Letter: Workable blasphemy laws in a liberal society

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The Independent Online
Sir: There is a further reason, besides that advanced by Professor Dummett (Letters, 17 September), why a blasphemy law is consonant with a liberal society.

What the blasphemy law prohibits is ridicule and desecration, which are only intelligible on the understanding that what is being desecrated is sacred. The black mass makes no sense unless the Mass is meaningful: and if I do not believe that the Mass is meaningful, I am not being prevented from doing anything I could reasonably want to do.

Contrary to Andrew Belsey's fears (Letters, 16 September), the blasphemy law does not prevent criticisms of Christianity, and its extension to cover Judaism and Islam would have no adverse consequences for serious discussion and criticism of their beliefs. Much agitation would have been avoided if the literary merits of The Satanic Verses could have been argued in court, and Muslims assured that we did not collectively condone insults to Allah, even though many of us were ready to argue that the Koran was often wrong.

Yours sincerely,


East Lambrook, Somerset

17 September