Nutters have called the New Zealand Broadcasting Standards Authority "morally bankrupt" after it failed to uphold complaints about TV3 drama Californication .
Family First New Zealand laid one of five complaints with the
authority which alleged the first episode broadcast in November breached standards of good taste and decency.
Complaints related to a dream sequence where a nun performed oral sex on lead character Hank Moody, constant strong language, teenage
drug use and sex scenes.
National director Bob McCoskrie argued that broadcasters are consistently pushing the boundaries of what is normal and acceptable, glorifying and normalising drug and alcohol abuse, pornography, offensive language,
violence and degrading treatment of women.
But in a decision released today the BSA said its decision not to uphold the complaint was based on factors such as the programme being preceded by a verbal and written warning, the Adults Only rating, a
9.30pm broadcast time, audience expectations as a result of prior publicity and the title which indicated it was likely to contain "challenging content."
The first ever stage play based on Salman Rushdie's book The Satanic Verses passed off without incident in Germany on Sunday with police in attendance in case of disturbances.
been no specific threats but there was a moderate police presence inside and outside the venue as a preventative measure after complaints from some Muslim groups, a police spokesman said.
There had been fears that Sunday's play might become
another flashpoint in tensions between Europe and the Muslim world.
Such fears appeared unfounded over Sunday's play however.
On Friday the president of the German Islamic Council, Ali Kizilkaya, told AFP that his organisation had publicly
complained: We regret that the religious sentiments of Muslims are being treated in a provocative manner.
The general secretary of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, Aiman Mazyek, urged Muslims to remain calm and engage in a critical and constructive dialogue
about the issues the play raises. But he also questioned whether the play might go too far. Freedom of expression and of art is important ...BUT... offences against what is sacred in a religion is not something we value.
A German Muslim group said that protests were likely against the first ever staging of a dramatized version of Salman Rushdie's controversial book The Satanic Verses in Potsdam near Berlin on Sunday.
Nurhan Soykan, spokeswoman for the
central council of Muslims in Germany, told Reuters Muslims believed in a free press and freedom of opinion .... BUT... even this has its boundaries. We're worried that provocations and insults against us have increased recently. I
wouldn't want to ban (the play) .... BUT... you can bet on protests from Muslim people. They can't be expected to put up with everything.
German police said they had been consulting with the Potsdam theatre and a large
number of officers would be on patrol for the premiere on Sunday. We'll be monitoring the situation, police spokesman Rudi Sonntag said. Although we haven't had any indications of dangers or disturbances, we can't rule out the possibility that
demonstrations will be going on.
The top UN rights body has passed a resolution proposed by Islamic countries saying it is deeply concerned about the defamation of religions and urging governments to prohibit it.
The European Union said the text was one-sided because it
primarily focused on Islam.
The UN Human Rights Council, which is dominated by Arab and other Muslim countries, adopted the resolution on a 21-10 vote over the opposition of Europe and Canada. 14 countries abstained in the vote.
countries, including France, Germany and Britain, voted against. Previously EU diplomats had said they wanted to stop the growing worldwide trend of using religious anti-defamation laws to limit free speech.
The document, which was put forward by
the Organization of the Islamic Conference, expresses deep concern at attempts to identify Islam with terrorism, violence and human rights violations.
Although the text refers frequently to protecting all religions, the only religion
specified as being attacked is Islam, to which eight paragraphs refer.
The resolution notes with deep concern the intensification of the campaign of defamation of religions and the ethnic and religious profiling of Muslim minorities in the
aftermath of the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001.
The EU said, International human rights law protects primarily individuals in their exercise of their freedom of religion or belief, not religions or beliefs as such.
resolution urges states to take actions to prohibit the dissemination ... of racist and xenophobic ideas and material that would incite to religious hatred. It also urges states to adopt laws that would protect against hatred and discrimination
stemming from religious defamation.
Jack Thompson is a long time anti-games nutter who winds gamers with his inane opposition.
He also wound up his fellow legals by filing pornographic material on court records that are open for all to peruse, including children.
In fact the
Florida Supreme Court will no longer accept anything directly from Miami attorney Jack Thompson. If Thompson wants to file with the Court, he’s going to need to hire another lawyer to do it on his behalf.
That’s the ruling just handed down by the
Court. The order states:
After submitting inappropriate and pornographic materials to this Court, Thompson was specifically warned that should he continue to submit inappropriate filings, this Court would consider
imposing a sanction limiting Thompson’s ability to submit further filings…
Since that order, Thompson has filed numerous additional filings which led this Court to issue an order directing Thompson to show cause why we should not limit his
filings… We now sanction Thompson…
Thompson engaged, to the point of abuse… in a relentless and frivolous pursuit for vindication of his claim that he is being victimized by The Florida Bar…
Thompson’s multiple responses are rambling,
argumentative, and contemptuous… What we cannot tolerate, however, is Thompson’s continued inability to maintain a minimum standard of decorum and respect for the judicial system to which all litigants, and especially attorneys, must adhere…
thorough review of Thompson’s filings lead to one conclusion. He has abused the processes of the Court… Accordingly… the Clerk of this Court is hereby instructed to reject for filing any future pleadings, petitions, motions, documents, or other filings
submitted by John Bruce Thompson, unless signed by a member in good standing of The Florida Bar other than himself.
…Further, if Thompson submits a filing in violation of this order, he may be subjected to contempt proceedings or other
Earlier this year I expressed my indignation over the suggestion that the famous Pussy Parlure Spiegeltent, due to be set up shortly as part of this year’s Brighton Festival, might have to shorten its name to placate St Peter’s Church leaders.
All hell broke loose in February when the parish council got arsy over plans to locate the delightful, burlesque-styled Pussy Parlour on council-owned grounds adjoining this useless old church, and for a while it looked as if the venue would have to
In a placatory move, the Pussy Parlour’s owner said he was prepared to drop the word “Pussy”, even though it referred to cats (cats being its motif, as you can see from its website.)
It appears that this grovelling
gesture has worked. When I picked up a copy of the Brighton festival guide today, I found that “Pussy” had been expunged, and all acts will now take place in the “Parlure”.
This is outrageous! Yielding to pressure from a church is bad enough, but
capitulating to one typified by its profusions of phallic projections and named after a Peter – a popular slang term for penis – is intolerable.
The website where Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders was promoting his not-yet-released anti-Qur'an film has been suspended by its US hosting service.
The site formerly showed the film's title, Fitna , the trail line "coming soon" and
an image of a gilded Qur'an. Now it shows a note that the company, Network Solutions, is investigating whether the site violates its terms of service.
Network Solutions has received a number of complaints regarding this site that are under
investigation, the note said.
How many ways are there left for me to be worked against? Wilders was quoted as saying: If necessary I'll go hand out DVDs personally.
A Dutch court will hear a complaint lodged by Muslim
groups seeking to bar Wilders from releasing the film on March 28, but there is no legal barrier preventing Wilders releasing his film before then.
At least 1,000 people have taken part in a demonstration in Amsterdam against the planned release of a film expected to be highly critical of Islam.
Protesters objected to the planned internet release of the film by Dutch right-wing politician
Some protesters in central Amsterdam carried signs that said Stop the witch hunt against Muslims.
We can no longer remain silent. There is a climate of hate and fear in the Netherlands, said Rene Danen, a
spokesman from anti-racism organisation Nederland Bekent Kleur (The Netherlands Shows its Colours), which organised the protest.
Kent MP Julian Bazier has slammed a decision by the Video Appeals Committee to overturn a ban on the controversial video game Manhunt 2 .
Brazier said: This shows once again that the BBFC and its appeals system do not meet the concerns
of the public. The public wants a significant tightening up in this vital area.
Brazier feels the time has come for action: We need a consensus that videos and video games involving extreme violence are extremely anti-social. Watching
these things happen does affect people’s behaviour. We’ve got to recognise that there’s a strong link between what people watch and what they do.
Far-right lawmaker Geert Wilders plans to release Fitna , a film attacking Islam and the Koran.
The Netherlands Islamic Federation (Nederlandse Islamitische Federatie) asked a court in The Hague to set up a panel of censors to review the
film, in order to discover if there is any reason for it to be banned.
The Dutch Government, while calling on Wilders to abandon his project, has previously said there is no legal way to censor a film before it appears.
The court will
rule on the association's request by March 28. Wilders has said that he will release the film "before April 1", posting it on the Internet if he fails to find a broadcaster willing to carry it.
The American Family Association has ended its two-year boycott of Ford over the automaker's advertising on Web sites and in publications geared toward the gay community.
The conservative group confirmed today that Ford has met all of the
conditions presented by the group in fall 2005, shortly before a boycott began in March 2006 over Ford's practice of offering benefits to same-sex couples and its marketing efforts in the gay community.
The AFA singled out Ford as the company
[that] has done the most to affirm and promote the homosexual lifestyle, according to an early post on the group's Web site, boycottford.com, which is now inoperative. Ford representatives, dealers and AFA leaders were in discussions for several
months prior to the boycott.
Some Ford dealers, particularly in the South, have said that the boycott impacted their sales.
AFA chairman Donald E. Wildmon declined an interview request, but said in a statement that the original agreement
between the AFA and Ford contained four conditions.
