Archive for June, 2005

Romans back in Britain

Sam West, the new artistic director of Sheffield Theatres, plans to revive Howard Brenton’s The Romans in Britain. This is the play that inspired Mary Whitehouse in 1980 to prosecute the director Michael Bogdanov “for procuring an act of gross indecency”. The scene in question was a homosexual rape. The case was eventually withdrawn, but the precedent was set that the Sexual Offences Act applies to theatre, which has prevented any theatre reviving the play.

Says West,

It is an extraordinarily brilliant play shunted into the sidelines by a preposterous legal action. It’s clearly about the history of imperialism but its brilliance lies in the way it forces us to empathise with two groups of people at the same time: both the Roman invaders and their Celtic victims who are not plucky and misunderstood but violent, crass, difficult and irreligious. What for the Romans is a tiny moment of history is from the Celts’ point of view a disaster. It’s precisely the kind of story we should be telling now in that it’s about the dubious legacy of imperialism.

A spokesman for Whitehouse’s re-named organisation, Mediawatch-UK, says,

Any revival will have to take 1980 very seriously. The precedent set then still stands, so they’ll have to consider if it’s worth including this scene.

(The quote is from today’s Independent, but I can’t get the link because their search facility is sporked. A dodgy copy can be found at Mediawatch-UK.)

Jedi MP looks forward to protection

Newly elected Labour MP for Copeland, Jamie Reed, claims to be the first Jedi Member of Parliament. Being a party loyalist, he fully supports the government’s proposed Incitement to Religious Hatred Bill.

From his maiden speech:

I crave the indulgence of the House in interrupting such an important and enjoyable debate to deliver my maiden speech. Furthermore, as the first Jedi Member of this place, I look forward to the protection under the law that will be provided to me by the Bill. I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Malik) for his convincing and searing testimony in support of the proposed legislation.

Pass me my light sabre.

Christians unite against Co-op

Relgious pressure groups the Christian Peoples Alliance and Operation Christian Vote have issued a joint statement to condemn the Co-operative Bank for terminating CV’s account.

From The Good News:

Politically correct ‘diversity’ is a cover for intolerance and Christophobia that borders on sheer bigotry. If you don’t agree with their views, you are excluded and punished.

In contrast with the inclusiveness of those Christian churches who welcome practising homosexuals, atheists, and Muslims into their congregations with open arms, and whose god has no punishment lined up for non-believers.

That is the ugly position the Co-op bank has taken. Leaders of all faiths in the UK should condemn the bank and call on their adherents to boycott the Co-op. After all, once the bank has finished with the evangelical Christian Voice organisation, logic insists that the Co-op must go after orthodox Catholics, Jews and Muslims next, as they also consider homosexuality sinful and disordered – unless, like the perennial playground bully, the Co-op only picks on small organisations.

Time will tell.

MWW wonders how, say, Stonewall would get on if it wished to use the services of, for example, Kingdom Bank?

The Rescuers

In an operation reminiscent of an episode of the A-Team, a group of Sikhs from Leamington Spa bravely invaded a wedding in Slough to rescue their Holy Book from certain contamination by the presence of cigarettes, alcohol, and meat.

The Respect to Guru Granth Sahibji Campaign (no website as yet, apparently) is led by Jaswinder “Hannibal” Singh Ubhi, who explained that they would not tolerate the use of the holy book in “social venues”.

We will use any means whatsoever to stop this happening. All we had to do was make sure we got the holy book and got the hell out of there to the nearest temple and restored the book to its rightful place.

They flattened a priest in the process – obviously a small price to pay when the purity of your magic book is at stake.

Hytner hits

The director of the National Theatre, Nicholas Hytner, has a good article in the Sunday Telegraph.

This autumn the NT is putting on a play about St Paul, the inventor of the religion known as Christianity. Unless, says Hytner, the Religious Hatred Bill is passed and someone tries to prosecute: “I’m not prepared to do seven years in jail for it.”

In its present form, this unnecessary law will represent the most serious threat to freedom of speech since the old Lord Chamberlain’s office, when plays were censored or banned because they didn’t fit in with the Lord Chamberlain’s view of what was “decent” or conducive to public morals. But more than that, it will mark an attack on the values of the freedom of thought and religious tolerance that are the heritage of the Enlightenment. All of us who are not religious fanatics want a free and tolerant society. The history of the last 500 years shows that we cannot achieve a free and tolerant society by ceding ground to religious extremists.

