Polish Pop Star Fined $1,450 for Blasphemy January 16, 2012

Polish Pop Star Fined $1,450 for Blasphemy

In 2009, Dorota Rabczewska (better known as the singer Doda) said some *really* unpopular things about the Bible:

[Doda] said in a 2009 interview that she doubted the Bible “because it’s hard to believe in something that was written by someone drunk on wine and smoking some herbs.”

Sounds harmless, but it offended “Catholic sensitivities” in Poland. Earlier today, more than two years after that harmless insinuation was uttered, a Polish court fined her 5,000 zlotys ($1,450) for the crime of “offending religious feelings.”

Apparently, “the Criminal Code provides that whoever insults the religious feelings of other persons by outraging in public an object of religious worship, subject to a fine, imprisonment or up to 2 years in prison.” In other words, if you’re superstitious enough to worship some object, you’re allowed by the courts to whine when someone criticizes your gullibility, even if they’re right.

Doda doesn’t plan to appeal the ruling, but I don’t know how the courts are getting away with this, even in a country that’s overwhelmingly Catholic. Someone who understands the country’s laws might be better able to explain where the line is between free speech and “offending religious feelings.”

(Thanks to Katherine for the link)

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  • How does she get fined but Behemoth doesn’t? Or maybe they have, I’ll have to look that up.

  • Spencer

    In the US, we often joke about things like this, but it’s pretty unsettling that in some places in the world, it is literally a crime to say meany-weany things about someone’s fucking stupid beliefs. 

  • Spencer

     Pop stars get a lot more publicity than metal bands (unfortunately (or maybe fortunately)).

  • Anonymous

    The concept of free speech is an Americanism that isn’t shared in most of the world. I expect in Poland, there is no line between free speech and “offending religious feelings.”

  • You can only be offended if you are actively looking to be offended. 🙁

  • L.Spangler

    Nergal’s (lead singer of Behemoth and Doda’s ex-boyfriend) blasphemy case was dismissed.

  • Dan W

    That is a really stupid aspect of the Polish legal system.

  • Big Fat Al

    Look on the bright side…at least we got a picture of her!

  • … and you’re the reason we have to keep talking about sexism.

  • PJB863

    You’d think in a country with a recent history like Poland’s, they’d  be more vigilant about freedom of speech and religion.

  • Maverick


    I’m a Periodist, someone who believes the 119 elements are all manifestations of the 119 gods. I believe that any alteration of the relationships between these gods must be carried out with proper intent and ritual. Therefore, it is incredibly offensive to me when people publicly and blatantly combine the Great Ones, Oxygen and Carbon, to form CO2 without observing the requirements of my religion. May they be struck down by Polonium (and Arsenic, Lead, Antimony, Uranium…well most of them really)!

    $1500 fine/breath*20000 breaths/day/person*40000000 persons (in Poland)=1.2 Quadrillion dollars in revenue from fines. That should solve the Euro Zone fiscal crisis.

  • Don’t EU laws supercede this nonsense?

  • Spencer

     You silly goose — when they say it’s a crime to offend religious feelings, they mean it’s a crime to offend _Christian_ feelings. All those other gay religions don’t count.

  • Real G

    It’s only sexism if he doesn’t drool over guys too. Someone post a picture (not it)

  • Anonymous

    You’d think so. Apparently not. Really surprises me, though I think Ireland also has a blasphemy law

  • I think it was dismissed because the charges against Adam Darski (aka Nergal) weren’t about verbal blasphemy, but because he only tore up a bible on stage.

    Not sure how they’ve gotten away with anything else though haha

  • George

    In all honesty, this doesn’t surprise me at all. I do not know the specifics of Polish law, but if it is anything like Greek law -where the constitution is still “In the name of the holy Trinity”, it makes perfect sense. You have to keep in mind that separation of Church and State is not yet a fact around the world.

    Living in such a state you know you can get away with so much, go a step further and you are in court. That’s just how things go. Should it change? Yes, and it will, in due time.

  • Slater

    Unfortunately the EU are terrified of butting in religious matters – at least on the side of secularism. In fact, EU recently added discrimination due to religion to the definition of racism, making it illegal, so they’re actually actively supporting this.

