Archive for March, 2005

Springer verdict – reactions

Quotes from the usual suspects, Beyer and Green, in today’s papers are surprisingly thin on the ground. Only The Sun
gives Green’s opinion (“It is corrupt”), completely ignoring the Mediawatch-UK press release:

scandalous… simply not good enough… sophistry… stupefying arrogance

The Guardian and The Scotsman quote actual sentences from it.

The Church of England’s reaction is given in The Scotsman:

Naturally we are disappointed at the Governors’ decision. Clearly, they took a long and serious look at this issue and were unable to reach a unanimous viewpoint.

This was a programme that gave rise to unprecedented levels of public concern and, as the Governors concede, caused significant offence to large numbers of people.

We await the adjudication by Ofcom on this case.

The Evangelical Alliance are quoted in The Independent as being “deeply disappointed” and they praise the “courage” of Sarkis,

We reflect the views not only of Christians, but also of many ordinary licence-fee payers who were offended … They will be bewildered by this decision

The Times and The Scotsman both cite a positive response from the National Secular Society spokesman Terry Sanderson:

The furore caused by Christian fundamentalists has been put into perspective by this decision.

The BBC decided to show Jerry Springer – The Opera not because it wanted to offend people but because it adjudged it to have artistic merit.

We congratulate the BBC, they have done exactly the right thing.

The Scotsman also quotes Lib Dem MP Evan Harris:

The Government needs to abolish the blasphemy law so that religious groups cannot attempt to blackmail broadcasters or the media with threats of prosecution when free speech demands that no subject – religious or otherwise – is protected from criticism or satire

But the secular/religious divide is not as clear-cut as it appears. The relatively sensible Rev Colin Morris has a well-argued article in The Guardian:

It would be curious if Christianity, having survived 2,000 years of martyrdom and mass persecution, were under threat from a barrage of swear words.

UPDATE: Bloggerheads has a useful roundup of events leading up to this point, with particular reference to the bogus claims made in the original anonymous email circular (8,000 swearwords, Roly Keating’s “pushing back the boundaries” non-quote) which started off this whole furore. Will we ever know who wrote it? Unlikely.
UPDATE: Chortle carries an amusingly enraged quote from Green which everyone else seems to have missed:

It’s a complete aberration [sic] of their responsibility. If the governors are supposed to be a watchdog and they can’t see why Jerry Springer – the Opera shouldn’t have been shown then they have no reason to exist.

BBC rejects Springer complaints

The BBC Governors’ Programme Complaints Committee has decided not to uphold complaints made against JS:TO.

The full report is available on the BBC website.

The decision was made by a majority of 4 to 1, and can be summarised as follows:

– the offence – particularly the offence to religious beliefs – caused to sizeable numbers of people should not be underestimated or taken lightly

– reasonable and comprehensive attempts were made to minimise offence through appropriate scheduling, clear warnings, and the use of other programmes prior to the broadcast to set the piece in context

– the BBC is committed to freedom of expression, and has a duty to innovate, to reflect new and challenging ideas, and to make available to its audiences work of outstanding artistic significance

– in all the circumstances, the outstanding artistic significance of the programme outweighed the offence which it caused to some viewers and so the broadcasting of the programme was justified.

The only member of the Committee to disagree with the decision not to uphold complaints was Angela Sarkis, a former Vice-President of the African Caribbean Evangelical Alliance.

Stephen Green has called it “a black day for British broadcasting”.

Christian Voice begs for cash

Charity-blackmailing Christian Stephen Green has discovered that his promised private prosecution against the BBC could cost him serious money. As a result, there’s a new banner ad up on the CV website: “CLICK HERE to help us fight the blasphemy of Jerry Springer the Opera!”.

Clicking there gets you a .pdf begging letter, reproduced here in HTML for your reading pleasure.

Here’s the rub:

Clearly, if Jerry Springer the Opera is not found in court to be blasphemous, then nothing in Britain is sacred. We have to take a stand. A line must be drawn. However, the costs of the action could exceed £75,000. Would you pray for the Lord to provide at least that sum, and prayerfully consider a donation yourself?

