Archive for April, 2008

If it’s not Christian, it’s secular propaganda

Bishop Philip Tartaglia, president of the National Communications Commission of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, has written a letter to every parish in Scotland decrying the media for pushing a “secular and humanistic agenda”.

Repeating the dubious statistics produced by the last census, Tartaglia believes that “over two thirds” of Scots are actually Christians, and that the proportion of people who work the media does not reflect this, leading to a “fundamental disconnection between the provider and the consumer”.

Whether this is true or not, the Bishop endorses a peculiar, Orwellian-sounding policy of “info-ethics”:

It is crucial that those who work in this field seek to understand the moral and ethical view of humanity shared by those of us who believe in God.

He didn’t explain what believing in god had to do with ethics.

(Hat tip, The Pink Triangle Trust)

Christian mayor candidate censored by BBC, ITV

It is not often that we find ourselves supporting the Christian Legal Centre, but in this case they appear to have a legitimate grievance against BBC and ITV officials. They sent a mailshot to supporters this morning.

Alan Craig is the Christian Choice candidate for Mayor of London. Before the BBC and ITV agreed to air his admittedly stultifying Party Election Broadcast, he was forced to rewrite a section about his opposition to the London “Mega Mosque” because it was deemed “libellous” to the radical Islamic group Tablighi Jamaat.

His original text read:

You may know about plans by a separatist Islamic group to build Europe’s biggest mosque next to the Olympics site in West Ham. I think it’s a bad idea that will bring division and I’m glad moderate Muslims support my stance in opposing it

The BBC didn’t like “separatist”, which it said was libellous, or “moderate”, which implied that TJ was extremist. So “separatist” was changed to “controversial” and “moderate” was removed – only for ITV to intervene, saying that “controversial” should apply to the plans, not the group, and that “some” should be inserted before “Muslim leaders”.

The final text read:

You may know about controversial plans by an Islamic group to build Europe’s biggest mosque next to the Olympics site in West Ham. I think it’s a bad idea that will bring division and I’m glad some Muslims leaders support my stance in opposing it.

Craig is taking the broadcasters to the High Court, claiming “political interference” and breech of his right to freedom of speech under the European Convention of Human Rights.
Says Craig:

I am advised that libel is a defamation of an individual, and no-where in the broadcast do we defame individuals. My comments are reasonable and moderate and do not contradict the Racial and Religious Hatred Act. The BBC and ITV are not entitled to limit free speech and I look forward to the judge ordering them both to broadcast my original message.

UPDATE: (28 April) Bartholomew reminds those who need reminding that the Christian Legal Centre is an “unlikely opponent of censorship”, given its history of opposition to the free speech of others when it comes to “blasphemy”.

UPDATE: (29 April) The Times has picked up on the story now, and informs us that the High Court hearing will happen today.

Craig said:

This was a politically correct attempt to close down reasoned discussion and debate. It’s a matter of freedom of speech and democracy.

Which contrasts somewhat with what he had to say about Jerry Springer: The Opera being broadcast on BBC:

Christians do not expect a public service broadcaster funded by the licence-fee to mock Jesus Christ like this. The actions of the BBC show that stronger control is needed and this must be brought in during the Royal Charter renewal process.

So much for freedom of speech and democracy.

Danish embassies evacuated

Staff at Danish embassies in Algeria and Afghanistan have been evacuated to safe locations. Security and intelligence services are concerned about violent repercussions by Islamists angered at the re-publication of a cartoon linking Islam with violence.

“Bead-rattlers” force an apology

The Scottish Sunday Herald was forced to publish a full-page apology when a sports columnist used the phrase “bead-rattling” in reference to a particularly devout kind of Celtic FC supporter.

The article was about the negative attitude of some fans towards current manager Gordon Strachan. The offending passage:

some fans would probably rather have a bead-rattling Hoopy the Huddle Hound in the dug-out.

(Hoopy the Huddle Hound is Celtic’s mascot)

In response to complaints the Sunday Herald sports editor Stephen Penman wrote:

The use of the term ‘bead-rattling’ is clearly unacceptable in a quality newspaper. Indeed, it is clearly unacceptable in any context and in any walk of life.

Sectarianism is indeed still a problem in some parts of the UK, and we here at MWW are totally against discrimination on such grounds. A zombie worshipper is a zombie worshipper, be they papist or prod.

Cardiff shaggers get told off

Uproar at the Welsh National Assembly, where S4C obtained permission to film a few scenes of the drama Caerdydd, one of which turned out to be a “love scene” in a baby-changing room.

The scene shows a couple sneaking into the changing room for a passionate encounter. There is no nudity.

By “uproar” we mean couple of angry quotes – one from Conservative AM William Graham, and one from rent-a-prude John Beyer of Mediawatch UK.

Said the Tory,

This is obviously unpleasant and unnecessary. Potentially it’s distressing for people who don’t like the idea of one of the buildings they funded being used in this way. […] One doesn’t want censorship but nothing that is controversial or concerning should happen. […] My mother would be outraged – and I think rightly so.

One wonders why, if Graham’s mother is right to be outraged, Graham himself does not seem to be? Is he trying to give the impression that while he himself is urbane and unshockable, it is nevertheless righteous to be “outraged” by such things?

Beyer was no doubt grateful for the opportunity to do a bit of finger-wagging:

I hope the Welsh Assembly will be cautious next time – if there is a next time – and I think other people who are responsible for public buildings will take note.

He’s been a bit quiet of late.

Muslim countries call for prosecution of Wilders

With the kind of chutzpah that only the religiously convicted can muster, the Islamic nations – including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Indonesia – are citing “human rights” in their efforts to get the Dutch government to prosecute Geert Wilders.