    I honestly can’t name one good thing to ever come out of the EU, but I can sure as hell make a long list of the bad.

  • Timothy Alexander

    Personally I wouldn’t appeal it either, I would just ignore it.

  • Wildrumpus67

    “Well, so what, What’s wrong with being sexy? I mean, there’s nothing wrong with…”

  • bla

    In some other source (gazeta.pl) I’ve erad that they are going to appeal. I hope they will do. But in a after-war history of poland there were more than few artists convicted for this ‘crime’. Still it gives us a pretty good arguments when christians whine about being persued/attacked by the society.

  • bla

    Law is not THAT bad here. Constitution states separation and doesn’t include comments about any religious dogmas. Previous goverment (PiS) was trying to put there some quotes about the Jesus being the King Of Poland (or something), but they failed. In fact I believe that this law contradicts constitution and isn’t really valid. but someone would have to prove that.

  • anon22

    busty blonde who makes not particularly differentiated statements
    kind of invites sexist comments.

  • Michael

    The problem really seems to be that she made a specific claim. I could give very good reasons for doubting the bible, starting with that it gives two very different accounts of the same death. I would not presume to tell you what the writers were drinking.

  • “She was asking for it” is not a defence. Ever. Nor is “I wasn’t the only one”, in case you were thinking of using that as well.

  • Achess

    Implying that she’s a good looking woman is sexist…?

  • Michael

    In Poland there are a lot of silly laws and, as a nation who can all remember Russian martial law, a strong tradition of making the state back down when it tries to enforce them. Interesting that she chose not to.

  • Vinícius Egidio

    Really, I don’t get it. Why it’s sexism to say someone is beautiful?!

  • Michael

    We don’t need to post a picture of a good looking guy for comparison. It’s on the site header.

  • The original EU plan was to prevent the Germans from owning Europe. Mission accomplished?

  • Slow Learner

    It’s the fact that his only comment on a Free Speech issue is to comment on the defendant’s attractiveness. Nothing about whether she’s right or wrong; or any comment on the case itself. It basically erases Dorota as a person and sees her as an object to be drooled over.

  • Anonymous

    Hemant, really?

    I just don’t see sexism here.  I just don’t  find the comment laden with discrimination or devaluation based on a Doda’s sex, no blatant application of stereotyping.  Perhaps a bit of condescension, but that is pushing it.

    Part of the newsworthiness of this incident is the very fact that she is a good looking woman and sexual icon.  If there is any doubt do a GIS for Doda.
    Perhaps Big Fat Al is only guilty of pointing out the obvious.

  • Not a huge deal, but you’ve seen how comments like that get taken elsewhere. The posting is about something she did, not how she looks. I’d prefer comments stay focused on the former.

  • AmyC

    Thank you, Rose. Commenting on how somebody looks in a story focused on how blasphemy laws restrict freedom of speech is unacceptable, and it only happens when the person pictured is a woman. Showing a picture of someone does not invite sexist comments. Blaming sexist comments on the fact that she is a woman and happens to be pretty creates an atmosphere and culture where it is deemed “ok” to focus only on her looks. Seriously, this crap is why I don’t go to the local atheist meet up anymore.

  • Charles Black

    So by your own logic if she was raped that would be her own fault?

  • Parse

    Two reasons: – 95% of comments like this (only about somebody being attractive) are made about women.  When was the last time somebody made a spontaneous comment here saying that a man was attractive? (ie, without anybody asking why men don’t get the same treatment)
     – By saying somebody is beautiful, and ONLY saying that somebody is beautiful, you effectively write off anything else they had to say.  It’s a post about how somebody got fined for blasphemy laws; her appearance doesn’t have anything to do with that.

  • Anonymous

    Could an atheist or a member of a non-standard religion use these blasphemy laws somehow to claim that Cat Licks were offensive and so seek redress through the courts.  Perhaps ritual cannibalism is offensive to a Jew or the drinking of symbolic blood is offensive to a Wiccan.  A few “waste of time” claims using this law should encourage them to drop it.

