Friday, May 13, 2005

Emor: Is Blasphemy a Crime Even in America?

Blasphemy is a sin in Judaism, as we see in this week's parsha1 (and specifically in Vayikra 24), and this is appropriate for a religion. It is not appropriate, though, for American law:
A California man has sued the Lost Coast Brewery in Humboldt, claiming that a label on its Indica India Pale Ale offends him and Hindus worldwide.


The Costra Costa Times quoted Brij Dhir as saying the label on Indica India Pale Ale depicting a Hindu god holding a beer intimidates Hindus from practicing their religion. "How can you show a god in such a way?" he told the paper. The label shows elephant-headed Ganesh, god of wisdom and remover of obstacles, holding a beer in one of his four hands, and another in his trunk.

"I don't want to offend any Hindu people," said co-owner Barbara Groom, adding that her Hindu friends don't mind the label. "They think it's really cool."


Dhir seeks at least $25,000 and his lawsuit mentions that $1 billion would be appropriate to compensate Hindus around the world. He alleges that the brewery has defamed Hindus and caused emotional distress. Even though Lost Coast is willing to change the label, Dhir said he wants a jury to rule that the owners should pay damages for the two years of using the image.


Also named as defendants are Safeway, which carries the product, the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the state Attorney General's Office. Dhir alleges it has failed to respond to his requests for action against the brewery.

"It's a hate crime," Dhir told the newspaper.

I hope this case is dismissed, and I am glad that the State Dept. of Fair Employment and Housing and the State Attny General's office did not take action.

Read it all here.

1) Though the blasphemy of the Torah is incredibly specific and would not encompass the case I am about to mention.

Update: Via the website My Life Is Beer, check out the bottle. (The website, or clicking on the image, will give a larger image.) Check out the discussions on that webpage while you are at it, from insulted Hindus.

Related: Check out this article about a man trying to change his name to that of a certain purported deity of Jewish descent.

So Jesus went to a district court in Washington, where he currently lives and where he has now been fighting a two-year battle to use his Biblical name.

"The judge wrote a lengthy opinion citing scriptures, the Bible and so on, to show that taking the name of Jesus Christ is blasphemy and therefore by extrapolation will cause violent reaction," Jesus Christ's attorney, Afshin Pishewar, said on Tuesday.


I don't think that is what is commonly meant by taking God's name in vain. :)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Too bad Dhir hasn't seen similar ads for a hangover remedy...


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