IN SHORT: A Lithuanian court fined the company responsible for depicting Our Lord and Our Lady in a clothing ad. [around $1000 Aud.], following a complaint from a Catholic group [there can’t be too many of those in Lithuania]. The company appealed to the EU court of Human Rights which subsequently over-ruled the Lithuanian court and ordered them to repay the company. Such is the totalitarian power of the EU that it can over-rule the self-determination of a sovereign state.
And readers will anticipate my next point: according to the EU the ad. is not inciting hate and religious symbology is up for grabs. So, why will NO country in the world permit even the public propagation of a benign image of Mohammed, let alone for advertising, satire or animation? Okay, that’s a rhetorical question as we all know why, but what’s good for the goose is obviously offensive to the gander.
Here is the article for those with too much time on their hands……….
The facts date back to 2012 when a Lithuanian company that produces clothes launches an advertising campaign using the photo of a man and a woman with a halo, he in jeans and tattooed, she with a white dress and a beaded necklace, accompanied by phrases “Jesus, what trousers!”, “Dear Mary, what dress!” and “Jesus and Mary, what do you wear!”.
The advertisements triggered a series of protests sent to the National Agency for the Defense of Consumer Rights.
The latter, after asking the opinion of the self-regulating body of the advertising specialists and the Lithuanian episcopal conference, concluded that the advertisements did not respect religion and therefore were a violation of public morals and imposed a fine of 580 euros on the company. .
In today’s ruling, which will become final within 3 months if the parties do not appeal, the judges affirm that the national authorities have a wide margin of maneuver on similar issues especially in cases involving a commercial use of religious symbols.
However, the prosecutors point out that the advertisements in question “do not appear to be gratuitous offensive or profane” and “do not incite hatred”, and therefore the authorities are required to provide relevant and sufficient reasons why they would be contrary to public morality. Instead in this case the reasons given by the authorities “are vague and do not explain with sufficient accuracy why the reference in advertisements to religious symbols was offensive”.
In particular, the Court criticizes the authorities for having judged that advertisements “promoted a lifestyle incompatible with the principles of a religious person” without explaining what the encouraged lifestyle was and how the photos and captions in question were favoring it. . The judges are also critical of the fact that the only religious group consulted to judge the case was the Catholic group.
The sentence states that the Court of Strasbourg considers that “freedom of expression is one of the essential foundations of a democratic society and one of the basic conditions for its progress and for the individual self-realization of each person”. It also “extends to ideas that shock, offend or disturb”. He also emphasizes that the Lithuanian authorities have held publicity contrary to public morality because they have used religious symbols “for superficial purposes”, “distorting their main purpose” and being “inappropriate”.
However, for the Court these findings are “vague and insufficient to explain why the reference to religious symbols in advertisements is offensive, if not for the fact that the purpose is not religious”. Moreover, for the judges, the images “do not seem gratuitous offensive or profane, nor do they incite hatred for reasons of faith or attack a religion in an abusive or gratuitous way”.
The court concludes that the local authorities have not “reached the right balance between the protection of public morals and the rights of religious people on the one hand, the right to freedom of expression of the company on the other”. The positions they expressed, he justified, “show that they have given
total priority to protect the sentiments of religious people, without taking into consideration the right to freedom of expression of the company. “Vilnius, therefore, will have to compensate the company with 580 euros.