Ford would have to cease all advertising on gay Web sites and throughout gay media outlets, including magazines, television and radio, in the U.S.
Ford would not be able to renew current promotions or create future incentives that give cash
donations to gay organizations based on the purchase of a vehicle.
Ford would be prohibited from making corporate donations to gay organizations that engage in political or social campaigns to promote civil unions or same-sex marriage.
Ford would have to stop giving cash and vehicle donations or endorsements to gay social activities such as "gay pride" parades.
In a first for post-Taleban Afghanistan, a woman has made it to the final three in the country's version of Pop Idol .
Lima Sahar is up against two male contestants for a place in the final sing-off on Afghan Star , which has become
one of the nation's most popular television shows.
Conservatives decry the fact that a woman has found success singing on TV, while others – younger Afghans – say the show is helping women progress.
With her hair tucked under a headscarf,
Lima brushes off her critics, saying there can be no progress for women without upsetting the status quo. "No pain, no gain," she told reporters.
Afghanistan's clerics' council has protested to the president, Hamid Karzai, over the
show. In the situation that we have in Afghanistan right now, we don't need a woman singer. We don't need Afghan Star. We are in need of a good economy, good education, said Ali Ahmad Jebra-ali, a member of the council. If Lima Sahar wins
Afghan Star, how can she help the poor? This is not the way to help the Afghan people.
A government decision to ban two cartoon shows on a Russian TV-channel has caused widespread debate. While some see the decision to clamp down on violence on TV as a defence of taste and decency, others see it as unnecessary censorship.
The Happy Tree Friends
are a kind of extreme Tom and Jerry, aimed at young adults and heavy on stylised violence. It's a cult classic that's shown in more than 50 countries.
The Two by Two station that airs the show pulled it and another show after receiving an
official government warning
The controversy began with a complaint from Russia's protestant church. One of its top officials says the station is perverting the morals of the nation. And they want the station closed down. Someone has to stop
the violence. Television is a tool shaping the minds and the future of our children, Konstantin Bendas from the Union of Evangelical Christians said.
However the regulator - despite upholding the complaint says that closing TV stations is not
on their agenda.
Nevertheless for Two by Two this is a serious issue. Their CEO says the channel has had thousands of messages of support and thinks the ban is an insult to the intelligence of viewers and that the complaints are unwarranted.
A Paris appeal court confirmed the acquittal of Philippe Val, editor of the Paris-based satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo , on charges of insulting Muslims by publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in 2006.
The court issued its decision
in response to an appeal by the Union of Islamic Organisations of France and the World Islamic League against his acquittal by a Paris criminal court on 22 March 2007. The prosecutor’s office, which had requested his acquittal by the criminal court,
asked the appeal court to uphold his acquittal.
Protestant nutters have urged Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika to shut down the cartoon channel 2x2 for broadcasting shows they claim promote homosexuality and religious intolerance.
It is the second time in a week that the network, owned
by Vladimir Potanin's Prof-Media Group, has come under fire for its content.
The Consultative Council of the Heads of Protestant Churches in Russia sent a letter to Chaika, accusing 2x2 of promoting cruelty, violence, homosexual propaganda,
religious hatred and intolerance by airing cartoons such as South Park , said Vitaly Vlasenko, a spokesman for the group, which unites several Protestant denominations.
Last week 2x2 pulled two of its shows, Happy Tree Friends and
The Adventures of Big Jeff , after a receiving a warning from the government media watchdog that the shows promoted a cult of violence and brutality.
Under Russian law, a second warning letter could result in the loss of the
channel's broadcasting license.
Islamic states are bidding to use the United Nations to limit freedom of expression and belief around the world, the global humanist body IHEU told the UN's Human Rights Council on Wednesday.
In a statement submitted to the 48-nation Council, the
IHEU said the 57 members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) were also aiming to undermine the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Islamic states see human rights exclusively in Islamic terms, and by sheer weight of
numbers this view is becoming dominant within the UN system. The implications for the universality of human rights are ominous, it said.
The statement from the IHEU, the International Humanist and Ethical Union, was issued as the UN's special
investigator on freedom of opinion and expression argued in a report that religions had no special protection under human rights law.
The IHEU statement came against the background of mounting success by the OIC, currently holding a summit in
Dakar, in achieving passage of UN resolutions against "defamation of religions."
The "defamation" issue has become especially sensitive this year as the UN prepares to celebrate in the autumn the 50th anniversary of the 1948
Universal Declaration, long seen as the bedrock of international human rights law and practice.
The world's Muslim countries warned
Wednesday that an "alarming" rise in anti-Islamic insults and attacks in the West has become a threat to international security. The OIC called on Europe and America to take stronger measures against 'Islamophobia' in a report prepared for the
The report by a special OIC monitoring group said the organisation was struggling to get the West to understand that Islamophobia has dangerous implications on global peace and security and to convince western powers to do more.
OIC leaders have expressed renewed concern following events such as the publication in Denmark of cartoons lampooning the Prophet Mohammed and a plan by the Dutch far-right MP Geert Wilders to release a film calling the Koran "fascist".
The OIC said Islam had faced constant attacks since it was created but in recent years the phenomenon has assumed alarming proportions and has become a major cause of concern for the Muslim world.
The monitoring group called on
Europe and North America to do more, through laws and social action, to protect Muslims from threats and discrimination and prevent insults against Islam's religious symbols. The report added that Muslims in many parts of the world, in the West in
particular, are being stereotyped, profiled and subjected to various forms of discriminatory treatment: The most sacred symbols of Islam, in particular the sacred image of of the Prophet Mohammed is being defiled and denigrated in the most insulting,
offensive and contemptuous manner to incite hatred and unrest in society.
The OIC said the Muslim world must launch a campaign to show that it is a "moderate, peaceful and tolerant" religion, closely monitor and the raise the alert
over anti-Islamic incidents and organise more inter-faith initiatives.
A Roman Catholic bishop has likened books which criticise the teachings of the Church to works that deny the Holocaust took place.
The Rt Rev Nutter Patrick O'Donoghue, Bishop of Lancaster, told MPs that books critical of the Catholic faith
should be banned from school libraries.
Asked if that applied to works by authors such as Karl Marx and Albert Camus, he told the Commons Children, Schools and Families Committee: Suppose you went into a school and found in the library
material that said the Holocaust never took place?
Fiona McTaggart, the Labour MP for Slough, said she was extremely concerned that Catholic sixth-formers would be denied access to great works of fiction as well as non-fiction if the bishop's
ban were implemented. I would not expect a school to promote material that was lies but I also would also expect children to encounter a wide range of material even if they then need to be given the tools to criticise them, she said.
Bishop O'Donoghue defended his stance. I think there has to be a vetting of material given the age range of children in schools. There is certain material that you do not put in front of them.
The bishop's summons to appear before the
committee followed a document he produced last year which angered some MPs because of its strict line on sexual morality. In Fit for Mission?, Bishop O'Donoghue wrote: The secular view on sex outside marriage, artificial contraception, sexually
transmitted disease, including HIV and Aids, and abortion, may not be presented as neutral information. "So-called" safe sex was based on the deluded theory that the condom can provide adequate protection against Aids. Schools and
colleges must not support charities or groups that promote or fund anti-life policies, such as Red Nose Day and Amnesty International, which now advocates abortion.
Stephen Green, national director of Stephen Green’s Voice (aka Christian Voice) has failed yet again to get the BBC and John Thoday done for blasphemy. The House of Lords refused to hear the appeal of the recent High Court decision.
Update: Nutters with a Cross to Bear
Christian Voice are not impressed by the House of Lords decision not to hear the appeal. Their solicitor wrote to the Times:
The House of Lords has decided not to hear the appeal as it was not felt by the House to have “sufficient public interest”. We believe that the House of Lords erred in declining to hear the appeal, since the
High Court’s decision was bad law; indeed, one commentator described the decision as “without legal merit”.
Recently there has been another blasphemy case which we believe has fallen foul of the law, namely the grotesque statue of Jesus Christ
with an erect penis in the Baltic Art Centre, Gateshead. Many Christians demonstrated against this and the strength of feeling ran high. Many expressed their desire to destroy the statue, but desisted, knowing this not to be lawful. Those same people
have expressed a desire to assist in a private prosecution for blasphemy. The police have shown no interest in dealing with these grievances, as far as we are aware, and the art centre displayed the statue until the end of the exhibition. We strongly
believe that it is in the public interest to prevent such lewd and offensive displays.
Senior Anglican bishops have warned the Government that they have serious reservations about the abolition of the blasphemy laws.
Dr Rowan Williams and Dr John Sentamu say in a letter today that the Government should not lightly change
laws that, though their day-to-day importance may be small ...BUT... nevertheless carry a significant symbolic charge.
While not opposing abolition, they urge caution and question why the Government is pushing through the
The abolition of blasphemy from the statute books moved closer this week with the tabling of a Government amendment in the House of Lords. The Bill is scheduled for debate on Wednesday.
The Government had promised in January
that this would take place after a “short and sharp” consultation with the churches.
In a letter to Communities Secretary Hazel Blears, the Archbishops say that the pressing need for repeal is not clear and plead for more time to to assess
the impact of the new offence of incitement to religious hatred.
