Archive for April, 2007

Beyer “surprised” he wasn’t consulted

The Daily Mail has an article on the upcoming Mary Whitehouse drama “Filth”. Whitehouse’s successor, “Massah” John Beyer is quoted:

It’s unfortunate they have tagged the story “Filth”.

To the best of my recollection, that wasn’t a word she used. Mary was not the poker-faced person that she was made out to be.

To suggest that she wasn’t ever smiling just isn’t true. I understand it is based on Mary’s autobiography.

My anxiety is that it will be embellished. The fact that I was not consulted is also surprising, given I worked alongside her for 16 years.

Her family hasn’t been involved either.

Julie Walters is set to play the leading role.

There’s no pleasing some people

News that BBC Radio 4 is to relay a Catholic Mass from San Francisco this Sunday has been greeted with dismay by smut campaigner “Massah” John Beyer of Mediawatch-UK – because it is a mass tailored for the gay community.

The Daily Mail reports that the Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church holds the 50-minute service every year, and that this is the first time it has been broadcast. It asked John Beyer to liven up the article with a sparkling quote, and this is what they got:

Religious broadcasting, apart from Songs of Praise, tends to focus on the out-of-the-ordinary and having this particular service I think will cause offence to people who feel that such practices are wrong and are taught as such in holy scripture.

The BBC really ought to be focusing on mainstream services which are more in keeping with the public service requirement that it has.

No luck there then. So, in spite of the fact that the annual service is by all accounts quite a staid and dignified affair, they decided to illustrate the article with a colourful photo of some Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, on the rather tenuous pretext that they used to run a bingo night at the church before the authorities found out how naughty they were.

Goodness, they are a weird and frightening lot, those gays!

UPDATE: The Christian Congress For Traditional Values are also getting in on the outraged act. It has to be said their “Bishop” Michael Reid gives much better quote than Beyer:

The BBC, with its homosexual bias, continues to push back the boundaries of taste and decency. This programme will be highly offensive to thousands of Christians across the country. I am surprised that the BBC has not learned from the debacle over ‘Jerry Springer – The Opera’, when it ignored the complaints of more than 60,000 licence fee payers. The BBC has admitted it has an anti-Christian, pro-gay bias. Such programmes broadcast by the BBC, and the people who run the BBC, do not reflect the views of the majority of people in Britain

They are organising an online complaints campaign. Looks like Radio 4 have hit the jackpot.

JS: TO court show is ON!

The blasphemy prosecution by the fringe fundamentalist group Stephen Green’s Voice (aka Christian Voice) against Mark Thompson (the BBC’s Director General) and producer John Thoday is back on.

A High Court judge has overturned the magisrate’s decision not to issue the prosecution, and a new date for the hearing will be announced in a couple of weeks. This will not be a permission hearing, but a full judicial review.

Mr Justice Underhill ruled that the district judge’s original ruling, which was based on two points of law, was wrong on one point and arguable on the other. The judge said:

I should in the circumstances of this case emphasise that I am saying no more than that the challenge to the District Judge’s decision was arguable. That does not necessarily mean that it will succeed; still less that any eventually prosecution would succeed.

Nevertheless, Stephen Green is understandably cock-a-hoop. No doubt this will get his name in the newspapers again for a short while:

Even with His Lordship’s caveat, I praise God that this is the most positive outcome we could have had. I shall look forward to the hearing with some confidence.

Although the hearing will no doubt cause considerable inconvenience to both defendants, it has to be said that this promises to be a highly entertaining trial.

UPDATE (27 Apr): Ekklesia has a good report, and make the point that this case could, contrary to Green’s designs, actually put the final nail in the coffin of the UK’s archaic blasphemy law.

Christians are the new Jews, implies Macho George

macho george

An email from reader in Scotland, Andy Gilmour, describes the latest party political broadcast by the Scottish Christian Party. The leader of the SCP is our old pal Rev “So Macho” George Hargreaves, who campaigned against Jerry Springer: the Opera, and sought a private prosecution against the Gay Police Association for it’s “bloody Bible” ad.

The broadcast focuses on the SCP’s sense of persecution as a result of the upcoming Sexual Orientation Regulations:

A party political broadcast from the Scottish Christian Party drawing a parallel between the Nazis’ introduction of a ban on kosher food being followed by the extermination of the Jews, and the impending sexual orientation legislation being followed by, er…some kind of mass assault on christians.

…They even included footage of a Nazi rally in the broadcast…in case we’d all forgotten what they looked like.

Just how low can Hargreaves go?

(The Rev George Hargreaves wrote song “So Macho”,which was a hit for Sinitta in the 80s)

UPDATE: (27 Apr) You can download a video of the broadcast from their site. This is a transcript of the relevant section:
[Footage of Hitler addressing a crowd]
Hargreaves voicover:
“In 1933 Adolf Hitler passed a law saying that kosher food should be banned. Within 10 years he was murdering millions of Jews.”
[Cut back to Hargreaves speaking to camera]
“Next week, on the 30th of April, regulations come in that affect Christians. The Sexual Orientation Regulations come into force….which is the first stage of persecution of christians in this land. Put your cross by the cross!”

(Thanks again, Andy)

Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story

The BBC is due to broadcast a 90-minute dramatisation of Mary Whitehouse’s rise to fame. Julie Walters will play the prissy smut-buster in what is said to be a “surprising and often very funny story”.