  • Pi3point141592653589793

    Seriously??? You want to posit the assertion that all sexist comments arise from depictions of women?? You want people to think that you believe that no sexist comment has ever been made about a man?

    That makes you about as naive as anon22 is stupid.

  • Pi3point141592653589793

    Seriously??? You want to posit the assertion that all sexist comments arise from depictions of women?? You want people to think that you believe that no sexist comment has ever been made about a man?

    That makes you about as naive as anon22 is stupid.

  • opinionated atheist

    Now, now. Let’s not call everything that isn’t ‘Christian’ gay. Evil, blasphemous, heretical, Satanic, sinful, wrong, sinister, bad, … …, and the gays can’t be ‘Christian’ so they’re included, but they’re not the only ones.

  • opinionated atheist

    Seriously??? You want to posit the assertion that all sexist comments arise from depictions of women?? You want people to think that you believe that no sexist comment has ever been made about a man?

    That makes you about as naive as anon22 is stupid.

  • opinionated atheist

    Seriously??? You want to posit the assertion that all sexist comments arise from depictions of women?? You want people to think that you believe that no sexist comment has ever been made about a man?

    That makes you about as naive as anon22 is stupid.

  • opinionated atheist

    Seriously??? You want to posit the assertion that all sexist comments arise from depictions of women?? You want people to think that you believe that no sexist comment has ever been made about a man?

    That makes you about as naive as anon22 is stupid.

  • Slow Learner

    It would be naive to say that all sexist comments are against women. AmyC didn’t say that, however.
    She is entirely correct to say that showing a picture of a man does not draw the same response of immediately ignoring the meat of the issue to exclusively discuss his appearance. If you doubt this, please find a counter-example, because I’d love to see one.

  • Michael

    Perhaps we could all agree that it was vacuous crap and not trouble ourselves as to the presence or absence of political connotations?

  • It’s objectifying. It reduces Dorota to merely a sexual object, thus erasing her as a person. I don’t want to thought of for my looks first, before my talents, skills, accomplishments values, or anything else. 

    This may be hard to understand, but men are generally seen as people first, male second; women are seen as female first, people second. And yes, that’s a bad thing.

  • Hement, for what it’s worth, I think you were right on to call him out. I’m going to guess that the commenters telling you it wasn’t sexism are…you guessed it…male. As a woman, I can personally say that YES, comments like Big Fat Al’s DO come across as both sexist and offensive. So thank you!

  • Wut. No. Just, no. You are the problem, and the same reasoning you use here is what is used to justify rape. “She was asking for it.” Do you not realize what a load of crap that is? How a woman looks is never an excuse for sexist comments – nothing, absolutely nothing, is an excuse for sexist comments. And saying what you just said is what perpetuates sexism!

    When can you men stop seeing women as sex objects first and people second? Reading things like this coming from fellow free thinkers wants me to throw up my hands and leave! 

  • This is such bullshit it’s disgusting. This is where intellectual elitism takes us. Like it or not dearie, we are animals and visual animals at that. Long before we can take stock of your talents, skills, accomplishments, etc we notice your physical appeal.

    And let’s not even pretend for a second that you have not done this yourself either. I am quite willing to guarantee that there have been a plethora of instances where you were approached by someone who visually disagreed with you and you did not wait to see if their values and accomplishments sparked your interest. To even attempt to argue that you have never done this is an absolute lie so please don’t bother.

    Commenting on her looks does not erase her as a person. It is merely a comment on her looks. Making a statement that she is wrong or stupid but at least she has looks would accomplish what you are accusing others of.

    Regardless of your elitist mentality the human brain still looks for symmetry in physical appearance above all other factors. In other words, the human mind first looks for physical beauty. That’s how attraction works. We are drawn to those who physically appeal to us and then we try to determine if she fits us intellectually.

    Grow up.

  • It’s not because you’re a woman. It’s likely because you are ugly and think that having a “good personality” actually counts for something.

  • gast

    i think she’s really sexy!
    she’s sexy & i’m sexist.

