Sunday, September 13, 2009

No offense, but...

Jussi Halla-aho (a blogger, a politician and a friend of mine) got sentenced to a 330 euro fine for blasphemy, for mentioning that a certain prophet was a pedophile, and, as the court's decision says, generalizing it to the whole religion founded by that prophet.

The grounds for the sentence have some interesting moments:

1. The term "pedophile" that Halla-aho uses has a very strong pejorative meaning as such.

Hmm, would the court like to suggest some non-pejorative terms for the same concept? "The prophet had a very special kind of love for children"?

Seriously, the law uses such a concept as "intent to insult". I can well understand it in some contexts. For example calling somebody a faggot, a nigger or a whore, even if factually true, can be considered as doing it with intent to insult, because these are, in fact, the insulting words for the concepts for which there exist neutral words.

But how do you express the really negative concepts without the intent to insult? How do you say that somebody is a murderer or a pedophile, for example? I really wish the court would say "you can't call a murderer a murderer or a pedophile a pedophile, because it is always insulting" or, alternatively, "you should call a murderer 'a person who has illegally and intentionally caused someone's death' and a pedophile 'a person who has sex with severely underaged partners'".

2. You can't really apply sense and logic to religion.

Well, they got that right. If you apply sense and logic to a religion that encourages young men to fight and die in the name of their god, at the same time gaining more land and people for their community, all on the promise on heaven and 72 heavenly virgins, and on the other hand, allows the remaining male members of the community to have 4 wives per person, you might find an answer to the question "cui bono?". In, like, 10 milliseconds.

3. Blasphemy causes conflict between the parties depending on how important the religion is to them.

Is this some kind of admission that blasphemy against the religions whose representatives are more likely to riot is a more punishable offense than blasphemy against the other religions?

4. It would be different if Halla-aho were criticizing the mistreatment of some specific young Muslim girls.

I though he kind of did. We are talking about a specific girl here, right?

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