Saturday, April 23, 2011

Moses Spoof Ad Rejected by Toronto Transit

According to The National Post, the Toronto Transit Commission recently rejected a proposed advertisement that depicted Moses exiting a vehicle and "inadvertently flashing pixilated genitals" in a spoof of the famous Britney Spears incident. The advertisement was created for the Toronto Jewish Film Festival, and accounts seem to differ on exactly who decided not to run the ad.

Famed Qur'an Burning Pastor Temporarily Jailed in Dearborn, Michigan

According to The Volokh Conspiracy, Pastor Terry Jones, head of the Florida-based Dove World Outreach Center, was temporarily jailed in Dearborn, Michigan, after refusing to pay a $ 1 bond set by a state judge after Jones and an ally were found to have been likely to breach the peace if they carried out plans to hold a protest in front of a Dearborn mosque. Soon after, both men agreed to post bond and were released from jail but have been ordered by the court not to "go[] to the mosque or adjacent property for three years."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Washburn Law Prof Proposes Ban on Qur'an Burning

Liaquat Ali Khan, a professor at the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas, proposed yesterday that Congress ban desecration of the Qur'an. In a short article for MWC News, Khan argues that the recent Qur'an burning by Pastor Terry Jones "is the continuation of a Western medieval custom of assaulting the dignity of Islam" and that such acts are not constitutionally protected under the First Amendment.

(originally noticed at Volokh Conspiracy)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Serrano's "Piss Christ" Vandalized in French Gallery

According to a opinion piece in today's Salon, vandals attacked and nearly destroyed Andres Serrano's famous artwork "Piss Christ" in an Avignon, France gallery. The gallery has decided to reopen the exhibit, and continues to display the photo even in its damaged condition.

This is not the first time that vandals have attacked "Piss Christ"--in the mid-1990s, the artwork was attacked in an Australian gallery.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Vigilante Murder of Exonerated "Blasphemer" in Pakistan

Yesterday, CNN published the tragic but (from what I've read elsewhere) not unusual story of Mohamed Imran, a man accused of blasphemy who was murdered by vigilantes even after being cleared by the legal system.

Acquittal in Switzerland of Three Charged With Plans to Burn Bible & Koran

Three Hindu men who were arrested by Swiss authorities after announcing their plans to burn copies of the Bible and Koran have been acquitted. (see Religion Clause Blog)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Arrests Made Under New French Law Banning Veils

Religion Clause Blog and other sources are reporting that France's new law prohibiting the wearing of full-face veils in public has come into effect. According to the report, police arrested 59 women on Saturday who wore the veil to protest the law.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

"Not to Judge But to Save: The Development of the Law of Blasphemy"

I.D. Leigh, Not to Judge But to Save: The Development of the Law of Blasphemy, 8 Cambrian Law Review 56 (1977).

Published shortly after a successful blasphemy prosecution was concluded against James Kirkup's poem "The Love That Dares to Speak Its Name", Leigh's article provides a nice historical analysis of blasphemy in English law from its earliest days as an ecclesiastical offense to its (then) present status as a crime that most observers had thought a relic of a bygone age until its successful use against Kirkup's poem in what became known as the Gay News case. Leigh begins his history with an interesting statement:

"The history of religious persecution in England cannot simply be dismissed as the product of narrow-mindedness and intolerance: to do so is to severely misjudge the men, and indeed the societies, in question. In fact the motives were more complicated (and sincere) than are immediately apparent in a twentieth century where the emotive phrases of 'freedom of belief' and 'freedom of speech' seem so fundamental." (p. 57)

Leigh goes on to talk about why religious persecution takes place, drawing on the works of Frederick Pollock. He then shifts to a discussion of the crime of heresy, and explains how blasphemy evolved from it, before providing a relatively thorough (and occasionally rambling) discussion of how English common law courts interpreted blasphemy beginning in the 1600s.

When evaluating blasphemy's status as a crime, Leigh says that it is a difficult question to determine "[w]hether religious feelings can ever be worth protecting at the cost of another person's liberty[.]" (p. 69) However, Leigh writes that "[e]ven if one decides that the law of blasphemy should not be abolished wholesale, there still remains a substantial need for reform", in part because the English law of blasphemy applied only to criticisms of the Church of England and not other faiths. (p. 69)

Violence & Protests in Afghanistan Over Koran Burning

Several sources, including the New York Times, are reporting on protests in Afghanistan over a Florida pastor's burning of the Koran. Violence in Afghanistan related to the protests have led to the deaths of 24 people.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Violence Follows Burning of Koran

Last week, Terry Jones, pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, held a six hour mock trial of the Koran and then reportedly burned a copy after finding it "guilty." (see Religion Clause Blog for more)

Today, at least 12 people were reportedly killed during an attack on a U.N. building in Afghanistan following a protest against the burning. (see here for more)

National Post Interview with New Quebec Archbishop

Last week the National Post published a short but interesting interview with the new archbishop of the Archdiocese of Quebec, GĂ©rald Lacroix. The focus of the interview was on whether/how the Catholic Church in Quebec could increase regular attendance. Lacroix responded that he didn't believe increasing numbers was the goal, but that instead his focus was on reaching out to and enriching the lives of the faithful.