Friday, July 3, 2015

By the bushy beard of Odin!

Ever wanted to take the name of Odïn in vain but were afraid of the legal repercussions? Well profane away, because Iceland just decriminalized blasphemy.
That said, piss of the Allfather at your own peril...
Above: An unrelated picture of
Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard,
here for no particular reason at all.
Yup, up until now it was illegal in Iceland to "'ridicule or insult' the teachings of any legally recognized community." How illegal? Offenders could be a fined or even spend three months in prison which is terrifying when you think about all the ridiculous things religions have to say and how easy it is to offend some people. And to be clear, I'm not picking on any particular belief system, and I'm sure that they all have some good ideas. Peace, brotherhood, when you cut through all the mythology, they're usually pretty well intentioned. Ok, sure, some are just elaborate pyramid schemes designed to sell books, but the point is that no matter what you do or do not believe in, someone else's religion is going to sound preposterous to outsiders.

And now, thanks to Iceland's Pirate Party, the people can finally feel free to say so. Yes, I said Pirate Party. It's a real political party with three members in the Icelandic Parliament. They're an offshoot of an anti-intellectual property movement started in Sweden by former members of Pirate Bay.
Pictured: Pirate Party MP's Jón Þór Ólafsson, Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson and
Birgitta Jónsdóttir were instrumental in-huh? Oh I know! It took me like 15
minutes to figure out how to type a 'Þ.' I mean, is it like a rune or something?
This November, vote Napster. Because you 
shouldn't have to, like pay for shit, you know?
Yup, that Pirate Bay, the ones with all the copyright infringing. Not content with helping you watch Game of Thrones for free, Pirate parties are popping up all over Europe. Iceland's is now the most popular single party in the country which I think would be like the guys who started Napster forming their own political party and defeating the combined might of the GOP and the DNC. Anyway, the Pirate party proposed the bill in response to the Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris, and it basically says that Icelanders should be free to criticize religion without risking fines and jail time:

"Freedom of expression is one of the cornerstones of democracy. It is essential to a free society that people should be able to express themselves without fear of punishment, whether from the authorities or from other people."
-Translated from that preposterous
language they all speak

What, suddenly the Catholic Church
is all about freedom of expression?
Of course not everybody's onboard with the bill including the Fíladelfíukirkjan (no, really) Pentecostal Church, who released a statement asking: "Does a person's human rights include the right the right to mock the beliefs of others?" Which, of course it does. Like, what would we have to talk about if we couldn't rip on other people's deeply cherished beliefs? But they go on to suggest that the bill essentially legalizes hate speech and that's where this gets a little stickier. The Catholic Church chimed in as well: "Should freedom of expression go so far as that the identity of a person of faith can be freely insulted, then...personal also undermined." 

So all these guys walk into a bar...
So ok, they have point too. I mean, it probably doesn't feel like much of a free society if every time you leave the house you get hounded by people giving you shit about your beliefs. But blasphemy laws? Who gets to say what's disrespectful and what's a legitimate criticism of a religion? Like, can we make fun of the hats? They are, objectively speaking, hilarious. Are they fair game or will the cops be breaking my door down any minute?

Maybe the best solution here is for every one to try and respect each other's beliefs regardless of how implausible or Xenu-filled they are. Or if we can't manage at least a grudging respect, maybe we could all, you know, try to get along and not be dicks?
"Get along with one another? What a stunningly original idea.
 we should all base our lives around your sage teachings."
-Jesus, the Sarcastic Rant on the Mount

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