News Ian O'Doherty

Monday 1 September 2014

I'm praying that this new religious law will be ignored

Published 06/03/2009 | 00:00

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So, now it's against the law to have a crack about religion? That is what the lunatics, despots and criminals who drive the United Nations would have us subjected to after Monday's motion calling for all member states to enact a binding resolution "restricting people from ridiculing, defaming religion, specifically Islam".

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The resolution, it says, wants to protect the "religious sensibilities" of all member states and follows on from a series of controversies stemming back to Salman Rushdie when he was sentenced to death for blasphemy by the Ayatollah -- a man memorably described by Christopher Hitchens as "a senile theocrat".

More recently, we had the threats made to British democracy by an Asian immigrant who said he would bring a rioting mob of 10,000 people to the Houses of Parliament if Britain allowed Dutch politician and documentarian Geert Wilders into the country. By the way, that Asian immigrant, "Lord" Ahmed Nazir is currently enjoying three months in prison after he was found guilty of sending texts while driving at high speed and then ploughing into a car, killing the other occupant.

And it is under those circumstances that this ideologically driven resolution has been passed, much to the delight of numerous religious lunatics.

And despite the fact that Islam is highlighted in this ridiculous, spurious and positively wicked resolution, it would be wrong to simply pick on Muslims.

After all, religious intolerance knows no creed, although some are better at taking to the streets and threatening to kill anyone who has hurt their feelings than others.

If the United Nations had their way, it would be a crime for me to say that the notion of transubstantiation is so ridiculous that even a small child should be able to see the insanity and utter physical impossibility of a piece of bread and some wine somehow taking on corporeal form. It would be a crime for me to say that Islam is a backward desert superstition that has no place in modern, enlightened Europe and it would be a crime to point out that Jewish settlers in Israel who believe they have a God given right to take the land are, frankly, mad.

All the above assertions will, no doubt, offend someone or other. Christians don't like their sacred cows being mocked -- I wonder what they would make of Sarah Silverman's assertion that "Jesus is magic"? -- and nor do Muslims or any other group.

I was taken to task a while back in that bastion of immigrant whingeing, Metro Ireland, for taking the piss out of Hindus and their equally ridiculous faith.

According to the outraged Hindu writer: "Does O'Doherty realise that though the brickbats and the bombs may not materialise, he has hurt the sentiments of scores of readers who wake up every morning believing that Ganesh is there to protect them? Does he realise that he is just exposing his ignorance of Hinduism and Hindu Gods by such ridicule?"

While it was heartening to be told that bombs may not materialise for insulting someone's religion, the fact remains that if you honestly think that a four armed creature with an elephant's head is truly looking out for your best interests then may I inform you that I own O'Connell Bridge and can sell it you for an extremely reasonable price?

The fact remains that, personally, I don't care if you worship Jesus, Yahweh, Buddha or Allah -- they're all equally ridiculous but, in a free society, you can worship the Jolly Green Giant for all the rest of us care -- but don't assume that you're also going to be immune from criticism, ridicule and scorn.

Hitchens is quite correct to point out the absurdity of having a situation where people can take to the streets and threaten to kill people because their religious sensibilities have been hurt, yet under this new resolution, you would be committing a crime for calling them savages and sneering at their faith.

In Britain, the Jerry Springer Opera saw a newly rejuvenated Christian fundamentalist movement mobilise the troops and, proving that Muslims don't have the monopoly on violence, death threats were laid at the door of the producers of the show.

Now, the Springer Opera had some good moments, although I can perfectly understand that some people would be monumentally miffed at the portrayal of Jesus. But do they not realise that by threatening to kill the dude who is staging the show that they have maybe, just maybe, kinda missed the point of what Jesus was saying in the first place?

Here in Ireland, blasphemy lies dormant on the books, much to Tommy Tiernan's relief.

Every few months, the Navan comedian goes on the Late Late, says something rude or naughty about God and the God-botherers work themselves up into an almighty lather.

It's hilarious -- often funnier than his actual Late Late routines, in fairness -- to see how choreographed the controversy then becomes: Tommy says something outrageous, Pat looks suitably shocked, the Sunday papers go to town on it, and next Monday's Liveline is full of idiots saying they were so shocked by what they saw that they had to set their own head on fire and drown their children to protect them from Tiernan's wicked words.

And forget about the chin stroking pseudo intellectuals who would have us believe that there are two sides to the story and we must understand the desire to kill someone who mocks your superstition.

As one particularly fatuous female columnist here in Ireland bleated during the Danish cartoon disgrace, "freedom of speech doesn't mean the freedom to offend". Actually, sweetheart, that's exactly what it means.

So, the resolution has been passed, and now we see our Government being called upon by that bastion of human rights and civil liberties, Saudi Arabia -- the country which pressed hardest for the resolution -- to enforce their particularly savage, backward and despicable views on Irish citizens.

Anyway, one would have thought that God had better things to be doing than calling for the execution of an impudent Irish comedian or a Danish cartoonist.

Or is she really that sensitive?

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