Archive for September, 2010

Where’s Mohammed? Another case of pre-emptive self-censorship

The Daily Cartoonist reports that a popular Sunday cartoon strip has been spiked by several newspapers because it mentions Muhammad.

Wiley Miller’s frequently brilliant Non Sequitur depicts a park scene with the caption, Picture book title voted least likely to ever find a publisher… ‘Where’s Muhammad?’

This was enough to put the fear of fatwa into ‘upwards of 20’ newspaper editors, who have asked for a replacement. Mr Miller notes

the irony of editors being afraid to run even such a tame cartoon as this that satirizes the blinding fear in media regarding anything surrounding Islam sadly speaks for itself. Indeed, the terrorists have won.

UPDATE: Here is the cartoon in question:

I think that’s him standing behind the little girl at the ice-cream stand.

Vilks free speech lecture to go ahead next week

Lars Vilks, the Modoggie artist whose free-speech lecture was so rudely interrupted last May, has been invited back to Uppsala university for a second attempt to complete his talk.

Folke Tersman, the head of the university’s philosophy department, says:

That a university lecture is interrupted by violence is a serious thing, regardless of the opinion that provoked the reaction… It is incompatible with the basic values democracy is based on. It is to uphold these values that we are inviting him again.

This is what happened the first time:

Vampyres make you mad

It has been a while since Stephen Green has graced the pages of this blog. His pronouncements are becoming increasingly irrelevant and dull, but the photo used to illustrate his latest outburst is so lovely that we just had to include it.

Look into my eyes: The sane and rational Mr Green warns of the dangers of the occult

The object of his righteous wrath is GP Taylor, who is currently promoting his latest book, Vampyre Labyrinth. According to Green, the vicar-turned-novelist is attempting to involve young people in “the dangerous world of the occult”.

Says Green:

Shame on any head teacher who invites GP Taylor into their school with this book. It is up to head teachers to behave more responsibly and if I was a parent at a school that allowed him in I’d be straight up to the school and demanding answers from the head teacher.

Don’t get involved in those weird beliefs and practices. They can send you mad!

UPDATE: (Sept 30) Nanny Pattison of Mediawatch-UK has put her oar in as well, using the cooked-up controversy to push an idea of ratings for books:

The Vampire Labyrinth raises the question as to whether books should be classified as U/PG/15 or 18 and some kind of warning given to parents, as it contains scenes of graphic horror and violence, including stabbing, burning, torture and throat-ripping.

That’s one way to get the Bible out of schools. With all its violence and smut, it would have to be given an 18 certificate.

Why burning a Koran may become your civic duty

Burning books is not illegal. Much as it rankles to defend book-burners of any stripe, be they BNP racists, halfwit Christian fundamentalists, or anti-Rushdie rage-boys, the act of converting paper to carbon through combustion – provided the paper is yours and you are not endangering life or property – is harmless.

So when news comes from Gateshead that six men have been arrested after filming themselves burning copies of the Koran, you know that something is seriously wrong.
As the video clearly demonstrates, these men are idiots. They are probably EDL supporters, and racists to boot. But what they did is not – cannot be – illegal.

They were arrested on suspicion of “inciting racial hatred”. Not only is Islam – represented here by its holy book – not a race, but the only hatred that such an act is likely to incite would be directed at themselves, and would come from a particular kind of Muslim.

The racial and religious hatred law, for all its faults, was not designed to prevent you from committing acts which make other people hate you. Otherwise every homosexual, fornicator, and abortionist would be under arrest for inciting the hatred of some religious loon.

There cannot be a law against burning books. There especially cannot be a law against burning one particular book. If these men are convicted, then such a law is exactly what we will have.

If these men are convicted, the best course of action is a campaign of civil disobedience. Korans must be burned – but not as a protest against Islam, or Islamism, or “Islamisation”. The new wave of Koran burning will be about something much more important than any of those things: the laws of this country, and the defence of freedom of expression.

It is the only time that book-burning is a defensible tactic: to show that it can be done.

Merkel backs Westergaard

We interrupt a long blog silence to bring a rare piece of unequivocally good news. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has spoken in defence of Danish Motoonist Kurt Westergaard.

The occasion was the presentation of the M100 Sanssouci Media Award to Westergaard for his defence of free speech. In her presentation speech, Merkel said:

Europe is a place where a cartoonist is allowed to draw something like this… We are talking here about the freedom of opinion and the freedom of the press… It’s about whether in a Western society with its values he [Mr Westergaard] is allowed to publish his Muhammad cartoons, or not. Is he allowed to do it? Yes he is.

Of course, the Central Council of Muslims in Germany criticized the award ceremony. Ayman Mazyek said:

Merkel is honoring the cartoonist who in our view trampled on our prophet and trampled on all Muslims.

No he didn’t. He drew a cartoon.