  • mingfrommongo

    I believe that a lot of these blasphemy laws are not about protecting Christianity. Many European nations enacted religious sensitivity laws after World War II to prevent another round of ‘Blame the Jews’. Ireland is an exception, their blasphemy law is recent. Americans, used to First Amendment protection, can see more easily that that probably isn’t the best solution to the problem. I hope that Doda does appeal just so that the Polish people have more opportunity to discuss the issue. The law there allows for anti-religious artistic expression (the Nergal case), so perhaps they aren’t that far from applying the standard that US citizens take for granted.

  • TheBlackCat

    Thank you for proving their point.

  • Anonymous

    I’m from Poland and I have to say that I do not understand my country really! We’re living in XXI age now and if I want to say something I don not want to think I can go to jail if I say something wrong! Come on!

  • The Other Weirdo

    There are two different issues here. You might be able to convince men to stop making these comments, but seeing and thinking? You’ll wear yourself out trying to change THAT.

  • Michael

    Some photos appear to show Doda with angel wings tattooed on her back. I wonder if this had an impact on the decision to prosecute her, assuming they’re real.

  • Spencer

     You know, you’re completely right. In fact, since humans naturally have an irrational hatred and fear of those not like them, racism is completely justified, and those who try to stop racism are pseudo-intellectual elitists who need to grow up.

    Hey, here’s a wild thought: if you’re going to try and justify sexism, at least don’t be such a dumbass about it.

    Jesus, I can’t believe you got four likes.

  • MariaO

    I am a scientist and at conferences and meetings all over the world during 30 years I have come into contact with men from all nations advanced enough to have scientists in my field (over 50 for sure). American men stand out.
    Only American scientists have asked me at the first meeting about my marital status (a large percentage did). Only American men have commented on my appearance at the first meeting (fewer, but still too many – at least when I was younger). If this is standard at atheist meetings I fully understand why women are scarce. Men from other nations simply do not do this, whether European or Asian or non-USA Americans. So, it is obviously not a biological imperative as a number of sexist men on this blog claim. Most scientists in the world realise that this is not the way to treat a colleague.
    I should stress that not all Americans are obnoxious in this way, just that in all the cases were it happened to me at a scientific meeting it was an American that made me uncomfortable. So, you do have a unique over-sexualisation over there (I have been exposed to it in situ too).
    I thought men on this site had thought deeper and have a better understanding than the average American. Obviously there are a number who, like the religious, manages to have tight bulkheads in their minds which create subject areas unreachable by reason.
    Two more thoughts:
    What happens after a longer acquaintance is a totally different matter.
    The best conversation starter I have ever had was from an American: “Do you think Richard III did it?” The guy had been using it for a long time on both men and women and I was only the third who gave an interesting answer. Needless to say, we talked a lot at a number of meetings after that…

  • So I don’t get it, what’s the end game here? Men just can’t say if we find a woman attractive or not, ever…? Doda is a person and I think that fact is obvious to anybody who thinks about it for oh…half a second! Big Fat Al knows this but I’m betting he doesn’t know her personally so he really cannot comment on that aspect of her existence. What he can comment on is the obvious, her appearance. You can make the argument that his comment is not germane to the article but to call him out as sexist when his comment could have just been ignored (and shold have been) is just as pointless as his comment. Libby your comments sound just as frivolous and harmful to free speech as the Catholics this article is talking about: “My feelings were hurt when I read how a complete stranger finds another complete stranger attractive.” Blasphemy laws exist because that same mentality.

    Oh yeah, and…Doda is hot.

  • You realize that you just said that “blasphemy laws restrict freedom of speech” and that “commenting on how somebody looks” is “unacceptable”. Do you or do you not believe in free speech, I’m confused?

  • anon22

    Only if she publicly declared she hated math in school because she thinks that would make her cute.

  • Slow Learner

    Of course someone can say whether they find someone else attractive. Just be aware that there’s a time and a place. Like, say some high-profile woman has been raped, and there’s a picture of her in a news story about it – can you accept that is a very bad time and place to de-lurk and say “I would so totally tap that.”? I’m going to assume that you can, because I would like to continue conversing with you as a human being rather than pond-slime. So, these things are on a sliding scale, from inappropriate not to (your lover asks how they look), to highly inappropriate to do so – is that so hard?

