Ireland has voted to remove blasphemy as a punishable offense from the country’s constitution — a move that could allow the repealing for Ireland’s long-controversial crime for speech deemed offensive to religious sensibilities. Ireland has held the ignoble distinction as one of the few non-Muslim countries still criminalizing blasphemy. I have previously criticized the law (here and here and here). Some 65% of the voters supported the removal of the blasphemy reference in the Constitution.
The problem, as I discussed recently, is that many nations have shifted their efforts to impose blasphemy crimes in favor of broader hate speech and discrimination laws. Thus, I would be more excited about this move if Ireland seemed prepared to buck the overwhelming trend against free speech. The painful reality is the Ireland does not need blasphemy to kill free speech. Hate crime and discrimination laws have been far more successful in that effort as Western nation plunge headlong into speech criminalization and regulation.