Monday, July 06, 2015

Freedom of speech wins in Iceland

Iceland has repealed its blasphemy law:

Iceland has legalised blasphemy following a campaign started by the Pirate party after the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks in France. The move to repeal the 75-year-old law, under which blasphemers could be imprisoned for up to three months or fined, faced opposition from some church groups.

In a statement on its website, the party wrote that it was a victory for freedom of speech and showed the principle could not be defeated by terrorist attacks. The law, which was passed in 1940, had been an attack on “humorists and all the friends of freedom of expression”, the party added.

Good. Blasphemy is an archaic offence whose sole purpose is to protect religion from criticism and punsih those who do not subscribe to the popular orthodoxy. It has no place in a free and democratic society. But while Iceland has joined the free world, blasphemous libel is still on the books in New Zealand. Isn't it time we repealed it?