Tuesday 2 October 2018

Thou shalt not . . .

. . . take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Exodus ch20v7
Hmmm that's interesting: there was only One God for the writers of The Bible and back in those intolerant exclusive times, it was probably okay to take the name of the other chap's god in vain. It's also rather peculiar archaic language that could do with defining:
take in vain (v.): use a name, such as God, without proper respect. abuse, misuse, pervert - change the inherent purpose or function of something. [freedictionary]. That's the closest I can come to blasphemy in the Ten Commandments.  I'm on blastdamny because I touched on it in my film review on Sunday and it must have come up in my 'mind' because of the Invisible Referendum on the subject later this month. It is invisible because we have a presidential election same day, same place..

The Referendum Commission does some defining of terms also, so we know what we're voting for on 26th October 2018. Quoting the Defamation Act of 2009:
. . . the Constitution says that the publication or utterance of something blasphemous must be a criminal offence. Publication generally means a statement in written or permanent form. Utterance generally means a spoken word or statement. The Constitution does not itself define blasphemy. 
The legal definition of blasphemy is contained in the Defamation Act 2009. That Act says that a person publishes or utters something blasphemous if they: 
  • publish or say something that 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
  • intend to cause that outrage.
Not so simple now where things written disappear [think snapchat] and the spoken word may be captured for all time lodged in The Cloud. Not to mention all the possibilities for seamlessly altering the record with electronic whizzery. The thing about free speech is that it allows people to utter the unthinkable and so provides an opportunity to question the unconsidered certainties of our lives and the society we live in.
  • In my lifetime, it was widely believed that it was A Good Thing for adults to hit children (with a stick). [prev]
    • Right now it is legal for men and women to get into a ring and thump each other as a spectator sport. [prev]
  • In my lifetime, in Ireland, birth certificates of those born out of wedlock were counterstamped "Illegitimate". By 1975, when The Boy was born, it was illegal to put my name in under "Father" and I was relegated to another distant box: Witness: Bob Scientist (father). 
  • In my lifetime, black kids in USA were educated in separate schools, had separate water-fountains and had to move to the back of the bus. 
  • In my lifetime, it was okay to smoke in the back of the bus, in pubs and in designated areas of aeroplanes. [prev]
  • Right now, it's okay to bang families up in a single room in a hotel because we value property rights above human rights. [prev]
  • Right now, children are coming to school without breakfast [prev]
  • Right now, it's impossible to get timely speech therapy if you have no money. That's something which is "useless if delayed".
  • Right now, it's very difficult to get effective support or treatment for any mental health issue - jaysus even if you have money it's hard [prev] "useless if delayed"
  • Right now, the Rehab Hospitals of Ireland are so poorly resourced that is vanishingly unlikely to get timely attention after traumatic injury. UNtimely attention is largely a waste of money and time and hope. "useless if delayed"
  • Right now, sexual violence is meted out on women (in and out of marriage; in and out of doors) every day and only a minority of these outrages are reported and a vanishingly small proportion are prosecuted.
But right now, in Ireland it is an offense to poke fun at the other chap's religious beliefs, which beliefs are privileged above his actions. My gaffer taught me a simple set of ethical values: "My rights end where your nose begins". That means that you and me both AND the other feller need to be let alone to get on with our own lives without being told how to behave by The Man. If we are offended by the other chaps assertions then it is up to us to muster better arguments rather than applying duct-tape to his gob and singing la la la can't hear you. Things hidden tend to fester and then to smell: bringing them into the open is first step to bringing people to account. For the whole litany above, it requires us - you and me - to be brought to account for tolerating it in the home [or hotel!] next door.

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