Friday, March 14, 2008

Blasphemy is dead! Long live blasphemy!

"England’s dusty, archaic and unpopular blasphemy laws look set to be abolished, but Ofcom and others are keeping their censorious spirit alive.


These recent bizarre events show that censorship is not being eradicated in Britain. Instead it’s having a bit of spit-and-polish applied and being rehabilitated as Brand New, Gleaming, Glistening, PC Censorship! Old forms of punishment and censure for people who ‘cross the line’ are being replaced with new forms of wrist-slapping for those who dare to speak, write or think offensively. Indeed, the blasphemy laws, very rarely used, have been abolished in practice for 20 years or more. Yet as secularists, and even the Lords (not previously known for their commitment to liberty or democracy), ‘bravely’ shadow-box with the ghost of blasphemy, they seem not to have noticed that new censorious protections for easily offended religionists – and non-religionists – are being institutionalised. Maybe it’s all that celebratory champagne they’ve prematurely been quaffing.


The new censorship makes everything into a potential blasphemy – a blasphemy against the sacred self-esteem of fragile individuals. The ASA, Ofcom and others, with their elevation of subjective feelings of offence to the moral highground of public debate, have given rise to an entire nation of little Jesus Christs, all of whom can stake a claim to protection from contumely comments, or scoffing and ridicule against their being and personal providence. They have made tyrannical gods of us all.
Also, as its name suggests, the blasphemy laws were based in law. Any bishop, Bible-basher or blue-permed lady-who-lunches who wanted something banned would have to go through the courts and try to convince a judge and jury of their case. At the very least, this meant that a jury of 12 men and women – who so often are an oasis of reason in irrational times – would have the opportunity to do some scoffing of their own and potentially throw the case into the gutter where it belonged. Not so with the new censorship."

Brendan O'Neill, Spiked Online, 13 March 2008
Read it in its entirety. It's spot on.

Plenty of the neo-censorship happens because people shit their pants over possibly offending someone. And, as O'Neill here says, 3 or 23 people whining is enough for something to be "offensive" . There's a Norwegian organisation called "Familie og Medier" which is a Christian media bitch dog, and they enthusiastically write this:
"10 to 20 inquiries are considered a "viewer storm"! The editorial boards of radio channles and TV channels are not used to a lot of responses on their programmes. You will be heard and have the opportunity influence if you use your voice"

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