Archive for October, 2005

…and Dionysus is an arsehole

No weblinks for this, but Metro and The Daily Telegraph carried the story on Tuesday of a Devon teenager who was sentenced to 80 hours community service for wearing a T-shirt.

From Metro:

Adam Shepherd, 19, was convicted under new anti-hate laws which ban people from displaying religiously insulting signs. The teenager was arrested after a woman complained to police when she saw his shirt, which promotes extreme heavy metal band Cradle of Filth. The T-shirt shows a picture of a nun in a pornographic pose. On the back is a comment about Jesus.

The words on the back read “Jesus is a Cunt”.

Clearly Adam can’t have been prosecuted under the “new anti-hate laws” because they do not exist. However, a bit of research shows that the wearing of this T-shirt has led to at least two previous convictions in the UK.

Feb 1, 2005, Dale Wilson, 35, of Norwich, was arrested by two police officers as he walked to the newsagents on Halloween ’04. He pleaded guilty to “religiously aggravated offensive conduct”. He was eventually discharged and told to “grow up”. He paid £150 costs, and the judge ordered that the T-shirt be destroyed.

Back in ’97, Rob Kenyon, 29, of London was found guilty of committing the offence of “Profane Representation under the 1839 Act” by Bow Street Magistrates Court. He was fined £150.

Cradle of Filth drummer, Nicholas Barker, was also arrested in Dover and charged with “creating a public disorder” for wearing the same T-Shirt. There were no further proceedings against him.

MORE HISTORY: From the NME: in 2001 the then Lord Provost of Glasgow, Alex Mosson, campaigned to have the t-shirt prevented from being sold at Tower Records. The record shop was raided on two occasions by police, and eventually agreed to stop stocking the garment.

The Catholic League of America, back in 1998 (amusing “Victory For Sickos” story) and 1999 (their call to action), also complained bitterly about the t-shirt.

(Thanks to Simon)



Bullying cult group The Church of Scientology have slapped a “cease and desist” order on a New Zealand-based parody site,

Although it is a clearly-signposted satire, the CoS is demanding its owners hand over the domain name with threats to sue for up to $100,000. The webmaster is also receiving nightly phone calls and personal visits from members of the NZ branch of multi-million dollar religion.

The site focuses on the madcap antics of tiny scientologist Tom “You don’t know psychiatry. I do” Cruise.

(Heads-up from Gagwatch)

Methodists object to alcohol/gambling connection

The latest ASA adjudications include the response to a complaint by the Methodist Church about poster ads for an online casino (see pic). The church objected that the posters were irresponsible because they associated gambling with alcohol consumption.

The complaint was not upheld.

In Rome, Romans in Rome don’t do as Romans did

The BBC has launched a pre-emptive defence of Rome, its joint venture with HBO.

The first episode kicks off with a flogging, a crucifixion, and a ritual animal sacrifice, with full-frontal nudity, violent sex, and the words “piss-drinking sons of circus whores” following later on. Actor Ray Stevenson said at the press launch:

People will be told it features graphic content and adult language. If you’re going to be offended, don’t put yourself in that position.

However, according to The Times, the show has already proved too much for Italian network RAI to stomach. They will screen a heavily edited version next year. Paulo Masini, an RAI exec, said:

We realised from the start that the makers of Rome had a different concept of Ancient Rome than we do.

If we had broadcast the version being shown in Britain or America, it would have been incomprehensible to Italians.

The Times claims that the BBC is likely to fall foul of Ofcom for broadcasting the series so close to the watershed, at 9pm on BBC2.

It is not known many people have already composed their letters of complaint.

Religious hatred law – a bear pit for extremists

Rohan Jayasekera has a good article on the Index on Censorship website in which he foresees legal chaos should the proposed incitement to religious hatred bill become law.

Calls to prosecute the blasphemous will become rallying cries. Religious extremists will lead, fired not by fear of violence or threat of crime, but by the desire to bring their apostates and critics to court to be punished and silenced.

(Thanks to Simon in the comments for the tip)

UPDATE: The Pub Philosopher has compiled a useful list of groups campaigning against the bill.

BK “cone man” speaks out

Remember the furore last month when Burger King withdrew an ice cream
because of a single complaint that the swirl on the lid looked a
bit like the word “Allah” in Arabic? Well, the original complainer, 27-year-old Rashad Akhtar, has apparently turned up in the comments on that MWW post.

Here he justifies his action, shares his knowledge of Arabic
script, bemoans the state of the British media, and offers his
assessment of the quality of readership attracted by this website:

I personally could’nt give a damn what anyone of the above people feel
or think about how i acted and my motives, unlike most i don’t jsut sit
on my as when someone does something to offend me of my beliefs, the
word does resemble the arabic for god you ignorant fools, evrything i
said in that article to the eastern eye was taken our of context as per
usual when anything is reported to the media in this country.

