Voting Matters

At last I have this afternoon free of teaching and other commitments, and having fortified myself with lunch in Pugin Hall, I’m preparing to make an attempt on the summit of the Open Journal of Astrophysics now that all the outstanding administrative obstacles have been cleared. Before shutting myself away to do up the loose ends, however, I thought I’d do a quick post about a couple of electoral matters.

The first relates to this, which arrived at my Maynooth residence the other day:

This document reminded me that there is a referendum in Ireland on the same day as the Presidential election I mentioned at the weekend. The contents of the booklet can be found here. In brief,

At present, the Constitution says that publishing or saying something blasphemous is an offence punishable under law. Blasphemy is currently a criminal offence. The referendum will decide if the Constitution should continue to say that publishing or saying something blasphemous is a criminal offence. If the referendum is passed, the Oireachtas will be able to change the law so that blasphemy is no longer a criminal offence.

Having read the booklet thoroughly and thereby having understood all the issues, and the implications of the vote,  I have decided that I will vote in favour of making blasphemy compulsory.

The other matter being put to a vote is something I just found out about today when I got an email from the International Astronomical Union concerning an electronic vote on Resolution B4, that the Hubble Law be renamed the Hubble-Lemaître law. For background and historical references, see here. I don’t really have strong opinions on this resolution, nor do I see how it could be enforced if it is passed but, for the record, I voted in favour because I’m a fan of Georges Lemaître



8 Responses to “Voting Matters”

  1. Spineless. It should be renamed the Lemaître law. Anybody but Hubble. 🙂

    • telescoper Says:

      That wasn’t an option on the ballot..

    • As Sandage writes:

      “There is Hubble’s zone of avoidance, the Hubble galaxy type, the Hubble sequence, the Hubble luminosity law for reflection nebulae, the Hubble luminosity profile for E galaxies, the Hubble constant, the Hubble time, the Hubble diagram, the Hubble redshift-distance relation, the Hubble radius for the universe, and now the Hubble Space Telescope.”

      So he has enough stuff already. 🙂

      • Seriously, he did some important stuff on his own, more or less, and should still be remembered even without “his” law. But according to more than one source, he and/or his wife often painted him larger than life, and Hubble wasn’t always polite, to say the least, in acknowledging the work of others. ( Lemaître, by contrast, had the redshift-distance–relation stuff removed from the English translation of his landmark paper, stating that it was of no current interest (note the indirect quote, which is more accurate in this case).)

  2. P.S. I think I have a comment in moderation somewhere. (Note that my comments are always moderate.)

  3. “I’m a fan of Georges Lemaître”

    Yes, he is truly the master. 🙂

  4. Anton Garrett Says:

    In the UK I recall it was abolished – rightly. However we now have “hate speech” laws aka no-free-speech laws which are in practice selectively enforced. Does Ireland have these?

    In Scotland a series of notices recently put in place by the government and police saying “Dear Bigots, You can’t spread your religious hate here. End of Sermon. Yours, Scotland” have just been reported for religious hate by an enterprising Scottish presbyterian minister. These notices clearly meet the government’s own criteria for “hate crime”:

    • telescoper Says:

      Ireland has a written constitution (that can only be amended by popular vote). In it there is a constitutional right for citizens “to express freely their convictions and opinions” subject to a public order constraint. There is however a specific Incitement to Hatred Act which makes it an offence to make, distribute, or broadcast “threatening, abusive or insulting” words, images, or sounds with intent or likelihood to “stir up hatred”, where “hatred” is “against a group of persons in the State or elsewhere on account of their race, colour, nationality, religion, ethnic or national origins, membership of the travelling community or sexual orientation”.

      There have not been many prosecutions under this Act, as I think proving intent or likelihood is difficult.

      My understanding is that If the referendum passes there will be a bill to create a specific offence of “incitement to religious hatred” to replace the constitutional prohibition of blasphemy.

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