    The Catholics are saying “you must face legal consequences for insulting something made up”.
    Feminists are saying that you should face social consequences for marginalising real people, treating them as objects for your visual entertainment, and then denying there is a problem afterwards.
    Can you really not see the difference?

  • Tom

    All that happened in “recent history” to Poland was obstruction of open thought and opinion during the Soviet regime.  It was seen as expressing one’s freedom by uniting under religion, since it was repressed.  It’s quite interesting really, coming from a Polish man myself.  Do ask more.

  • TheBlackCat

    2 things:

    1. No one in this thread has said or even implied that there is never an appropriate time to comment on someone’s appearance.  That is a blatant strawman.

    2. The situation will not improve unless people are called out on it.  Isn’t that the whole rationale behind vocal atheism?  I don’t see how someone can be okay for atheists to call out religious people when they say something wrong but not okay for people not to call out others on sexist comments.

  • TheBlackCat

    “I count him braver who
    overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the
    hardest victory is over self


  • TheBlackCat

    I don’t think anyone is suggesting that being an asshole should be illegal.

  • Certain comments are simply inappropriate given the context. Yes I agree, but just because someone says something inappropriate (as Big Fat Al did) doesn’t mean he is sexist or that his comment is sexist in nature. Crass, irreverent, and disrespectful are all words that seems to fit here not sexist. He should have simply been ignored or told his comment was inappropriate or not germane but I see no reason to label him or his comments as prejudicial or discriminatory. As to the second part of your post, none of this is stemming from a show of real discrimination it was simply a rude comment (and only mildly so by comparison). To me the reactions by some on this thread are deadly close to how sensitive religious people are of their superstitions. 

  • 1. I guess what I got from Libby’s first comment was that we cannot speak about a woman’s appearance. I guess what she’s really saying is we shouldn’t until we speak about her “talents, skills, accomplishments values, or anything else” first. I was honestly questioning the intent of her comments not trying to create a fallacious arguement. I wanted her comments to be taken forward to the end point. To me she does seem to be saying men shouldn’t comment on a woman’s appearance and that to do so is sexist no matter what is said. I’m looking for more information. 

    2. Yeah I argee with you about your second point in general but, I don’t see how it applies to this situation. His comment was not sexist. In poor taste, yes. Rude, possibly, but it had no hint of hatred or prejudice. You can imply all that if you want but that’s unfair and has no basis in reality. To me this all smacks of the witch-hunting mentality that I find so detestable about religion.

  • Vvassen

    I like part when you imply that all sexist comments in this post were made by men. /s

    Oh yeah, the double standards. Only men can be sexists, right?

  • Vvassen

    I find this discussion pathetic. I would never be offended if someone said that I’m attractive. I think you are over reacting.

    And yes, I’m a woman.

  • The point isn’t whats illegal or not (although that seems the inevitable progression of such dogmatic political correctness) it’s the hypocrisy of being against blasphemy laws for restricting free speech and then saying that Big Fat Al’s comment is “unacceptable”. To me the term unacceptable seems to indicate that she thinks he shouldn’t say it or be allowed to say it, especially sense it was not clarified in any way. She could have said it was crude, rude, crass, etc…, but unacceptable seems really close to “you can’t”. Either we have free speech or not. To intimate otherwise seems wrong. Like I’ve said from the beginning he just should have been ignored.

  • Anonymous

    Never?  What if you had a really good point to make that challenged readers intellectually and was written specifically to invite discussion and debate and all you got in way of response was how good you look with your hair down?  That wouldn’t annoy you at all?

  • TheBlackCat

    Whether it is illegal or not is completely the point.  Freedom of speech means that people are free to say what they want, and other people are free to criticize them for it. 

    Unacceptable just means we don’t accept it.  There are many ways to react to something you don’t find acceptable, ranging from capital punishment to rolling our eyes.  Unacceptable does not imply we want to ban it, it only implies we are going to have some sort of negative reaction to it. 

    Being allowed to react negatively to someone else’s speech is one of the cornerstones of free speech.

  • TheBlackCat

    Sexism doesn’t necessarily imply discrimination.  From the dictionary.com definition:

    “1. attitudes or behavior based on traditional stereotypes of sexual roles.”

