Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Modern Blasphemy Laws

There are certain things that have come to my attention that suggest I may not have entirely thought through my plans to move to europe. One of these is that the balance of free speech and religious respect are different in some of these countries - I recently read about a trial relating to blasphemy in Germany, where someone mocked a religion and was found guilty of this charge. See section 166 of the German Penal Code -- I might need to do more research to determine what countries are more libertine in these matters. I can understand why the law is there -- while the United States may raise its people to usually consider name-calling and mockery only suitable to respond to at most in kind, this is at least difficult for people to realistically do -- it goes at least a bit against human nature (again a la Freud's Civilisation and its Discontents). Wandering into a bar and joking about the mothers of the patrons may in theory be something Americans should be able to do without fear of physical violence, but depending on that would be very unwise -- the effect of the restraint of law and the philosophy it embodies is only so strong when pit against the parts of human nature involved, at least for most people.

That said, while I won't call myself as extremist on the issue as the American norm, in practicality I am much more comfortable vis a vis the law where it is closer to what I've grown up with in that area. I don't have much of an issue with the German Government's restriction on Nazi memorabilia or their keeping an eye on the Scientologists - such groups stand outside the bounds of acceptability. However, if I say something hostile or mocking of Christianity or Islam (imagine that!), I expect from society a disinclination to physically intervene and I expect from the law a blind eye unless I'm about to start a riot. I could see myself living for a time as a guest in societies where this didn't hold, but I wouldn't want to settle in such places.

I won't say there's something capital-W wrong about such places - different ideals are in a different place with regards to my notion of progress and civilisation though.

I need to look into France, Benelux, and the UK to see if they're more suitable on these matters - if not, I might need to rethink this moving plan, either for a more suitable location or to rethink it as a more temporary "guestlike" thing.


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