Archive for July, 2005

Incitement to Religious Hatred – examples please!

Neil Addison, barrister and creator of Religion Law UK, has had an interesting letter published in The Muslim News on the subject of the proposed Incitement to Religious Hatred Bill. We have taken the liberty of publishing it here in full:

Sir, In your editorial comment on the proposed Incitement to Religious Hatred Law you said “Sir, John Stevens, said in October 2001, that he sent hate mails received by Muslims after September 11, to the Crown Prosecution Services (CPS) to see if prosecutions can be brought against them. When challenged by The Muslim News that as the CPS will not be able to prosecute the cases as incitement to religious hatred was legal, he acknowledged that there was a need for the outlawing of incitement to religious hatred.”
Can I just point out that the sending of “Hate mail” is already a crime contrary to s1 Malicious Communications Act 1988. If more than one piece of “hate mail” is sent then it is a crime contrary to s2 Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and if religiously aggravated ie inspired by religious hatred there is a maximum sentence of 2 years imprisonment.
You also accuse Liberal and Conservative MPs and the media of whipping up “ an atmosphere of revulsion by effectively putting Satanists, witches and even child molesters on a par with the protection of Muslims”.
Can I just point out that even the Government itself has accepted that Witchcraft and Satanism will be regarded as a “religion or belief” for the purpose of this legislation
Part of the problem with this entire debate on the Religious Hatred law is that nobody who supports the Bill has come up yet with an example of behaviour which should be prosecuted but which is not already a criminal offence. If anyone can give me such an example I would be glad to hear it.
Neil Addison (Barrister)

Well? We’re waiting.

The ASA rules

l-word poster
The Advertising Standards Authority has ruled in favour of Living TV’s poster campaign for its lesbian drama, The L-word. It received 650 complaints.

The Authority noted that Living TV had sought Copy Advice and taken care in the siting of the posters. It acknowledged that the posters had offended some people, nevertheless, the Authority considered that the images were not sexually explicit and accurately reflected the contents of the TV programme. It concluded that the posters were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence, be seen as degrading to women or unsuitable to be seen by children.

(Thanks to Andrew in the comments)

No nudity. No violence. Unspeakable obscenity.

That’s the tagline of The Aristocrats, a film due for release on July 29 in the US. It features a host of famous comedians retelling the same, utterly obscene, joke – each one trying to outdo the other in pushing back the boundaries of taste and decency (to coin a phrase).

According to The Times the joke dates back nearly a century, and was passed on as a trade secret among comedians.

Several cinemas in the US have refused to show it, and it has not been given an official rating. Christian critic Dr Ted Baehr has branded it “a foul movie”

They think they are pushing the envelope but they don’t understand that most of America is turned off by their antics

The film hasn’t yet registered on the radars of the usual suspects here in the UK, but it’s just a matter of time. Watch this space.

Oh, and if you haven’t heard the joke, you can watch Cartman’s version (Quicktime movie), or read it at the Dead Frog, where you can while away a pleasant afternoon clicking on the “Random Aristocrats Joke” button.

Retired teacher, voice of the nation

According to The Daily Mail (no link as yet, extract from Mediawatch-UK), teachers – ie an unnamed “retired teacher” – claim that Saturday morning TV shows are “encouraging poor language skills”.

The BBC responded by pointing out that Dick and Dom in da Bungalow was aimed at 8 to 12 year olds, and that it was therefore unsurprising that it does not appeal to some adults. Particularly anonymous retired teachers who readf The Daily Mail.

John Beyer, self-styled St Paul-alike and smut campaigner extraordinaire, leapt gleefully at the news (if it can really be described as “news”):

It seems the BBC has fallen at the first hurdle! This week, at the BBC’s AGM, the chairman of the Governors, Michael Grade, said that the corporation had ‘not paid enough attention to licence fee payers and needed to start listening more to the public than to management.’ The standard response today to criticism seems to suggest that the corporation is still not listening.

Naughty BBC. They should jump to attention when a retired teacher is quoted in The Daily Mail. We all should.

UPDATE: The retired teacher is Joyce Watts, who made her speech at the annual conference of the Professional Association of Teachers yesterday. In her study of programmes, she gives this example of a typical children’s show:

Two presenters – usually one female one male – from the moment they are on air they shout – exuberance is the order of the day – every time –
and the winding up process begins highlighting who will be on the programme and ‘what we are all going to do’. This sets the scene of loud, wild enthusiasm. We all shout and scream because X will be here later – then – we are going to have Y group – Hooray, yeah – yeah! don’t you mean yes!. We play games – we all jump up and down, all scream when someone does something right.

Then on comes X more screams, we laugh and talk loudly – too loudly and too quickly.

Joyce went on to say “This encouragement for noise, poor language and diction is not helpful to the young”. Her motion was seconded by Peter Morris, who demonstrated he has his finger on the zeitgeist when he observed:

Today’s heroes are Rodney and Del – a far-flung distance from the morality and language of Dixon of Dock Green.

