Friday, March 07, 2008

UK Blasphemy Law Toast: Did Teddy Teacher Play a Role?

Maybe she did maybe she didn't, but it seems like a good enough excuse to roll Mo bear out again, he's not seen the light of day since the Sudan nonsense.

A funny thing happened last November when Britain launched a righteous protest over the arrest in Sudan of a British school teacher who was accused of insulting religion by naming a class teddy bear Mohammed.

The Sudanese ambassador was summoned; Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued a protest. It didn't take long, though, for someone to point out that Downing Street was standing on diplomatic quicksand: Britain itself has a law making blasphemy a crime.

Thus began a period of collective soul-searching on free speech and secularism, traditional values and the church that anoints Britain's queen. It culminated Wednesday in a 148-87 vote in the House of Lords to abolish the laws on blasphemy after a wrenching, two-hour debate.

"It is crystal clear that the offenses of blasphemy and blasphemous libel are unworkable in today's society," Kay Andrews said in introducing the government-backed amendment, adding that "as long as this law remains on the statute books, it hinders the U.K.'s ability to challenge oppressive blasphemy laws in other jurisdictions."more

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