Poland fines pop music star for blasphemy

January 23, 2012

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.

Comments:

#1 rommey on Tuesday January 24, 2012 at 8:36am

Personally I abhor any kind of censorship even under the pretext of protection of the right to hold any belief. She commented on the Bible, not on those who use the Bible to support their beliefs… Case closed.

#2 rommey on Tuesday January 24, 2012 at 8:45am

What we have here isn’t a case of somebody making a statement that becomes a matter for judgment. What we have here is a case of exercise of power, spuriously justified on the basis of beliefs. Proving the point that religion isn’t an issue about gods, but a base excuse used for a political objective. It was true under Constantine in Byzantium, and throughout the entire history of humankind. Nothing spiritual about religion. If you don’t like what I say, remember that is a human right to hold an opinion and express it publicly.

#3 gray1 on Tuesday January 24, 2012 at 11:57am

When in Poland, do as Polacks do?  Oh, that word is considered a slur?  I’m sorry, I meant as Polish do, no, that’s not really right either… Poles? That doesn’t sound too smart, better change it. But perhaps Polish persons is better.  But that could be confusing depending on whether we pronounce it “pole ish” or “pall ish”.

Well, Wikipedia says the original offending term used to be quite respectable at one time and even Shakespeare used it, but things change over time.  Perhaps not so fast in Poland, but there we go again…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polack

Etymology - “Polack,” from the Polish word “Polak,” meaning male Pole, “Polka” is a female Pole.

Oh, now that’s just TOO GOOD!  LOL

Got to admit, these people have a highly evolved sense of humor but evidently not when it comes to their religion. See various on the following:

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=polack

Besides, there is apparently no First Amendment in Poland so the government can do whatever it wants in this respect.

#4 Daniel Mann (Guest) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 at 10:58am

Although I am a Christian, I agree entirely with this: “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.”

But shouldn’t this principle pertain also to speaking against Islam, abortion, and homosexuality? Although many are vociferous in their support of free speech, they only apply it selectively.

#5 Michael De Dora on Wednesday January 25, 2012 at 12:28pm

@Daniel: certainly. Do you have an example of government restricting speech on Islam, abortion, or homosexuality?

#6 Daniel Mann (Guest) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 at 12:57pm

Michael, There are many. I will try to leave a link - something that hasn’t worked out before:

#7 Daniel Mann (Guest) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 at 1:02pm

Michael,

Well, it didn’t work. However, it two separate State universities, in two graduate counseling programs, the students was threatened with discharge because unless they attended a re-education program and no longer would believe that same-sex marriage was wrong.

In Dover, Pa., the court ruled against a school board because the board required biology teachers to merely read a statement prior to their teaching of evolution. It stated something like this: “Evolution is a theory and if you would like to see an alternative perspective, we have some books in the library.”

#8 Daniel Mann (Guest) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 at 1:11pm

Michael,

Just one more example. About a year ago, Obama signed a new Hate Crimes bill, although I don’t know if it has gone into effect yet. This bill not only criminalizes the actual hate crime, but also any speech that might be construed to possibly lead to a hate crime.

Many had been concerned that this bill would dampen even responsible speech if it didn’t conform to politically correct standards.

#9 Michael De Dora on Wednesday January 25, 2012 at 3:53pm

@Daniel:

I fail to see how requiring a counseling student to meet basic educational, professional, and/or ethical standards demanded by the job restricts said student’s free speech. Care to explain why you disagree?

As for the Dover case, do you have have a name? You’re not talking about the Kitzmiller case, are you?

#10 Michael De Dora on Wednesday January 25, 2012 at 3:57pm

Re: the hate crimes bill, I found this in the relevant CNN article:

“Several religious groups have expressed concern that a hate crimes law could be used to criminalize conservative speech relating to subjects such as abortion or homosexuality. However, [Attorney General Eric] Holder has said that any federal hate-crimes law would be used only to prosecute violent acts based on bias, not to prosecute speech based on controversial racial or religious beliefs.”

#11 Daniel Mann (Guest) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 at 4:05pm

Michael,

Regarding the hate crimes bill - no one can or should take Holder’s personal say-so seriously, especially in light of the fact that an addendum exempting religious speech was voted down.

You’re right - it is Kitzmiller.

In the case of the counseling student, the university is practicing viewpoint discrimination, even if according to their policy.

#12 Michael De Dora on Thursday January 26, 2012 at 1:32pm

@Daniel: would the NYPD be practicing viewpoint discrimination if it refused to induct an avowed pacifist?

#13 Daniel Mann (Guest) on Friday January 27, 2012 at 6:30am

Michale,

You raise an appropriate point. There are times when viewpoint discrimination is advisable. There are also times when free speech must be curtailed. However, it both instances, these exceptions must be clearly supported and bracketed so that they don’t undermine the larger principle.

#14 Daniel Mann (Guest) on Friday January 27, 2012 at 4:03pm

Michael,

Here’s another case in point:

“The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled Friday in favor of Julea Ward, an Eastern Michigan University [EMU] graduate student represented by Alliance Defense Fund attorneys who was expelled from a counseling program for her beliefs…EMU initiated its disciplinary process against Ward shortly after she enrolled in a counseling practicum course in January 2009, when she was assigned a potential client seeking assistance regarding a sexual relationship that was contrary to her religious convictions. Ward recognized the potential conscience issue with the client, and asked her supervisor how to handle the matter. Ward was advised to reassign the potential client to a different counselor. EMU then informed Ward that she could only stay in the counseling program if she agreed to undergo a “remediation” program. Its purpose was to help her “see the error of her ways” and change her “belief system” as it relates to counseling about homosexual relationships.”

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