Archive for December, 2007

Dutch safety ad causes fireworks

A series of Dutch government asd promoting firework safety has caused offence to some Muslims.

The viral ads feature an al-Qaeda like terrorist cell and their hilariously inept pyrotechnic mishaps. The group is called the Liberation Army Against Freedom.

Saad Saraf, the chief executive of multicultural marketing specialists Media Reach Advertising, is not amused:

What is the campaign hoping to achieve by depicting a negative stereotype of the Muslim community in a fireworks advert?

In fact, the ads depict a negative stereotype of terrorists. It is Mr Saraf who is idiotically bringing the “Muslim community” into it.

By contrast, Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain is remarkably sensible about the whole thing:

I thought they were very humorous public safety films. Obviously there will always be some who find it to be in bad taste, but I thought it was done light-heartedly and funny and with clear educational value.

He is right. These guys deserve their own TV series:

LAAF Arms arriving:

Mother of all rocket:

Eternal rains of fire:

Dr Who – what Xmas is all about

Metro is trying to stir up a bit of controversy about the Dr Who Christmas special, but so far has only managed to elicit a predictable quate from Stephen “Dog Shit” Green of the campaign group Stephen Green’s Voice (aka Christian Voice).

The episode shows the doctor saving a futuristic Titanic by persuading passengers that he has magic powers with the aid of two angelic robots.

Speaking of the Time Lord, Russell T Davies said,

The series lends itself to religious iconography because the Doctor is a proper saviour.

He saves the world through the power of his mind and passion.

To which Green responds,

The Doctor would have to do a lot more than the usual prancing around to be a messiah.

He has to save people from their sins.

Interesting idea. It should be well within the capabilities of the series writers to create a fictional character with the power to “save people from their sins”. St Paul did it, after all – and Russell Davies is a better writer.

BBC maggots back down

That “A Fairy Tale of New York” is the best ever Xmas single is not something about which reasonable people can disagree. So the BBC’s overturning of the decision to bleep out the words “faggot” and “slut” is to be applauded.

Andy Parfitt, the Controller of Radio 1:

After careful consideration, I have decided that the decision to edit A Fairytale of New York was wrong. Radio 1 does not play homophobic lyrics or condone bullying of any kind. It is not always easy to get this right, mindful of our responsibility to our young audience.

While we would never condone prejudice of any kind, we know our audiences are smart enough to distinguish between maliciousness and creative freedom.

In the context of this song, I do not feel that there is any negative intent behind the use of the words, hence the reversal of the decision. The unedited version will be played from now on.

Fenerbahçe cross at football shirt offence (3-0)

inter.jpgA Turkish lawyer has filed a complaint to UEFA after Inter Milan wore a football shirt with a symbol said to be offensive to Islam during their 3-0 victory over the Turkish team Fenerbahçe.

The red cross on a white background is the symbol of the northern Italian town, but lawyer Baris Kaska has asked UEFA to cancel Inter’s 3 points for their “racist” action.

The cross reminded me of the bloody days of the past

sobbed Kaska, as tears of anguish streamed down his crumpled face. Possibly.

Ukraine Orthodox offended by Hirst exhibit

An art centre in Kiev has attracted protests from Orthodox Christians. The exhibit, sponsored by the local businessman Viktor Pinchuk, is named “Jesus and the Twelve Apostles” (otherwise known as Damien Hirst’s Romance in the Age of Uncertainty, which was exhibited in London in 2003).

The display consists of a number of cabinets, each one dedicated to a single disciple, containing skinned cows’ heads in formaldehyde. There are also big rectangular boards made of dead flies in front of every aquarium including the one depicting Jesus.

The complaints follow the familiar “hurt feelings” refrain:

Orthodox believers consider mocking at our Lord Jesus Christ and the holy apostles inacceptable. It insults the feelings of all Orthodox believers and all Christians.

To which our considered response must be, “Boo-fucking-hoo”.

(Hat tip, Bartholomew)

Springer blasphemy prosecution denied

The BBC reports that Stephen Green has lost the battle to prosecute the director general and the producers of Jerry Springer: the Opera for blasphemy.

This is not such good news as it may first appear. A prosecution would have exonerated all those involved with JS:TO, and effectively killed the archaic and inequitable blasphemy law. As it stands, the two judges concluded that the play could not be considered blasphemous “in context”, and

as a whole was not and could not reasonably be regarded as aimed at, or an attack on, Christianity or what Christians held sacred.

This leaves open the possibility that if some other work could be considered as being – in context – an attack on “Christianity or what Christians held sacred”, then its creators might still be prosecuted under this stupid law.

It is bad news for Stephen Green – and that is cause for a minor celebration – but here at MWW we are keeping our champagne bottles on ice for now.

UPDATE: (6 Dec) The decision will be appealed. In the latest CV press release, Stephen Green makes a reasonable point:

The law as the Court has interpreted it now gives carte blanche to broadcasters and theatre companies to blaspheme, while the press still may not. That cannot be logical, let alone right.

Do not be fooled by this brief flash of lucidity. Green had earlier told The Guardian,

I’m really sympathetic to the freedom of speech argument. But blasphemy is not a matter of free speech, it’s people going out of their way to offend almighty God.

The fact that some people get their kicks out of insulting Jesus Christ does not mean the rest of us or the law should put up with this.

