Monday, January 19, 2015

It’s not just Muslim fanatics who treat blasphemy as a crime. So does Canada.

Canadian blasphemy trial a warning against smugness: Walkom

Life of Brian
In 1980, a theatre in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., was charged with blasphemous libel for showing the Monty Python film, Life of Brian — a spoof on Jesus Christ. Ontario’s then-Conservative attorney general moved swiftly to stay the charge, but the blasphemy law remains, writes Thomas Walkom.

By: Thomas Walkom National Affairs, Published on Fri Jan 16 2015

Many Canadians assume that only Muslim fanatics view blasphemy as a crime.

That assumption was bolstered after last week’s attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo by two Islamic terrorists.
The pair said they were avenging what they called Charlie Hebdo’s insultsagainst Islam’s prophet, Muhammad.

What isn’t as well known is that blasphemy is also a crime in Canada. The penalties aren’t as severe as those meted out in, say, Saudi Arabia.

But in Canada, you can still go to jail for up to two years for expressing what the Criminal Code calls blasphemous libel.
At least one person has suffered that fate.

He was a Toronto atheist named Eugene (Ernest) Victor Sterry. In 1927, he was jailed and then deported to England for the offence of insulting Christianity.

Sterry’s particular crime was to call God an “irate Old Party who thunders imprecations” and prefers the smell of roast cutlets to that of boiled cabbage.

He also called God a “frenzied megalomaniac.”

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