    I would say dismissing the issue at hand and reducing the woman in question to mere eyecandy certainly meets that criteria.

  • TheBlackCat

    She didn’t say “commenting on a woman’s appearance”, she said “comments like Big Fat Al’s”.

  • TheBlackCat

    No, women can be sexist too, but in my experience, and the experience of many people commenting here, these sorts of comments in these sorts of situations are far more common from men.

  • TheBlackCat

    Alright, lets give a concrete example.  You have just given a long and carefully-written presentation on an important subject.  You open the floor up to comments.  You call on a man  who raised his hand first.  He stands up, says “I think you are hot”, then sits back down.  That wouldn’t bother you at all?

  • Again, I’m referring to her first comment. The  quote you are referencing comes from her second comment.

  • TheBlackCat

    That is even worse, because it isn’t dealing with what people say at all, but rather what they think, or better yet how she would prefer to be viewed.

  • In the real world the term sexist carries with it the implication of discrimination and even hatred. It is not a word to be thrown around about a guy who commented about how he liked seeing a picture of a pretty woman. Also just to comment about the male bashing I’ve seen on here  about this (not necessarily by you TheBlackCat), I know quite a few girls who might have said something very similar or even more explicit than Big Fat Al. We are all sexual beings. Two thousand years of Christianity has not rid us of that burden and I don’t think rabid feminine political correctness will either.

  • Yep I agree and I clarified how I felt about the word she used and its implications, but thinks for your own thoughts.
    Look, I don’t see sexism as an appropriate word for this situation and I think I’ve laid out good reasons why that is; I’m not sure I can make myself more clear.

  • American mutt

    She’s an attractive woman. Now I am sexist.

  • American Mutt

    I just did a google image search on Doda. Clearly she’s a serious artist who likely never intended for people to view her a sex symbol. Anyone who has the heartless audacity to comment on her looks (which obviously have nothing to do with her profession) is a sexist pig. Doda deserves better than our misguided admiration.


  • Hardy

     Aristotle also said, in his Politics, “It is natural that the free rule the slave, the male the female, and the man the child. But they are different. The slave has no portion of the deliberative faculty; the female does have it, but it is inoperative; the child has it, but it is underdeveloped.”

    Aristotle was a total ass, and sexist.
    I also completely agree with captwasabi, to say that someone is beautiful, or sexy, or hot, is not sexism. Where he to insinuate that she was a moron, simply for being a woman, that would be sexism. One could argue that the original commenter has the wrong priorities, but his comment was in no way sexist, there is nothing that indicates that he ONLY sees her as beautiful, and nothing else, as long as he is still aware that she is a person, whether he actually places any weight behind that, is completely irrelevant. Female supremacism is becoming a religion, especially in the developed western world, where women now have more rights than men, and maleness is considered abhorrent, and is repressed in young men. As a young male of that generation, raised in Sweden (most “equal” country in the world, or somesuch) during the 1990’s, I can tell you that the whole thing disturbs me a lot, the way men are no longer allowed to be men, for fear of being socially ostracised.

  • Hardy

     also, in the example of racism, pointing out that a black man is black is not racism, ascribing an attribute to, or generalising said person just because of their skin colour, that would be racism (even if it is a positive racism, like say “all black men have giant penises”), just pointing out that someone is black, is not racism.

  • Roman

    The reason why 95%
    comments about beauty are directed toward women is they are beautiful and they
    care about beauty.  They do their hair, nails,
    makeup – they shave legs, wear  jewellery
    and paint their toenails.


     Men are not beautiful and do not care to be.  Men may be handsome, charming or have charisma
    but beauty is not the appropriate way to describe men.

  • Roman

    The reason why 95%
    comments about beauty are directed toward women is they are beautiful and they
    care about beauty.  They do their hair, nails,
    makeup – they shave legs, wear  jewellery
    and paint their toenails.

     Men are not beautiful and do not care to be.  Men may be handsome, charming or have charisma
    but beauty is not the appropriate way to describe men.

  • Anonymous

    Some men are concerned with their appearance and some women are not.  Don’t get confused by stereotypes as to what is beautiful and what isn’t.

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