To bring you an update on a story I wrote about in May 2010, Poland last week fined one its pop music stars $1,450 for stating in an interview several years ago that the Bible is full of “unbelievable tales” that are hard to accept because “it’s hard to believe in something written down by someone drunk on wine and smoking some kind of herbs.”
Dorota Rabczewska, otherwise known as Doda, was charged under a law that protects the feelings and sentiments of religious believers in the heavily Roman Catholic country. The law dictates that charges are brought if at least two complaints are filed. Doda’s statements apparently bothered a sufficient number of people, including Ryszard Nowak, chairman of the Christian advocacy organization Committee for the Defence Against Sects, who said:
“It is clear that Doda thinks that the Bible was written by drunkards and junkies. I believe that she committed a crime and offended the religious feelings of both Christians and Jews.”
But, as I wrote in my previous post on this subject, it doesn’t matter whether Doda hurt peoples’ feelings by stating the Bible was written by men who drank too much wine and did drugs. Free speech includes the right to offend, for peoples’ subjective feelings form an incoherent and abitrary basis for lawmaking. Governments surely have an interest in punishing certain public speech that might provoke hatred of or violence against people, but they should not protect beliefs and ideas from critique. Blasphemy laws like the one in Poland needlessly restrict liberty, preventing members of society from freely speaking their minds and examining reigning beliefs and values. Free speech advocates should actively oppose such laws, and hope that ensuing public attention brings about enough of a groundswell to pressure Westernized governments to overturn them.