So Apparently Germany Is A Christian Theocracy

At least if you take Michael Bohm’s arguments in his latest Moscow Times missive on how Russia Is Turning Into Iran to its logical conclusion.

Look, I’m not a fan of blasphemy laws. The First Amendment is a wonderful thing and something that makes the US truly great… even exceptional, to an extent. Although it should be noted that there are limits even in the US: Some quite appropriate in my opinion, others ridiculous such as the taboo on boobs on TV.

Still, if Russia’s moves to criminalize blasphemy brings it “another step closer to becoming like Iran and other Muslim theocracies”, then we have to admit that the likes of Germany, Poland, Israel, and Ireland are already long there – and contrary to what Bohm claims, it doesn’t seem that any of those countries have ended up in “chronic economic stagnation, decline and high poverty rates.”

Just look at the Wikipedia article. About half the Western world has blasphemy laws on the books. In Germany, a man was sentenced to one year in prison (suspended) in 2006 for insulting Islam. In Poland, the singer Doda was fined 5,000 złoty for the fairly innocuous comment, made well outside church, that the Bible was written by “people who drank too much wine and smoked herbal cigarettes.”

Also back in 2006 in Germany, a Berlin man was imprisoned for 9 months for disrupting a church service – but unlike the case with Pussy Riot, nobody nominated the poor bloke for the Sakharov Peace Prize. Nor did The Guardian hire a German journalist to write an oped about how Germany was becoming a “Protestant Iran” (as did Oleg Kashin).

Yet no Western commentator thinks to compare those countries to Islamic societies where apostasy is punishable by death and mobs demand the deaths of 12 year old girls who (supposedly) burn the Koran. And quite rightly so. Regardless of one’s view on the precisely where the boundaries between free speech and protecting religious feelings and social order are, it is intuitively obvious there are stark and clear lines separating today’s Christian civilization from a large chunk of the Dar al-Islam.

Russia on the other hand has yet to even sign the blasphemy bills into law, but shills like Michael Bohm are already rushing in to bracket it in with Iran. If this isn’t double standards then I really don’t know what is.

PS. I am not even going to comment on Bohm’s bizarre and absolutely illiterate musings regarding GDP.


  1. Freedom of expression can be restricted by law, but it can also be restricted by political correctness. In the US genocide deniers and racists can talk but are castigated and ostracized for it, while in Europe they can end up in jail. So which system is the most hypocrite?

    I’d say that the whole freedom of thought thing is a bit contrived, as your opinion better has to fit in the ideological mould of the West, one where for example religions can be criticized but racism, or even your racial realism are no longer tolerated (some even go as far as to compare extreme forms of liberalism and droit-de-l’hommisme to a religion). In any case I conclude that this freedom is often a fiction, but as with free will, it feels better if we convince ourselves it exists.

  2. A large monotreme says:

    Iran is a high middle-income country anyway, better off than 80% of the world’s population and considerably better than India and China as far as per cap PPP GDP goes..

  3. As I understand it the difference between the new law and the law that Pussy Riot were prosecuted for is that this is basically a blasphemy law. Russia has not had a blasphemy law since 1917.

    I dislike blasphemy laws. I think they should not exist. However many European countries have them. Britain had one until recently though it stopped being enforced in the 1970s. Britain of course also has an established Church which Russia does not. No one says Britain is a medieval country.

    For the rest this new blasphemy law is Pussy Riot’s great achievement. If it had not been for their “performance” (and for the hysterical over reaction to their prosecution, which has included attacks on religious monuments) there would be no call for one now. Russian liberals who are unhappy with the new law might do better than to give some thought to that fact.