carciofus

But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

I want Kat's glasses!
If God exists it makes no sense to insult Him
I beg to differ. Doesn't He come up as one hell of a Jerkass God in the Old Testament?
They Called Me Mad!! I decided to show them all; but when I looked on my works, oh mighty, I despaired: for it made me realize they were right.
Is that cake frosting?
Not really, if you compare Him to, say, the known mythos of other deities. In the Iliad, fourth chapter, Zeus sells out Troy (a city sacred to him) to Hera (who wants to destroy it). Say what you will about the Old Testament God, but He always kept His Word. And of course, different social mores and non-literalism and blahblahblah.

But this is beside the point. People don't submerge statues of Dolores Umbridge in piss: that would be stupid.

As an aside, I don't hold a statement like "the OT God was evil" as a blasphemy. I consider it seriously incorrect; but if it is stated as an opinion, and with the intention of informing and not offending, it is something that people can discuss reasonably.

edited 12th Jun '12 1:37:50 PM by Carciofus

But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

 19 Jhimmibhob, Tue, 12th Jun '12 1:54:13 PM from Arm's reach of the julep machine Relationship Status: My own grandpa
Genuine blasphemy is a function of actual belief. As Chesterton liked to point out, just try to commit blasphemy against Thor—it doesn't really work.

For my part, a certain level of courtesy toward others' religious beliefs is simply an issue of good manners. As with most other manners-related taboos, I wouldn't dream of outlawing it, but am perfectly comfortable with a society in which breaking it carries real social penalties.

[up][Shamefacedly throws a towel over the Umbridge pissjar]

edited 12th Jun '12 1:55:38 PM by Jhimmibhob

"She was the kind of dame they write similes about." —Pterodactyl Jones
 20 Aondeug, Tue, 12th Jun '12 1:57:58 PM from  Our Dreams
Oh My
Blaspheming is rude, but I don't consider it something we need a law for or something people need to be set in prison for. Things like impersonating religious officials I can see as something that should be punishable because then you're just extorting the trust and good will of followers. Blaspheming? Nah. Sure I get annoyed at my brother's aggressive verbal attacks on religion and the religious, I have to consistently remind him that I'm a theist too, but that I don't feel should be a crime. It's dickish, but not crime worthy.

Now if you're going around harassing the ever living hell out of someone or a particular church with your blasphemy? Yes. That's a problem. For harassment and not for the blasphemy itself. You're just being a persistent asshole and persistent assholism just ain't right.

edited 12th Jun '12 1:59:25 PM by Aondeug

If someone wants to accuse us of eating coconut shells, then that's their business. We know what we're doing. - Achaan Chah
 21 Gabrael, Tue, 12th Jun '12 2:00:59 PM Relationship Status: They can't hide forever. We've got satellites.
A Polar Bear Named Gabrael
Honestly, if the artist wouldn't of said it was piss, no one wuld have been the wiser. Doesn't stop it from being a rather beautiful picture.

Look, here is the thing. There are people who consider other religions to be myth. Hell, I do. And while I may respect the various texts as good literature or a cultural symbol, I don't have to respect what's in it. For me to respect it as a believer would actually be more hypocritical. I'm not going to burn a book. But I am also not going to flip out if it's on the floor and get's torn up.

I am tired of believers expecting nonbelievers to act the same way as them in regard to their sacred rituals, symbols, etc. (Not to say that anyone here is saying that.)

We shouldn't. We don't believe.
 22 Aondeug, Tue, 12th Jun '12 2:05:19 PM from  Our Dreams
Oh My
Just don't tear up our shit on purpose or insult anyone and it's fine in my book. Atheists and non-Buddhists at Suddhavasa are common and welcome sights so long as they aren't being rude or aggressive. Just be nice and polite, take your shoes off in the temple building itself, and you'll be fine. Showing reverence to the Buddha image when you don't sincerely have such respect for him and his teachings is insincere. I'm fine if you just sit there and watch while everyone else bows and takes the Five and so on. I prefer it actually. Comes off as dishonest and too close to lying otherwise.

I take issue with books being left on the floor to be torn up but that's more an issue I have with books in general. Yes I may manhandle and dog ear the hell out of my books, but I keep them off the floor and think books should be kept in tact and safe for the most part. It just isn't nice!

edited 12th Jun '12 2:05:52 PM by Aondeug

If someone wants to accuse us of eating coconut shells, then that's their business. We know what we're doing. - Achaan Chah
Is that cake frosting?
[up][up] If the artist had not said that it was piss, nobody would have cared about it. Which is the very reason why he used piss and made it known.

EDIT:
Sure I get annoyed at my brother's aggressive verbal attacks on religion and the religious, I have to consistently remind him that I'm a theist too, but that I don't feel should be a crime. It's dickish, but not crime worthy.
Perhaps one thing that we should try to agree about is what is and isn't blasphemy. As I see it, a rude attack on religion is not necessarily blasphemy. For example, I might take issue with a statement of the form of "all religion is bullshit", both in form and in substance; but I wouldn't consider it a form of blasphemy.

edited 12th Jun '12 2:10:59 PM by Carciofus

But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

 24 Pykrete, Tue, 12th Jun '12 2:13:31 PM from Viridian Forest
NOT THE BEES
I am tired of believers expecting nonbelievers to act the same way as them in regard to their sacred rituals, symbols, etc. (Not to say that anyone here is saying that.)

We shouldn't. We don't believe.

There's a difference between showing reverence, and showing respect and decency.

edited 12th Jun '12 2:13:40 PM by Pykrete

 25 Aondeug, Tue, 12th Jun '12 2:16:20 PM from  Our Dreams
Oh My
It's not necessarily, no. His doing something like breaking the Buddha image or something could be more so. Depending on why he did it of course. Intent is important with these matters.

As is I don't feel it matters too much as that's still being a right dick.
If someone wants to accuse us of eating coconut shells, then that's their business. We know what we're doing. - Achaan Chah
Total posts: 535
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