Archive for February, 2006

Counter-demo for Springer protestors

Jerry Springer: The Opera opened at the De Montfort Hall in Leicester last night accompanied not only by the usual gaggle of Springer protestors, but also by a counter-demo by the active Leicester Secular Society in support of free speech. As far as we can gather, this is the first time the anti-Springer brigade have encountered organised opposition.

If the show is coming to a theatre near you, and you want to know what the Christian demonstrators are up to (if anything), Stephen Green of Christian Voice has helpfully set up a web page ( with contact details for would-be activists.

UPDATE: The Leicester Secular Society reports that supporters of the show actually outnumbered anti-Springer protestors!

UPDATE: This was not the first time Springer protestors had faced opposition. A couple of hardy souls turned up in Birmingham to defend free speech, too. Well done them! (Thanks Andrew and Marc in the comments)

Galloway on the Mo-toons

From the clear headed sanity of Trevor Phillips, to the opposite extreme. Harry’s Place has a BBC transcript of an interview George Galloway did with El Khabar newspaper in Ageria. When aked his opinion on the Danish Mo-toons and the reaction of the Muslim world, this is what he said:

…frankly what happened is an insult to Islam and Muslims. Personally,
I condemn these barbaric and evil acts. Today, the objective of the Western
states is to control the oil of the Muslims whatever the price. In fact,
the cartoons published in Denmark did not surprise me because the Western
states have been waging fierce attacks against Islam for years. These began
by humiliation, insults and then occupation. Today they reached the point
of ridiculing the prophet. This incident is worse than the 11 September
attacks in the US and the 7/7 incidents in London. Therefore, today it is
the right of Muslims to express their anger and to defend their right and

So publishing a handful of satirical cartoons is more morally reprehensible than blowing up thousands of innocent people? Shouldn’t this man be in a strait-jacket?

UPDATE (16/5/06): It looks like El Khabar misquoted Galloway, as The Times has issued an apology for repeating the quote.

Mr Galloway actually said to El-Khabar that Muslims are now more marginalised than ever before, “worse than the aftermath of 9/11, worse than the aftermath of 7/7

(Thanks to iomama in the comments)

Trevor Phillips on free speech

Good to see Trevor Phillips, the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, speak up for democracy and against intolerance on ITV’s Jonathan Dimbleby programme:

What some minorities have to accept is that there are certain central things we all agree about, which are about the way we treat each other.

That we have an attachment to democracy, that we sort things out by voting not by violence and intimidation, that we tolerate things that we don’t like.

On the concept of Sharia law being introduced in parts of the UK:

We have one set of laws. They are decided on by one group of people, members of Parliament, and that’s the end of the story.

Anybody who lives here has to accept that’s the way we do it. If you want to have laws decided in another way, you have to live somewhere else.

Heartening to hear from someone who doesn’t confuse race with religion. (And it will be interesting to see if anyone tries to accuse Trevor Phillips of racism!)

(Tipped from HP)

Mo-toon fever in Oldham

The BBC reports that some fool – probably a BNP activist – put the turban-bomb Mo-toon up in an Oldham council housing office where many Muslims work.

Now, it’s pretty clear that this was an act designed solely to provoke and offend staff at the office, and as such it should be condemned. However, the reaction of the management, and subsequently of the Greater Manchester Police, not only plays into the hands of the extremists, but betrays a typical confusion when it comes to matters of race and religion.

Greater Manchester Police – perhaps still smarting after the BBC documentary which revealed endemic racism in the force – are treating the matter “extremely seriously”:

Greater Manchester Police treat any incitement of racial hatred extremely seriously and robustly investigate any such incidents that are reported to us.

We will not tolerate any acts of racial discrimination and are committed to working with local communities to tackle any issues that may arise.

Religion is not race. It was just a cartoon. Take it down and rise above it. By making a fuss you’re playing into the hands of extremists on both sides.

Livingstone suspended

Looks like another ugly example of religious/racial hypersensitivity taking precedence over freedom of speech. The Board of Deputies of British Jews filed the complaint because of “hurtful comments” he made to a single reporter outside City Hall.