Anyway i take all the above crap with pinch of salt, sticks and stones
my friends……… seems this website is for the ignorant, uneducated
masses of which i once was, but i have the knowledge and the freedom to
get to the front page of an asian tabloid so i did make an impact, what
have you done today apart from wipe your ass and have a wank??????

yours truly Mr Akhtar

It should be noted that these may not be the words of the Rashad Akhtar
who made the BK complaint. But, you have to admit, they do have the
whiff of authenticity about them.

Madonna to face punishment from Heaven

Madonna is in trouble with God because of a song on her forthcoming album. Titled Isaac, the song is a tribute to one of the founders of the mystical Jewish Kabbalah movement, of which Madonna and husband Guy Ritchie are keen followers.

Naughty Madonna shouldn’t have used Yitshak Luria’s name, according to Rabbi Rafael Cohen, who told Israeli newspaper, Maariv:

There is a prohibition in Jewish law against using the holy name of our master, the Sage Isaac, for profit. This is an inappropriate act, and one can only pity her at the punishment she will receive from Heaven.

The ‘Ari’ is holy and pure, and immodest people cannot sing about him.

Altogether now.

Religious Hatred Bill – opposition grows

Principled opposition to the proposed incitement to religious hatred law continues to grow, with the director of the National Campaign for the Arts, and the head of the Writers’ Guild anti-censorship committee both speaking out against it (source: The Stage).

Victoria Todd of the NCA:

This bill must not be allowed to proceed in its current form. We have serious worries that protest groups and troublemakers will use it as a justification for infringing an artist’s right to challenge, to stimulate and to provoke. The NCA will lobby hard to ensure that freedom of speech remains inviolable by this and future governments[…]

NCA members feel that this bill sets a dangerous precedent, enshrining legislation that could be misinterpreted or re-interpreted by a less liberal government.

Lydia Rivlin of the Writers’ Guild spoke at the Trades Union Congress, attacking the bill as a “Frankenstein monster of legislation”.

Gurpreet Bhatti wrote a play [Behzti] which observed that sometimes men in religious authority abuse the trust of their congregants. A mob of Sikh militants decided to take violent exception to this and, in the atmosphere being created by discussions about the current legislation, I think they probably had half an idea they would get away with riot and death threats.

Nine months after the riot there have been no arrests, no charges and Gurpreet is still in hiding for fear of her life. So, we have a playwright in this country who has been incarcerated for what she has written. The Racial and Religious Hatred Bill is already being applied, by proxy.

Meanwhile, Christian opposition to the bill is not confined to demented evangelicals worried about losing their right to vilify Islam. Simon Barrow, co-director of Ekklesia, spoke about the bill on UK Christian News TV. He claimed that public order legislation was the best way to tackle threat and harassment against particular community groups. Speaking of yesterday’s demonstration outside Parliament he said,

It is ironic that some people who are today enthusiastically waving placards calling for ‘free speech’ were recently calling for censorship of Jerry Springer – The Opera.

Ekklesia believes that Britain’s blasphemy laws should be completely withdrawn.

Ban the Qur’an

A thousand or so demonstrated outside Parliament yesterday against the proposed incitement to religious hatred law. The protest was made up largely of evangelical Christians, but the National Secular Society was also represented.

The almighty nutter Stephen Green of Christian Voice was there too to provide suitably barmy quotes for the press to latch on to. He told the Guardian that, should the bill pass into law, his organisation will take legal action against bookshops selling the Qur’an:

If the Qur’an is not hate speech, I don’t know what is. We will report staff who sell it. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that unbelievers must be killed.

Wiccans or believers in other gods might have something to say about that. Exodus 22:18 commands that “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” and, two verses later, “He that sacrificeth unto [any] god, save unto the LORD, shall be utterly destroyed.”


Tate defends itself

In today’s Guardian director of the Tate, Stephen Deuchar defends his decision not to show Latham’s God is Great.

We received unequivocal advice that there was a very high risk that a work of art of this kind, shown at this time, would invite some form of attack or physical intervention likely to endanger visitors, staff and, of course, the work itself. It would have been impossible to prevent this without providing a security cordon that would itself have suggested a charged political dimension which was not intended.

But he still doesn’t say who gave them this “unequivocal advice”. Or why the option of exhibiting the work without fuss or fanfare was not considered preferable to handing a victory to the repressive forces of artistic censorship before even a metaphorical shot was fired.

(Tipped from Harry’s Place)