Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Blasphemy

Recently Lüdinghausen, a small town in Westphalia Red Baron once visited on a bicycle tour, made it into the news. Up to the 25th of February the world was still in order in that cosy place located in the bishopric of Münster with Töttchen and Pumpernickel on the menu. The diocese of Münster holds the silver medal in Catholicism in Germany just short of Paderborn's gold medal. On that day in February. a judge convicted the retired physics teacher Albert Voß (meaning fox in Lower German) for blasphemy.

Westfälisches Töttchen (©T. Reddig)
Let us face it. Albert is a provocateur when he, following his retirement, began to live his atheism openly decorating the rear window of his car with anti religious slogans. The first text he drew from Psalm 137 starting with the famous

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion


and ending with

Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction,
happy is the one who repays you
according to what you have done to us

Happy is the one who seizes your infants
and dashes them against the rocks.

In October 2015, Albert Voss showed the following slogan:

We make a pilgrimage with Martin Luther:
Let's go to Rome!
To kill the pope swine Francis.
Reformation is awesome!
This was too much for a Lüdinghausen citizen. He reported Albert to the police for blasphemy. When the cops arrived Albert had already changed the slogan to:

The Church is looking for modern marketing ideas. I help.
Our favorite artist: Jesus - hanging around for 2000 years.
 And still no cramp!
Albert was accused of violating §166 StGB (penal code), paragraph 2: Whoever publicly or by dissemination of writings defames, in a manner suitable to disturb the public peace, a church established in Germany or other religious society or world view association, or their institutions or customs, shall be punished. On February 25, 2016, Judge Ira Schwefer sentenced Albert Voß to a fine of 500 Euros.

I am upset with Voß. This guy is neither up-to-date when he writes Reformation is awesome* nor is he polite when naming Pope Francis a pope swine. After all, I never read that Francis had abused little boys.
*after nearly 500 years the rigid approach of Protestantism to life has ossified

I am upset with the judge too declaring: What you did is is an insult to the Church, Herr Voß. It is punishable and you knew it. In particular, pope and cross are central elements of the Catholic faith. She should have rather sentenced Voß in a libel suit for insult of a person and not for blasphemy. Mind you, the district attorney had demanded a fine of 3000 Euros that Ira changed into a suspended sentence.

Following his conviction: Grinning Albert Voß with his offending car (©WDR)
Interesting question: Will Albert relapse? Anyway, his defense council will make an appeal arguing that §166 should be abolished altogether. The paragraph is not compatible with the freedom of expression as guaranteed in our Grundgesetz (constitution).

P.S.: Lüdinghausen is known for convictions for blasphemy. In 2006 another guy who had retired too early, was apparently frustrated, and had nothing else to do than printing Koran, the holy Koran on toilet paper that he then distributed freely. He was fined for offending Islam.

All B/W-photos ©Albert Voß

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