Archive for September, 2007

Kathy Griffin – uncensored!

MWW has unearthed Kathy Griffin’s Emmy Award acceptance speech, which got bleeped in the TV broadcast, and which the Catholic League’s wannabe Irishman Bill Donahue branded as “worse than racism”:

What’s all the fuss about?

Jerry goes Stateside

Ladies and gentlemen, for your utter delight, your unalloyed pleasure, your unadulterated enjoyment, the Carnegie Hall is privileged to bring you, all the way from London, none other than that truly great, astonishing, breathtaking piece of stupdendous, awesome, stunning entertainment Jerreee Springer: Theee Operaaaahh! Woo-hoo!

Well, it hasn’t come from London as such, but that’s where the show that helped to spawn this blog nearly three years ago premiered (after a run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe), and, when it was due to be shown by the Beeb in January 2005, the usual suspects got all hot under the collar (dog or otherwise) about it.

And, as the New York Times has it, when there was talk of a Broadway transfer in 2004, it “stirred up more trouble than a roomful of transsexual Klansmen (and the women who love them)”.

But now it’s to be put on at the Carnegie Hall in January 2008. It’s due to play on the 29th and 30th. Jason Moore will direct, with musical direction by Stephen Oremus. (It won’t be the show’s first outing Stateside: it played an extended run in Chicago with hardly a squeak of protest this summer.)

“We always loved the project and we realized that no one was holding the rights and pursuing it actively,” David J Foster, one of the producers of the Carnegie concert, tells the NYT. “The show is kind of ideal for this treatment.”

Would have been more fun if they’d decided to put it on right in the middle of the Bible Belt, but there should nonetheless be a few fireworks from the frothier elements of religion in the good ol’ US of A. Here in the UK, there were some 60,000 complaints (a much-orchestrated campaign, many believe) from people who for some reason thought it blasphemous.

For what it’s worth, this contributor watched the TV broadcast (and probably wouldn’t have noticed it was on had the Christians not complained) and thought it used religion effectively to make the very points it did make – points that most Christians would probably agree with. But there’s no accounting for the naïveté of the devout, or the burning desire to cry “blasphemy” every time religious imagery is used in art.

So let’s hear it for Jerry and Carnegie. Yay, yay! Whoo!

Vilks gets a bounty on his head

lars vilks
Lars Vilks, the Swedish artist who drew the Modog series of cartoons, has had a bounty of $100,000 put on his head by the leader of an Iraq al-Quaeda group. The head of editor of the Nerikes Allehanda, Ulf Johansson, was valued at $50,000.

The statement by Abu Omar al-Baghdadi was posted on an Islamic website. A 50% bonus was offered if Vilks was “slaughtered like a lamb” by having his throat cut.

The Times reports that the blessed Mr Vilks, who has been given police protection, is taking the whole thing in his stride:

I suppose you could say I was an easy target. But I am not paranoid. I think I possess a healthy rationality; I know that there are some risks involved but one should not exaggerate them either.

We must not give in. I’m starting to grow old. I could die at any time — it’s not a catastrophe.

The 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference tried to claim that the Swedish ambassador to Saudi apologised profusely for the publication – but the Swedish government has strenuously denied any such thing. He had simply expressed regret that people were upset.

Yesterday a second Swedish newspaer, the national daily Dagens Nyheter republished the cartoon as an act of solidarity. Its editor Thorbjörn Larsson, said in an opinion piece:

We live in a country where freedom of expression is not dictated by fundamentalists, nor by governments. To me, publishing it was the obvious thing to do.

Other Swedish dailies have rallied to the cause.

To their credit, Muslim leaders in Sweden have condemned the threats. Helena Benouda, head of the Muslim Council of Sweden said:

We do not think like this. It is criminal to call to kill somebody. It is really unnecessary and it is ugly, especially in the month of Ramadan.

Nevertheless, many Swedish businesses have decided to lower their profile in Mulsim countries and are bracing themselves for repercussions.

Creationists censor YouTube with false copyright claims

American creationist and convicted fraudster Kent Hovind is managing to censor YouTube critics of his work from behind bars.

His organisation, Creation Science Evangelism Ministries, have produced many anti-evolution videos and unleashed them upon the world without copyright restrictions. All very good for propagating their Biblical message – until, that is, some bright graduate students going by the name of Extant Dodo Productions had the idea of editing them to insert rebuttals of each mendacious argument as it arose, and posted them on YouTube.

CSEM starting sending out threatening letters to Extant Dodo, and forcing YouTube to take down the critical videos by claiming the copyright that they had explicitly given away. Unsurprisingly, the no-copyright disclaimer has just recently disappeared from the CSEM website.

Atheist activists The Rational Response Squad have taken on the case. They claim CSEM have broken the law by making false DMCA requests – a felony under US law. As a result, YouTube have now closed the Rational Response Squad’s account.

If the Rational Responders get their way, Kent won’t be the only Hovind in jail before the Rapture happens.

This Rose is blue

So good of John Beyer to keep sensible viewers informed of what’s coming up on the box. This time, he’s opened his Persil-clean mouth to the Daily Mirror, complaining about the utterance of a word (the C-word, to be exact) on an upcoming ITV2 show, The Secret Diary of a Call Girl.

