Religious Leader Demands Suppression of "Blasphemous" Plays

So report Czech media.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

From the ?TK (Prague Daily Monitor):

Cardinal Dominik Duka, [head] of the Czech Catholic Church, has filed a lawsuit over the controversial theatre performances of Our Violence and Your Violence, in which Jesus rapes a Muslim woman, and The Curse, staining Pope John Paul II, Lidove noviny (LN) wrote on Thursday…. The Curse starts with a statue of the late Pope of Polish origin John Paul II with an erect penis and at its end, an actress is cutting a cross with a power saw….

In his lawsuit, Duka mentions an attack on inalienability of rights, freedom of religious conviction and the right to dignity and honour [as guaranteed by the Charter of the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms]…. [He is suing in his personal capacity, not on behalf of the Church. -EV] …

Several legal complaints have been filed over the performance of Our Violence and Your Violence, which highlights the relation of the West to the Middle East in a provocative way, on suspicion of the defamation of a nation, race, ethnic or other groups of people, breach of the peace, pornography, slander, threatening the education of children and support for movements suppressing human rights and freedoms.

A May 26 production of Our Violence and Your Violence was also apparently disrupted for about an hour by 30 members of the right-wing Decent People movement, who are said to have "stormed the … theatre," and remained until ejected by the police; a Czech Senator has filed a complaint against the protesters.

Radio Praha in English also has a brief version of the story. As I read it, Cardinal Duka is arguing that the plays violate his legal rights and therefore should be forbidden going forward, or at least should lead to monetary damages both for the past performances and if they continue to be performed; that is why I view this as a demand that the plays be suppressed. Thanks to Prof. Howard Friedman (Religion Clause) for the pointer.


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  1. How brave and transgressive these performances are. Now do it to Islam.

    1. It’s been done, “Innocence of Muslims” comes readily to mind.

      And just to note, the ACLU opposed the 9th’s initial order – later overturned en banc – to have Google remove the video, citing the need to address the reaction to the film rather than restrict protected speech.

      1. And we punished the maker of “Innocence of Muslims” by denunciations by the President of the United States and a massive nighttime raid to arrest the maker.

        1. Who violated probation, you’re trying to hide, to make it seem like a blasphemy arrest. You lie by omission.

          1. They only went after him because of his speech. Without it he was just one of many the government only theoretically pursued.

            1. First rule of being a convicted felon (producing meth and bank fraud) on probation…don’t violate probation.

              And it’s always a bad idea to lie to the feds.

  2. A lawsuit? Quaint.

    The Cardinal is thankfully not paying attention to how you really get results in such situations.

    1. Should it be an Inquisition, or a revival of the Crusades, or just a Cheney-like surgical strike with the Cradle of Judah, or the Heretic’s Fork, or the Nuremberg Virgin, or perhaps the Prayer Cross?

      1. The Crusades lasted about 200 years.

        The US has been taking significant military action in that region for only about 40 years, so we still have a way to go.


        I would have gone back further and included the Liberty incident (1967) but, well you know…there are some VC bloggers who might take exception and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

        1. This site permits no more than two links per comment. Anyone who desires more detail concerning the Prayer Cross or Heretic’s Fork can consult the same website that describes the Cradle of Judah and Nuremberg Virgin (Iron Maiden).

          With the commenting rules, the Volokh Conspiracy, the Stewart Baker podcasts, the right-wing posters and the faux libertarian commenters, this site is roughly as libertarian as the average Democratic Party or Republican Party platform.

        2. The US has been taking significant military action in that region for only about 40 years, so we still have a way to go.

          Eisenhower sent troops to Lebanon way back in 1958 to prop up the government.

      2. Do you think you’re being clever or relevant suggesting equivalence between modern Muslim jihadist practices and shit that happened 500 years ago?

        If so, you’re mistaken.

  3. I’d like to point out that it is exactly for this kind of thing that blasphemy laws have an attraction. It’s hard to say that this kind of gratuitous desecration of sacred things in any way contributes to the dialogue that is at the heart of free speech.

    Perhaps a reasonable way to interpret the reasonability of blasphemy laws is to regard religious communities as holding a kind of limited intellectual property right in their sacred figures. Obviously, this would eliminate the satire exception to IP rights, but it is precisely this interest that religious communities have in their sacred objects.

    1. Satire, especially concerning religion, is a cornerstone of the Enlightenment.

      1. Satire is rarely decent argumentation. If it is truly a cornerstone of the Enlightenment, so much the worse for the Enlightenment.

