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Frank Kermode: Blasphemy, 14 January 2002

Blasphemy: Impious Speech in the West from the 17th to the 19th Century 
by Alain Cabantous, translated by Eric Rauth.
Columbia, 288 pp., £21.50, February 2002, 0 231 11876 7
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... Blasphemy is still a crime in English law, though I imagine few now think it should be. A quarter-century has passed since anybody was charged with it, but another determined zealot like Mary Whitehouse might still manage a prosecution. The law holds that Christianity, in effect the Church of England with its secular Head, is the only religion that can be blasphemed, and one still hears arguments in favour of extending the privilege to other religions ...

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