This week's controversy over C4's screening of the "Bloody Mary" episode of South Park and the attempt by an extreme Catholic group to have the TV station prosecuted for blasphemous libel has made something crystal clear: it is time for this archaic law to go.
The "crime" of blasphemy has no place in our modern, secular society. The law itself discriminates on the basis of religion, in that (in the opinion of most legal scholars) it applies exclusively to Christianity. It is fundamentally inconsistent with the freedom of expression affirmed in the Bill of Rights Act. And it has never been used successfully - the only prosecution brought (against John Glover in 1922 for publishing Siegfried Sassoon's poem "Stand-To: Good Friday Morning") resulted in acquittal. However, that has not stopped governments and religious organisations from threatening prosecution, and as long as the law remains on the books, they will be able to use it as a tool to suppress free speech.
No religion should have a veto over free expression. This law must be repealed. I've drafted a bill, and I am now seeking a Member of Parliament with an interest in freedom of speech to take up the cause and put it in the ballot. Anyone interested should contact me at idiotblogid@REMOVEyahooTHIS.co.uk (after removing the obvious munge, of course).
Crimes (Blasphemy Repeal) Amendment Bill 2006
Title and Commencement
1. This Act is the Crimes (Blasphemy Repeal) Amendment Act 2006
2. This Act shall come into force immediately upon receiving the Royal Assent.
Amendments to the Crimes Act 1961
3. Section 123 of the Crimes Act 1961 is hereby repealed.
4. No person shall be liable to be convicted of an offence against section 123 of the Crimes Act 1961 committed before the commencement of this Act.
As with the sedition bill, I do not care which party picks this up and runs with it. All I care about is seeing this archaic law repealed. And if its fronted by one of National's liberals, or even someone from ACT, then its fine by me...