Photo credit: PAP/Rafał Guz.
Setting freedom of religion and expression back a few centuries, Poland’s supreme court has ruled against Behemoth frontman Adam “Nergal” Darski in a case where he tore a bible during a live performance while insulting the Catholic Church.
According to Reuters, Poland’s Supreme Court has ruled that Adam “Nergal” Darski, frontman for Polish extreme metallers BEHEMOTH, committed a crime when when he called the Catholic Church “the most murderous cult on the planet” during the band’s September 2007 performance in Gdynia and tore up a copy of the Bible, calling it “a book of lies.”
A lower court will now decide if Darski is guilty of the crime, which carries a maximum sentence of two years in jail.
“[The decision] is negative and restricts the freedom of speech. The court decided that this is allowed in a democratic system,” Jacek Potulski, a lawyer for Darski, told Reuters. He added, “We are still arguing that we were dealing with art, which allows more critical and radical statements.”
Ryszard Nowak, chairman of the privately run Nationwide Defense Committee Against Sects, told Polish television about today’s court ruling, “The Supreme Court said clearly that there are limits for artists which cannot be crossed.”
Metal has been known to be quite theatrical at times, and that’s the kind of stage act that Nergal presents in the name of art and free expression. It’s a shame that people still — in 2012 — take offense over this kind of expression to the point of legal action. But then again, I suppose it would have been ultimately worse for Nergal had he tore the Quran instead. Religious fanaticism really is a blight on our culture. Hopefully things turn out in favor of Nergal and this winds up setting a precedent in conservative Poland that freedom of expression and religion is a concept that can’t be taken away and is an essential human right which we have all come to expect. Let’s hope that the lower courts decide that he is not guilty.