They call on the Government to be clear why the offences are being abolished and to spell out what the implications are for Christianity in relation to State and society: At a
time of continuing debate about the nature of our society and its values, this change needs to be seen for what it is, namely the removal of what has long been recognised as unsatisfactory and not very workable offences in circumstances in which
scurrilous attacks on the Christian religion no longer threaten the fabric of society. It should not be capable of interpretation as a secularising move, or as a general licence to attack or insult religious beliefs and believers.
The Government amendment this week comes at a considerably earlier stage than had been expected as it is very unlikely that the consultation has been completed.
What appears to have happened is that the Government has been panicked into tabling
its own amendment following a near identical one being tabled by Lord Avebury. Lord Avebury is a long-time secular campaigner.
The Government is determined that changes to blasphemy are made through their amendments, to give the appearance that
they are in control.
A few of the Criminal Injustice Bill amendments knocking around
144B* Insert the following new Clause— "Blasphemy and blasphemous libel (1) The offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel
under the common law of England and Wales are abolished. (2) In section 1 of the Criminal Libel Act 1819 (60 Geo. 3 & 1 Geo. 4 c. 8) (orders for seizure of copies of blasphemous or seditious libel) the words "any blasphemous libel, or"
are omitted. (3) In sections 3 and 4 of the Law of Libel Amendment Act 1888 (c. 64) (privileged matters) the words "blasphemous or" are omitted. (4) Subsections (2) and (3) (and the related repeals in Schedule 38) extend to England and
EARL OF ONSLOW BARONESS STERN
145 Insert the following new Clause— "Blasphemy The offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel are abolished."
148 Insert the
following new Clause— "Abolition of certain religious offences (1) The following offences are abolished— (a) blasphemy and blasphemous libel; (b) any distinct offence of disturbing a religious service or religious devotions; (c)
any religious offence of striking a person in a church or churchyard. (2) The following provisions are repealed— (a) in section 1 of the Criminal Libel Act 1819 (60 Geo. 3 & 1 Geo. 4 c. 8), the words "blasphemous libel, or"; (b)
in sections 3 and 4 of the Law of Libel Amendment Act 1888 (c. 64), the words "blasphemous or"; (c) section 59 of the Cemeteries Clauses Act 1847 (c. 65); (d) section 2 of the Ecclesiastical Courts Jurisdiction Act 1860 (c. 32); (e)
section 36 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861 (c. 100); (f) section 7 of the Burial Laws Amendment Act 1880 (c. 41)."
A Berlin gallery has temporarily closed an exhibition of satirical works by a group of Danish artists after six Muslim youths threatened violence unless one of the posters depicting the Kaaba shrine in Mecca was removed.
The Galerie Nord in
central Berlin said it had closed its Zionist Occupied Government show of works by Surrend, a group of artists who say they poke fun at powerful people and ideological conflicts.
Four days after the exhibition opened, a group of angry
Muslims stormed into the gallery, shouting demands that one of the 21 posters should be removed, said the gallery. They were very aggressive and shouted at an employee that the poster should be taken down otherwise they would throw stones and use
violence, the gallery's artistic director Ralf Hartmann told Reuters.
Hartmann said the gallery was working with German authorities to improve security and he hoped to re-open the show as soon as possible.
The offending poster on display showed the Kaaba - the black granite cube-shaped building in Mecca. The words "stupid stone" in German were superimposed on it. It is toward the Kaaba that Muslims must pray.
The Belarusian Supreme Court has ordered the early release of Aleksandr Sdvizhkov, former deputy editor of the now-shuttered independent newspaper Zgoda, who was sentenced in January to three years in a high-security prison for reprinting controversial
Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2006.
We're relieved at the Belarusian Supreme Court's decision to grant early release to Aleksandr Sdvizhkov, but he should not have been jailed in the first place, CPJ Executive Director Joel
Simon said. We remain concerned that the court did not overturn this politically motivated conviction.
Sdvizhkov's lawyer, Maya Aleksandrova, told CPJ that the court cut the sentence to three months after reviewing the journalist's appeal
on Friday. The journalist, arrested in November, had already served that length of time. Aleksandrova said the court reduced Sdvizhkov's sentence due to “exceptional circumstances,” citing the journalist's deteriorating health, his good behavior in
prison, and his elderly mother's poor health.
Sdvizhkov's paper reprinted the controversial cartoons in Zgoda in February 2006, prompting authorities to begin an investigation into possible incitement to religious hatred. But journalists
said the prosecution was motivated less by religious sensitivity than a desire to silence a critical newspaper in the weeks before a presidential election.
London Underground have rejected the advert for Fat Christ , a black comedy starring topless model Abi Titmuss, on the grounds that it was likely to offend ethnic, religious or other major groups.
The poster depicts a portly man on
a cross. He is wearing pink striped boxes and a crown of thorns. It was banned from Angel Tube station, where the Upper Street theatre had booked an advertising spot.
The ban has been criticised by the Rev Stephen Coles, of St Thomas's Church in
Finsbury Park, according to the Islington Tribune. He is quoted as saying: The itch to censor is something one should resist. I can't quite see how this could cause offence. We're grown-ups and Jesus can defend himself. One has to be a little wary of
indulging the super-sensitive.
Gavin Davis, the author of Fat Christ who also features as the man on the cross, insisted he had not set out to offend: The play is a comedy and the poster accurately reflects its content and themes –
the central character stages his own mock crucifixion for an art project. We don't believe it to be blasphemous and can't understand London Underground's censorious position. I am, however, prepared to apologise for my choice of boxer shorts.
A London Underground spokesman said the Fat Christ poster was “declined” because it contravened a commitment not to display adverts likely to offend ethnic, religious or other major groups: Millions of people travel on the London Underground
each day and they have no choice but to view whatever adverts are posted there. We have to take account of every passenger and endeavour not to cause offence in the advertising we display.
A nutter's campaign against lads mags has won the support of an influential group of MSPs.
MSP Gil Paterson this week lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament congratulating the efforts of Margaret Forbes who launched a one-woman
campaign demanding men's mags such as Loaded and Nuts be tucked away on top shelves.
She argues the magazines' front covers are in the same league as soft porn, and objects to them being displayed in lower shelves alongside more
family-friendly lifestyle magazines in sight of children.
Now she has won support from politicians from the three main parties in the Scottish Parliament after they heard supermarket chain Morrison's has chosen to stock the magazines more
Paterson, vice convener of a parliamentary group on violence against women and children, has also written to justice secretary Kenny McAskill over the issue.
The motion has been backed by 16 MSPs. As well as congratulating
Margaret, it argued that Parliament should support her campaign to encourage other supermarket chains and vendors to follow the example set by Morrisons.
Paterson said: It's the general attitude towards porn, and the fact children are
exposed to it and the normalisation of it that I'm concerned about.
Ms Forbes said: I'm very much encouraged because I feel like I've been doing it on my own. I've been feeling very isolated and a lot of times I get doors slammed in my
face when I go round with my petition. But there is still more to go, because we need to get other supermarkets to do the same.
A small Christian pressure group has stepped up its protest against a statue owned by a prominent Jewish art collector, depicting Jesus with a phallus, by leafleting a North-West London synagogue on Shabbat.
The work, condemned as “blasphemous”
and “pornographic” by Christian Voice, belongs to Anita Zabludowicz, wife of Poju Zabludowicz, chairman and main sponsor of Bicom (the Britain-Israel Research and Communications Centre) and a recently appointed member of the Jewish Leadership Council.
Members of Golders Green United Synagogue were lobbied as they arrived for the minchah service last Shabbat afternoon.
Stephen Green, national director of Christian Voice, said the action had been taken because letters written to the
Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks and Henry Grunwald, president of the Board of Deputies, had failed to bring condemnation of the statue. Sir Jonathan was once the rabbi of Golders Green.
He's taking no notice of us, said Green, who wants the
statue destroyed. Maybe he will take notice of his own people.
Although the Chief Rabbi had written of his sorrow over a situation… that has caused you great offence, Green added: I find it incomprehensible that the Chief Rabbi
and the Zabludowiczs have not discussed it. If he failed to condemn it, then, in effect, he's saying they can keep it.
The Florida Supreme Court is threatening attorney Jack Thompson with sanctions for frivolous and insulting filings in his disciplinary case. The attorney who has made a name for himself crusading against video games and pornography was warned about his
filings last April after he submitted "pornographic materials" to the court, the show-cause order said. The Florida Supreme Court issued the order telling Thompson to explain why it shouldn't reject future court filings from him unless they are
signed by another Florida Bar member.
Thompson responded with three court filings. The court warned him twice last year to stop filing motions with the court in his disciplinary case assigned to Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dava Tunis.
have a right to file anything I want with the court, Thompson told the Daily Business Review. It is beyond bizarre that they think they can tell me I can't seek relief. They can deny relief, but they can't tell me I can't seek relief.
Thompson has abused the processes of the court with
constant abusive and numerous meritless filings, the order said. This court is now forced to limit Mr. Thompson's ability to monopolize this court's time, the Supreme Court order said, citing restrictions on court filings in two
Thompson filed more than 46 items with the court that have been forwarded to Tunis, dismissed or denied, the court said. The latest have been repetitive, frivolous and insult the integrity of the court.
disciplinary proceedings against Thompson were conducted in November, and Tunis has until April 21 to submit her recommendations to the Supreme Court. Thompson has since sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, where he refers to the
show-cause order as a criminal act done in retaliation for his seeking relief with the court.
