Jerry Springer, Blasphemy and the Resurrection of Christ

A few reports in the papers about the legal action being launched by Christian groups against the BBC for broadcasting Jerry Springer the Opera in 2005.

There’s a particularly hilarious comment in the Scotsman from one of these religious activists, the Revd. George Hargreaves:

“The blasphemy in Jerry Springer – The Opera is the image of Jesus in a nappy saying he feels gay. To me that is gratuitously offensive. Given that Jesus is alive, it is possible for him to be libelled, slandered and insulted. This is known as blasphemy and is part of Scots common law. ”

I’m sorry, you want a judge to rule on whether Jesus Christ is alive or not? Good luck with that.

But on a more interesting point, I wondered whether Scottish and English blasphemy laws were different. The difference, it seems, is that in Scottish law an individual must be personally involved in the case for an action to be brought.

The House of Lords Select Committee Report on Religious Offences makes clear that any legal action based on the existing blasphemy laws is likely to be very counter-productive as it will now run against the articles of the Human Rights Act 1998 which support freedom of expression. The end result is likely to be a High Court ruling that the blasphemy laws are incompatible with HRA, leading any conviction, were one to be secured, to be quashed at appeal.

I got most of this info from the House of Lords report, but it does seem to be very vague

“1.  Blasphemy (and blasphemous libel) is a common law offence with an unlimited penalty. The content of the current law is obscure and, from the evidence that the Committee has received, is widely misunderstood.”

Does the 1650 Blasphemy Act constitute part of the content of the current law? Or has this been removed from the statute books?

Published in: on November 25, 2007 at 11:01 am  Leave a Comment  

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