There will never be a sensible time or place to introduce or enforce a law forbidding blasphemy. Any such proscription makes all the following assumptions, all of them insane: that anyone has the right not to be offended; that it is ever the job of the government to tell us what to think; and that God, should he exist, is incapable of delivering suitable punishment himself.

However, of all the times and places that might be thought of as unpropitious for a new blasphemy law, it is tough to imagine a more ludicrous setting than Ireland in 2009 – where such an edict has been passed, threatening transgressors with a €25,000 fine.

It’s not just that Ireland’s legislators, faced as they are with economic crisis, should have better things to do. It’s not even that they might just have criminalised much of their distinguished national literary heritage – Wilde, Joyce, Beckett and Behan, to name a few, would struggle to answer an Inquisition.

It’s that they’ve so completely misunderstood their own country’s sense of humour: the race for the honour of being the first person prosecuted under this idiotic legislation is likely to be spirited and inventive.

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