Archive for September, 2007

Beyer doesn’t like Fanny

Fanny Hill, one of the most notorious novels of all time, which was banned in the UK in 1749 and in the USA in 1821 has been adapted for a new two part TV adaptation on BBC4 by Andrew Davies, the BAFTA award winning dramatist of Bleak House and Pride and Prejudice.

The Daily Telegraph describe what sounds like a very “interesting” program:

Within the opening 10 minutes, the 15-year-old Fanny, played by the 22-year-old unknown Rebecca Night, is being seduced by a woman in a brothel.

In other scenes Fanny is shown naked, losing her virginity and fighting off a rapist. Fanny and several of the other female characters appear topless during the drama and scenes of orgies that follow.

Obviously Telegraph Arts and Media Editor Chris Hastings needed to pad out his article a little, so he called “Massah” John Beyer for a suitably outraged quote. Beyer predictably provides one:

However, John Beyer, the director of Mediawatch-UK, the viewers’ watchdog, last night accused the BBC of investing in sleaze so it could raise the profile of BBC4, the digital channel on which the programme will be screened.

He said: “At a time when resources are short I am surprised that the BBC wants to invest in this kind of sleaze. It is just a promotion for prostitution.”

Beyer seems to be setting himself up as a campaigner for reducing costs at the BBC, as a recent comment (also from the Telegraph, they must have a hotline to Beyer!) on the BBC increasing its repeats also shows. It would be a noble campaign if it wasn’t for the fact that his idea for reducing costs involves not showing anything that offends him.


Green lite

Life has been decidedly dull without Stephen Green. Goodness knows where he’s been for the past few weeks, but this normally vocal leader of Christian Stephen Green Voice does seem to be a shrinking violet of late.

Well, you need grieve no more. He’s back. This time he’s holding forth on new guidelines to doctors that say they needn’t tell parents if kids are having under-age sex. It’s only a very small quote, mind, but, hell!, does he pack a punch!

The new guidelines come from the General Medical Council and, according to a story on the website, “this would apply where doctors believed an under-age patient might harm themselves or run away from home if the information were shared with their family”.

The story continues:

The written guidance from the GMC is the first time that the medical establishment has given its blessing to the growing practice of GPs handing out condoms and authorising abortions for teenage girls, often without parents having any idea their child is sexually active.

The guidance also controversially advises that children should have the overriding decision on their own healthcare in general, meaning, for example, that a child with cancer would be able to turn down life-saving but painful treatment without their parents having a final say.

GPs already have some flexibility in these matters, it seems. Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, they are exempt from prosecution for “aiding and abetting” child sex through providing advice if their aim is to prevent sexual infections or pregnancy, which means they don’t have to inform police 

So, then, we now come to the moment you’ve all been waiting for: Stephen Green pronounced, sagely, clearly having read all the evidence and all the learned journals – wait for it: “The idea of using contraception to stop the spread of disease is a dead duck. It will lead to more abortions, more sexual diseases and more infertility.”

Now wasn’t that worth waiting for?

Miller’s tale

Catholics in the States now want a boycott of the brewers Miller, who have shockingly allowed their logo to appear on publicity material for the Folsom Street Fair – a huge gay festival in San Francisco (see our previous story).

According to today’s Pink News pages, “Bill Donaghue, president of the Catholic League For Religious and Civil Rights, called for the boycott of Miller on US breakfast show Fox and Friends this morning.”

Donaghue said the the fair is “an incredibly outrageous and palpably anti-Christian event” after the Sisters of Perpetual of Indulgence, one of several organisations receiving funding from the fair, spoofed Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper in publicity material.

Unfortunately, Miller have caved in. They said: “We understand some individuals may find the imagery offensive and we have asked the organisers to remove our logo from the poster, effective immediately.”

Gay fair Last Supper poster causes consternation

Christians in the US are very upset about the poster advertising California’s annual Folsom Street Fair.

Crosswalk has a cornucopia of outraged quotes – too many to list here – for your delectation from organisations such as Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America (whose spokesperson is called Matt), and, of course, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.


Clubbing Jesus upsets bishops

Plug advert
A TV advert for the Belgian Plug channel has got up the noses of local bishops.

