Archive for November, 2006

Holocaust cartoon comp winner

Iran’s Holocaust Cartoon Contest winner was announced last Wednesday, but not a single Iranian newspaper published the $12,000 prize-winning cartoon. In fact, the competition, which was set up in the wake of the Motoons furore to test Western tolerance for Holocaust denying drawings, was met with yawns both abroad and at home in Iran.

The prize was won by Moroccan cartoonist Abdollah Derkaoui, who doesn’t deny the Holocaust happened. He wrote to American cartoonist Daryl Cagle, explaining himself:

I want to express my total heartfelt sympathy with the millions of Jewish victims of the Holocaust who suffered the greatest crime against humanity under the Nazis. Nobody can deny that more than six million people were massacred during the second world war by the devil Hitler and his Nazi henchmen. But the question for me and for so many others is why the Palestinian people have suffered from so much pain, and massacres, and why they continue to suffer in the current situation.

The curator of the museum which hosted the contest, however, seems to have a different attitude. Masoud Shojai said the contest will be an annual event:

Actually, we will continue until the destruction of Israel.

Don’t sue the mufti

sheikh taj al-din al-hilali
Sheik Taj al-Din al-Hilali, the mufti of Australia, caused outrage when he crassly compared unveiled women to “uncovered meat” and implied that they were to blame if they were sexually assaulted.

Now an Australian woman is demanding a personal apology, or else she’ll sue, because she felt offended:

I’m a white, Western woman of high morals and I was offended,

said Elaine Davidson, a recreational health lecturer from Melbourne.

I am incensed, disgusted, offended and I feel internally brutally bashed by him.

Oh, for crying out loud. Put some imaginary Ralgex on your metaphorical bruises and let the fool speak! Hilali is doing a spectacular job for the cause of secularism in Australia by exposing his medieval beliefs to the light.

You can’t make fun of him if you don’t let him speak.

Revisiting Ted Haggard

Remember Richard Dawkins’ much-complained-about, but Ofcom-exonerated, documentary The Root of All Evil? One of the fundies he interviewed was Pastor Ted Haggard:

At the time, we assumed the wild look in the pastor’s eyes was due to religious fervour. Looking at it again, it could well be down to methamphetamine, or even – a possibility which is bound to cause Professor Dawkins some discomfiture – raw lust. The way he’s eyeballing the prof in the closing stages of the interview strongly suggests that he would love to “show him who’s boss”, don’t you think?

Theatres unite against censorship

The Stage is sponsoring a one-day conference to address the dangers posed by censorship to theatre in the UK.

David Edgar, Nicholas Hynter, Behzti director Janet Steel, Michael Bogdanov, John Mortimer, and English PEN activist Lisa Appignanesi are all due to speak.

Equity vice-president Jean Rogers says:

t will be good for the industry as a whole to be seen to be standing up for this…What would be good is for everybody to know that everybody feels the same, so that when an incident happens again, we can pounce on it.

Three core issues to be addressed at the conference will be: ‘Should there be a right not to be offended?’, ‘What is the place of the law in performing arts?’ and ‘How can artists resist the pressure to self-censor?’

Lisa Appignanesi says:

I would have hoped that given the people who are coming to the event, it will shore up the courage of directors, administrators and people who run things, to put on plays that if they were unsupported they might feel too intimidated to put on.

Offence is an easy emotion. Religious offence of the kind expressed by the Sikhs protesting against Behzti or the small Brick Lane group against the film of Monica Ali’s book or the evangelicals against Jerry Springer – the Opera, has as much to do with power politics as it does with faith. It is important once more that we stand up for artistic freedom. In societies where artistic freedom goes, most of the others follow after.

Beyer on ITV

John Beyer, chief smut-watcher at Mediawatch-UK, is still flushed with success at the recent international coverage his words have gained. Now he is giving advice to ITV on its plans for the 21st century.

Apparently, what the public wants is “good wholesome entertainment”. From The Sunday Express (no link):

If by 21st century drama they are talking about offensive bad language and violence, and if they think that will attract viewers, then they are wrong. Violence, sexual conduct and bad language cause offence. If they steer clear of those three elements, they will succeed.

Why isn’t this man Director General?

Spooks prompts a whinge

The BBC received 16 complaints, and Ofcom 2, about Monday’s episode of Spooks, which featured Christian terrorists.

A journalist from the Evening Standard considered Stephen Green, the director of Christian Voice, to be worthy of consultation on this important issue:

This could even be incitement to hatred against Christians. It is completely ludicrous and brings the BBC into more disrepute.
Most people watching it will just spot another bit of BBC bias and inaccuracy – nevertheless it shows a worrying mind-set in the people that are producing the programme to even think that there are Christians contemplating violence against any Muslims whatsoever – it is just not what we do.

Perhaps Stephen is forgetting the words of support his organisation frequently gets from the British National Party, or indeed the Christian Council of Britain, a BNP front?

The episode features a group of evangelical terrorists who target the Muslim community in an attempt to spark a religious war in the UK. A video of the group is shown, where the leader declares “Britain is a nation under Christ – we will no longer tolerate the Muslims in our ranks – this is a declaration of war against Islam.”

It is a fictional show, but to anyone aware of the BNP’s methods it is not so implausible.

Head of public affairs for the Evangelical Alliance, Don Horrocks, is apparently oblivious:

This is yet another outrageous example of the BBC’s anti-Christian bias. This beggars belief. I do think that there is a sinister and malicious agenda at work here and that they are trying to plant the seed of the idea through fiction that evangelical Christians are just as likely to carry out terrorism as some members of the Islamic faith

You can’t fool a conspiracy theorist!

Horrocks goes on:

They would never dream of depicting groups such as homosexuals in the same way

Why do evangelical Christians always make this comparison between themselves and homosexuals? Horrocks seems to think he is making a valid point about discrimination, as if homosexuality is an ideological stance which, unlike Christianity, receives unfair protection from criticism.

Oh, by the way, Christian terrorists do exist. It’s just that they are a bit shit.

You can comment on the Daily Mail report here.

UPDATE: (30 mins later) Jonathan Bartley of Christian think-tank Ekklesia agrees:

although some of the details of the storyline were clearly far-fetched, the show’s main theme of a small group turning to violence in the name of Christianity is a possibility which should not be entirely ruled out.