Thursday, August 18, 2011

The right to blaspheme

As an update to a post I did a while back regarding the introduction of Blasphemy Laws in Europe, I received an update on the band Behemoth's case:

Nergal has just been acquitted of insulting religious beliefs by tearing bible during the gig in "Ucho", Poland, 2007. As the justification of the verdict, the Court has stated that they will not define boundaries and limitations for artistic activities.

Nergal comments: "Im so glad to see that intelligence won over religious fanatics in my home country. Tho there's still so much work to be done to make things right...

But I'm sure that I'm on the right path to ultimate freedom! The battle is won, but the war ain't over. Heil Satan!"

This leads up to what is happening in the U.S., where Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has passed a law that criminalizes transmitting or displaying online images that could “frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress.” Violators could spend up to a year in jail or pay $2,500 in fines. Of course, I read this on my Rue Morgue magazine, which is chock-full of gore, blood and horror. Careful, the website could offend you. How do you enforce such laws on a place as large as the internet, and keep it within the boundaries of the State? What will be the defining law of offensive, when its so variable and subjective? Why do we need such people being our nannies?

While for many one should never use religious symbols for any political or artistic purposes that denigrates the image, or uses it contrary to its meaning I feel that freedom of expression should never be limited. It causes you to think, to grow, or at least creates some sort of reaction that will illicit it. While I do not condone the destruction of religious sites (like the burning of Churches in Norway or the destruction of Buddhist statues in Afghanistan) I am not one to be offended, not even when my imagery gets used even though I seem to be in the minority, even within the Pagan community. I cannot claim to be offended by it when I have many CDs and band shirts that blasphemes a particular mainstream religion - I just can't be hypocritical, or easily offended when it comes to mine.



Hermes, draw near, and to my pray'r incline, angel of Jove, and Maia's son divine; Studious of contests, ruler of mankind, with heart almighty, and a prudent mind. Celestial messenger, of various skill, whose pow'rful arts could watchful Argus kill: With winged feet, 'tis thine thro' air to course, O friend of man, and prophet of discourse: Great life-supporter, to rejoice is thine, in arts gymnastic, and in fraud divine: With pow'r endu'd all language to explain, of

care the loos'ner, and the source of gain. Whose hand contains of blameless peace the rod, Kerukeion, blessed, profitable God; Of various speech, whose aid in works we find, and in necessities to mortals kind: Dire weapon of the tongue, which men revere, be present, Hermes, and thy suppliant hear; Assist my works, conclude my life with peace, give graceful speech, and me memory's increase.

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