I have previously written about the continued use of blasphemy laws in the West, including Spain and Ireland. The continued enforcement of medieval concepts of blasphemy as evidenced by the detention of Willy Toledo, who was accused of ridiculing God and the Virgin Mary in court. Toledo is being targeted due to comments made on social media in support of three women who are being prosecuted for blasphemy. It is chilling to think that an actual judge would hold such a hearing in modern times. The nation that gave us the Spanish Inquisition still claims the right to imprison people for insulting God.
We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in France (here and here and here and here and here and here) and England (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). Much of this trend is tied to the expansion of hate speech and non-discrimination laws as well as blasphemy laws.
A Spanish actor accused of ridiculing God and the Virgin Mary has been detained for questioning by a judge, police have said, in the latest high-profile case to raise freedom of speech fears in the country.
Toledo posted a July 2017 Facebook message in defense of three women who paraded in the southern city of Sevilla with a giant vagina. The protest simulating a religious procession was dubbed the “Coño Insumiso” or “Insubordinate Pussy”.
Toledo responded in a clearly intentional insulting and vulgar way: “I shit on God, and I have enough shit left over to shit on the dogma of the sanctity and virginity of the Virgin Mary. This country is unbearably shameful. I’m disgusted.”
I find Toledo’s posting obviously crude and offensive, but that does not lessen the protections that should exist for such exercises of free speech. We do not need free speech for popular speech. Moreover, religion is the most common area for state repression of free speech.
It is equally disturbing to see the involvement of lawyers in leading the mob to target unpopular speakers. The Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers denounced Toledo for “covering God and the Virgin Mary with ridicule” and is seen as supporting the prosecution.