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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Illegal Blasphemy in Ireland

If you visit Ireland after October, you'd better watch what you say about God.

A blasphemous slip of the tongue could cost you 25,000 euros under revamped legislation that will soon be signed into law.

Blasphemy is an act of challenging or offending a religious belief.

Liberty takes a step back for the folks in Ireland. Not only does this threaten atheists, agnostics and the non-religious, but also anyone who values freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of/from religion, and the separation of church and state.

Though a similar law is unlikely to happen in Canada, Western governments love to borrow bad ideas for each other and this need to be watched; this is not a good day for liberty.

Posted by Freedom Manitoba on July 23, 2009 in Religion | Permalink

Comments

Extremely serious and sad indeed, but the rest of the West is headed in the same direction. Unless we manage to turn things completely around here, we shall experience the same.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-07-23 11:04:05 AM


Scott, nothing any government does is ever going to please you, save that it outlaws itself and all successors. You consider the very existence of government a stain on the tapestry of liberty. You may as well stop selecting random laws to criticize; the truth is you oppose them all.

That said, I'd expand the law to outlaw persistent cussing in public as well. There comes a point when civil liberties begin to encroach upon civility; that far, and no further, should they go. The rights come with responsibilities, presumably a libertarian ideal, but for some reason I never see any responsibility, save that of the state, discussed on any of these blogs.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-23 11:45:00 AM


@ Shane

nothing any government does is ever going to please you

That's a lot of absolutes there Shane. If government would quit harming people and violating rights then I would have nothing to complain about.

You may as well stop selecting random laws to criticize; the truth is you oppose them all.

I think laws against murder, theft, arson, etc. and other situations where people are harmed are very important and should be enforced.

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-07-23 11:59:28 AM


Since nothing libertarians say will ever please you Shane, you may as well stop criticizing, we already know you support everything that reduces liberty. Sarc off.

"That said, I'd expand the law to outlaw persistent cussing in public as well."

So you agree with the law then?

"The rights come with responsibilities"

Right you are Shane. But you have no right to throw someone in a cage or violate their property rights unless they are being violent. Blasphemy and cussing is not violent, hence stealing from people is not an appropriate response.

Posted by: Charles | 2009-07-23 12:07:53 PM


"That's a lot of absolutes there Shane. If government would quit harming people and violating rights then I would have nothing to complain about."

Since you hold that among those rights is the right to be free from government, it is impossible for them to meet that standard and exist at the same time.

"I think laws against murder, theft, arson, etc. and other situations where people are harmed are very important and should be enforced."

By whom? And how would they be chosen?

P.S. I notice that you responded only to the "personal" half of my post, and ignored the part that most directly dealt with the subject matter: blasphemy.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-23 12:08:29 PM


Wow. So Shane would throw people in jail for using bad language. And given his response, is seemingly accepting of religious blasphemy laws.

Shane, whether he realizes it or not, places himself in the same authoritarian category as any people on the left he criticizes.

It's not that Shane is against authoritarianism. It's that he's against certain kinds.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2009-07-23 12:11:44 PM


@ Shane

I'd expand the law to outlaw persistent cussing in public as well.

Which words? Who decides on them? Why those ones? What will the punishment be?

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-07-23 12:33:42 PM


On the basis of the CBC report, it's interesting to compare the proposed Irish legislation to Section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

I think I'd almost prefer the anti-blasphemy laws. For example:

1. They contain an explicit provision requiring proof of intent.

2. They at least give the defendant room to prove that there is some value to the allegedly blasphemous utterance.

3. Also, if you run afoul of the law, you go to a real court, instead of Ms. Lynch's romper room.

On the other hand, the law is a hefty shillelagh for religious fundamentalists to use against the non-religious.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2009-07-23 12:40:43 PM


"Wow. So Shane would throw people in jail for using bad language. And given his response, is seemingly accepting of religious blasphemy laws."

Jail? No. But a fine or a few strokes of the cane would be appropriate.