Rodney and Del? You pl*nker!

Festival of filth

Challenging the proposed Incitement to Religious Hatred Bill will be a dominant feature in this year’s Edinburgh Festival fringe, according to The Oberver today.

Stewart Lee, author of Jerry Springer: The Opera, promises a particularly blasphemous routine:

I had wanted to call my show Stewart Lee Likes to Incite Religious Hatred, but I thought it was such a bad, woolly law, that it would not still be around by the summer. […]

I have tried to write the most indefensibly blasphemous show there could possibly be. A lot of it is a dialogue between me and Jesus about what counts as acceptable forms of expression. It ends with Jesus asking my forgiveness.

Catholic website counters Da Vinci Code

Launched to coincide with the feast day of St Mary Magdelene, a new website by the Catholic Enquiry Office seeks to counter the misinformation of Dan Brown’s best-selling The Da Vinci Code.

Speaking to The Times, Monsignor Keith Barltrop, director of the CEO said,

There is huge interest in the book. It poses as the truth but it clearly is not. It is a damn good read but it is a long way from the truth.

In case you were wondering, the website contains a link to an article which explains “How can we know what is true and real?” (warning: Word download), which in turn explains how Monsignor Barltrop can make such statements with confidence. From the article:

Catholics believe that God is the source of all life and truth, the source of all that is created – therefore it logically follows that if you do not know him you can not know the truth about the world in which you live, the afterlife and ultimately yourself.

To be exact, it logically follows that Catholics believe that if you do not know him… etc. Small quibble.

The Da Vinci Code is due to be released as a movie next year, and will be filmed at Lincoln. Westminster Abbey refused permission to film on its premises claiming that the novel was “theologically unsound”. More tautology, vicar?

How did Mediawatch-UK miss this one?

Probably because it was reported in that mouthpiece of the Metropolitan Liberal Elite, The Guardian.

An American professor at the University of Utah, Dr Judith Reisman (interesting bio on Adult Christianity), has conducted studies which prove pornography affects the physical structure of the brain. Her paper, impressively-titled The Psychopharmacology of Pictorial Pornography Restructuring Brain, Mind & Memory & Subverting Freedom of Speech, is available as .pdf download on her website.

Apparently, porn damages the brain by stimulating the release of an “erototoxin”, affecting those parts involved in reasoning and free speech. Therefore people who view pornography shouldn’t be protected under the First Amendment.

The “research” was conducted under the auspices of The Lighted Candle Society:

It is the purpose of the Lighted Candle Society to preserve the American Republic from the ultimate tragedy of disintegration that will inevitably come to pass if the trends regarding moral degradation continue unabated.

Sounds familiar.

(Tipped from The Pagan Prattle. More info on Reichman available at Bartholomew’s Notes)

Evangelical Christian uses the word “naivety”

Angela Sarkis, the only member of the BBC Governors Programme Complaints Committee to vote against supporting the decision to show Jerry Springer: The Opera, last night accused her fellow governors of naivety.

In looking at it very carefully it was quite clear that staff had followed guidelines. The issue I felt was that the management showed a degree of naivety of the fact that there would be complaints coming from people of faith. There was a great deal of naivety.

The broadcast attracted 63,000 complaints, largely due to Christian pressure groups cottoning on to the web as a tool for convenient one-click whingeing. 55,000 of them were received before the programme was shown.

The complaints were rejected not only by the governors, but also Ofcom and the High Court.

No doubt a grisly fate awaits them in an eternal post-death torture chamber.


Potterphobia hits Lincolnshire village

As a plan to promote reading among his pupils, “Harry Potter Day” probably sounded like a winner to Paul Martin, head teacher of Holt Primary School in Skellingthorpe. But he didn’t take into account the reactions of local Christians.

A letter from the rector, Richard Billinghurst (who, incidentally, owns a guinea pig), led directly to the cancellation of Harry Potter day – much to the upset and confusion of local children.

According to Billinghurst he never asked the head to cancel the day, but merely wanted him to be aware that “witches and wizards are real” and that they posed a real danger to children.

Unlike priests, who are only make-believe and pose no threat to children whatsoever?

Pontiff takes pot shot at Potter

According to ITV news the Pope, while he was still plain-old Cardinal Ratzinger, gave his approval to the views of German author Gabriel Kuby, who has written a book called Harry Potter – Good or Evil.

…thank you for the instructive book. It is good that you enlighten people about Harry Potter, because these are subtle seductions which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly.

Kuby also gives a useful ten-point list of arguments detailing why Harry Potter is Bad. If you don’t read German, Google provides this rough translation, which gives the whole thing an agreeably demented tone. For example:

8. It is an offense against the recent generation to entice it spielerisch to the magic and to fill their fantasy with pictures of a world, in which the bad governs, a world, which not only as hopeless, but when worthwhile one represents.

(Thanks to Dan Factor)