Manches hält man auf Anhieb für unwahrscheinlich, und doch stimmt es den Fakten nach. Die (Sprach-) Logik ist manchmal auch nur ein weiterer Schein, der trügt. Und in den bigotten USA ist der Irrwitz ohnehin noch mehr zuhause als in aufgeklärt europäischen Ländern.
Von Ed Brayton, Scienceblogs.com/dispatches
Seriously? A blasphemy law being overturned in the United States in 2010? Yep. Pennsylvania had a law prohibiting people from using certain blasphemous words when naming a corporation and they told a filmmaker that he could not name his company „I Choose Hell Productions.“ He filed suit and a federal judge has now overturned the law as unconstitutional.
In his 68-page opinion in Kalman v. Cortes , U.S. District Judge Michael M. Baylson found that „the statute’s plain language makes apparent its predominantly religious purpose.“Baylson also found that the law „unequivocally excludes only one religious perspective but not the other, as it permits speech deemed reverent to religious beliefs, yet excludes speech deemed irreverent to religious beliefs.“
The crazy thing is that this was not just some relic from the 19th century, this law was passed in the 70s:
Passed in 1977, the statute prohibits words that constitute „blasphemy“ or „profane cursing or swearing,“ or that „profane the Lord’s name“ when registering a corporate name.The impetus for the law, Baylson found, was a wave of complaints from religious leaders about a McKeesport, Pa., businessman’s decision to name his store „The God Damn Gun Shop.“
The even crazier thing is that the state actually bothered to defend the law in court:
But Chief Deputy Attorney General Barry N. Kramer, arguing on behalf of Secretary of the Commonwealth Pedro A. Cortes, said the statute should survive the constitutional challenge because its purpose was to protect the public from offensive, indecent and profane expression.Kramer noted that Pennsylvania officials recently revised the list of words considered to be „suspect“ in order to eliminate the religious words „Christ,“ „damn,“ „God,“ „hell,“ and „Jesus.“
But Baylson was unimpressed, saying the deletion of the religious words „fails to remedy the impermissible entanglement with religion that the statute requires.“
Even under the new guidelines, Baylson said, the bureau’s employees „in their own discretion, are still required to make standardless determinations as to what constitutes blasphemy, profane cursing or swearing, or profanes the Lord’s name, based on nothing but their own religious beliefs.“
Even if the list of suspect words contains no religious phrases, there is nothing stopping a bureau employee from applying the statute and rejecting a proposed corporate name if the employee believes that the name contains a phrase that constitutes blasphemy, regardless of whether the phrase in question appears or does not appear on the list.
Can you imagine being an attorney and having to defend a law that stupid?