"Shane, whether he realizes it or not, places himself in the same authoritarian category as any people on the left he criticizes."

I don't criticize authoritarianism; I criticize their reasoning. But I'll understand if you bridle at being expected to be civil. It is, after all, a responsibility.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-23 12:51:44 PM


"Which words? Who decides on them? Why those ones? What will the punishment be?"

To be decided. By the people. Because the people decide they're the most offensive. To be decided but most likely a fine.

I see you are being minimalist in more than government.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-23 12:53:52 PM


"The law is a hefty shillelagh for religious fundamentalists to use against the non-religious."

The intent is not to punish people for being atheist, Terrence; indeed, atheism could itself be included in the protected categories, and I'd have no problem with that. The aim is to enforce civil behaviour, something our society could certainly stand more of. And for some people, nothing less than a shillelagh will get the message across, although personally I prefer a blackjack.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-23 1:00:30 PM


"Liberty takes a step back for the folks in Ireland. "

Ireland has a long way to go before it is as oppressive as Canada. This blasphemy law is but a drop in the ocean of statism that is the western welfare state; I wouldn't make such a big deal out of it, especially given Canada's odious record on free expression and HRCs. Ireland's public spending and taxation as a % of GDP is lower than Canada's.

http://images.forbes.com/media/2006/05/Overall_Tax_Burden_Governemt_Spending.pdf

http://knol.google.com/k/alexander-emilfaro/government-spending-and-taking/kpxsjkpzgwux/8#

Libertarians have a habit of ignoring massive infringements upon liberty in lieu of tiny ones.

Did you know, for example, that in Sweden men do not have to pay either alimony or child support when dual custody is awarded, which is often the case? That is an enormous advantage over Canada and the USA, two countries ostensibly less statist than Sweden.

Posted by: Fair Commenter | 2009-07-23 1:30:33 PM


A twenty five thousand euro fine seems better than a beheading with the act on Youtube, or a dagger through a post-it note then into the heart.
The euro fine may save lives even though it subtracts from a type of liberty. Too bad, though. It does not auger well. Be thankful you're not sitting at the bottom of an Ontario canal for some perceived insultatious remark or behaviour. May Saints be praised. God save the Queen of Canada. May Canadians keep freedom.

Posted by: Agha Ali Arkhan | 2009-07-23 2:06:05 PM


@ Shane "To be decided. By the people. Because the people decide they're the most offensive. "

Which people? What will the punishement be?

Thiss a property rights issue. You can determine what is acceptable on your property; public property is owned by everyone, so really no one has a say, its the tragedy of the commons.

"The aim is to enforce civil behaviour"

What is civil to you may not be civil to me. Besides, this law criminalizes "offending" a religious belief. There are MANY religious beliefs that SHOULD be criticized and spoken out about, and this law criminalized that act. Horrendous.

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-07-23 2:10:54 PM


I can't believe what I'm reading Shane.

Freedom of speech is a natural right which exists regardless of government. This freedom comes with responsibility of course. But the consequences should never include violence from the government.

1. It doesn't matter what the majority says. It is illogical to base laws which violates other people's rights simply because the majority agrees with them.

2. Enforcing civil behaviour will just create more uncivil behaviour. How do you think people will react to being fined for swearing and blaspheming Shane?

3. Authoritarianism cannot be supported rationally. In effect, what you are saying is that you have the right to use violence to force your morals upon others, making them slaves to your morality. It's actually a pretty disgusting belief.

Posted by: Charles | 2009-07-23 2:13:32 PM


"Since nothing libertarians say will ever please you Shane, you may as well stop criticizing, we already know you support everything that reduces liberty. Sarc off."

So when I criticized the HRCs, gun control, tobacco control, the child welfare bureaucracy, university speech codes, and martinet grade-school principles, was that all just a dream, then?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-23 2:22:16 PM


You bloggers sure like to cast barbs at each other. You must be catching the Zebulon Pike disease. But even Zeb seems to be making sense now.