More than 180,000 worldwide have joined an online protest claiming the images, shown on European-language pages and taken from Persian and Ottoman miniatures dating from the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, are offensive to Islam, which prohibits any
representation of Muhammad.
The images at the centre of the protest appear on most of the European versions of the web encyclopaedia, though not on Arabic sites. On two of the images, Muhammad's face is veiled, a practice followed in Islamic art
since the 16th century. But on two others, one from 1315, which is the earliest surviving depiction of the prophet, and the other from the 15th century, his face is shown. Some protesters are claiming the pictures have been posted simply to 'bait' and
'insult' Muslims and argue the least Wikipedia can do is blur or blank out the faces.
In a robust statement on the site, Wikipedia's editors state: Wikipedia recognises that there are cultural traditions among some Muslim groups that prohibit
depictions of Muhammad and other prophets and that some Muslims are offended when those traditions are violated. However, the prohibitions are not universal among Muslim communities, particularly with the Shia who, while prohibiting the images, are less
strict about it.
Since Wikipedia is an encyclopedia with the goal of representing all topics from a neutral point of view, Wikipedia is not censored for the benefit of any particular group.
So long as they are relevant to the article and
do not violate any of Wikipedia's existing policies, nor the law of the US state of Florida where Wikipedia's servers are hosted, no content or images will be removed because people find them objectionable or offensive.
A one-woman protest against raunchy advertising outside the Peacocks clothing store in Waterloo Place last week has secured the support of Derry's Sacred Heart of Jesus Pro Life Group.
Christian campaigner Mary Doherty, from Donegal, staged a lone
protest outside the shop, condemning their lingerie advertising and its alleged portrayal of women as "objects".
Bernadette Doyle, spokesperson for the Sacred Heart of Jesus Pro Life Group, told the 'Journal': Our stance on this
issue is that Mary Doherty was quite right to protest last week at what we would also view as soft porn in underwear advertising at what is a family shop.
She went on: These adverts are immoral, very cheap and very anti-women and
anti-children. It takes courage to go out and do what Mary Doherty has done. The woman portrayed in the Peacocks' advert is lying with her legs open.
Doyle said the display was totally unsuitable for viewing by children passing the shop. In general, advertising standards have morally dropped and a large amount of advertising has become soft porn. It's high time that women speak out against it and we call upon all women to stand up and speak out and make their feelings known.
Muslim leaders have issued fatwas calling for the death of the female author of a controversial new book, Love and Sex in the Prophet's Life , which was circulated at the Cairo International Book Fair last month.
In a statement to
AlArabiya.net, Egyptian writer Passant Rashad said the book tackles sex as a branch of science, deemed as important in Islam for its role in preserving the human race: I wanted to explain sex from the real Islamic perspective and to make it the
reference for having a healthy sexual life .
When I mentioned the prophet I meant to demonstrate how his relationship with his wives was the perfect example of a healthy sexual life that is devoid of the complications Arabs try to impose
on it these days.
But the book has drawn sharp criticism. Independent Egyptian MP Mustafa al-Gindi complained to the Minister of Culture, Farouk Hosny, earlier this month saying the book insults the Prophet and his wives, especially his third
wife Ayesha: The book contains parts about positions and orgasms, which is totally inappropriate for a book that had the prophet's name in its title.
A religious TV channel in Egypt denounced the publication and hosted a series of sheikhs
– Islamic leaders – who accused her of apostasy and called for her killing, even if she were to repent.
At the same time, Islamic thinker Gamal al-Banna called for an end to the fatwas on writers: This is a backward way of understanding Islam.
We have to eliminate this torrent of fatwas through reasoning and refutation of these lies. It is only then that those bloodshed Sheiks will find no audience. He called upon Arab information ministers to ban televised fatwas that wreak havoc in
society and make intellectuals live in constant fear.
A Christian campaigner is protesting against the provocative message one Valentine's ad campaign is sending out to young lovers on the most romantic day of the year.
Christian Solidarity Party member Mary Doherty, from Donegal, is protesting
against the Valentine's ad in Peacocks shop, Derry. The ad shows a glam brunette wearing sexy red and black underwear.
Mary - who set up the National Campaign against Pornography and Obscenity in the wake of strip shows in Donegal said: It is
the way the model is reclining, with her chest sticking out and legs akimbo. This image is not about love on Valentine's Day. It depicts a woman as an object. Valentine's Day is about spreading love, it's not about raw sex.
She added: I
demand Peacocks remove this advertisement. Underwear is an intimate part of our lives, not something that should be on show to the world. Some people may not see anything wrong with it, but this model is lying in a provocative pose in her underwear. Fair
enough, show women in a feminine pose, but not as objects.
Peacocks defended its Valentine's lingerie poster campaign: We are sorry that this lady has offended by it - it was not meant to cause her discomfort. But this is an isolated
A row has erupted over “Vatican interference” after the Italian Synod of Bishops appealed to actors to exercise their consciences and refuse to take part in “vulgar and destructive” erotic scenes in films.
The appeal follows public condemnation
by the bishops of an explicit sex scene in Caos Calmo , starring the Italian actor and director Nanni Moretti, which has just been released. In the film, directed by Antonello Grimaldi, Moretti plays a television executive who experiences a
mid-life crisis after the death of his wife in the course of which he has a torrid affair with a woman he saves from drowning.
Father Nicolò Anselmi, head of the youth section of the Italian Bishops Conference, said that Moretti was normally
noted for his “idealistic and sensitive” films. But the “gratuitous” sex scene with Isabella Ferrari, his co-star, would have an undesirable effect on the “impressionable young” since it was shown without any context involving love or tenderness.
Franco Zeffirelli, the film and opera director, said: The Church is full of pedants who have lost all sense of proportion.
A County Donegal woman behind an island-wide campaign to ban pornography plans to be a “successful” Irish version of the late Mary Whitehouse.
Mary Doherty,59, is to establish a ‘National Campaign to Ban Pornography' on both sides of the border.
The move follows her success last week in having strip shows at a bar at Moville on the Inishowen Peninsula stopped.
Doherty said initial support for the new campaign had been huge with anti-abortion groups in virtually every county
rallying to her call.
The Buncrana woman is a member of the Christian Solidarity Party (CSP). She contested last year's general election in the Republic but only received 339 votes. Established in 1997 CSP stands for ‘family values' and is
opposed to gay marriage, gay adoption, abortion and euthanasia. But has not won any seats yet.
She says the new campaign will target strip shows, prostitution, top-shelf magazines, magazines aimed at young girls and pornography from any
broadcaster available in Ireland.
Doherty acknowledged that she could be compared to the late Mary Whitehouse who led a campaign against pornography in Britain: I hope I'll be more successful than she was.
Comment: Bible Bashing Failure
From Dan, 13th February 2008
So this Mary Doherty woman wants to be as "successful" as Mary Whitehouse?
in doing what exactly. If Whitehouse had been successful we would have laws allowing homosexuals and blasphemers to be locked in the tower and porn viewers probably being burned at the stake.
On a serious note the only legislation she ever got
brought in was Channel 4 putting up red triangles as a warning before they showed dirty movies. Oh yes she really was a pioneer!
What is this woman aspiring to? A failure of a bible bashing Christian that's what.
An article about the Prophet Muhammad in the English-language Wikipedia has become the subject of an online protest in the last few weeks because of its representations
of Muhammad, taken from medieval manuscripts.
In addition to numerous e-mail messages sent to Wikipedia.org, an online petition cites a prohibition in Islam on images of people.
The petition has more than 80,000 “signatures,” though many
who submitted them to ThePetitionSite.com, remained anonymous.
A Frequently Asked Questions page explains the site's polite but firm refusal to remove the images: Since Wikipedia is an encyclopedia with the goal of representing all topics from
a neutral point of view, Wikipedia is not censored for the benefit of any particular group.
The notes left on the petition site come from all over the world. It's totally unacceptable to print the Prophet's picture, Saadia Bukhari from
Pakistan wrote in a message. It shows insensitivity towards Muslim feelings and should be removed immediately.
The site considered but rejected a compromise that would allow visitors to choose whether to view the page with images.
Paul M. Cobb, who teaches Islamic history at Notre Dame, said:
Islamic teaching has traditionally discouraged representation of humans, particularly Muhammad, but that doesn't mean it's nonexistent. Some of the most beautiful images in Islamic art are manuscript images of Muhammad.
The idea of
imposing a ban on all depictions of people, particularly Muhammad, dates to the 20th century, he said. With the Wikipedia entry, he added, what you are dealing with is not medieval illustrations, you are dealing with modern media and getting a modern
A photo showing models dressed as nuns sketching a buff, naked man -- for an Equinox Fitness Center in Boston -- is raising eyebrows all over.
The Boston Archdiocese thinks the ad is a slam against the Catholic Church and wants an apology.
Keira McCaffrey is with the Catholic League in New York. It's gratuitous, McCaffrey said: it's a slap at nuns, but you know what? It's trite. It's not even clever. This is an old cliché... let's make fun of nuns.
