Archive for November, 2005

Cooking up controversy

Jamie Oliver’s latest TV show, Jamie’s Great Escape, has provoked complaints from Catholics, the Italian embassy, and animal rights groups.

The Independent reports that some viewers were upset by his behaviour at the Farfa monastery in Italy, where he bunked off morning prayers and phoned his wife during a silent meditation period. When he served the monks a meal he claimed “it don’t get much holier than that”; and when asked to say grace he said: “For what we are about to receive, may God be truly thankful”.

Animal rights groups were upset by last night’s episode, when Oliver slit the throat of a lamb. The Mirror even had the idea of asking Massah John Beyer of Mediawatch-UK for his opinion, and the smut campaigner leapt at the chance to have a pop at Channel 4:

Channel 4 should have paid attention to people’s sensitivities. The scheduling of this scene before the watershed was inappropriate.

The Daily Mail also thought it important get a quote:

The slaughter of animals on television is something that would be shocking for young children. It might be all right for a butcher or a chef to see on television but to others it would be upsetting. Channel 4 should really have been a bit more intelligent about this.

Rome provokes single complaint (or maybe not)

The predicted public outcry against the BBC/HBO production Rome has failed to materialise. An insider source informs MWW that last night’s episode chalked up one complaint from 4.7 million viewers – and that was about the use of the metric system to describe Hadrian’s Wall. As Hadrian’s Wall didn’t feature in last night’s episode, even that complaint was probably directed at the show which followed Rome, What the Romans Did for Us.

What a degenerate nation we live in. John Beyer must be very disappointed in you all.

Lords vote to retain blasphemy law

The House of Lords reverted to type last night when they voted by 153 to 113 to retain Britain’s archaic Blasphemy Law. Last month they almost rebranded themselves as a progressive voice of sanity by voting overwhelmingly to amend the Incitement to Religious Hatred Bill. Sad to see them returning to their role as preposterous anachronisms.

The Blasphemy Law exists only to protect the tenets and beliefs of the Church of England.

Mohammed cartoon to be auctioned for quake victims

fuchsel cartoon

More news from on the cartoon controversy. Franz Füchsel, one of the 12 cartoonists who submitted a portrait of Mohammed to Jyllands-Posten, is auctioning his drawing and donating the proceeds to the Pakistan/Kashmir earthquake relief effort.

I am pleased to be able to donate my drawing to the victims of the tragic events in Kashmir.

Füchsel, whose cartoon is shown here, was surprised by the intensity of reaction against the “Faces of Mohammed” series, but has no regrets about taking part.

It was never my intention to sully or degrade someone else’s religion. I was given a task, and as a citizen in a democratic country, it is my right to have an opinion about things, even though it may be provocative.

In response to the ambassadors from 12 Muslim countries who called on the Danish prime minister to intervene, Füchsel had this to say:

Before the countries where democracy is something of a foreign term begin to read too much into this, they ought to set their own house in order. Where I live, it is okay to criticise others without being strung up.

Give that man a Nobel prize.

Royal Mail caves in to Hindu stamp rage

As reported in variousIndian news sources, the Royal Mail has bowed to pressure from Hindu community leaders and agreed not to print any more of the offending stamps.

Joanne Davis, External Relations Manager of the company, said on Monday:

Following a conversation between Barry Gardiner, Minister for Competitiveness, and the Royal Mail, the company has agreed to revise the arrangements for its special issue of 68 pence Christmas stamp.

The company will now tell Post Office branches not to issue the 68 pence Christmas stamp to customers unless specifically requested. Royal Mail will not carry out a second print run of the stamp. Current stocks will be exhausted in two to three days.

The Royal Mail has also promised to “review its procedures” to make sure that in future no offence is caused to any UK community. This means, no doubt, that it will consult with self-appointed community leaders before printing any more stamps.

Hirsi Ali: “taunt Muslims”

The Telegraph has more news on the Danish cartoon controversy (see below). The publication of 12 cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed has led to street demonstrations by thousands of Muslims.

New information from the Telegraph: the author who sparked the cartoon fest by complaining that he couldn’t find anyone to illustrate his book on the Koran and Mohammed was Kare Bluitgen, a children’s writer.

Quote from the editor of Jyllands-Posten, Carsten Juste:

To demand that we take religious feelings into consideration is irreconcilable with western democracy and freedom of expression. […] This doesn’t mean that we want to insult any Muslims.

One of the cartoonists, Franz Füchsel, said he didn’t want to offend anyone,

But I live in 2005, not 905 and I use my quill in the way that Danish law allows me.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Dutch MP and author of Submission, also offered her support:

It’s necessary to taunt Muslims on their relationship with Mohammed.

Otherwise we will never have the dialogue we need to establish with Muslims on the most central question: ‘Do you really feel that every Muslim in 2005 should follow the way of life the Prophet had 1,400 years ago, as the Koran dictates?’