Posted by: Agha Ali Arkhan | 2009-07-23 2:26:38 PM


"Thiss a property rights issue. You can determine what is acceptable on your property; public property is owned by everyone, so really no one has a say, its the tragedy of the commons."

On the one hand, we have a government that does not acknowledge private property in any meaningful way; on the other, a minarchist/anarchist who considers owning property to be tantamount to nationhood, omnipotence, and omniscience all in one. This is NOT a property issue. It's a morality issue.

"What is civil to you may not be civil to me."

That's why we'll put it to a vote. We'll satisfy the most while upsetting the fewest. It's a compromise, but in policy-making, what isn't?

"Besides, this law criminalizes "offending" a religious belief."

More likely its chief aim is to cut down offensive language in public.

"There are MANY religious beliefs that SHOULD be criticized and spoken out about, and this law criminalized that act. Horrendous."

This law does not protect anything from criticism, only from abuse. There's a difference, you know.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-23 2:27:46 PM


"Freedom of speech is a natural right which exists regardless of government. This freedom comes with responsibility of course. But the consequences should never include violence from the government."

What if someone shouts fire in a theatre and people are killed in the ensuing panic, as has in fact happened? Remember, you said "never."

"1. It doesn't matter what the majority says. It is illogical to base laws which violates other people's rights simply because the majority agrees with them."

But no right is absolute, and it is up to society, which granted the rights in the first place, to decide where the limits lie. In spite of the poetic belief in "natural law" espoused by some, all enforceable rights on this plane of existence derive from law.

"2. Enforcing civil behaviour will just create more uncivil behaviour. How do you think people will react to being fined for swearing and blaspheming Shane?"

This is pop psychobabble. Not every citizen is a potential criminal, you know, although rebel types and malcontents are famous for thinking so.

"3. Authoritarianism cannot be supported rationally."

Neither can verbal abuse, yet you defend it vigorously.

"In effect, what you are saying is that you have the right to use violence to force your morals upon others, making them slaves to your morality. It's actually a pretty disgusting belief."

"My" morals? I said it would be the morals of the majority, which may or may not reflect mine. Since the "morals" of the day are determined by baby boomers, they most often don't.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-23 2:33:04 PM


P.S. Freedom of speech was intended to allow a person to express his opinion without fear of official sanction. This law does not change that. This right was never intended to encourage, promote, or even permit incivility. America has had freedom of speech since the 18th century and yet in the 20th, Lenny Bruce went to jail. And even he would probably be embarrassed by some of the hip-hop lyrics we're hearing now.

That's something else about the boomers, too; they swear a lot. My parents swore more than I ever do, and stand-up comedy in the 70s, epitomized by Richard Pryor, was pretty damned blue even by today's standards.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-23 2:36:53 PM


"What if someone shouts fire in a theatre and people are killed in the ensuing panic, as has in fact happened?"

Private property. This all has to do with property. You can say whatever you want in your own home, it's this notion of being in "the public" that us flawed.

"That's why we'll put it to a vote. We'll satisfy the most while upsetting the fewest."

That doesn't make ir right, or fair, or just; it's just the tyranny of the majority.

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-07-23 2:46:35 PM


Shane,

1. You're right, I should not have used the word "never". I draw the line at uttering threats of physical violence, which is obviously violent.

"it is up to society, which granted the rights in the first place"

Society doesn't grant negative rights Shane. We have those rights by the fact that we are human beings. Free speech is one of those rights.

2. Granted, probably a weak argument so I'll let that one drop.

3. I don't defend verbal abuse Shane. Another illogical statement. I defend someone's right to be verbally abusive. It's not the same. I actually personally abhor verbally abusive people. I just think the punishment should be social and not government violence.

Here's a question. I get very offended when people try to get in before letting others out of somewhere (for example a subway car or the bus). I find it very rude in fact. Does that give me the right to mandate the government to punish people who engage in this behaviour? If the majority feels the way I do, does it give them that right?

