Friday, 12 July 2013

Russia Makes It Illegal To Insult Anyone's Religious Feelings... or Atheist Feelings...

Vladimir Putin standing in front of a bunch of scary looking Russian Orthodox clergy.
In a rather good essay, In Russia It Is Now a Crime to Insult Someone's Religious Feelings ...or someone's atheist feelings—the implications are immense, Christopher Stroop examines the ramifications of a new law that's just gone through the Duma in Moscow which would make it illegal to hurt people's religious feelings and non-religious feelings.

If this reminds you of the prosecution charging atheist blogger Alber Saber with hurting his feelings, you're quite justified.

This new law means that no one can say anything against any religion that could hurt anyone's feelings. It's anti-blasphemy laws gone wild.
Аccording to the just passed redaction of article 148 of the Russian Criminal Code, “public acts expressing manifest disrespect for society and carried out with the goal of insulting the feelings of religious believers” could bring fines of up to 300,000 rubles (over $9000) or up to a year of imprisonment, or fines of up to 500,000 rubles (over $15,000)—or up to three years in prison if the act is carried out in a place of worship or a place otherwise set aside for religious rituals or ceremonies (as was the famous Pussy Riot “punk prayer”).
No word yet on how dogmatic differences between different faiths could lead to fines and arrests. I can only imagine how some fundamentalist religionists must now tread lightly on eggshells. Only the most seasoned ecumenicalists will survive!

But then things became even more interesting. Human rights advocates predictably had a problem with this and there were even some concerns from Putin's cabinet. In the cabinet there were concerns that this would undermine the feelings of atheists and the non-religious.

So naturally they all decided to repeal the law, right?  Wrong.
But instead of seeking to repeal the law, they’re seeking to expand its scope. According to Russian legislators associated with these efforts, revisions are underway to redact Article 148 yet again. Assuming these revisions go into effect, the law will now protect the feelings of adherents of “non-traditional” religions and atheists as well. How this will work in practice is anyone’s guess, but it seems likely to lead to a less open climate for public discourse.
See? Now everyone's feelings are protected. So like in a kindergarten playground, everyone has to be nice to each other and not make each other cry.  Best not to express any opinions about anything - just smile and nod.

The article goes on to talk about how the law will very likely be applied unevenly. Undoubtedly it will be - by those with deep pockets to pay for lawyers to sue their enemies into submission.

Children standing in front of Kasese Humanist Primary School.On an unrelated note, here is my current fundraiser for helping the Kasese Humanist School in Uganda build new classrooms. 

Please consider donating!

Build a Humanist School in Uganda!

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