Legal experts for the National Secular Society have already described Green’s chance of a successful prosecution as “virtually nil“. Not that it matters to him, of course, as a result either way would only confirm that the will of Almighty God has been done:

As it is, if we fail to convince a jury that Jerry Springer the Opera is blasphemous, it will be a sign of His judgment on our land. If they convict, it will be a sign of His mercy.


Dibley more offensive than Springer, says CRAC head

The Guardian today has two articles about a widely-ignored media group called the Central Religious Advisory Committee (CRAC). It was formed 40 years ago, and is currently chaired by The Bishop of Norwich, Graham James.

On the Vicar of Dibley Xmas special:

I thought the initial series very good. I thought the last Christmas Day edition more seriously offensive than Jerry Springer. The jokes about Jesus were in pretty poor taste and the drunken performances at midnight mass lost touch with reality,

says the bishop, who obviously knows reality when he sees it.

Other complaints include the fact that CRAC wasn’t consulted over the broadcast of JS:TO, that Ofcom has agreed to allow ITV to halve its religious output, and that “the western secular liberal mindset seems to dominate broadcasting”.

As opposed to the middle eastern theocratic totalitarian mindset, presumably.

New links category

Note the new links category on the right. Also note the vile hypocrite at the bottom of it.

Follow your conscience.

Event, March 30

London-or-thereabouts residents may be interested that The Institute of Ideas is hosting a debate entitled “The Right to Be Offensive – does anything go in the arts?”

The Soho Theatre, 30 March, 9pm. Tickets a fiver.

Stephen Green flashbacks Pt 2 – A dig at Di

It is quite well known that Stephen Green of Christian Voice is opposed to the wedding of Charles and Camilla for biblical reasons (they are not divorced in the “eyes of God”, or somesuch). Obviously Camilla is a hell-bound harlot, but you may not remember that our lovable charity blackmailer also had a go at the saintly Princess of Wales while she was still alive. Well, what does she expect if she works for the “homosexual lobby”?

From The Daily Mail, October 1, 1992:

[Diana] is using her position to promote a homosexual agenda. […] Somebody is obviously getting at her, perhaps because she is very close and sympathetic to showbusiness characters.

Not only that, but,

William and Harry could grow up “unsure of their masculinity” because Prince Charles was not “emotionally involved” with them

Oh dear. Maybe they’ll be okay as long as those showbusiness characters don’t get at them.

Bradford Alhambra to show JS:TO

BBC Bradford reports that The Alhambra is in talks with the producers of JS:TO, and could stage the play in May 2006.

The Reverend Douglas Legge of Thorpe Edge Evangelical Church isn’t happy:

I’ve never seen it and I don’t think it is necessary to see it as I’ve read sufficient information about it to see what kind of production it is.

Any contact with this is degrading to even someone who mentally rejects it. It is blasphemous and sets out to insult Jesus Christ who came into the world and gave his life for us.

It offends those who believe in and love Jesus. It basically intends to mock religion.

Alhambra manager Adam Renton is the voice of sanity:

I would hope the audience use their own personal preferences and make up their own minds about whether to see the show.

Reverend Legge, on the other hand, would like to make up your mind for you. He knows best, you see.

(Thanks to Flotsam)

Don’t kill yourself

Beyer has an essay on the BBC news site. It’s a comment of BBC Two’s IF… show which dramatised a suicide on a fictional future reality show.

The essay is rambling and incohesive, ranging over a few of the things that Beyer doesn’t like about modern culture, and concluding (in the sense of “ending” rather than “arriving at a conclusion based on argumentation”) with the paragraph:

Suicidal tendencies are a human dysfunction and, as the Mash signature tune tells us, “suicide is easy” and broadcasters should exercise “reality caution” before it is too late.

It is a poor essay, and I wouldn’t recommend reading it unless you have a particular interest in the not-very-clear mind of this Black and White Minstrels fan who likens himself to St Paul.

(Thanks to Dan Factor)

Charity blackmail “a new phenomenon”

From Libby Purves’s comment piece in The Times today:

In a lot of moral dilemmas I happily say “money isn’t everything”. But when solid good causes start to suffer from the hyperactive, self-righteous consciences of every passing bully, we should notice.