Whitehouse was spurred to public action when she heard one of The Beatles use the word “knickers” on TV. Now she is dead.

UK waters down EU religious hatred ban

Reuters reports that the UK has succeeded in narrowing the scope of an EU-wide anti-racism law. Set to be agreed upon this week, the new law will require EU states to punish “hatred against religion” only if it is a pretext to incite hatred against a group of person because of national or ethnic origin, race or colour.

How on earth lawyers are supposed to prove that criticism of mockery of religion is a “pretext” for racism is not made clear. But it is hard to see how a prosecution against, for example, the guest editor of the Motoon-publishing Clarefication would succeed. So the UK intervention is probably a good thing, on the whole.

This is the same piece of legislation which proposed making holocaust-denial an EU-wide offence. Fortunately, that could not be agreed upon. Countries will be allowed to maintain their own legislation on genocide-denial.

(Hat tip The Pub Philosopher)

UPDATE: (20 April) The law was passed without reference to either religious hatred or holocaust denial.

Cambridge student says sorry

The Cambridge Evening News reports that the student editor responsible for the Crucification magazine has apologised publically.

The still-unnamed student said:

I understand that this edition has caused deep offence and hurt to very many people, both inside and outside Clare, through its derogatory references to individuals and also to various groups, including women, Jews, Christians and Muslims.

A spokesman for the college revealed that both the general editor and guest editor were formally reprimanded by the Dean of Students.

Azim Mumtaz, the president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association in Cambridge, is pleased:

Religion teaches us that God is merciful and forgives, and we should forgive others as well, so long as this student realised the impact of their actions and that this was wrong.

This is what Mumtaz regards as wrong:

clareification questionaire

clareification motoon

(Hat tip Harry’s Place
UPDATE (19 April) David T at Harry’s Place reports that students at Clare college are understandable baffled by the apology, given its wide-ranging nature. From a note:

No-one at Clare has the first clue what was supposed to have offended Jews in that edition of Clareification. You may recall that the Master had claimed that gays were also one of the offended parties. Again, we’re not quite sure how (or at what point they stopped being offended).

It looks as if the College wants Muslims to appear to be one of many groups who were caused offence, so as not to single out that one group.

(Though I doubt that they sent the student into hiding for fear of spontaneously exploding homosexuals

Moving on from Mary

Media Guardian (registration required) has an interesting – and rather poignant – article about Mediawatch-UK, the anti-smut campaign group founded by Mary Whitehouse from which this very website draws its name.

In its Whitehouse-led heyday, the National Viewers and Listeners Association (as it was then called), had 150,000 members and was hugely influential. Nowadays it is largely ignored, except when some tired hack at the Mail, Express, or Sun needs to fill a bit of space in a media story and decides to give rent-a-quote John Beyer a call.

Poor Beyer is painfully aware of the organisation’s decline since he took over from Whitehouse:

She had the ear of Mrs Thatcher, when she was prime minister, there’s no doubt about that. When I write to Tony Blair, John Reid or Tessa Jowell I don’t even get replies.

The article goes on to say that Beyer’s inability to understand how the mood has changed in this country is responsible for the decline of Mediawatch-UK as a campaigning organisation. He was silent on the biggest media uproar of the year – the Jade Goody v. Shilpa Shetty Celebrity Big Brother furore. Steven Barnett, professor of communications at Westminster university explains:

The Celebrity Big Brother row did not speak to any of the issues that Beyer’s organisation was set up to deal with. It wasn’t a taste and decency issue, it was about dumbing-down, racism and bullying. Whether you saw it as a contrived issue or not, I thought very important issues were raised by that row. But the fact that mediawatch-UK didn’t get involved symbolises to me why they are now so marginalised.

In conclusion, Barnett says Beyer is a man out of time:

Whitehouse was brilliant at capturing a mood. But that mood has changed. Britain is a more tolerant, less censorious place. Beyer would have a much stronger constituency in America. If a tit pops out on primetime over there the country goes berserk. We left that behind 30 years ago. For that reason Beyer’s organisation doesn’t really have much of a constituency any more.

But if Mediawatch-UK finally sees the light and ceases to operate, will we have to change the name of this website? Any suggestions?

Opus Dei complaints rejected by BBC

A complaint by the sinister, secretive, and morally perverse Catholic society Opus Dei about Waking the Dead has been rejected by the BBC. The award-winning drama had depicted Opus Dei as sinister, secretive, and morally perverse.

Andrew Bell, the director of the BBC complaints unit explained that most viewers would not take the programme seriously. Jack Valero, a director of Opus Dei, has vowed to take the matter further.

Beatify Matthew Parris

A bit off topic (just a bit), but probably worth repeating:

You are living, dear reader, at a watershed in human history. This is the century during which, after 2,000 years of what has been a pretty bloody marriage, faith and reason must agree to part, citing irreconcilable differences. So block your ears to the cooing voices on Thought for the Day, and choose your side.

“But how can you be sure?” Oh boy, am I sure. Oh great quivering mountains of pious mumbo-jumbo, am I sure. Oh fathomless oceans of sanctified babble, am I sure. Words cannot express my confidence in the answer to the question whether God cured a nun because she wrote a Pope’s name down. He didn’t. Mere language does no justice to my certainty about whether God might be waiting for the return to their Biblical lands of the Israelites, before arranging the Second Coming. He isn’t.

Shout it from the rooftops. Write it on walls. Carve it into rock. He didn’t. He isn’t. He won’t.

Read it all.