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46. Condorcet, Anti-superstitious Almanack77

Condorcet, in full rebellion, details the foul punishments set out for those convicted of blasphemy.

This is a record of Louis XIV’s 1666 blasphemy laws. Blasphemers are condemned to different punishments according to the number of repeat offences. On the sixth offence the upper lip will be cut off, on the seventh the lower lip, then the whole tongue on the eighth. These punishments are only for minor cases of swearing or blasphemy; for gross blasphemy, which according to theology comes under the heading of unbelief, judges are given the right to arbitrarily inflict more severe punishments.

It is hard to decide what is more repellent about this edict – its cruelty, its stupidity, or the sheer ignorance it displays of the most elementary principles of jurisprudence.

What is even stranger is that in a compilation published in 1765 (note the date), and under the title of Penal Code, the author urges his reader to peruse the disgusting list of our laws against blasphemy so as to be righteously horrified by a crime which has become all too common and which is barely any longer prosecuted to the extent that it should be.

77 Nicolas de Condorcet (1743-1794), Almanach anti-superstitieux, ed. Anne-Marie Chouillet, Pierre Crépel, and Henri Duranton, Université de Saint-Étienne/CNRS Éditions, 1992, pp. 1 and 14.