The Curious Persistence of Blasphemy: Canada and Beyond
Osgoode Hall Law School Ph.D. Dissertation (April 2013)
268 Pages Posted: 14 May 2013
Date Written: April 22, 2013
The purpose of this dissertation is to examine the history and future of the crime of blasphemy. In the introduction, several key questions are examined: (1) What is blasphemy? (2) Why do people blaspheme? and (3) What are the real or perceived harms of blasphemy? Subsequently, Part I examines the history of blasphemy and blasphemy-like laws in six jurisdictions around the globe: England, Ireland, Australia, Pakistan, the United Nations, and the United States. The jurisdictions chosen illuminate the fact that blasphemy is a complex concept which can be regulated in a wide variety of ways. These six provide an excellent picture of the varied and diverse ways the concept of blasphemy has operated and an understanding as to why it remains relevant today. Part II of this dissertation turns away from a global, comparative examination of blasphemy and instead provides a comprehensive, in-depth study of a single jurisdiction: Canada. This sustained history of blasphemy in Canada, the first ever published, allows for a valuable snapshot of the evolution of the crime into its modern form. Part III synthesizes the research and analysis in Parts I and II to answer the fundamental questions: what is the future of the crime of blasphemy in Canada and beyond?
Keywords: Blasphemy, Blasphemous Libel, Religious Villification, Hate Speech
JEL Classification: K10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation