Blasphemy Day

Cafe Philos had an interesting article here:

I just heard the news that the Center for Inquiry and its sister organization,  the Council for Secular Humanism, have teamed up to sponsor a Blasphemy Day this September 30th. Before you yawn, consider they probably mean well.

Time was when blasphemy was a crime and a blasphemy day might have been a wake up slap to the powers that be.   Back then, setting aside a day to blaspheme might have accomplished something. But today? Isn’t every school kid a blasphemer these days?

At least, those were my first thoughts upon hearing of a Blasphemy Day this year.  I wondered what the point could be.  It’s 2009.  Most days, I’m of the opinion that the Judeo-Christian God — “God” with a capital “G” — is too ridiculous to exist, and that the various more sophisticated gods of the philosophers and theologians are unnecessary to explain anything.  No one is stopping me these days from expressing those opinions, so what could be the point of my going out of my way to blaspheme?

I’m curious.  Any ideas?

The fact that we have the right to blaspheme is so important it can hardly be understated. Unlike most countries in this world, our Freedom of Speech sets us apart from all the chaff. This does not mean that it is appropriate or respectful to blaspheme, just that we have the RIGHT to do so.

From that article I linked to this NYTimes article here:

Back in the fall of 2007, with only the most practical motives in mind, George Kalman took his pen to the standard form for creating a limited liability company in Pennsylvania.

[…] The first line on the document asked Mr. Kalman to supply his chosen corporate name, and he printed it in: I Choose Hell Productions, LLC. In a personal bit of existentialism, Mr. Kalman believed that, even if life was often hellish, it was better than suicide.

A week later, the daily mail to Mr. Kalman’s home in the Philadelphia suburb of Downingtown brought a form letter from the Pennsylvania Department of State. His corporate filing had been rejected, the letter explained, because a business name “may not contain words that constitute blasphemy, profane cursing or swearing or that profane the Lord’s name.”

[…] After a couple more readings, though, Mr. Kalman realized that the rejection was genuine. Pennsylvania, it turned out, indeed had a law against blasphemy. In the short term, Mr. Kalman successfully filed for incorporation as ICH Productions, LLC. In the longer run, he put in a call to the state branch of the American Civil Liberties Union and set in motion a challenge to the state law.

[…] Pennsylvania’s law may be the most idiosyncratic of all, because it covers only the matter of corporate names. And, rather than being a dusty vestige of the 19th century, it was enacted (and overwhelmingly so) only in 1977. A Democratic legislator, Emil Mrkonic, wrote the bill after a mail-order fire-arms dealer filed incorporation papers for the God Damn Gun Shop.

I love that the recent bill was passed in PA in 1977. And who could fault the business entrepreneur for wanting to name his gun shop as he did in 1977, which caused the bill to be introduced by some Fundie? Should we have the right to blaspheme?

7 thoughts on “Blasphemy Day

  1. My Grandmother, a staunch Irish Catholic, taught me at an early age that there are no bad words and that words have no bad meanings. She simply thought it wrong to say words that upset or anger people unless you have a good reason to upset or anger them. She seldom used curse words, but had a pocket full of substitutes that were quite effective.

  2. The sad thing is that the Pennsylvania law was invoked in the first place. Likely someone sitting in a cubicle, reviewing applications for incorporation, was personally offended, so issued a denial letter with the smug self-assurance that the denial had the support of law. The person in the next cubicle over may have approved the application.

  3. The sad thing is that the Pennsylvania law was invoked in the first place. Likely someone sitting in a cubicle, reviewing applications for incorporation, was personally offended, so issued a denial letter with the smug self-assurance that the denial had the support of law. The person in the next cubicle over may have approved the application.

    And, that’s part of the problem. Should beaurorats (no error) have that kind of power? Wasn’t that part of the reason for the Constitution, to “bind the hands of government?”

  4. …Should beaurorats (no error) have that kind of power?…

    Well, I think we can assume that this particular bureaucrat believed (irrespective of religious beliefs) that the decision accorded with the law, and therefore was exercising no more power than was allowed. My suggestion that the guy in the next cubicle might have approved the application is not to suggest that he could “overlook the rules” (which would, strictly speaking, be an abuse of power), but that where there is room for discretion to be less restrictive, it should be exercised as a matter of policy. It seems there is a lot of wiggle room and ambiguity in such a ridiculous law.

    I see your point, and I see the danger in the arbitrary exercise of power. But I fear more the agency official who has no discretion to use common sense. Mandatory arrest laws come to mind, where, for example, a cop is forced to arrest some guy with a half-smoked joint in his shirt pocket, when it is obvious that he does not pose a risk to public safety. It’s complicated, and I guess that’s why we have lawyers, and it’s why I’m glad I’m not one. grin

  5. Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island and Plymouth Plantation, would be considered, in today’s world, a religious whack job. No tolerence for other sects at all, however anyone could live in Rhode Island because after all God would have the burn in hell forever, so why should Roger worry.

    If God doesn’t like blasphemy, A): he can do something about it. B): why did he invent the words?

  6. Should we have the right to blaspheme?

    Yes, God Damnit!  I’m convinced that the entire idea of censorship came from not wanting to hear blasphemy, and it’s just as stupid as censorship.

    Censorship is an outrage.  It violates the constitution, serves no demonstrable purpose, and was enacted by people who actually believe that hearing “bad” language is going to turn me into a criminal.  It’s insulting to me that someone who doesn’t know me can and should have the right to limit what I hear, and it has absolutely no logical basis for support.

    So naturally, Republicans should be in favor of it.

    It’s all bullshit anyway, and blasphemy can’t be regulated by the government because for the simple reason that it would mean taking a stand in support of a specific religion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.