The Freethinker reports that Keith Porteus Wood of the National Secular Society is disappointed at the verdict:

We had hoped that Mr Green would have been given permission to bring this case because we strongly suspect that the courts would have done what parliament seems unwilling to do – declare the blasphemy law a dead duck once and for all.

The British Humanist Association is more upbeat:

We welcome the sensible decision by the High Court not to allow this case to go forward. The blasphemy laws in the UK – which protect Christian beliefs – are clearly contrary to the principle of free speech and probably contrary to human rights laws which protect freedom of expression, and that must include the right to criticise beliefs, religious or otherwise. The blasphemy laws are anomalies in the context of our increasingly diverse and increasingly non-religious society. The UK ’s law seeks to protect people and their rights to their beliefs, but not to protect the beliefs themselves.
In a free society we must be allowed to criticise religious doctrines and practices, even if that offends some people. Hopefully today’s ruling will bring back to public debate the need to abolish the outdated blasphemy laws that clearly have no place in Britain today.

We’ll see.

Red Bull pulls “blasphemous” ad

The Freethinker picks up on an amusing censorship story in which a single Catholic priest succeeded in getting Red Bull to withdraw this TV ad:
Father Marco Damanti, from Sicily, branded the commercial a “blasphemous act”:

The image of the sacred family has been represented in a sacrilegious way. Whatever the ironic intentions of Red Bull, the advert pokes fun at the nativity, and at Christian sensitivity.

One suspects that Red Bull, who sent the sensitive padre a prompt reply promising to remove the ad, are rather pleased with the result of their campaign. Father Damanti got them in to Reuters!

The Golden Compass and the Christian Institute

The demented, homosexuality-obsessed fundies at the Christian Institute have released a “fact pack” about the recently-released movie of Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass.

They describe the author as a “crusading atheist” and quote several concerned xians, including Rupert Kaye of the Association of Christian Teachers:

My key concern is that many young people (and adults) who read Philip Pullman’s trilogy will be left with an extremely distorted understanding of what Christians actually believe and what the Bible really says about the person of God.

Columnist Melanie McDonagh, who describes the trilogy as,

.a rather blatant and exceptionally offensive anti-Christian polemic

And an exceptionally muddle-headed “ewangelical media commentator who burbles thusly:

The trouble is, he blurs the line between fantasy and reality by giving interviews and talking about the Republic of Heaven in the world. And because he’s got all of this anti-God rhetoric in the real world that is even stronger than what’s in the book, I think he can’t get away with saying, ‘It’s just a story and you can read into it whatever you like.’ Because he does understand what he’s saying.

Looks like a must see.

BBC kicks secular “Songs of Praise” off YouTube

Jazz and blues musician Billy Jenkins has had two live recordings of his band Songs of Praise taken off YouTube because the BBC bizarrely claimed an “infringement of copyright”.

The tracks in question are called ‘Dreadnought Seaman’s Hospital’ and ‘Blues Is Calling Me’. Says Jenkins,

It’s hilarious – our national broadcast company not only considers the name of a television programme to be their exclusive copyright even when used in other contexts, such as, in this case, six musicians performing their own secular musical songs of praise – but also deceive those believers they make religious programmes for by pre-recording what are considered ‘sacred’ days sometimes months ahead of their actual date which, were I believer, I too would consider an ‘infringement of copyright’.

Jenkins made the pages of The Freethinker in 2002 when his 2002 ‘secular gospel’ CD Life was denied airplay on BBC Radio 2 apparently because the presenter on the only nationally broadcast blues programme is a born again Christian.

You can hear samples of his music on the Songs of Praise MySpace page.

UPDATE: It was all a mistake! The BBC has apologised. Their lawyer writes:

It recently came to the BBC’s attention that a great deal of footage from the BBC’s “Songs of Praise” programme is being made available on Youtube in breach of copyright. It appears that, in dealing with the high volume of BBC “Songs of Praise” content on Youtube, your legitimate content may have been accidentally flagged for removal. I can assure you that the BBC makes every effort to ensure that only infringing content is flagged and there was no intention to remove your legitimate clips.

(Thanks to Billy Jenkins in the comments)

Gay Mohammed art pulled from Hague exhibit

A museum in The Hague has decided not to include in an exhibition photos which might offend Muslims.

Iranian-born Sooreh Hera‘s show deals with themes of homosexuality and religion, but some of her pictures in her Adam and Ewald series proved too strong for The Gemeentemuseum’s director Wim van Krimpen, who said he wouldn’t exhibit them in the next few years because “certain people in our society might perceive it as offensive”.

It should be noted that no Muslims appear to have complained, so this looks like a classic case of craven self-censorship on the part of the museum.

The artist is understandably annoyed:

apparently a Muslim minority decides what will be on display in the museum

Without even having to say a word, it would seem.

UPDATE: (Dec 4) Flemming Rose reports that the artist herself does not see this as an example of self-censorship, but rather a reaction to threats:

Muslims have threatened the museum. But the museum is not willing to admit that this is the reason why they do not want to exhibit th

UPDATE: (Dec 7) The MuseumgoudA, in Gouda, has agreed to display the works, athough Director Ranti Tjan has not named a date yet. “We will take our time to make solid agreements.”