It depicts a fat Jesus performing miracles in a nightclub, drinking Jack Daniels, and leaving with scantily clad women before being zapped up to heaven for a telling off from his Dad.

Father Eric de Beukelaer told AFP:

We have expressed our disapproval to the president of RTL’s administrative council Jacques Santer and the ethical advertising body, demanding the withdrawal of this publicity campaign.

Neither RTL nor the ethics panel have yet responded to the poor priest, causing him to mutter darkly about “legal measures”.

In a reference to the Motoons, he continued:

In the name of freedom of expression, [the Church] avoids attacking cartoonists, but advertising is different.

An advert for cheese or pate featuring gourmet priests or nuns is one thing, but to turn Jesus into a walking billboard, that crosses the line.

To see Jesus depicted as a good-for-nothing, backwards adolescent, that crosses the limits of respectability.

Miraculously, nobody has yet said they would never dare to treat Mohammed in this way. But don’t call the Vatican yet – it will happen!

Kitten caboodle

MoCat strip
Not a little hissing, scratching and miaowing has taken over from the howling and baying as the MoDog fiasco gives way to – wait for it – the MoCat outrage.

Arifur Rahman, a cartoonist with a publication called Aalpin – which is a satirical supplement within a newspaper called Prothom Alo – has become another cause celebre in the name of freedom of expression, after his arrest and detention for publishing a cartoon strip.

He was arrested at his Dhaka home on 17 September, but now the campaigning organisation Reporters Without Borders are on his case, and have called for his release.

Bangladesh’s government press department says Rahman has “hurt religious sentiments”, because the little boy in the strip refers to his furry friend as “Mohammed cat” (see dialogue below). However, all copies of the supplement have been seized, Prothom Alo has apologised and the supplement’s deputy editor has been given the boot. There have been the expected street performances of marching, shouting, punching the air and brandishing banners, and a few minor conflagrations here and there with the main combustible material being newsprint – bearing the cartoon, of course. Oh, and calls for death.

The reference to “Mohammed cat” was a cultural one. It was a play on words, a whimsical allusion to the fact that the name Mohammed is seen as an essential part of the nomenclature in those parts. Here’s the exchange between the man and the boy in the strip:

Boy, what’s your name?
My name is Babu.
It is customary to put Mohammed in front of the name. What is your father’s name?
Mohammed Abu.
What is that on your lap?
Mohammed cat.

All pretty harmless stuff, but not to those who seem to be stuck in the seventh century.

“Religious leaders have called for the cartoonist to be severely punished and for Prothom Alo, one of the country’s leading dailies, to be closed,” says Reporters Without Borders. “Copies of the newspaper have been burned outside one of the capital’s mosques.”

The group adds: “The government should not yield to pressure from extremist leaders who are trying to politicise the case. Rahman should not be made a scapegoat. He must be freed.”

What will be the next four-legged creature to be deemed an insult? They’ve done pigs, then a dog, now a cat; soon it’ll be the whole kitten caboodle, you might say.

UPDATE: (1st October) They were rioting on Friday. Big surprise!

Modog case dismissed

Sweden’s Chancellor of Justice has ruled that Lars Vilks’ Modog cartoon, published in Nerikes Allehanda in August, did not constitute incitement to racial hatred. This is in accordance with MWW prophecy.

Three Swedish Muslim organisation had asked Chancellor Goeran Lambertz to press charges. He responded:

Neither the article nor the sketch, which has a satirical tone, expresses contempt against any ethnic group.

While many practicing Muslims may perceive primarily the cartoon as offensive, neither the content of the article nor the cartoon can be considered as crossing the line of what is permissible within the freedom of the press. The justice chancellor will therefore not pursue the matter.

Bloggerheads silenced by ex-con

Tim Ireland’s Bloggerheads has been shut down by his hosting company after legal threats from Uzbek ex-con and prospective owner of Arsenal Alisher Usmanov. It is not clear who the hosts are (UPDATE: Fasthosts – fast to pull the plug on you), but the legal company doing the threatening is Schillings (the grubby pettifoggers). Craig Murray’s blog (the source of the original accusations) is on the same server, and was also shut down, as was Boris Johnson’s and Bob Piper’s.

