Archive for March, 2010

Pullman sums it up

Our credo in 60 seconds, by the author of The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ:

A fuss over nothing – Classic FM didn’t cave to fundie pressure

Classic FM has been replying to emails protesting about its censoring itself after pressure from Christian Voice. It turn out our first impressions were right – Stephen Green was just kidding himself in the press release where he crowed about his success.

CFM Director Derren Henley explains that the Not the Messiah ad campaign had run its natural course, and Christian Voice’s complaining campaign had nothing to do with it stopping.

We offer our sincere apologies to Derren Henley and Classic FM for jumping the gun on this one.

Here is Henley’s response:

Thank you for your email regarding “Not the Messiah”.

Following an email campaign, a number of incorrect views about Classic FM’s involvement in this event appear to have gathered momentum in the online community and I hope that you will allow me to take this opportunity to correct them:

1. Classic FM broadcast an advertising campaign for this event which ran from last Wednesday until last weekend. The station also ran a competition to win tickets to the event on the station’s website which also ended last weekend. No further advertising activity was booked to run either on-air or online after the weekend.

2. At no point did Classic FM ever intend to broadcast this event on air, nor did it ever enter into any negotiations to broadcast the event on air, so any assertion that any programme content has been withdrawn from broadcast is simply incorrect.

3. Classic FM has never been a financial supporter of this event and nor was it ever the promoter of the live event – and that relationship has in no way changed over the past week.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to correct these misconceptions. May I also take this opportunity to thank you for taking the trouble to get in touch. I do hope that you continue to enjoy listening to Classic FM’s programmes.

Maybe he is the Messiah. He’s certainly not the naughty boy we thought he was.

(Thanks to Paul in the comments)

Brian’s mum slams Classic FM censorship

Rosalind Plowright OBE, the mezzo soprano who plays Brian’s mother Mandy in Not the Messiah, has written to Classic FM expressing her disappointment at the station for cancelling its promotion of the show. In a letter, copied in the comments here, she brands Stephen Green’s tiny organisation as “uninformed Christian bigots”.

Rosalind Plowright: Appalled by Classic FM's decision

I was quite appalled to hear of Classic FM’s decision to ban the promotion of Eric Idle and John Du Prez Oratorio, “Not the Messiah.”

As the person who played Mandy (the mother of Brian) and as a Roman Catholic by birth, I believe I have more right than anyone else to pronounce a view on this short sighted decision of you and how poorly it must be seen by others who will hear this news.

I will assume that all complaints will have come from religious bodies or people. I wonder if they had seen the show at the Royal Albert Hall? If not, is their view even allowable?

The concept of Brian comes from the mysterious “Book of Brian” It tells the story of a baby born on the same night as Jesus who was mistakenly identified as the Messiah.

How lucky that this book was written and/or discovered. From it have come two of the funniest and most entertaining pieces of artistic creativity ever. “The Life of Brian,” voted funniest film of all time in one of those TV 100 Funniest Films, and “Not the Messiah – He’s a very Naughty Boy” the oratorio.

What better vehicle than an oratorio to tell such a story and what genius to use styles of music that today’s public, from youngster to classical music aficionado can relate to.

I am disappointed that Classic FM allows itself to be dictated to by such a small body of extreme opinion. Their action shows them to be a radio station that cares more about a few uninformed Christian bigots than serving the public with a new arrival on the classical music scene.

Ironically their decision will have huge numbers of people wondering what all the fuss is about and no doubt they will buy the DVD when it released in June. It will also probably help fill the cinemas to capacity tonight!

Rosalind Plowright OBE
Mandy – Mother of Brian
Mezzo Soprano

CFM’s director, Darren Henley, is a very naughty boy.

UPDATE: No he isn’t. (Sorry, Darren)

Here is a list of cinemas showing the film tonight.

Classic FM cave in to Christian Voice (UPDATE – no they don’t)

The UK’s leading classical music station succumbed to a censorship campaign coordinated by the tiny fundamentalist organisation Christian Voice.

When we first read Stephen Green crowing on his website about his achievement in cancelling the promotion of Not the Messiah (see below) we assumed he was just kidding himself. Kidding himself is, after all, what he spends his life doing. But the British Humanist Association received confirmation yesterday that the channel did indeed drop the promotion because of complaints.

Perhaps Classic FM did not know that the complaints were from the notorious cancer charity blackmailing bigots who rose to fame by publishing the home addresses of TV producers on their website. Even so, that is still no excuse to cave so cravenly to the fundamentalist shut-up brigade.

The BHA’s Campaigns Officer Pepper Harow:

We are hugely disappointed by the judgement taken by the head of Classic FM to effectively ban promotion of this show. There are no blasphemy laws in this country anymore and this decision is entirely unjustifiable.

Just because some people may not like something, it doesn’t mean it should be banned. We live in a liberal democracy where all views should be heard, not just the ones we want to listen to. Hyper-sensitivity to one particular religion should not prevent the enjoyment by everyone else of perfectly legitimate music, art or drama.

Why not contact Classic FM and tell them what you think?

(Hat tip, Stuart in the comments)

UPDATE: This is not a true story.

Not the Messiah offensive to Stephen Green

Carmarthen’s leading comedy fundamentalist, whose star has been sadly in the descendent since he helped abolish the Blasphemy Law last year, has found something else to be offended by. Not the Messiah, a Handel’s Messiah style musical version of The Life of Brian, is being promoted by Classic FM.