Co-op “inundated” with support messages

The Co-op have issued their own press release

We have been inundated with messages of support for our stance after Christian Voice issued a press release, which has received national coverage on radio, TV and in the newspapers. In response we are vigorously asserting our customers’ ethical policy.

Seemingly unperturbed by CV’s threatened boycott.

They also provide a special email address for messages on the subject: ethics(AT)

(Thanks to Garry of BSSC in the comments)

“Standing up for righteousness”

A press release from the presumptiously-named Christian Voice calls for all Christians to boycott the Co-op bank for its ethical stance against homophobia.

Stephen Green, National Director of Christian Voice, said today: “The decision from the Co-operative Bank fits a pattern where politically-correct bully-boys try to attack Christian organisations, Christian symbols, the Bible, and in the case of Jerry Springer the Opera and BBC2, even the person of our Saviour.”

It quotes from the Co-op letter which gave CV the bad news, and includes Green’s retort:

Standing up for righteousness is what we do. In fact you could say there are dozens of such pronouncements in my own book “The Sexual Dead-End”, which was published in 1992.

Green is clearly still quite proud of this book, which includes the allegation that 20% of gay men regularly have sex with live gerbils.

Explaining the reasons for CV choosing the Co-op bank in the first place, the press release goes on,

At the time, there was no mention by them that people who believe that homosexual acts are sinful would not be welcome. We feel let down, frankly, and the whole business has left a sour taste in the mouth.


We are now calling upon Christians who bank with and shop at the Co-op to withdraw their business until such time as this bank’s unethical and discriminatory attitude changes. Clearly, and on their own admission, the Co-op is not the bank for those who honour the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

There you go.

Co-operating with Satan

Charity blackmailer Stephen Green’s sense of self-righteous persecution received a boost when the Co-operative Bank asked Christian Voice to close its account because of its anti-homosexual views.

According to the PA (reported in the Guardian), Green has 30 days from June 6 to close the account.

A spokesman for the bank said,

It has come to the bank’s attention that Christian Voice is engaged in discriminatory pronouncements based on the grounds of sexual orientation.

This public stance is incompatible with the position of the Co-operative Bank, which publicly supports diversity and dignity in all its forms for our staff, customers and other stakeholders.

Speaking from his closet in Carmarthen, Green said,

The Co-op bank, for all its fine words, is discriminating against us on the grounds of conscience and religion.

Never mind. CV may not have any money left to bank soon, as it is still pursuing an expensive blasphemy action against the BBC, claiming that Jerry Springer: The Opera portrayed Jesus as a “sexual deviant”, when in fact it portrayed a sexual deviant as Jesus.

UPDATE: Contact details of the Co-op bank, should you wish to express an opinion on their decision.

(Thanks to Scaryduck)

Religious hate law clears first hurdle

But it’s okay, because Charles Clarke has promised to consider amendments when it reaches its committee stages.

We will carefully consider any suggestions for how the wording of the bill might be improved, particularly in reassuring people about freedom of speech.

Clarke had also promised to consult with various interest groups before presenting the Bill to parliament for a third time. No such consultation took place.

Witch’s brew

The Religious Hatred Bill is up for the vote in parliament tonight, and if it is passed the Black Sheep Brewery could be the first to get its collar felt as a result.

According the the National Secular Society’s weekly Newsline a self-styled witch by the name of Karla Korkodolis sent the brewery a letter reading:

I found out today about your beer called ‘Holy Grail’, and I need to point something out. I understand that perhaps you were attempting some Monty Python humour with your line, ‘Tempered over Burning Witches’, but that is as crass sounding as saying your beer was tempered over Burning Jews. Can you imagine the uproar if you had printed that? Well, Wiccans and witches are alive and well, and we are unhappy that our Holocaust, with thousands if not millions of innocent women and men burned at the stake, should be the butt of jokes. Your label is in very poor taste, and offensive to me as well as my fellow witches. Please note that Wicca is a recognized religion, and religious intolerance is something that civilized humans are attempting to wipe out. Please remove the offensive line from your beer labels, and issue an apology.

The fact that the pointy-hatted broom jockey copied the letter to the NSS does cause a blip on the spoof-dar, but the possibility of the law being used this way is real. Home Office minister Paul Goggins has made it clear that Wiccans are included under the proposed legislation.

(Tipped from The New Humanist)