Posted by: Charles | 2009-07-23 3:10:42 PM


Crap ... I didn't mean social violence in point 2. I meant repurcussions such as being ostracized for example. My apologies.

Posted by: Charles | 2009-07-23 3:12:19 PM


Charles, you're right in that there will be social consequences for people that offend others; loss of friends, employment, etc. That is the free market at work.

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-07-23 3:27:04 PM


"Private property. This all has to do with property. You can say whatever you want in your own home, it's this notion of being in "the public" that us flawed."

Can you hump infants in the ass on your property, too? Should we release Robert Pickton, on the grounds that all the murders took place on his own private property?

Oh, and in not one of the historical cases was the crier the owner of the establishment. What then, cum laude man?

"That doesn't make ir right, or fair, or just; it's just the tyranny of the majority."

And the tyranny of the minority, based on your ultra-fascist notion of property rights, is an improvement how?

What they say is true: An educated fool is still a fool.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-23 7:02:14 PM


"You're right, I should not have used the word "never". I draw the line at uttering threats of physical violence, which is obviously violent."

And suppose *I* decide to draw it elsewhere?

"Society doesn't grant negative rights Shane. We have those rights by the fact that we are human beings. Free speech is one of those rights."

That is an opinion derived from a philosophy, and not a demonstrable fact. The fact that such rights exist de facto only where the government is inclined to protect them both in law and in practice is, on the other hand, a demonstrable fact.

"3. I don't defend verbal abuse Shane. Another illogical statement. I defend someone's right to be verbally abusive. It's not the same."

It is the same. To defend a person's right to perform an action is to defend the action. This is the same tack taken by some "pro-choicers" who argue that being pro-choice does not make one pro-abortion. Unfortunately for them, and you, you don't get to dissociate yourself from the consequences of your support that easily.

"I just think the punishment should be social and not government violence."

So if I cane him instead of asking the government to do it, is that acceptable?

"Here's a question. I get very offended when people try to get in before letting others out of somewhere (for example a subway car or the bus). I find it very rude in fact. Does that give me the right to mandate the government to punish people who engage in this behaviour? If the majority feels the way I do, does it give them that right?"

Yes.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-23 7:10:44 PM


"Charles, you're right in that there will be social consequences for people that offend others; loss of friends, employment, etc. That is the free market at work."

Child labour was also the free market at work. What are you, a Ferengi?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-23 7:12:05 PM


P.S. For that matter, "crushing" is also the free market at work. You see, Scott, the reason libertarianism isn't more popular is because people are basically moral creatures, and libertarianism as espoused by you especially denies the existence or importance of morality. That leaves you ill-equipped to render a sensible judgement in a matter that your philosophy supports only in the sense that it doesn't forbid it. You come off sounding like a lunatic...or an evil scientist.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-23 7:22:27 PM


Interesting comments but I fail to see how anyone could defend this law. It is true as other have pointed out that at least the accused will be entitled to a real trial instead of a kangaroo court as we have in Canada. That still does not make it less regressive.

It appears that two forces are in competition: the dogmatic religious and the dogmatic atheists. The dogmatic religious (understand Islamists in our time) want to ban any criticism of their ideology and the dogmatic atheists want to ban any reference to religion or God in public. I suspect the Islamists will win this one. Both however remain enemies of freedom of expression, which is why I have no time for either.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-07-23 8:40:41 PM


Where is the surprise? Ireland is a devout Catholic country. The country only became independent in 1921. The Catholic Church played a strong role in uniting the Irish people against Protestant England. The effects have been a country where abortion is outlawed and the church has a prominent role in many services(education, social services, etc.). The church is integral to Irish culture. Libertarians have to take this into account when dealing with Ireland. Heck, divorce was outlawed there until the late 1990's. There are areas like gun control where the government is trying to outlaw certain types of weapons. Also, libertarians have a rising enemy in the Irish Labour Party(social democratic) whose numbers have been steadily rising over the last year. The party is pro-big government and now can compete with the two traditional parties(Fianna Fail and Fine Gael). There are battles to be waged in Ireland. However, you might want to pick and choose them.