Yes, those hotbeds of torture, censorship, and religious discrimination are lecturing the Netherlands about human rights – and using the increasingly preposterous UN Human Rights Council as a platform from which to do so.

Criticising the recent decision by the Hague District Court to uphold Wilders’ right to free speech, Omar Shalaby of the Egyptian delegation said this:

This ruling may suggest that the judiciary is out of touch with the relevant international and regional obligations and jurisprudence in the field of human rights.

Since the OIC has turned the Human Rights Council into a thoroughly discredited laughing stock, the further “out of touch” with its influence democratic judiciaries remain the better.

EU Pres against cartoons

The President of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pottering, has told reporters in Doha that he is:

against any cartoons that could instigate violence. […]
We are committed to the freedom of the press but I am against publishing cartoons that hurt the feelings of others. As a Catholic, I would feel insulted if someone derides the Pope. We might disagree with others but we have to respect them.

The wittering Mr Pottering did not elaborate upon the reasons why it was necessary to respect the irrational metaphysical opinions of others. It just is.

UPDATE: (April 16) By contrast, and in mitigation for the institution of the EU, European Commissioner for External Relations and Neighborhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner has ruled out the adoption of anti-blasphemy laws in Europe. Speaking in Riyadh yesterday about Fitna, she said:

There are two principles involved in this matter: freedom of press and freedom of religion. Every individual has a right to express what he thinks is correct. Similarly, the other individual, who is not in agreement, can rebut in the same way […] It is an individual opinion. We practice freedom of religion. You have to understand that Muslims have freedom to practice their religion in our country

The consistent Mr Beyer

In a world where cartoonists are still getting death sentences, and the 57-nation OIC continues to campaign internationally against the right to free expression, it is easy to overlook the little guys. But they are still there, nibbling away at the foundation of civilised society like demented minnows.

Yes, we have been neglecting “Massah” John Beyer, smut-campaigner extraordinaire, head of the increasingly irrelevant Mediawatch-UK. He’s still good for a chuckle.

His latest tantrum concerns the Catherine Tate Christmas Show, broadcast on Xmas day at 22.30 on BBC1. It contained, among other things, the foul-mouthed cockney granny whose catchphrase is “What a fucking liberty”. Despite being shown a full hour-and-a-half after the watershed and being preceded by a bad-language warning, it still attracted complaints from the goggle-eyed tube-snouts who watch such things in the hope of seeing something to whinge about.

Ofcom, naturally, dismissed them (see Broadcast Bulletin 106 – PDF). Cue the Massah:

This finding is a disgrace and seriously inconsistent with Ofcom’s finding last week about the obscenities used in the Live Earth concert. No wonder the viewing public is confused and have lost confidence in the regulation of broadcasting.

Beyer, in typically ungrammatical fashion, is referring to the decision by Ofcom to punish the BBC for broadcasting live swearing before the watershed. Tsk, tsk – how very inconsistent. First, Ofcom punishes the BBC for breaking the rules – then a week later it fails to punish them for not breaking the rules. No wonder the poor man is confused!

Still, at least Beyer is consistent. Consistently clueless.

(Hat tip, Dan Factor)

Another video linking Islam and violence

It turns out that one of one of the eight men accused of plotting to detonate homemade bombs on aircraft flying over the Atlantic made his own version of Fitna years before Geert Wliders.

Brian Young, who changed his name to Umar Islam after falling victim to the misapprehension that there is one god called Allah and Muhammed is his prophet, made this video in 2006:

Allah loves us to die and to kill in his path, and anyone who tries to deny this, then read the Koran and you will not be able to deny this, because this is the words in the Koran

So far there have been no demonstrations in Pakistan or Indonesia objecting to young Brian’s linking of Islam and violence. As of yet, Ban Ki-Moon has not condemned the video as unacceptabie. And, at the time of writing, there have been no reports of this silly boy receiving death threats for insulting the One True Religion.

Why is that then?

Indonesia blocks YouTube, calls for foreign country to change its laws

ISPs in Indonesia have acceded to government requests to block access to YouTube and other websites carrying Fitna. The minister had written to them, saying that the film could “disturb religious and civil harmony at a global level.”

Rather more disturbingly, Muslim leaders have held a meeting in Jakarta where they demanded that the Netherlands take legal action against Wilders. Apparently, the Dutch government’s statement condemning the film was not enough to assuage the anger of Muslim countries – the only thing good enough is a fundamental rewrite of the constitution.

People’s Consultative Assembly chairman Hidayat Nur Wahid:

The Dutch government must criminalize Wilders’ conduct. Freedom of expression has a limit

Indonesian Ulema Council deputy chairman Amidan:

We are still waiting to see what punishment the Dutch government will give Wilders, because the film has clearly insulted and disgraced Islam

Hamamah from Aisyiah, the women’s arm of Muhammadiyah:

This is not the first film (to hurt Muslims), so the Dutch government must have regulations to prevent similar movies from circulating

Muhammadiyah chairman Din Syamsuddin:

Such a film encourages the clash of civilizations between Islam and the West

Actually what “encourages the clash of civilisations” is the leaders of backward Islamic states thinking they have any right to dictate what goes on to the legislature of a liberal democracy. As long as they cling to this desperate delusion they will never be at peace with themselves.

UPDATE: (12 April) YouTube is back in Indonesia. Pressure from citizens and negative editorials from the press forced an apology from the Communications Minister Muhammed Nuh:

I openly ask the public’s forgiveness for the inconvenience caused over the past few days by the blocking of sites