It stars the former companion Rose in Doctor Who, Billie Piper, who plays Belle de Jour, a modern-day Moll Flanders. According to Piper’s own website, the show is “an illuminating glimpse behind the scenes of the high-class sex trade. It is an insight into the secret life of an extraordinary young woman whose conventional family have no idea that she is leading a double life.”

Has all the ingredients: sex, intrigue and rather gorgeous Billie Piper. But our old chum John is, predictably, not chuffed by what he obviously perceives to be a bit of blue. And he’s told the Daily Mirror so. “This is likely to cause considerable offence,” he says. “ITV and Billie Piper have displayed poor judgement.”

Perhaps he forgot to add “to me” after the word “offence”. He also seems unaware that the show – due to start in the autumn – is on ITV2, not the main, more popular ITV1, and that it’s very unlikely that it’ll be scheduled to compete with CBBC!

Anyway, thanks, John, old chap – we can all look out for it now.

“Suck it, Jesus”

“Offensive” remarks made by US comic Kathy Griffin during an Emmy Awards acceptance speech will be cut from the telecast of the show.

Collecting her award for best reality program for her show My Life on the D-list, Kathy said:

A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus. Suck it, Jesus. This award is my god now.

Predictably, her speech drew fire from the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights president and wannabe Irishman Bill Donahue, who branded her remarks “hate speech”.

It is a sure bet that if Griffin had said, ‘Suck it, Mohammed’, there would have been a very different reaction.

He gurgled.

Griffin is unrepentant:

I hope I offended some people. I didn’t want to win the Emmy for nothing.

Yeh, but, how very dare you?

Frothing Christians are feeling a bit bovvered after being forced to censor themselves and withdraw posters featuring some well-known catchphrases. Yeh, but, no, but, yeh, but it’s true.

According to the Beeb, the comedians Catherine Tate, Matt Lucas and David Walliams have called in their lawyers after the group Christian Publishing and Outreach (CPO) used some of the choice phrases in posters it was selling to churches for £25 a set.

Catchphrases such as “Yeh, but, no, but” and “How very dare you?”, as well as Tate’s famous “Am I bovvered?” were used.

Under a catchphrase, each poster had a quotation from the Bible. Tate’s production company, Tiger Aspect, has confirmed it’s acting for her. Walliams and Lucas’s management have also said their their legal reps have been in touch with CPO.

The BBC News website says: “CPO admitted it had not sought permission to use the material, and said the posters had been withdrawn.”

The revelation has also interested the huge Doctor Who fan site, Outpost Gallifrey, which has featured the story. This is because Tate will next year be continuing her role as the new Doctor Who companion, Donna, introduced in last year’s Christmas special.

Joke goes over Beyer’s head

A joke about racism made by Sir Trevor McDonald on the ITV satirical show News Knight was cleared by Ofcom. However, it was much to subtle for slow-witted smut campaigner “Massah” John Beyer of Mediawatch-UK.

The butt of the joke was dead racist comic Bernard Manning. In an item entitled “Racist and Dead” Sir Trevor parodied Manning’s style with the quip: “personally I never thought of Bernard Manning as a racist comic – just a fat, white bastard.”

The irony went unnoticed at Mediawatch-UK:

If the comment had been made in reverse (a white man calling someone a ‘fat black bastard’) there would have been utter outrage and rightly so.

Quoth the Sage of Ashford. Good grief.

Sweden – another newspaper another demo

The Local reports on a demo outside a second Swedish newspaper. Upsala Nya Tidning, 70Km north of Stockholm, had also published a MoDog cartoon. A crowd of around 550 Muslim demonstrators protested peacefully outside its office yesterday.

Meanwhile in Stockholm the meeting between the Swedish PM and 22 delegates from Muslim countries passed uneventfully. According to Reinfeldt, no demands were made.

The one comedy quote came from Hassan Ghashghavi, the diplomat from Iran, the world’s leading hanging-and-stoning regime:

We reject all forms of violence, psychological as well as physical.

Ghashghavi went on to demonstrate his fundamental misunderstanding of basic principles:

Causing offence does not belong to the concept of freedom of speech.

Yes it does.

MoDog news update

A woman has been arrested for threatening the MoDog artist, Lars Vilks.

Vilks himself has spoken out bullishly about his cartoons, saying he was trying to force a proper discussion:

We must be free to criticise religions. Why should Islam be exempted from the sort of criticism that is commonplace for Judaism and Christianity?

He asked, pointedly, before issuing a challenge to Swedish Muslims:

Above all this is about how Swedish Muslims handle this, whether they are ready to step forward as representatives of democracy.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Frederik Reinfeldt has called a meeting with ambassadors from all 20 Muslim countries. This is in stark contrast with the Danish premier’s reaction in 2006 when he refused to meet delegates on the subject.

However, it is likely that Reinfeldt will stick to his free-expression guns, which won’t go down well with the diplomats who have agreed on presenting a list of “demands” at Friday’s meeting. It will be interesting to see their reactions when their demands are brushed aside.

The drawings have been reproduced in three Danish newspapers so far.

(Hat tip The Comics Reporter)

UPDATE: (7th Sept) The Local reports that the woman arrested has explained why she sent the death threat. Apparently, “her beliefs and convictions had been desecrated and attacked”. Poor thing. No wonder.

A “roundabout dog” sculpture by Lars Vilks was torched last night. Nobody has been arrested.

The redoubtable Mr Vilks has also said he is considering building an actual sculpture of his cartoon: a 3D Mo with a dog’s body.