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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Monday, May 10, 2010

Polish singer could be jailed for "blasphemy"

Over at Paliban Daily, it's reported that Polish pop singer Doda (Dorota Rabczewska) has been accused of blasphemy.

To be sure, I can't tell from the post whether she faces any formal charges - the accusations come from the leader of a religious organisation called "the Committee for the Defence Against Sects". However, Wikipedia seems to think that charges have been actually laid, based on this brief Telegraph article. Charges were also laid earlier this year against her fiancee, Adam "Nergal" Darski — lead singer for the heavy metal band Behemoth. He was charged with blasphemy for destroying a Bible during a stage performance two years ago, after calling the Catholic Church "the most murderous cult on the planet".

Doda's own self-expression was rather mild by comparison. Apparently she said, in an interview, that she found it easier to believe in dinosaurs than the Bible - adding: "it is hard to believe in something written by people who drank too much wine and smoked herbal cigarettes."

Regardless of the merits of what Doda and Nergal may have said or done to express their anti-religious attitudes (and I'm not at all convinced by Doda's herbal cigarette theory!), they should have freedom of speech and expression. Unfortunately, blasphemy is no laughing matter in Poland, where it carries a possible sentence of two years' imprisonment.

I do disagree with one thing in the Paliban post, though. It concludes:

Blasphemy laws are an offense to anyone who values liberty and intellectual freedom. They are a tool used by religious fundamentalists to silence nonbelievers. Fundamentalists of different religions do not use the laws to silence one another (such as Christians vs. Islamists); no, they are used solely against the secularist. Maybe it’s time for the secularists to start suing the religionists!

Not quite so. Experience here in Australia shows that believers are sometimes quite happy to sue each other, as well, over speech issues ... if the law provides a mechanism for it. The repeal of blasphemy laws is an issue for everyone, whether you are a religious believer or not. It's not just about believers versus non-believers. It's about freedom of speech.

H/T Damien Broderick.


Christian Munthe said...

Seems she's charged by the prosecuter at least. See: This item

Rhett Talley said...

Ahhh poor sweet Nergal...actually Nergal is a charmingly provacative and philosophical fellow and his band Behemoth are, you betcha, heavy as fcuk, delighting in the shock effect of corpse painted faces and CD titles such as The Apostasy. The Culture of Northern European Extreme Metal makes for a fascinating study of youthful rebellion and artistry and is often typically and rightly antitheistic in expression...just go to Google and type in Behemoth Youtube...

Rhett Talley said...

Oh and by the way on this further just went to Wiki to look up Nergal - Adam Michal Darski -seems he's done 6 yrs of Uni level History including a yr of Latin (yee ha1) and is qualified to be a museum curator...only in Poland...