Is it the
worst thing in the world? No, McCaffrey said. It's a sophomoric ad. It doesn't speak well of Equinox.
In a statement, Judy Taylor, a spokesperson for Equinox, said: The ads capture the energy and artistry of the well-conditioned
body in a thought-provoking fashion, blending fantasy and impact. Equinox reps also said there will be no apology for the ad, which can soon be seen in five other cities, including New York.
An online campaign by a group of mothers has forced Woolworths to withdraw a line of bedroom furniture for girls called 'Lolita'.
The Lolita Midsleeper Combi, a wooden bed with pull-out desk and cupboard designed for girls aged around six, was
put on sale on the Woolworths website.
A mother who was browsing the site put a message on the Raisingkids.co.uk website to complain: Am I being particularly sensitive, or does anyone else out there think it's bad taste for Woolies to have a
kiddy bed range named 'Lolita'? A torrent of messages followed echoing her thoughts, some saying they would boycott the store.
Woolworths initially appeared baffled and refused to withdraw the product, saying in addition to the family market
it also had to respond to customer demands and follow current trends.
After a quick investigation they changed their minds. A spokesman for the company said: What seems to have happened is the staff who run the website had never heard
of Lolita, and to be honest no one else here had either. We had to look it up on Wikipedia. But we certainly know who she is now.
Lolita was a book written by Vladimir Nabokov in 1955 in which 12-year-old Lolita becomes the object of her
paedophile step-father's sexual obsession. It was later made into a film directed by Stanley Kubrick.
A poster claiming that gay people want to abolish the family has been criticised by the advertising regulator.
The Christian Congress for Traditional Values (CCTV) advert showed a man, woman, boy and girl with the statement Gay aim:
abolish the family .
A complainant had said the advert did not accurately represent gay people's views and was offensive.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the organisation could not stand up the claim that was likely to
cause serious or widespread offence.
The ASA upheld complaints against the ad, ruling that it could be inflammatory. The poster broke advertising rules on social responsibility, decency, matters of opinion and truthfulness, the ASA said: We
considered the statement and the way it appeared was likely to cause offence both to the mainstream gay community and supporters of equality .
The ASA added that it was also likely to be seen as controversial and possibly inflammatory by a
significant number of people who saw the poster in an untargeted medium. We concluded that the poster was likely to cause serious or widespread offence and might lead to anti-social behaviour.
The CCTV, which describes itself on its website
as an alliance of Christians but not a church organisation, was instructed to make sure future campaigns would not be offensive.
The group defended the poster, citing gay organisations' manifesto documents from the 1970s which described the
traditional family unit as working against homosexuality.
A group of internet hackers has launched an online campaign against the Church of Scientology.
The group, which calls itself Anonymous , has scored a couple of big successes, first by carrying out a denial of service attack on the
Church of Scientology's international website, causing it to crash, and a sustained campaign of "Google bombing" - manipulating the way the internet search engine works - to ensure that the Church of Scientology is returned as the first hit
whenever anyone enters the search string "dangerous cult".
The decision of hackers to target the church is believed to have stemmed from YouTube's decision to remove a video from the site showing Tom Cruise hailing Scientology as
Anonymous allege that Scientologists forced YouTube to delete the highly embarrassing footage.
However, the Church of Scientology claims that the video, which was shot at a 2004 church anniversary event, was
never intended for replay on television and the internet and had been placed on the internet in an out-of-context manner for the purpose of causing controversy.
The video is copyrighted, and the email request that it be removed was
no different to what is routinely done by other owners of copyrighted materials whose works are pirated, such as the film, television and recording industries, said the Church of Scientology in a statement.
Global protests are planned for
this Sunday, to voice concerns about the church's supposed love for "speech-suppression tactics" and "frivolous" legal injunctions to prevent criticism or discussion of the religion. Protesters are mobilising online on sites such as
Facebook and YouTube. A video posted by Anonymous about its anti-Scientology campaign has been viewed more than 90,000 times and the group has its own "channel" on the video-sharing site.
According to a press release circulated
by the protest group, Anonymous said that that group's goals include bringing an end to the financial exploitation of Church members and protecting the right to free speech.
It goes on to say that this alleged clamp-down on free
speech was most evident on the recent attacks on websites such as Digg and YouTube, where the church filtered anti-Scientology comments and replaced their content with the text: 'This comment is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Church
of Scientology International'.
those hackers doing "denial of service" attacks on the scientology websites, whilst I admire people wanting to stand up to this lot there is no way I can condone these illegal acts. These people are going to get themselves jailed if they're not
There's a very good YouTube video criticising their methods from an anti-scientology campaigner who goes on to explain the best methods of
protesting against them.
The Club of Orthodox Journalists intends to establish a public council on morality in Russian federal TV channels.
The council will be be advisory and the council would welcome all experts regardless of their sex, age, nationality, or religious
No date has been decided upon for the establishment of the council. Aleksandr Shchipkov, chairman of the Club of Orthodox Journalists, hopes its registration will be preceded by a wide public discussion on the format of the council's
work and proposes that both religious organisations and secular structures play a part in it.
The source of the funding for the council should also be discussed. [We should decide whether the money comes] from the state or allied [funding] from
the budget, or [should it come from corporations] and social grants. Society has lost control over TV channels, thus, [standards] of public morality are violated and it results in the [corruption] of children , Shchipkov claimed
Yevgeny Nikiforov, President of the Orthodox media organisation Radonezh, stated that the council should in no way limit creative freedom and freedom of speech,
...BUT... it should only intend to oppose the 'freedom' of business, and the ‘freedom' of greed . According to Nikiforov, the council should also protect the honour and dignity of journalists.
Father Vladimir Vigilyansky,
head of the press service of the Moscow Patriarchate, believes that the [present leadership] in TV belongs to a censorship of the money bags and a censorship of vulgarity that impedes open and free creative work .
Urging opposition to Brazier's BBFC Accountability Bill
Thanks to MichaelG who is writing to his MP
Please feel free to send all or part of this to your MP too
Dear Mr Murphy,
I am writing to you to express my most grave concerns over some recent activities in Parliament which I fear may have some very grave implications for everyone in this country who values basic Human Rights and individual freedoms.
As I'm sure you are aware, Conservative MP Julian Brazier has announced his plans to bring the British Board Of Film Classification under direct government control. He has cited the reasons that has led him to think that this is necessary,
claiming that the BBFC are becoming too lax in their attitudes to depictions of violence in films and videogames, and are, in some way, letting the public down by being more lenient in passing such depictions. Whether you share his opinion or not, I feel
there are some very important points which I should bring to your attention.
Firstly, Mr. Brazier's proposals are, despite what he might have everyone believe, very far indeed from being in the interests of the general public. The BBFC have been
in existence since 1912, and have always been an organisation independent of government and free from direct political interference. In a free country, one would expect that the government do not control any aspect of the media. Naturally, the BBFC have
bowed to political pressure on occasion, but they have always been allowed to continue doing their work without government intervention.
It is a fact that the BBFC have become more lenient in their attitudes towards violence in film and
videogames, but their age ratings system remains clear, concise and as strictly enforced as ever. They have not become a law unto themselves, nor are they flying in the face of public opinion. Quite the opposite, in fact. Their rather more liberal
current policy has been the result of several years of public consultation, questionnaires, roadshows and far more attention being paid to the attitudes of the general public to censorship. In general, people actually do want adults to have more freedom
to choose their own entertainment, but for greater attention to be paid to the age ratings system and children to be protected more from violent or sexually explicit material. It is a testament to the experience and wisdom of the BBFC that they have been
able to deliver this.
I should point out here that Britain still has some of the tightest censorship of film and videogames in Europe. At the same time, generally speaking, the BBFC are more publically aware and accountable now than they have ever
been. Far more, it would seem, than a certain Mr. Brazier, who is also supposed to be acting in the public interests.
I'd understand completely if the BBFC's decisions were resulting in widespread social problems and copycat violence, but this is
not the case, despite the odd unsubstantiated and hysterical tabloid headline, and Mr. Brazier's sabre-ratttling rhetoric, full of inappropriately applied words such as 'incitement', 'glorification' and 'condonement' in relation to the film and videogame
industry regarding their depictions of violence. As an aside, if you were to accuse a filmmaker of 'inciting people to violence' you would have to be able to prove that he or she set out to make their work with the deliberate intention of causing people
to physically attack someone else. I'm sure most filmmakers who have filmed violent scenes for their works would fully willing and able to successfully counter such farcical claims in a court of law.
How such claims and accusations can be taken
seriously on the floor of the House of Commons is absolutely beyond me. I can see absolutely no reason or justification for the kind of Draconian measures Brazier is calling for. Despite his insistence, there is no 'growing public concern' over the
BBFC's policies either. Just a lot of incoherent, unsubstantiated noise (of the kind we've heard so many times before) from a tiny minority of perpetually-offended, morally superior busybodies with far too much time on their hands.