UPDATE: Livingstone’s suspension has been suspended by a High Court judge, pending appeal.

Cartoonist solidarity?

Not here. Warren Ellis is one of the foremost comic book authors in the UK. And he’s angry. Not because twelve fellow artist are currently in hiding, fearing for their lives. Not because a cadre of radical Islamist imams are trying to dictate what he may and may not depict in his artwork. Not because of the violent, deadly over-reaction around the globe, sparked by a small group of mendacious, power-hungry fanatics.

But because Jyllands-Posten is a bit right-wing, and some of the cartoons were a bit shit:

My perspective on the mess begins with the fact that these are shitty, stupid, evil-minded cartoons produced by obvious hacks for a conservative rag that would appear to embody everything bad about the word “conservative” simply by publishing the things. In a sane and ordered world, everyone involved in their publication would be taken behind a stables and hit in the face with a shit-shovel.

Why not go the whole hog and call for their decapitation?

Jyllands-Posten has a lousy reputation when it comes to ethnic tolerance, their intent to offend in the most racist and simple-minded way possible was quite clear in the commissioning of the cartoons, and their apology was mealy-mouthed at best.

Tolerance? Yes, that would be nice. Race and religion? Best not conflate the two.

The test of free speech always lays in that which is hardest to defend.

And what is that supposed to mean?

It really would be nice if maggots like these didn’t make the rest of us work so hard.

These guys have a bounty on their heads, yet Ellis calls them “maggots” because he claims they’re making him work hard to defend free speech? As he hasn’t said a single word of condemnation about the outrageous backlash, it doesn’t look like Warren is working very hard at all.

In fact, our deeply held beliefs are so offended by this craven, treacherous screed that we are offering five quid and a Kit-Kat to anyone who chops Warren Ellis’s head off*.

He can hardly object, can he?

*not really

Progressive Muslims announce Mo-toon comp

It’s not exactly up there with boomka’s anti-semitic cartoon contest in the humorously self-deprecating stakes, but it’s a start. The reformist Muslims at have announced a “Competition to Use Visual Media to Reflect the Truth about Muhammad and Quranic Islam” as a gesture of support for the principle of freedom of expression.

We are announcing an award for a cartoon/portrait of Muhammad that would depict him accurately as a human being and a messenger of peace and progress. We will publish the winning portrait at and in our upcoming “The Quran: A Reformist Translation.”

(From Pickled Politics)

NZ Catholics at it again

Catholic groups in New Zealand, who last summer complained about the Popetown cartoon, are now kicking up a holy stink about the South Park episode entitled “Bloody Mary“. It features a statue of the Blessed Virgin miraculously “bleeding out of her ass”.

The NZ branch of Family Life International are fuming:

Family Life International is outraged at the unbelievably arrogant, insensitive, and confrontational decision by CanWest to advance the broadcast of the highly offensive Bloody Mary episode of the South Park cartoon series.

CanWest will now insult Catholics on free to air television on Wednesday 22nd February (tomorrow night) by screening Bloody Mary over two months ahead of schedule.

They have set up a protest website, where they complain that they are being “bullied”.

(From Ekklesia, who like South Park)

March for Free Expression

This deserves all the attention it can get.

Ofcom censures BBC for Live 8

Ofcom’s latest Broadcast Bulletin (pdf download) reveals that the BBC were “in breach” over their screening of rude words during the Live8 concerts last July. During the broadcast of this charity event, Snoop Doggy Dogg said “fuck”, “bitch”, “nigga” and “blood claat”, and urged the crowd to wave their “motherfucking hands in the air”. Madonna said fucking too, as did the bloke out of Green Day.

Ofcom received 55 copmlaints, and decided that the BBC should have included a delay, given the known nature of the acts involved.

The same report lets off The Magic of Jesus (52 complaints), the xmas special which provoked the fury of “Bishop” Michael Reid of the CCTV. This was deemed “not in breach” as it was just a magic show.

Emmerdale was also exonerated. In January 2006, it showed two men kissing (126 complaints). This was “not in breach” because it was just two men kissing, for crying out loud.