Friday, February 24, 2006

Repealing blasphemy

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 This law must be repealed.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 (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 Section 123 of the Crimes Act 1961 is hereby repealed.

Past Offences

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 All I care about is seeing this archaic law repealed.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...


"Catholic" Action is not recognised by the church hierarchy. Like Mel Gibson, they are "Sacedevantist" conservative Catholics who reject Vatican II and the authority of all Popes after Pius XII. They also reject the current New Zealand Conference of Catholic Bishops.

They may pose as mainstream Catholics, but they aren't.

Craig Y.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/24/2006 09:09:00 AM

Good effort NRT
Though just to be a pedant, look at aticle 4: "No one shall be prosecuted for an offence against this section without the leave of the Attorney-General, who before giving leave may make such inquiries as he thinks fit."
What happens if the attorney General is a she? hmmm it makes you think :)

Posted by Anonymous : 2/24/2006 10:04:00 AM

Wow, we're actually agreed on something - and congrats on doing all the legwork on this one, there should be no excuses from the Pollitubbies on not following this through.

Did you see that some Catholics have been seeking a prosecution under this law w.r.t. to the C4 / SouthPark issue? This is dangerous, immoral legislation that needs to be repealed ASAP.

Posted by Duncan Bayne : 2/24/2006 12:30:00 PM

Duncan: the attempt to bring a prosecution is precisely why I've done this.

And if you want to help, you could always email some MPs and ask them to take th ebill to Parliament. Rodney Hide seems to be the target of choice for such lobbying, and I'm sure he'd love more email about it :)

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 2/24/2006 02:21:00 PM

I will email Rodney tonight - I've already made the Libz aware of it, and hopefully a press release will be forthcoming ...

We've long said that we support any bill that moves the country closer towards freedom, regardless of whose bill it is. This would seem to be one of those cases.

Posted by Duncan Bayne : 2/24/2006 02:53:00 PM

Pete: I think you'll find that there is a general legal principle that references to the male gender include the female.

Posted by Rich : 2/24/2006 04:35:00 PM