"No one has the right to a world in which he is never despised."


Enough said.

The New York Times reports a demonstration in Moscow in which Kirill I, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church warned…

…liberal ideology is dangerous because it recommends that "the very fact of blasphemy and sacrilege, of the mockery of shrines, be regarded as the lawful manifestation of human freedom, as something that should be defended in modern society."

Well, yes. The Patriarch's condemnation of "blasphemy" was provoked by a performance of a "punk prayer" [YouTube] by the rock group Pussy Riot at the altar of Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. The "prayer" was a protest against the Church's support of former KGB agent and president-to-be-again Vladimir Putin. According to the Christian Science Monitor, the group left peacefully when asked to do so by a priest. Instead of invoking blasphemy and condemning liberalism, the Patriarch should seek appropriate legal redress by means of laws against trespass. 

As philosopher Austin Dacey succinctly puts it in, The Future of Blasphemy: Speaking of the Sacred in the Age of Human Rights, his lawyerly dissection of recent international efforts to outlaw blasphemy on human rights grounds:

"No one has the right to a world in which he is never despised."

Blasphemy used to be a crime against a god or gods, but politicians in Islamic and many European countries have transformed it, making it an offense to defame religions and to offend the sensibilities of believers. This is a terrible mistake which will increase religious strife in the future. To keep social peace, no one's religious beliefs should be privileged by the state.

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  1. no one’s religious beliefs should be privileged by the state

    Exceptions for those whose object of worship IS The State.

    (still with the invalid apostrophes in your articles)

  2. I hope no one here is going to deny or defame the Holy Flying Spaghetti Monster or deface his pasta.

    1. The Invisible Pink Unicorn could kick his ass.

  3. The sooner Obama or Romney piss and shit on The Holy Bible or the Koran while fingering a flaming San Francisco queer’s tight, virgin asshole, the sooner I’ll regain my faith in American democracy.

    1. a flaming San Francisco queer’s tight, virgin asshole,

      I’m gonna say that, while you can find both of these things, you won’t find them both at the same time.

  4. Looking at the story, it seems that Orthodox militants are using this event to get some political capital. I don’t know about their motives – they may not be good.

    But trespassing in the Cathedral is not a “victimless crime,” as the post’s illustration contends. These rockers trespassed in the church, and the article indicates that *someone* (the rockers) damaged some icons.

    The article also indicates that some priests are calling for lenient punishment for the offenders, but the militants won’t have any of that.

    So the militants are exploiting the incident and may want excessive punishment. But the incident itself looks like a crime.

    “To keep social peace, no one’s religious beliefs should be privileged by the state.”

    And to keep social peace, nobody should go into someone else’s place of worship and engage in insulting performances, or smash religious objects.

    1. I don’t know if the rockers damaged the icons or not, but the Times article indicates someone did.

      1. EvH: Ambiguous Times report: At the prayer service, several icons that had been damaged in the Soviet era and in recent attacks were held aloft by priests in a procession.

    2. And to keep social peace, nobody should go into someone else’s ANYTHING/ANYWHERE.


    3. And to keep social peace, nobody should go into someone else’s place of worship and engage in insulting performances, or smash religious objects.

      Wait. I was told when Palestinians do it, it’s principled protest.

      1. They should perform a “Heavy Metal Kol Nidre” at the Wailing Wall.

    4. I am willing to bet that the cathedral in question receives large subsidies from the Russian Government as a “cultural monument”.

      Which would mean that it should be as open to the public for any purpose as any street in the city.

      1. That would license a lot of bad behavior. It would let OWSers sleep in public parks because “man, they’re funded by taxes, man!”

  5. Band Names: Pussy Riot > Quiet Riot

    1. Band Names: Pussy Riot > Quiet Riot > Quiet Pussy

  6. Austin Dacey is correct.

    Hate speech laws and Holocaust denial laws should also be abolished.

    Sunlight remains the best disinfectant.

  7. The post (which I hesitate to quote because the squirrels don’t seem to like quotations) says that this “punk prayer” was a political gesture against the Orthodox Church’s supposed collaboration with Putin.

    That’s a great way to reach out to the babushkas in the pews. “Until I saw this protest, I was OK with the political stance of the Orthodox Church; now I have been persuaded that it’s wrong. Thank you, comrade protesters, for making my church experience more fun!”

    1. Sometimes the intended audience for a performance is not identical to the nominal audience.

  8. So if I come to your work and jack off on your keyboard it’s all good ’cause nothing is sacred blah blah blah.

    1. You shouldn’t be so closed-minded and repressive.

  9. If you think that’s blasphemous, you should see Ghost. The entire point is to perform anti-Christian heavy metal theater every night. Yes, they suck (I saw them a week ago as they opened for Mastodon and Opeth), but they didn’t skimp on letting me know exactly how they feel about Christianity.

    1. They don’t suck. They’re fantastic. You’re mistaken.

      1. No, they suck.

        The only way to view them with any seriousness is to see what they do in an ironic hipster sort of way where they are actively highlighting the absurdity of the stereotype of what metal is. In this they do a wonderful job. But because that message is the entire point, they are married to it, and everything becomes less about the music (which wasn’t that great, especially in juxtaposition of Opeth and Mastodon) and all about the theater. When asked if they would be interesting without the theater, the answer is an absolute and unequivocal “no.”

        And when I go to a show, I want to see metal, not meta-metal where the entire point is to make a sociological statement. And I refuse to think like a hipster if I can at all avoid doing so.

        1. No, it’s nothing but a ripoff of Mercyful Fate, which is great. The album is quite good, so it doesn’t depend in any way on theater. Nothing hip comes out of metal.

    2. Was Opeth any better? My heart is still broken because of them.

      1. The new material was “edgier” than when I saw them last fall, and they played 2 metal songs: The Grand Conjuration, and Demon of the Fall, both of which were excellent.

        But the majority of their set was still pansy bullshit, and the playing of those two songs, the last two songs of the set, seemed too little too late.

    3. I don’t think those guys were trespassing in a church.

      Unless church architecture has gotten a lot more modern.

      1. Agreed. But that isn’t the point. One needn’t trespass in a church to be blasphemous.

  10. The “prayer” was a protest against the Church’s support of former KGB agent and president-to-be-again Vladimir Putin.

    The Russian Orthodox Church bent over for the Tsar, they bent over for the Politburo. Why should Putin and the oligarchs expect lesser treatment?

  11. OK so what the heck would he go and do that for? Makes no sense at all dude. Nonen.


  12. Laughter is a wonderful weapon against terror.

    I propose we set an annual day on which to publish cartoons depicting Jesus, Mohammed, Moses, Buddha, and all their other competitors, and make plenty of fun of them. “Non-religious” gurus like Marx and even my favorite, John Stuart Mill, would be fair game too.

    The point, of course, is to bring all the truly intolerant folk out of the woodwork before they can really hurt anybody. I would call it Theo Van Gogh day.

    1. Too bad it would never happen – out of the list, only Jesus and maybe Moses is acceptable to mock these days.

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