I make no
apologies for being blunt, but I know exactly what Julian Brazier is trying to do, and his reasons for doing it. For at least 10 years, Mr. Brazier has been extremely, openly and consistently critical of the BBFC, irrespective of any changing attitudes
or management they have had. Clearly in the light of the current political climate (which seems to have a distinctly puritanical, pro-censorship air about it), he has viewed an opportunity to strike. He has proposed that the government are given the
power to select BBFC board members, and to alter or influence their decisions wherever they choose.
Quite how Mr. Brazier feels qualified to act in this capacity, I am unsure, but you can guarantee that he isn't going to this much trouble to pass
these brand new proposed powers to someone else, HE will be wanting to run this new show personally. Personal ambition is undoubtedly the reasoning behind his actions. Worse still, Mr. Brazier's background of religious fundamentalism (he is a prominent
member of the Conservative Christian Fellowship), put a rather more sinister twist on things. Now a person's religious beliefs are their own business, but when heavily biased opinions and outdated prudish attitudes arise from such beliefs, they should
never be allowed to influence matters of law and politics. Which is precisely what seems to be happening here.
My research into Mr. Brazier's proposals also shed light on some disturbing links between his ideas and those of self-appointed media
watchdogs MediaWatchUK, a small but frequently vociferous group of right-wing Christians who are the latest incarnation of Mary Whitehouse's National Viewers and Listeners Association. For example, barely 2 months before Mr. Brazier's proposals were
announced, John Beyer, the director of MediaWatchUK, was calling for a shake-up at the BBFC or even a replacement organisation. Coincidence? Perhaps, but I have already written to you in the past expressing my concerns about the persistent attempts at
meddling in matters of government policy, law and order, and even the sentencing of criminals, by MediaWatch, who are supposed to be a non-political organisation. To allow an unelected group, with opinions as extreme as they have, an influence in areas
as far reaching as this, is to open up a very dangerous situation indeed. John Beyer's views are so extreme that he believes that anyone viewing adult material, of any kind, should be imprisoned for 3 years. Is this the kind of dangerous, religious
extremist nonsense we should be allowing to have any influence at all in government?
Quite frankly, the implications of state censorship of the media (which is exactly what Mr. Braziers ideas amount to, however you care to dress them up) in a
free and democratic society are absolutely horrifying and utterly unacceptable. I was staggered and dismayed to discover that a small number of Labour MPs are actually in favour of this lunacy. Government interference, censorship, or control over the
media, except in matters of national security, has absolutely NO PLACE in a free country. With this move, Brazier will be moving us well away from the liberal attitudes of most of our European counterparts and taking us a significant step closer to the
repressive regimes of China and North Korea, where government censorship of the media is an inescapable reality. The mere thought of where this could lead is chills me to the bone. Will the government next be having a say in what literature we are
allowed to read? What music we can listen to? Or, most worrying of all, what the press are allowed to publish?
This could even have some very severe implications for New Labour. Consider, if you will, the fact that Brazier is a Conservative MP.
This legislation is undoubtedly going to be hugely unpopular, not just with the press, but also with a few million videogame enthusiasts and film buffs across the country, who are really going to resent being dictated to directly by this government, to
say nothing of having their individual freedoms compromised in such a brazen, unapologetic way. Yes, I did say THIS government. Because if this does become law, it is THIS government, YOUR government, Mr. Murphy, who will be seen as responsible for
passing it. Perhaps, from this perspective, Brazier fully understands this, and as an opposition MP, is hoping that it will be damaging to New Labour's popularity. Not only will he realise his personal ambition of undermining the BBFC, but he may well
boost his party's own popularity by sitting back and allowing New Labour to carry out the thankless task of passing it. Of late, New Labour seem to be developing quite a reputation as instigators of repression and eroders of the public's civil liberties
(but don't just take my word for it, there has even been a recent documentary film made called 'Taking Liberties', to say nothing of numerous very scathing articles in virtually every newspaper going). Do you really think it's a wise political move to
introduce measures which will significantly compound this potentially damaging opinion of your party at the behest of a Conservative MP?
Personally, this is an issue very close to my heart and I am already taking steps to fight Mr. Brazier's
proposals. I am currently drafting a letter which will be circulated to all major film and videogame publications which are sold in high street shops; my aim is to make all those connected with, or even just remotely interested in, film and videogaming
fully aware of what Brazier's intentions are and why they need to be extremely concerned. There is an online Downing Street petition currently ongoing in opposition to Brazier's proposals, and I aim to make as many people as I can aware of its existence.
Hopefully, the word will reach several million people, making any chance of this being a low-profile piece of legislation, which is rushed through without much attention being drawn to it, impossible. I will also be writing to the Liberal Democratic
Party, asking for their support, the Joint Committee on Human Rights (as I feel this is will be a direct infringement of the rights of anyone living in a free, democratic society) and the House of Lords.
There is a sensible, less extreme, less
controversial alternative to Brazier's proposals which should hopefully allay some of the fears of those who are concerned about children being exposed to violence within the media. A public awareness exercise in BBFC age ratings, enforcing the message
that it is unacceptable to grant children access to unsuitable material, backed up by fines for those who caught in violation of the ratings (including parents), would make it absolutely clear that age ratings on films and videogames are there for a
reason and they should be given the same degree of attention and taken just as seriously as age restrictions on buying and consuming alcohol.
After all, you never hear of people clamouring for alcohol to be banned outright every time a group of
kids have been caught drinking and have assaulted someone, do you? This must happen almost every day in this country. The alternatives I have suggested will demonstrate that New Labour are concerned about children's exposure to violent material (covering
the moral 'high ground, if you will), but also that they value the rights adults currently have to choose their own entertainment without it having to be approved by the government before they can be trusted to view it (a highly patronising and insulting
notion to any adult). This way, the moral minority will be appeased and the vast majority will not have to endure unnecessary state censorship or feel that their rights are being abused. I would be interested to hear your feelings on this idea.
realise this has been a very long letter, Mr. Murphy, and I thank you for taking the trouble to read it. I'm sure you value the basic freedoms we all enjoy in Britain as highly as I do. They have been fought for very hard over the years, and are far too
valuable to be frittered away simply because of one individual's personal prejudices and ambitions. I am counting on your help and support, Mr. Murphy; you are in a position to help stop this before we start down a very dangerous political path from
which there may be no easy return. Please help defend our freedoms whilst we still have them.
ESPN host Dana Jacobson went back on the air beginning her TV show with an on-air apology for her recent string language.
The US sports presenter said: I want to once again say how truly sorry I am for my poor choices and bad judgment that
night. I have taken responsibility for what I did say and do and realize why it was wrong.
Christian groups protested ESPN last week when they felt it was slow to take disciplinary action against Jacobson for her anti-Christian tirade on Jan.
11 at a roast in Atlantic City, N.J. There, Jacobson, who was reportedly intoxicated during the event, made such remarks as "Fuck Notre Dame," "Fuck Touchdown Jesus," "Fuck Jesus."
In earlier apologies, the First
Take co-host said she respects all religions and did not mean anything derogatory by her "poorly chosen words." ESPN affirmed that the comments were delivered in the context of Notre Dame football and its "Touchdown Jesus" icon.
Both ESPN and Jacobson have called the behavior inappropriate and inexcusable and apologized for the incident. The anchorwoman was suspended for one week.
But some Christian groups say the temporary suspension was not enough and have
asked for her to be fired or suspended for one year.
The Christian Anti-Defamation Commission was working to hold a meeting of pro-family leaders and ESPN's executive leadership. Mike Soltys, executive vice president of Communications for ESPN,
however, said no more meetings will be held and no more disciplinary actions will be taken against Jacobson.
We are very disappointed with ESPN's response to our legitimate concerns, said Dr. Gary L. Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation
Commission in a released statement Tuesday. Christians must respond or expect more of this kind of blasphemy in public in the future.
Kuwait's National Assembly Speaker Jassem Al-Kharafi has called for the passing of international legislation penalizing those who insult heavenly religions or religious icons.
He said the Kuwaiti parliament had adopted such a proposal at the
meeting of the Arab Interim Parliament, where it was approved with consensus.
It was again proposed at the Islamic Parliamentary Union in Malaysia and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Indonesia last year. Al-Kharafi hoped the Kuwaiti
proposal would receive the required support at the IPU meeting, set to be held in South Africa, following which it would be referred to the UN for approval.
The BBFC has defended its decision to approve for general release films claimed to glamorise Nazism.
SS Experiment Camp is one of a selection of films banned 20 years ago but now approved by the BBFC and being sold online and in
MPs and Jewish groups are concerned that it trivialises the suffering of Holocaust victims.
It supposedly shows women being raped, electrocuted, hung upside down, and burnt alive in incineration chambers by guards
dressed in Nazi uniforms. The film's cover features the Nazi SS emblem and the words Previously banned! Legally available for the first time .
Community Security Trust communications director Mark Gardner said: Although we need to see
the full content of the videos, they seem totally unacceptable. It seems these videos have been previously banned and I don't see why they should be any more acceptable today than 20 years ago.
Gardner added that the trust was very
concerned that over the last couple of years on the internet in particular content that was previously unacceptable has become increasingly mainstream.
We are trying to deal with it through international internet watchdog organisations, as
well as directly with retailers. I don't see why they need to be catering for Nazis and sadism.