        1. People being able to handle things as less than mortal insults really is a very important thing

          1. I have little interest in telling religious people that particular forms of sacrilege are any less serious than they understand them to be. One could make arguments against their faith, but that is very different than sacrilege.

            I’m not even sure exactly what this argument is supposed to be – that we have to insult people to teach them to not be insulted? That we must create offence in order to produce tranquility?

            1. Yes, that’s exactly it – some people get off on insulting others and then DARVO and claim the victims are really the evil ones for having the *temerity* to object to being insulted.

              1. You can only DARVO if there is a victim and an offender. Insults are not violence; they harm no one; they violate no rights. Therefore, no victim and no offender. If you feel insulted, you can object all you want. You can even retaliate with insults of your own if you like. What you can’t do is retaliate with force, or demand legal remedy (both the same thing actually).

                1. I would concur that there is a conceptual difficulty with Hate Speech laws, both in the difficulty of definition and, because of this, being cavalier in the expansion of to what it applies. But there is certain speech “beyond the pale” and which can clearly be anticipated to lead to violence.
                  While society has no duty to prevent persons from engaging in counter-productive behavior – as whatever they are trying to achieve by such “art” not only fails but is likely to produce the opposite of the intended effect – but it may have the power to limit useless activities that only waste the resources of a community without the possibility of any benefit to it.

            2. I have little interest in telling religious people that particular forms of sacrilege are any less serious than they understand them to be.

              Some people are ok with mass murder, others aren’t. you’re the former. got it.

    2. I’d like to point out that it is exactly for this kind of thing that blasphemy laws have an attraction.

      To whom?

      1. Many societies throughout history have had blasphemy prohibitions massively broader than what I’m describing.

        While it’s difficult to find polling on blasphemy laws in liberal democracies, Denmark seems to remain strongly in favour of its broad blasphemy law. But this shouldn’t surprise – significant numbers support hate speech laws, another way of banning offensive expression, but which typically lacks the co-option of another communities sacred objects.

  4. The State shouldn’t censor either play.

    Equally, both of those look like utter godawful nonsense nobody should voluntarily watch, either.

    1. Equally, both of those look like utter godawful nonsense nobody should voluntarily watch, either.

      Why don’t we let the market figure that out.

      1. I have no idea how this works over there, but what are the odds something like these would be paid for with tickets in this country?

  5. What is the law there?

    1. ===What is the law there?===

      The powerful can silence those who threaten their power, and thus their revenue streams.

  6. Why do you only make these posts when it’s Muslims complaining, professor? (Just because the people who make this comment when it is Muslims complaining will be mysteriously silent today)

    1. That’s OK, they’ll get their bigoted Islamophobia out in some other way (as seen above in other posts).

      1. Ok, stop and read again

  7. The Cardinal ought to be defenestrated.

    1. Why do you hate windows so much?

  8. Not this country, not our laws. No first amendment there.

    No other country on this planet has the same free speech protections we do. The right to dignity and honour [as guaranteed by the Charter of the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms] doesn’t exist here. It’s one of those positive rights rather that must be enforced by government power. He’d have no case here- and probably a very strong one there.

    Remember, though, it’s liberals and Democrats here who proclaim the right to free speech doesn’t include the right to offend. They should be supporting Cardinal Dominik Duka as he is rightfully offended.

    My thoughts? Not this country, not our laws.

  9. “in which Jesus rapes a Muslim woman,”

    Off by at least 700 years.

    1. 600-ish.

  10. This may be a case of “censorship envy.” The Czech Republic is largely Protestant – sometimes people from minority groups (Catholics in this case) decide that true equality means equal access to the tools of censorship enjoyed by the majority. If so, this is a race to the bottom which only encourages more and more censorship.

    1. Eh.. no, it’s largely catholic.

      1. Let’s settle for us both being This is a link“>wrong.

        “Almost most of the Czech population prefer not to respond to religious questions in the Census (45.2%). Others claim to have no religion or that they are without religious affiliation (34.2%). In comparison, one in every five claims to have some personal belief (20.6%).

        “The largest denominations are Roman Catholicism, estimated at 10.3% of the population, Protestant (0.5%), Hussites (0.4%). Other organized religions, including non-organized believers, totalled about (9.4%) (as of Census 2011).

        “According to the most recent Eurobarometer Poll 2005, 19% of Czech citizens responded that “they believe there is a God”, whereas 50% answered that “they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force” and 30% that “they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, god, or life force”; the percentage of believers is thus the lowest of EU countries after Estonia with 16%.”

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