Not The Messiah: At a cinema near you on March 25th!

The horror of this situation is passionately expressed by the director of Christian Voice in a round-robin email to supporters and on his website:

It has the song from ‘Life of Brian’ which ‘Brian’ sang while hanging from the cross, ‘Always look on the bright side of life.’ Crucifixion is not funny. It even has ‘Hail to the Shoe’ sung to the music of the Hallelujah Chorus. That isn’t funny either.

Green urges his supporters to PRAY that Classic FM pull the ads, nobody turns up at the cinemas, and that Eric Idle finds Jesus. He also wants them to write to the MD of Classic FM and let them know:

that his promotion of ‘Not the Messiah’ offends and insults you and Stephen Green. If you are a regular listener, tell him so.

Actually he says “Almighty God” instead of “Stephen Green” in the above quote. Sometimes it is really hard to tell the difference between the two. They are virtually indistinguishable.

Saudi lawyer uses English libel to sue Danish papers

The Saudi lawyer claiming to represent 95,000 descendants Mohammed is using the controversial English libel laws to sue Danish newspapers who printed a Motoon.

The Danish Minister for Justice Lars Barfoed has complained to the EU commission:

But it would be taking it to the extreme if an English court could rule against the Danish media and then require compensation and court costs to be paid.

Dodgy Saudi lawyer Faisal Yamani has failed to get an apology from most of the Danish papers and is now suing for compensation in the only venue left open to him. Inadvertantly, he has given boost to the libel reform campaign.

The OIC publishes a Motoon

From Tundra Tabloids comes the news that the Organisation of the Islamic Conference’s “Islamophobia Observatory” published a highly disprespectful caricature of Mohammed in its February report (PDF).

It's a Mo-pig! And it was published by the OIC

The photo-of-a-screenshot-of-a-Motoon was the exact same one which the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet used to illustrate their story of how the image came to be posted on the security service’s Facebook page. As as result of that publication, there was a city-wide taxi strike, a protest rally, and a DDOS attack by Turkish hackers.

Now that the image has been published (with permission?) by the world’s leading organisation of Islamic countries, which makes yearly calls for international blasphemy laws, can we conclude that it is acceptable to illustrate Motoon-related news stories with the relevant images? Or are we going to see street protests, death threats, and hack attacks against the OIC now?

(Hat tip: Islam in Europe)

Malaysia tells Sweden to punish its blasphemers

The alleged plot to murder Lars Vilks has caused some upset in Malaysia. Not because an artist’s life has been threatened, but because Swedish newspapers reprinted some Modog drawings to accompany their reports of the story.

The Malaysian Foreign Minister, Anifah Aman, stated in a press conference on Saturday:

Malaysia strongly denounces the reprinting of the caricature of Prophet Muhammad by three Swedish newspapers on 10 March 2010.

[Such] despicable acts disregard the sensitivity of the Muslim world in the name of freedom of expression.

Such irresponsible acts are provocative and offensive in nature and hence it is totally unacceptable.

Malaysia wishes to request the Swedish government to take measures against such publications to prevent the recurrence of such irresponsible acts in the future.

The conservative Islamic party PAS will organise a demonstration on Friday after prayers.

That should do it, Malaysia. It is only a matter of time before Sweden amends its constitution and takes control of its press.

Irish blasphemy law could go to referendum!

Great news from Atheist Ireland (via The Freethinker): Justice Minister Dermot Ahern has proposed an autumn referendum do decide on whether or not to repeal the recently introduced blasphemy law.

The chastened Ahern told today’s Sunday Times (no link yet),

There was an incredibly sophisticated campaign [against me], mainly on the internet. I was only doing my duty in relation to it, because clearly it is in the constitution. The attorney general said ‘there is this absolute, mandatory thing… it is an offence, punishable by law.

Atheist Ireland said,

We reiterate our position that this law is both silly and dangerous: silly because it is introducing medieval canon law offence into a modern plularist republic; and dangerous because it incentives religious outrage and because its wording has already been adopted by Islamic States as part of their campaign to make blasphemy a crime internationally.

Although the final decision on the referendum rests with the cabinet, this looks like an occasion to congratulate everyone involved in the campaign. It just goes to show that defiance and ridicule can be powerful weapons. Maybe they should be used more often?

Scientologists try to ban German film

Leaders of the sinister, family-splitting science-fiction cult, the Church of Scientology, are attempting to block the release of a film which depicts them as a sinister, family-splitting science-fiction cult.

Bis Nichts Mehr Bleibt (Until Nothing Remains), is a 90-minute dramatisation of the true story of a German family torn apart by the secretive, pseudo-religious scam. It is produced by Germany’s main public TV network, ARD.

High-ranking fruit-loops from Scientology’s German HQ have branded the film “propaganda”, and are demanding to preview it before its scheduled release in late March. In spite of never having seen it, Jürg Stettler, a spokesman for the batshit-crazy organisation, said:

The truth is precisely the opposite of that which the ARD is showing.

ARD’s programme director Volker Herres has defended the film:

We’re not dealing here with a religion, rather with an organisation that has completely different motives. […] Scientology is about power, business, and building up a network.

Sounds like a religion to us, Volker. Good luck with your film, though!

(Hat tip The Freethinker)