Monday, April 10, 2006

Freedom of Speech 1; Catholics Nil

Today's Sunday Star-Times had a brief mention that the Solicitor-General had refused leave to prosecute C4 for blasphemous libel for screening the South Park "Bloody Mary" episode. This was exactly what I expected, given that a prosecution would almost certainly have fallen foul of the BORA's affirmation of freedom of expression. Unfortunately, there's nothing stopping Catholic Action or similar fundamentalist groups from attempting to bring further prosecutions, and as long as the law remains on the books we will have to put up with conservative Christians trying to use it to silence speech they disapprove of on religious grounds. This is not something which should happen in a modern, secular society.

There has never been a successful prosecution for blasphemous libel in New Zealand, and the law is for all practical purposes dead (and beginning to smell). Isn't it time we admitted that and repealed it?