Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Blasphemy law should be repealed

Jul 06, 2008 04:30 AM

- TheStar.com

Last month, after a long debate, England abolished the ancient common law offence of blasphemous libel.

Historically, the crime of blasphemy was committed whenever "contemptuous," "reviling," or "scurrilous" statements were made about God, Jesus Christ or the Church of England.

The offence had been the basis for hundreds of prosecutions throughout the 18th and 19th centuries before falling into a period of dormancy after 1922.

Surprisingly, however, the offence was suddenly resurrected as the basis of a successful private prosecution against a gay newspaper in 1977.

Subsequent private prosecutions against Salman Rushdie's book The Satanic Verses in the late 1980s and against the musical Jerry Springer: The Opera just last year were unsuccessful but equally disturbing to modern proponents of free speech.

What most Canadians (even most lawyers) don't realize is that our own Criminal Code also prohibits blasphemous libel and sets a penalty of up to two years in prison.

Read this whole fascinating article here.

I had no idea this was part of our Criminal Code? I don't remember discussing this in Criminal Law class at Law School. What do you think? Should it be repealed?

1 comment:

Leo said...

I totally agree with you that the blasphemy laws in Canada and all around the world should be repealed. First of all the blasphemy laws go against the Canadian constitution and the freedoms charter. 2nd of all they go against international and human rights law. Freedom of speech should be protected and the discussion of god and religion should be free from persecution. Most 3rd world countries have blasphemy laws in order to get rid of anyone who opposes the religious and political establishment. It is time to move on!