Posted by: Ted | 2009-07-23 9:08:27 PM


"dogmatic atheists want to ban any reference to religion or God in public."

Show me one, single, dogmatic atheist who's actually expressed that they want religion banned in public?

They only thing I've ever seen atheists demanding, is that taxpayer's dollars not go towards paying for references to religion or God. If that's what you're referring to, then I think you're misrepresenting this issue.

Every atheist I know feels strongly about freedom of speech. I've never known a single one to advocate for the banning of religion.

Have atheists objected to religious symbolism on public property? Yes. But that's a matter of the separation of church and state. Not a freedom of speech issue.

I don't think these two issues (religious blasphemy laws and opposing religious symbolism on public property) are comparable in any way.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2009-07-23 9:59:56 PM


It has nothing to do with "civility". Blasphemy is an act of challenging or offending a religious belief.

Religion is nothing more than an ideology or set of ideas and claim about the world, and this is just legislating away your right to challenge or criticize that ideology. You shouldn't get a free pass and the right to fine your opponents just because your ideas are unfalsifiable.

Sure, we can legislate some amount of civility (like no masturbating in public, etc.), but this has absolutely nothing to do with that.

"dogmatic atheists want to ban any reference to religion or God in public."

Not even close. Atheists want to ban all government sponsorship of religion. There is a difference.

Like Mike Brock said--I just don't want to have my tax dollars supporting your social clubs (through either funding or indirectly through religious tax exemptions). I would fight to defend your right to read your Bible/Koran, express your religious beliefs, and congregate in your churches/mosques. Spend your leisure town however you want, but don't expect atheists to foot part of the bill.

Posted by: Shane | 2009-07-23 11:39:10 PM


"Every atheist I know feels strongly about freedom of speech. I've never known a single one to advocate for the banning of religion."

Then how do you explain the Soviet Union's attitude towards religion? Not only were the elites atheist, they expected the people to become atheist as well. It's a wonder the Orthodox Church survived.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-24 7:51:55 AM


"Then how do you explain the Soviet Union's attitude towards religion?"

The Soviet Union's attitude was as much a function of it's authoritarian communist bent as atheism.

I don't know why Christians always insist on putting atheists and authoritarian communists in the same bucket.

Some of the most prominent anti-communists have, in fact, been atheists. In fact, many of them, most notably Nietzsche, equate religion and socialism as both being collectivist and/or egalitarian tendencies.

Most atheists I personally know. This includes my co-workers, my friends, people who write for this very Western Standard, are all nominally libertarian or classical liberals, and anti-socialist.

That isn't to say that many people I've known on the left are not atheists. They certainly are. But there is no sane correlation between atheism and authoritarianism. Rather, a lot of authoritarians tended to be atheists, if only for the reason that religion was a threat to their authority.

But atheists like myself, as with most I've known, do not seek to the acquisition of authority, but rather, the limiting or destruction of it.

I think this is why some atheists choose to call themselves "rationalists"; in order to differentiate between the mere state of being atheist, and being someone of critical thought on all aspects of life, up to and including issues of authority.

I've never really considered socialists terribly rationalist, because they believe in acting in spite of what reason tells them. That, limiting economic freedom undermines the productivity of the entire economy, it's impossible to achieve any degree of efficiency using central planning and allocation for resources, given everything we know from both theory and experience. Yet, they persist anyways. Because it's the "most moral thing to do". Which, in my mind, has always sounded like a religious doctrine.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2009-07-24 8:46:26 AM


@ Shane "Can you hump infants in the ass on your property, too? Should we release Robert Pickton, on the grounds that all the murders took place on his own private property?"

This thread is about free speech.