After viewing the films, the CST would raise its concerns with the BBFC. This is certainly a matter we don't intend to let drop
BBFC spokesperson acknowledged that the film was not to the taste of most but insisted it was not antisemitic: If something was antisemitic we would cut it, but in the case of this work, we looked at it in 2005 and decided that it definitely is not.
It is tasteless and offensive, but not antisemitic. It doesn't contain anything illegal or potentially harmful, which is the test we have to use. The worst thing about it is probably its title.
Board of Deputies chief executive Jon Benjamin
said: We have not seen these videos but by all accounts they are extremely unpleasant. Depicting violence and deprivation in this way should be of concern to everyone, although the subject matter of some of these films makes them particularly
distasteful to the Jewish community. We certainly support any moves to review the rules whereby this material is made freely available.
The Archnutter of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has called for new laws to protect religious sensibilities that would punish “thoughtless and cruel” styles of speaking.
Williams, who has seen his own Anglican Communion riven by fierce invective
over homosexuality, said the current blasphemy law was “unworkable” and he had no objection to its repeal ... BUT ... whatever replaces it should “send a signal” about what was acceptable.
This should be done by stigmatising and
punishing extreme behaviours that have the effect of silencing argument.
The Archbishop, delivering the James Callaghan Memorial Lecture said it should not just be a few forms of extreme behaviour that were deemed unacceptable, leaving
everything else as fair game.: The legal provision should keep before our eyes the general risks of debasing public controversy by thoughtless and, even if unintentionally, cruel styles of speaking and acting.
Dr Williams said: It is
clear that the old blasphemy law is unworkable and that its assumptions are not those of contemporary lawmakers and citizens overall. But as we think about the adequacy of what is coming to replace it, we should not, I believe, miss the opportunity of
asking the larger questions about what is just and good for individuals and groups in our society who hold religious beliefs.
Dr Williams was criticised by the National Secular Society who accused him of promoting self-serving and
dangerous ideas. Terry Sanderson, president, said that the Archbishop’s speech was a blatant pitch for new legislation to replace the blasphemy laws that the Government are planning to scrap.
The Government is at present consulting the
Church of England about its plans to repeal the blasphemy laws before introducing the changes when the Criminal Justice Bill is in committee stage in a few weeks.
It is as if the prolonged and widespread debate on the recently-introduced
religious hatred legislation had never happened, said Sanderson. Dr Williams takes us right back to the beginning with his special pleading for the protection of religious feelings – in other words, another form of blasphemy law that would be even
worse than the one we’re about to ditch.
Sanderson pointed out that the Racial and Religious Hatred Act – which had been under consideration for five years - was now on the statute book. It was enacted only after a great deal of bitter
dispute between religious interests and those who feared for free speech.
There is also now in law a concept of religious aggravation that can be applied to some public order offences. It carries a potential prison sentence of seven years.
This is draconian and extreme by any measure – and now the Archbishop appears to want something else.
Sanderson said that the Archbishop appeared in his speech to be making excuses for those who rioted about the Salman Rushdie case and
threatened the author with death. He also seems to think that those who created lethal street protests over the Danish cartoons had a point. The Archbishop’s speech is, at base, self-serving and dangerously illiberal,” Mr Sanderson said. “We certainly
hope that the Government is not now going to bring forward something even more extreme as a quid pro quo for abolishing blasphemy.
31st January 2008
Owing to the Archbishop’s opaque style of discourse, it is unclear whether or not Times reporter Ruth Gledhill is correct in her interpretation of his James Callahan
Memorial Lecture. Other reports, from more overtly religious sources, do not put the same spin on it.
This appears to be the section which has led the Times to shout that he is calling for new legislation. It’s not quite there, is it? Williams
"It is clear that the old blasphemy law is unworkable and that its assumptions are not those of contemporary lawmakers and citizens overall. But as we think about the adequacy of what is coming to
replace it, we should not, I believe, miss the opportunity of asking the larger questions about what is just and good for individuals and groups in our society who hold religious beliefs".
Whichever way you look at it, he
was talking drivel.
Malaysia seizes children's books that contain the word 'Allah'
If images of muslim prophets are offensive and Jesus is an accepted prophet, then there are surely an awful lot of offending images to seize
Adding to the furor over whether non-Muslims have the right to use the word “Allah” in their publications and religious practice, it is reported that officials confiscated English-language Christian children’s books because they contained images of
The government reportedly said Internal Security Ministry officials confiscated the books because their illustrations of prophets offended the sensitivities of Muslims. Islam, which shares some prophets in common with Christianity,
prohibits the portrayal of prophets.
Enforcement officials of the Publications and Al-Quran Texts Control Department under the Internal Security Ministry reportedly confiscated the books from three bookstores in Johor Bahru, Senawang and Ipoh in
The books have been sent to the department’s headquarters in Putrajaya for investigation. Managers of the MPH bookstores reportedly said they will wait for the Internal Security Ministry’s decision on the books.
statement released on January 17 , the Rev. Dr. Hermen Shastri, general-secretary of the Council of Churches Malaysia questioned how the books could be offensive to Muslims when they were not meant for them. In the strongly worded statement about the
seizures, Shastri said government officials have no right and have overstepped their bounds by confiscating Christian literature.
He urged the prime minister and his Cabinet to take immediate action to put a stop to such seizures and to
amend administrative rules and regulations especially in the Internal Security Ministry that give a free hand to enforcement officials to act at their whim and fancies.
At the same time, the debate over whether non-Muslims can use the word
“Allah” in publications and religious practice was stoked when the Internal Security Ministry told the Sun on January 16 that it had confiscated a total of 163 publications comprising 18 titles from bookshops nationwide.
A ministry official told
the daily that the seizures were made because the word “Allah” was used in the books. But Deputy Internal Ministry Minister Johari Baharum reportedly said that the ministry did not target Christian books.
An underground market for the new unauthorised Tom Cruise biography has sprung up on auction site eBay, with Australian buyers willing to pay a significant premium for the book.
There were dozens of auctions for Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized
Biography - many offering multiple copies - and bidders willing to pay up to $61.50. The book is available on Amazon.com for about $30, including shipping.
The book is now number one on the Amazon best-seller list.
It will not be
printed in Australia and US distributors have now said they will no longer export the book, by British author Andrew Morton, outside the US and Canada.
But eBay sellers are getting around the ban on the book by having partners make bulk retail
purchases in the US.
We've got two shipments coming, the first is 150 books," said a man selling the books on ebay, Wojtek: We're buying multiples of 100 at a time. The demand is quite substantial, we need to get in as many as we
can as quick as possible.
US Catholics are calling for the cancellation of Jerry Springer – The Opera in Concert scheduled for performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City on January 29 and 30.
The controversial production is being opposed by The American TFP
and its America Needs Fatima campaign. The group’s web site, www.tfp.org, is asking its readers to voice their concern by signing an e-mail protest addressed to Mr. Sanford Weill, Chairman of the Carnegie Hall Board of Directors.
message states: The show is vulgar beyond description and is an egregious display of blasphemy. Over 82% of America is Christian. Millions feel insulted by this show.
We’re hoping Carnegie Hall will just cancel the show and avoid
becoming a center for the promotion of blasphemy and indecency, said TFP spokesman Robert Ritchie. The show mocks everything Catholics hold sacred: the crucifixion, Jesus and the Virgin Mary. The Annunciation is described as a rape. Nudity and
profanity abound and Catholic beliefs are ravaged.
Not so sure that the adverse publicity can possibly do any harm to scientology. As far as I can see it is a glorified course in self empowerment. And the
power to censor and restrict is being shown...so scientology is therefore proven to be working.
Thanks to Byron
The publishers of Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography have told US Amazon not to send the book to customers from outside of the USA and Canada.
Australian nutters have condemned a play shortly to open in Sydney depicting Jesus as a gay man who is seduced by Judas. The play also features Jesus conducting a gay marriage between two apostles.
The play, named Corpus Christi , is due
to open next month as part of the city's annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
A senior Sydney churchman called the play historical nonsense. It is deliberately, not innocently, offensive and they're obviously having a laugh about it, Robert Forsyth, Anglican bishop of South Sydney, was quoted saying.
The play's director Leigh Rowney, who claims to be a Christian, accepted the play would offend some Christians but said he was keen to provoke debate about Christianity.
Playwright Terrence McNally, who is gay, received death threats when
the work was performed in the United States, the Sun-Herald reported.
Minsk City Court in Belarus have imprisoned Aleksandr Sdvizhkov, an editor at the now-shuttered independent weekly Zgoda ( Consensus ) newspaper, for reprinting controversial Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2006. Sdvizhkov was
charged with “incitement of religious hatred” and sentenced to three years in a high-security prison.
Sdvizhkov was arrested on November 18 and his trial began on January 11 in Minsk, according to local news reports. He was tried behind closed
Aleksei Korol, Zgoda ’s former editor-in-chief, told CPJ he was shocked by the sentence given to his former colleague. The court ruling is disproportionate to his actions, said Korol, adding that Zgoda ’s staff
apologized to the Belarusian Muslim community at the time.
Belarusian Islamic leader Ismail Voronovich said he wanted authorities to reprimand the journalist, not jail him. I thought that this case was closed and the newspaper was back
Sdvizhkov reprinted the controversial cartoons in Zgoda in February 2006, prompting authorities to begin an investigation into possible “incitement of religious hatred”; a month later, the paper was shuttered. Sdvizhkov fled
Belarus to avoid imprisonment and returned last November to attend his father’s funeral. While in the country, the Belarusian Security Service arrested him.