Tim actually gave me the idea of setting up MediawatchWatch nearly three years ago. He deserves our support. You can find out plenty about Usmanov in Wikipedia.

TOP TIP: This won’t happen to you if you use an American hosting service. They have the 1st Amendment there, and they take it pretty seriously. (The lawyers can still get you, but your host won’t automatically pull the plug at the first sign of trouble)

These are good: dreamhost

(And MWW gets credit if you sign up from that link)

UPDATE: (22 Sept) Look what the clever lawyers have done! This is the latest list of bloggers talking about their client Mr Usmanov:

Curious Hamster
, Pickled Politics, Harry’s Place, Tim Worstall, Dizzy, Iain Dale, Ten Percent, Blairwatch, Davide Simonetti, Earthquake Cove, Turbulent Cleric (who suggests dropping a line to the FA about Mr Usmanov), Mike Power, Jailhouse Lawyer, Suesam, Devil’s Kitchen, The Cartoonist, Falco, Casualty Monitor, Forever Expat, Arseblog, Drink-soaked Trots (and another), Pitch Invasion, Wonko’s World, Roll A Monkey, Caroline Hunt, Westminster Wisdom, Chris K, Anorak, Mediawatchwatch, Norfolk Blogger, Chris Paul, Indymedia (with a list of Craig Murray’s articles that are currently unavailable), Obsolete, Tom Watson, Cynical Chatter, Reactionary Snob, Mr Eugenides, Matthew Sinclair, The Select Society, Liberal England, Davblog, Peter Gasston Pitch Perfect, Adelaide Green Porridge Cafe, Lunartalks, Tygerland, The Crossed Pond, Our Kingdom, Big Daddy Merk, Daily Mail Watch, Graeme’s, Random Thoughts, Nosemonkey, Matt Wardman, Politics in the Zeros, Love and Garbage, The Huntsman, Conservative Party Reptile, Ellee Seymour, Sabretache, Not A Sheep, Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion, The People’s Republic Of Newport, Life, the Universe & Everything, Arsenal Transfer Rumour Mill, The Green Ribbon, Blood & Treasure, The Last Ditch, Areopagitica, Football in Finland, An Englishman’s Castle, Freeborn John, Eursoc, The Back Four, Rebellion Suck!, Ministry of Truth, ModernityBlog, Beau Bo D’Or, Scots and Independent, The Splund, Bill Cameron, Podnosh, Dodgeblogium, Moving Target, Serious Golmal, Goonerholic, The Spine, Zero Point Nine, Lenin’s Tomb, The Durruti Column, The Bristol Blogger, ArseNews, David Lindsay, Quaequam Blog!, On A Quiet Day…, Kathz’s Blog, England Expects, Theo Spark, Duncan Borrowman, Senn’s Blog, Katykins, Jewcy, Kevin Maguire, Stumbling and Mumbling, Famous for 15 megapixels, Ordovicius, Tom Morris, AOL Fanhouse, Doctor Vee, The Curmudgeonly, The Poor Mouth, 1820, Hangbitch, Crooked Timber, ArseNole, Identity Unknown, Liberty Alone, Amused Cynicism, Clairwil, The Lone Voice, Tampon Teabag, Unoriginalname38, Special/Blown It, The Remittance Man, 18 Doughty Street, Laban Tall, Martin Bright, Spy Blog The Exile, poons, Jangliss, Who Knows Where Thoughts Come From?, Imagined Community, A Pint of Unionist Lite, Poldraw, Disillusioned And Bored, Error Gorilla, Indigo Jo, Swiss Metablog, Kate Garnwen Truemors, Asn14, D-Notice, The Judge, Political Penguin, Miserable Old Fart, Jottings, fridgemagnet, Blah Blah Flowers, J. Arthur MacNumpty, Tony Hatfield, Grendel, Charlie Whitaker, Matt Buck, The Waendel Journal, Marginalized Action Dinosaur, SoccerLens, Toblog, John Brissenden East Lower, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Peter Black AM, Boing Boing (160).