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-07-24 8:58:31 AM


People defending a huge fine for blasphemy?
Have some monks from the middle ages come back to life?

Posted by: V. M. Smith | 2009-07-24 9:55:57 AM


I am agnostic, and have no desire to limit free speech/thought/beleifs, and that would also go with the other agnostics/athiests that I know.

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-07-24 10:19:16 AM


"The Soviet Union's attitude was as much a function of it's authoritarian communist bent as atheism."

No, it was a function of the atheism of the intellectuals that shaped the movement. They considered religion an opiate of the masses that distracted them from more practical considerations. They condemned illiteracy for the same reason; a constructivist poster of the period compares illiteracy to a blindfolded man walking off a cliff.

"I don't know why Christians always insist on putting atheists and authoritarian communists in the same bucket."

Perhaps it's because the communists in question chose to put themselves in that bucket. As contemporary mullahs prove, it is easier and more effective to bend a religious institution to your agenda than to go to the trouble of trying to eradicate it altogether.

"Some of the most prominent anti-communists have, in fact, been atheists. In fact, many of them, most notably Nietzsche, equate religion and socialism as both being collectivist and/or egalitarian tendencies."

What is it with libertarians and philosophers?

"Most atheists I personally know, this includes my co-workers, my friends, people who write for this very Western Standard, are all nominally libertarian or classical liberals, and anti-socialist."

And also anti-government. Just as they are, in their eyes, their own masters, they are their own gods. Such hubris!

"But there is no sane correlation between atheism and authoritarianism."

I never said there was.

"Rather, a lot of authoritarians tended to be atheists, if only for the reason that religion was a threat to their authority."

As I said, it is easier to manipulate a religion to your own ends than to stamp it out. Canny politicians know this.

"But atheists like myself, as with most I've known, do not seek to the acquisition of authority, but rather, the limiting or destruction of it."

You seek unlimited authority, over yourself and whatever you claim for your domain. Scott Carnegie in particular seems to equate a postage-stamp-sized piece of land with a sovereign nation where all who dwell thereon are subject to the unfettered whim of the owner. According to Scott, it's okay to shout fire in a theatre and cause a stampede that kills hundreds, so long as you own the theatre.

"I think this is why some atheists choose to call themselves "rationalists"; in order to differentiate between the mere state of being atheist, and being someone of critical thought on all aspects of life, up to and including issues of authority."

What people call themselves is of no import. A man is defined by his actions, not by the reputation he has with himself.

"I've never really considered socialists terribly rationalist, because they believe in acting in spite of what reason tells them."

Yes, unlike libertarians, who will defend to the death an obscure matter of principle, even if the practical consequences of that principle are horrific.

"it's impossible to achieve any degree of efficiency using central planning and allocation for resources, given everything we know from both theory and experience."

History tells us that the last time we had a credit crash like the one in 2008, we had a depression that threw a third of the population out of work and lasted for ten years. This recession idled only a third that many and is already showing signs of recovery after less than two years. The biggest difference between now and then? Central economic planning.

By the way, why don't you ask Iceland about the benefits of unregulated banking? I'm sure you'll find them warmly receptive to your ideas.

"'Because it's the "most moral thing to do,' [has] in my mind, has always sounded like a religious doctrine."

That's because you don't accept the notion of morality, on the grounds that it places constraints upon your liberty.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-24 11:04:20 AM


"[Can you hump infants in the ass on your property, too? Should we release Robert Pickton, on the grounds that all the murders took place on his own private property?] This thread is about free speech."

Answer the question. You may surrender the answer or you may surrender the argument.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-24 11:04:58 AM


"People defending a huge fine for blasphemy? Have some monks from the middle ages come back to life?"

Wherever did you get the notion that newer ideas are always better?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-24 11:06:45 AM


Mike, I refuse to get into a pissing contest, but others can judge where your comments (here and on other posts) on anything to do with religion place you. One also needs to look no further for dogmatic atheists than the ACLU south of the border.