It is quite extraordinary that in the 21st century anyone can get themselves worked up into a frenzy over a drawing. Nobody was harmed in the production of these cartoons. If some Muslims have a superstitious rule against drawing their prophet, then they don’t have to draw him – but their rules don’t apply to anyone else. So rather than taking to the streets to vent their rage, they should sit down, make themselves a cup of tea, and concentrate on: 1) snapping out of it, and 2) growing up.

Self-censorship by Bedfordshire police

police cartoon

According to the BBC Bedfordshire’s chief constable Gillian Parker has written a letter of complaint to the Police Federation magazine about the above cartoon.

She wrote:

The stereotypical portrayal of religious communities and the use of places of worship in a sacrilegious manner are bound to offend.

She did not explain the exact nature of the sacrilege, nor did she indicate that any actual Muslims had complained about the cartoon (or, indeed, whether or not she herself is a Muslim).

The editor of the magazine, Metin Enver, was quick to apologise:

Much of the material we publish comes from independent parties and is not necessarily the view of the Police Federation.

However, we do apologise sincerely if the cartoon featured caused any offence to anyone.

He should have consulted the MCB. Doesn’t he know they are the ones who decide whether or not Muslims should take offence at something?
(via Pickled Politics)

Rome gets 80 complaints

The Times reports that the joint HBO/BBC drama venture Rome attracted 6.6 million viewers and 80 complaints. It doesn’t say what percentage of the complainers were also viewers.

The first episode featured nudity, sex, crucifixion and a bull sacrifice. MWW predicts that Ofcom will censure the BBC for broadcasting it too close to the watershed, the precedent having been set by its “in breach” decision against Pulp Fiction, which was shown at 9pm on BBC2.

Whatever the outcome, it is unlikely the ruling will mention the appalling anachronisms in this supposedly historical drama. Latin America wasn’t discovered until the 16th century – so how do they account for all those Brazilians?

Hindu stamp rage grows

The resentment felt by the Hindu Forum of Britain over not being consulted by the Royal Mail has been further stoked up by the Royal Mail’s refusal to withdraw the offending stamp.

Kishore Ruparelia, General Secretary of the Vishwa Parishad UK and Europe:

We strongly object to the stamp depicting a Hindu couple worshiping Baby Christ. We are followers of a culture which respects all religious [sic] and beliefs but this type of depiction is denigrating and undermines our religious sentiments.

And we all know how horrible it is to have our religious sentiments undermined…

We strongly advise Royal Mail to withdraw this stamp otherwise we intend to bring out a mass demonstration to protest abbout it. This is a deliberate attempt to dilute the thinking of ordinary Hindus.

A conspiracy too! Would that be a Christian conspiracy to dilute the thinking of ordinary Hindus, thereby rendering them more susceptible to Christianity, or a Secular Liberal Elite conspiracy to dilute traditional religious values in general?

Suggested methods of protest include sending unstamped letters to Royal Mail HQ, and taking part in a demonstration if they continue to refuse to withdraw the stamp.

Ratilal Chohan, General Secretary of the Hindu Council of the North:

We cannot accept the Royal Mail argument that the stamps have been distributed and cannot be recalled. […] If they had been a food chain with a product containing cancer causing agents on the shelves of their outlets, would they not withdraw them?

Not to overestate the seriousness of the issue.

John Beyer: lock up porn viewers

Massah John Beyer, the smut-campaigning Black and White Minstrels fan who likens himself to St Paul, has written a letter to Home Secretary Charles Clarke.

Its main theme is the upcoming World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis, where he hopes the UK will take the lead in regulating porn on the internet by pressing for an international treaty on Internet Governance. As usual he witters on about what he regards as the “public interest”, and how self-regulation and consumer control are “not good enough”.

But he also comes up with a new line or argument – a real gem to add to your collection of Beyerisms:

We are also aware of a Unesco Convention that has been drawn up aimed at safeguarding cultural diversity and we understand that this, too, offers the possibility of affecting Internet content that fails to comply with the conditions as set out. It seems to us that pornography represents an imposed culture that is the very opposite of diverse!

Good one, Johnny boy!

In passing, he also commends the government’s consultation on the possession of “extreme pornographic material” (ie pictures of consenting adults pretending to hurt each other), but expresses his desire that the scope of material should be broadened to include that currently classed as “R18” by the BBFC.

In other words, he wants to imprison people for up to 3 years for looking at pictures of adults having sex.

The Melon Farmers have a few words to say about this:

I can understand people campaigning for less sex/swearing/violence on TV. But I cannot believe the pits of humanity that John Beyer has sunk to.

How can any ‘respectful’ person suggest that people should be locked up for 3 years in prison for merely viewing R18 hardcore pornography? The amount of misery inflicted on people, their families and society in general would be incalculable. This sadistic wish for the infliction of so much pain on society is surely one of the worst cases of ‘extreme pornography’ that have been reported to date. Does he also call for concentration camps to house all the people that he wants imprsioned?

(Thanks to Shaun)