The media watchdog Reporters without Borders (RsF) has called on Kabul to save an Afghan journalist whom religious leaders want executed and release a man under arrest for publishing a Koran in translation.
RsF said the Council of Mullahs had
called for death for Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, a journalism student at Balkh University in northern Afghanistan, for writing articles about the role of women in Islam that they said insulted the Muslim faith.
The calls for the death penalty for
Kambakhsh highlight the growing influence of fundamentalist groups on intellectual debate, it said in a statement.
RsF also appealed for the release of Ghaus Zalmai, who was arrested in November for publishing the Koran in the local language
Dari (Afghan Persian) which, according to the religious leaders, misinterpreted verses about adultery and begging.
The translation into Dari sparked an emergency debate in parliament and protests in at least two parts of the country. Muslims
consider the Koran in Arabic as the literal word of God.
Parliamentarians have even accused him of being 'worse than Salman Rushdie', RsF added.
Scientologists are attempting to block the spread of a video clip in which Tom Cruise zealously espouses his faith in the church.
If you're on board, you're on board, just like the rest of us, he tells those of wavering faith. We are
the authorities on getting people off drugs, we can rehabilitate criminals and unite cultures.
Cruise's emotional testimonial is accompanied by a guitar riff playing the theme from Mission: Impossible . Cruise, a Scientologist for
20 years, has recently emerged as one of the controversial church's most outspoken proselytisers. Some suggest that the actor has been elevated to one of the highest echelons of the secretive church, cryptically known as OT-VII.
for Scientologists' eyes only, the video is a nine-minute testimonial in which Cruise, wearing a black polo neck, encourages Scientologists to practise their faith relentlessly.
Infamously litigious, the Church of Scientology has been busy firing
off lawsuits alleging breach of copyright wherever the video pops up, notably on YouTube and Google Video. Unfazed by potential legal issues, a number of gossip websites are busy re-posting the controversial video as soon as it disappears.
Gawker.com, Nick Denton wrote: It's newsworthy, and we will not be removing it.
So far, the church is having little success in keeping the video off the internet, and as soon as it is taken down it pops up somewhere else. Not unlike the
movie and music industries, the Church of Scientology is constantly battling with websites to prevent unauthorised distribution of its intellectual property.
An article in the Vatican’s official newspaper has condemned JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books for posing a danger to children by promoting witchcraft and the occult.
In a damning indictment of the bestselling books, among the most
successful in publishing history, the Vatican’s official newspaper L’Osservatore Romano , has called the teenage boy wizard the wrong kind of hero.
Under the headline 'The double face of Harry Potter’, the lengthy article concludes:
Despite the values that we come across in the narration, at the base of this story, witchcraft is proposed as a positive ideal.
The ends justify the means because the knowledgeable, the chosen ones, the intellectuals know how to control the
dark powers and turn them into good.
This a grave and deep lie, because it is the old Gnostic temptation of confusing salvation and truth with a secret knowledge.
The characterisation of common men who do not know magic as 'muggles’ who
know nothing other than bad and wicked things is a truly diabolical attitude.
A lesbian sex scene in an Egyptian film has outraged religious scholars, who are telling people not to watch the 'sinful' movie.
An Islamic Studies professor at Cairo University wants the Egyptian authorities to prosecute the
director and both actresses involved in the scene.
Dr Abdel-Sabour Shahin believes the film, Hina Maysara (Until Further Notice), promotes homosexuality and debauchery and destroys morality in society.
Muslim teachers at Al-Azhar
University have also slammed the film and support Shahin's indignation. One professor at the University, Elwi Amin, claimed there was no lesbianism in Egypt. He also said that watching scenes of a sexual nature, whether homosexual or heterosexual, was a
sin: Many people in Egypt do not even know what the word 'lesbianism' means. This is the influence of immoral Western culture which controls the media,
Director Khaled Youssef asked people to watch the film before they made up their minds:
I will not respond to those who criticise without even watching the movie. Lots of people accuse me of apostasy and immorality based on seeing the film poster.
Although Egyptian law does not explicitly forbid homosexuality, the practice is
considered taboo in what is a conservative and mostly Muslim country. The Egyptian government has been known for arresting homosexuals on the grounds of offences against public morals and sensitivities or violating the teachings of religion and
propagating depraved ideas and moral depravity.
Coca-Cola's main Russian bottling distributor has removed religious images from its drinks refrigerators after a group of Russian Orthodox believers accused it of blasphemy.
Local people in the city of Nizhny Novgorod, 400 km from Moscow,
complained to the prosecutor's office last month about pictures of an orthodox cross and onion-shaped church domes on the outdoor refrigerators.
At the time, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Co. said it would not drop the marketing campaign and there
had been no negative reaction in other Russian cities where similar images were used on the sides of the refrigerators.
Russia's tolerance towards Western influences has lessened, with the Kremlin's political rhetoric notably hostile to the
United States, the birthplace of Coca-Cola.
I would assure people that we used these images to promote Russian culture and not to offend anybody's feelings, a spokeswoman said, confirming the company's decision.
She said it would
take some time to remove the offending images from hundreds of outdoor sales refrigerators.
Afghanistan's spiritual guardians have discovered a dangerous new peril: Indian soap operas.
The Islamic Council of Scholars won the backing this week of a powerful government minister in its campaign to get dozens of wildly popular Bombay dramas
off Afghanistan's television screens.
The Minister of Information and Culture has written to television executives to threaten prosecution if they show footage that offends morality. He is particularly concerned about Indian soaps.
announcement came after dozens of clerics met President Karzai a week ago to demand a ban on shows that they claim are spreading immorality and un-Islamic culture . The dramas have won thousands of devotees in Afghanistan who enjoy the escapist
world of the fictional Bombay rich. Anywhere else, the family dramas with wooden acting and creaking sets would be thought tame. They have, however, offended the country's new moral enforcers, who fear that the soaps will fuel a craze of “stone worship”,
or veneration of Hindu idols.
The enforcers are also urging the Government to take action to get a young generation of rappers and pop stars off air. The old men accuse the musicians of polluting the nation's moral standards and they have
chastised Afghans who watch television when they could go to the mosque.
Saad Mohseni, the director of Tolo TV, said: We have so many problems in this country - kidnapping, terrorism, inflation - so why is the Government making a big deal
about something which is pleasing to the eyes and ears of most Afghans?
Religious MPs have submitted an amendment to enable religions to continue preaching against homosexuality:
Nothing in this part shall be read or given effect in a way which prohibits or restricts discussion of, criticism of
or expressions of antipathy towards, conduct relating to a particular sexual orientation, or urging persons of a particular sexual orientation to refrain from or modify conduct relating to that orientation.
Pink News reports that the
amendment is almost certain to be defeated as the homophobic incitement proposal has gained cross-party support.
In an interview with PinkNews.co.uk published today, the Lib Dem spokesperson on Justice David Heath said: We (the party) have been
convinced for some time that there is, first of all a reservoir of extreme prejudice against gay people. Secondly, prejudice is one thing, having it manifest itself as attacks, in one form or another, is something that we should be very concerned about.
I am convinced by the evidence that there is a real problem. That's why, as far as I'm concerned, the case is proven for having something of this kind. Anyone who is expressing themselves in a reasonable way, even if what they're saying is wholly
abhorrent to most right thinking people, will not be get caught under this law, unless what they're saying is an incitement to hatred against a whole class of people.
Stonewall Chief executive Ben Summerskill rejected concerns that a law
banning incitement to religious hatred would be used to silence the voices of religious people who regard homosexuality as a sin: We are crystal clear that people are perfectly entitled to express their religious views. We are also crystal clear that
the temperate expression of religious views should not be covered by the legislation.
Justice minister Maria Eagle has also confirmed that Christians will continue to have the right to express their homophobic views: If you are a preacher
and on Sunday morning you tell your sermon of your beliefs and the beliefs of your denomination about gay people then that's different to going and standing outside a gay club and using threatening words and behaviour . The intent is the key. That
is very clearly unacceptable and that's where we are pitching the offence.
A statue of Jesus Christ with an erection at an art exhibition has caused predictable uproar among Christians.
Artist Terence Koh doctored the traditional 30cm (1ft) high statue of Jesus to be the provocative centrepiece of his display of 74
plaster models, entitled Gone, Yet Still .
Visitors to the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead and church leaders have accused gallery officials and Koh of showing disrespect to the Christian faith.
Warren, a Roman Catholic priest at St Mary's Cathedral in Newcastle, condemned the work of art: For Christians, the image of Jesus is very special and to interpret it in a sexualised way is an affront to what we hold dear . While Jesus was a
human being in every way, to portray him in this way will offend.'
Beijing-born Koh, who was raised in Vancouver, Canada before moving to New York, has become known as 'Asian punk boy' because his artistic themes tend to focus on punk and
A spokesman for the Baltic said all graphic exhibits carried a public advisory notice in both guidebooks and the gallery space itself.
The exhibition runs until January 20 as part of the Zabludowicz Collection.