I now see that Bruce Bawer has since mailed in an update clarifying some points, but I still think it merits a clear response from a Norwegian.
First, there are no plans, in any political party, to introduce such a law in Norway, the government has explicitly stated nothing whatsoever will happen in parliament in reaction to the Muhammad cartoon row.
Second, Bawer quite correctly puts this in connection with an article in the penal code prohibiting religious discrimination and hate speech, but as BjÃ¸rn StÃ¦rk and others have pointed out earlier, that is a lot of fuss over very little. I’m not more happy about that law than anyone else is, but that is not because I fear it will be a clampdown on free expression. It is more because it annoys me that our elected representatives insist on making politically correct “laws” that are written to “send a signal”, not to actually be enforced by the courts.
Unlike in the US, Norway’s Supreme Court doesn’t “strike down” laws that are unconstitutional, it just ignores them. Thus we still have a blasphemy law on our books, paragraph 142 in the penal code, that was last used against the writer Arnulf Ã˜verland after he held a strong, anti-Christian speech in 1931. The state lost the case against him spectacularly, and since then, despite some amendments to it, that law has been in deep coma. Norway is, after the current cartoon conflict, closer to finally abandoning it than ever before. The argument made against abandoning it the last time, was that it would send “a wrong signal.” There was no intention to ever actually ever use it. Article 100 in our constitution trumps “signals” from the Storting every time.
Read it all.