Reformist Muslim group offers counter-bounty on Al Baghdadi

A US-based Islamic reform group has offered a reward for information “leading to the capture or neutralization” of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the self-appointed al-Qaida leader in Iraq who put the bounty on the head of Swedish Modog cartoonist Lars Vilks.

Muslims Against Sharia (“Acknowledging Mistakes, Accepting Responsibilities, Moving Forward”) put up the equivalent of $15,000 as a counter-bounty:

Muslims Against Sharia praise the courage of Lars Vilks, Ulf Johansson, Thorbjorn Larsson and the staff of Nerikes Allehanda and Dagens Nyheter and condemn threats issued by Abu Omar Al Baghdadi and the Islamic State of Iraq. Muslims Against Sharia will provide a payment of 100,000kr (about $15,000) for the information leading to capture or neutralization of Abu Omar Al Baghdadi.

This is the first we’ve heard of the newly-formed group. The domain was registered anonymously on Aug 29 this year, and their first blog post, which outlines their objectives, appeared on Sept 11.

Their goals:

– to educate Muslims about dangers presented by Islamic religious texts and why Islam must be reformed
– to educate non-Muslims about the differences between moderate Muslims and Islamists (a.k.a. Islamic Religious Fanatics, Radical Muslims, Muslim Fundamentalists, Islamic Extremists or Islamofascists)
– to educate both Muslims and non-Muslims alike that Moderate Muslims are also targets of Islamic Terror

UPDATE (20 Sept) It looks like the money offered by Muslims Against Sharia is unlikely to be paid out, as al-Baghdadi does not actually exist.

UPDATE: (25 Sept) It is has emerged that Muslims Against Sharia may not have any members who are actually Muslims.

Talking Doudou at the UN

Doulou Diene and Louise Arbour
Doudou Diene, a “UN expert” on racism, recently told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that “Islamophobia today is the most serious form of religious defamation”, but he failed to define “religious defamation”, or to say why it was a serious thing.

Citing the Danish Motoons, and Lars Vilks’ recent MoDog, Diene said this was evidence that

the basic principle of coexistence of different cultures and different religions, which is the lasting basis for peace, is threatened now […]
freedom of expression cannot be used as a pretext or excuse for incitement to racial or religious hatred.

Listen, Doudou: a cartoon of Mohammed with a dog’s body does not incite hatred towards Muslims, it incites Muslim hate. And just like everyone else, Muslims are responsible for their own hatred.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, is similarly clueless. On the subject of Doudou’s report, she said “I have no reason not to share his concerns”.

Fortunately there is the International Humanist and Ethical Union to counterbalance the ravings of these two. Roy Brown, the IHEU’s representative, said Arbour was “just plain wrong”.

The little regrettable hostility that does exist among indigenous Europeans has not arisen in a vacuum, but as a reaction to Islamic extremism — demonization of Jews, infidels and homosexuals and contempt for Western culture.

European members of the council were also sceptical. Goncalo Silvestre of Portugal spoke for the 27-nation bloc:

The EU finds it problematic to reconcile the notion of defamation with the concept of discrimination. In our view these two are of a different nature.

He went on to state that religions do not deserve special protection under international human rights law.

Praise the Lord!

UPDATE: (19 Sept) The IHEU will respond to Diene’s Islamphobia report on Friday on behalf of itself and three other NGOs (Association for World Education, Association of World Citizens and World Union of Progressive Judaism). Here is an extract:

First, he fails to distinguish between, on the one hand, Islamophobia, which he defines as “baseless hostility and fear vis-à-vis Islam”, and on the other hand, genuine concerns regarding the rise of Islamic extremism. Secondly, he fails to recognise that there are important differences between the Islamic and other worldviews that contribute significantly to the problem.

Rather than dismissing Europe’s defence of its identity which he describes as ‘based on intangible “values”’ (which he puts in scare quotes) he should recognise that these values are neither intangible nor exclusively “European”, but universal. They include, inter alia, the dignity and autonomy of the individual, equality of the sexes, democracy, and human rights – surely the very rights that this Council should be seeking to defend. That these differences do exist and are far from intangible is evidenced, for example, by the OIC’s promotion of the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam as an alternative to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

You can read the rest here.

(Thanks to Roy Brown in the comments)