Anyway as I said I have little doubt as to which side will win this battle, especially as the Islamists have the UN on their side.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-07-24 11:08:15 AM


One also needs to look no further for dogmatic atheists than the ACLU south of the border.

Every, single case I have ever seen with the ACLU has been related to the separation of Church and State.

I can even think of prominent examples. Like the giant cross that was erected on the lawn in front of a police station, to remember fallen officers. Atheists and the ACLU did indeed take the police station to court, and the courts, indeed agreed that the cross violated the separation of church and state. But that doesn't prove your point, actually.

The police station is the state, paid for by taxpayers.

I have never seen the ACLU demand religious symbols be removed from private property. Nor have I seen them advocate for the suppression of religious discourse in the public sphere. Have they challenged school boards? Yes. But once again, public money.

If you can find me one, single, ACLU case where atheists have tried to suppress religion on someone's private property, or impinge on someone's freedom of speech, I'd like to see it.

In fact, if you can produce an example that satisfies the following criteria, I will award you a prize:

1. The ACLU challenge involved religious symbols, discussion, rules, events in non-taxpayer funded institutions (police, fire, public schools, government bureaucracies, etc); or
2. The ACLU challenge sought to make it illegal for someone to express their religious views in public; which does not extend to:
a) Persons losing their jobs as a result of expressing religious views in their capacity as a taxpayer-funded civil servant (such as school teachers)
b) Persons being asked to discontinue the display of religious symbols or messages on taxpayer-funded property.

If you can satisfy this Alain, I will be more than happy to transfer you--by PayPal--an award of no less than $200 Canadian. And I'm a man of my word.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2009-07-24 11:41:26 AM


Mike, what is this fetish you libertarians have for private property? You seem to think that a person's rights are fundamentally altered the minute he crosses the property line. Private property allows you to EXCLUDE OTHERS. For any reason or no reason. That's it. That's all. Your other rights don't change; no one else's rights change; the law doesn't change.

Conversely, the fact that you pay taxes to the government doesn't make it open season on them if they fulfill their obligations to you, but also provide assistance to someone else. Provided you get your police, fire, mail, schools, utilities and public works, your welfare or EI if you need it, or anything else the government provides for, doesn't mean you get to pick and choose who else should benefit, save in a public referendum or election. Separation of Church and state simply means that the Church plays no role in creating policy; it doesn't mean the government is forbidden from supporting the Church.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-24 12:05:17 PM


Shane, I have decided to use one of the great powers of the free market, social ostracism, in response to your arguments.

Perhaps you should read this.

http://www.theskepticsguide.org/resources/logicalfallacies.aspx

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-07-24 12:18:35 PM


"Shane, I have decided to use one of the great powers of the free market, social ostracism, in response to your arguments."

On your own threads, you also use one of the great powers of the authoritarians you claim to despise: censorship. Here is the link I offer you in return.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-24 12:29:40 PM


Shane,

The funny thing, of course, is that you know damned well, given things I've written in the past, and argued with other libertarians that I am--in fact--not a propertarian, like Scott.

Separation of Church and state simply means that the Church plays no role in creating policy; it doesn't mean the government is forbidden from supporting the Church.

But the point is, if the Church is supported by the state, then the Church does have an increased ability to affect policy of the state.

By the government legitimizing one religion, Church, or belief system of the other, it provides an unfair prejudicing of the government.

By atheists, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc. be forced to pay taxpayer dollars towards government institutions practicing Christian cultural traditions, they are being put at a sudden disadvantage in the social context, by the government that they are forced to support, and supposedly represents them.

I support the termination of civil servants to endorse political parties, as well.

In fact, I advocated for the termination of several teachers during the Mike Harris years in Ontario, that used their classrooms as a bully pulpit to convince children that Mike Harris was essentially evil, and that kids should vote NDP in the next election.

