Stephen Fry (Reuters/Phil Mccarten)

Comedian Stephen Fry under investigation for "blasphemy" — in 2017

The Irish legal system is looking into Fry's recent comments on the nature of God


Gabriel Bell
May 8, 2017 3:43PM (UTC)

English comedian, Twitter savant and progressive entertainer Stephen Fry is under investigation for "blasphemy" in Ireland according to the Irish IndependentLegal authorities are apparently pursuing a complaint filed against Fry, Irish network RTÉ and the producers of a 2015 show on which Fry appeared, "The Meaning of Life."

The Irish police, or Gardaí, have been in contact with the individual who filed the complaint, one linked to an extensive comment Fry gave the show on the nature of God. "How dare you create a world in which there is such misery? It’s not our fault? It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?" Fry continued, "Because the god who created this universe, if it was created by god, is quite clearly a maniac, an utter maniac, totally selfish . . . We have to spend our lives on our knees thanking him. What kind of god would do that?"

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While the Independent reports that a "well-placed source" says it's "highly unlikely," that the investigation would make it to court, a conviction on the charges could result in a fine totaling as much as 25,000 euros (roughly $27,311.)

Fry's high profile in both entertainment and social media is drawing international attention to Ireland's rare, controversial and curious blasphemy laws. Perhaps most curious about them is the fact that they are not some holdover from medieval courts or a product of the republic's early history. Rather, Ireland's blasphemy laws were first introduced in 2009 and fully enacted in 2010. As the Independent noted, "Ireland is the only country in the developed world to have introduced a blasphemy law this century."

Already, the law seems somewhat of a relic given that it comes from the very same nation that in 2015 legalized marriage for same sex couples through popular referendum — not legislation or a court case — despite strong opposition from the Roman Catholic Church. Already, free-speech advocates are lining up to support Fry and continue their campaign against blasphemy laws.

Uncharacteristically, the proudly out and proudly loud Fry has not offered comment on the investigation at this time. Instead, the comedian's spokesman told the press, there is "nothing for us to say while this is under investigation." Fry's Twitter page, which boasts 12.6 million followers, was also mum on the issue, unless you count this cheery announcement as a shady reference to the affair.


Gabriel Bell

Gabriel Bell is Salon's Deputy Culture Editor. Follow him on Twitter at @GabrielJBell

MORE FROM Gabriel BellFOLLOW @GabrielJBell

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Blasphemy Catholicism Ireland Law Religion Stephen Fry Twitter




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