Another Call for Governmental Suppression of Speech Offensive to Religious Sensibilities

The Georgian Times (fortunately, that’s not our Georgia) reports that the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate is calling for a law that would protect “religious feelings,” and arguing that “[f]reedom of speech doesn’t mean right to provoke discord and confrontation, abuse church, religious feelings and belittle state symbols.” The call seems to have been prompted by a controversy over a new book; I quote from the International Orthodox Christian News site,

A new book loaded with sexual material and whose title is a play on the Last Supper has caused outrage among Georgia’s Christian community. [Sentence moved: -EV] Part of the plot focuses around two homosexual lovers engaging in oral sex in a camp while the national anthem plays on the radio….

The heated discussions are even turning violent. A confrontation between liberals and members of the radical religious group “Orthodox Fathers” was shown live on the local TV channel Kavkassia.

Mayhem ensued on air, and arrests soon followed after eight members of the religious group were jailed for attacking a cameraman and several liberal activists….

The author, 20-year-old Irakly Beisadze, fled to a remote village right after the book’s unveiling, fearing for his life…. On the other side, the head of the “Orthodox Fathers” Malkhaz Gulashvili has fled to Russia, saying his family has started receiving threats following the incident at the TV channel….

Ironically, the book has flown off the shelves and sold out within hours, and since the publishers promise a second edition, the scandal is far from over.

“Ironically.” Thanks to Prof. Howard Friedman (Religion Clause) for the pointer. If any of you can point me to a more Russian-language reproduction of the Patriarchate’s statement, or a more detailed English-language reproduction (it’s quoted in part in the Georgian Times article I linked to, but the English is a bit broken), I’d be much obliged.

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