I view this as no different than a school teacher who offers a religious prayer in a publicly funded classroom. And I would give no sympathy to either to Harris-hating socialist, or the Christianity-preaching teacher as long as they are accepting taxpayer dollars.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2009-07-24 12:30:13 PM


re "Wherever did you get the notion that newer ideas are always better?"

Who told you I had such a notion?

The dark ages and the monks that helped keep the dark ages dark tended to be very bad people and these blasphemy laws are from the same moral sickness.

Posted by: V. M. Smith | 2009-07-24 12:31:10 PM


"Who told you I had such a notion?"

You did. When you held the Middle Ages (switched to the Dark Ages in your most recent post) up as an example of how not to do things.

"The dark ages and the monks that helped keep the dark ages dark tended to be very bad people and these blasphemy laws are from the same moral sickness."

The monks actually saved civilization, literature, and learning by copying and storing ancient manuscripts that would otherwise have been lost to us forever. What has been your contribution to the preservation of society and its values, V.M.?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-24 12:49:54 PM


@ Mike "not a propertarian, like Scott."

I don't know if that would accurately describe me because I am for intellectual property rights in come cases.

BTW, I am only against government censorship; private organizations and individuals can censor whatever they want. I don't allow swearing at my wife in my house for example, I have kicked peole out for doing that.

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-07-24 12:56:45 PM


"The funny thing, of course, is that you know damned well, given things I've written in the past, and argued with other libertarians that I am--in fact--not a propertarian, like Scott."

You're not as extreme as he is, I'll grant you that. I don't imagine many are. But "propertarianism," in varying degrees, is a core tenet of libertarianism, as it has been presented on the Western Standard.

"But the point is, if the Church is supported by the state, then the Church does have an increased ability to affect policy of the state."

A Church supported by the state is hardly in a position to enforce its wishes. In fact the opposite is true.

"By the government legitimizing one religion, Church, or belief system of the other, it provides an unfair prejudicing of the government."

Using a cross as a memorial symbol on public property does not constitute prejudicing the government. The cross is a traditional and instantly recognizable memorial to the fallen in Western countries. Highways and roads, public property all, have numerous crosses along their shoulders where motorists have perished.

"By atheists, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc. be forced to pay taxpayer dollars towards government institutions practicing Christian cultural traditions, they are being put at a sudden disadvantage in the social context, by the government that they are forced to support, and supposedly represents them."

Unless they also get representation, in accordance of course with their numbers, and therefore their contribution. I have no problem with that. But one culture need not apologize to another for being dominant solely by dint of superior numbers, nor need it tone itself down so the others won't feel neglected. Canada is a nation of immigrants; everyone who came here, chose to come here.

"I support the termination of civil servants to endorse political parties, as well. In fact, I advocated for the termination of several teachers during the Mike Harris years in Ontario, that used their classrooms as a bully pulpit to convince children that Mike Harris was essentially evil, and that kids should vote NDP in the next election."

I'll agree with you there, but don't forget kids are a special case because a) they're a captive audience; b) they're impressionable; and c) indoctrination is on a totally different level than mere public display. Don't forget this person has authority over you and can flunk you for any reason or no reason.

I wouldn't terminate them, though, unless they proved repeatedly intractable. I'd cane them instead. Their ass hurts for a while, but they don't starve in the streets, either. I can't imagine why people consider a few whacks with a stick a more barbaric punishment than depriving them of their livelihood, with the equivalent of a scarlet letter burned into their forehead to boot.

"I view this as no different than a school teacher who offers a religious prayer in a publicly funded classroom."

That's where we part company, Mike. I agree that given the pluralistic nature of our modern society, it would be best to stick to generic prayers that emphasize the many similarities among the world's religions. That's still a far cry from banning them altogether.

"And I would give no sympathy to either to Harris-hating socialist, or the Christianity-preaching teacher as long as they are accepting taxpayer dollars."

Accepting taxpayer dollars does not curb one's basic rights, Mike. It just means you have to act in the interests of the people. Praying in schools is most decidedly not against their interests.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-24 1:07:31 PM



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