Friday, 23 November 2007

An offence and an anachronism

Christian fundamentalist activist Stephen Green wants the BBC prosecuted over its 2005 screening of Jerry Springer - The Opera. The charge? Blasphemy. I wonder how the particular target of his wrath - the corporation's director general Mark Thompson, who was last year named as one of Britain's top 100 lay Catholics - will feel about that.

The human rights group Liberty argues that the blasphemy law violates the European Convention on Human Rights. According to its legal officer Anna Fairclough: 'These blasphemy laws should be shelved in dusty archives, not used as a tool to bring mischievous prosecutions against the arts.'

Nice to see the Christian thinktank Ekklesia agreeing. In the words of its co-director Simon Barrow:

Human rights advocates, including people of faith, have quite rightly campaigned against blasphemy laws in Pakistan and other countries, and having one on the statute in the UK is both an offence and an anachronism.

Privileging one religion above other views is indefensible in a democracy, and for Christians there is the added irony that Christ was himself arraigned on a charge of blasphemy. Using the law to attack opinions about belief is to misuse it, and suggesting that God needs protection against free speech makes no theological sense at all.

The Christian message is about the power of self- giving love, not the love of one's own power. This is why it is wrong religiously as well as legally and democratically.

...which is rather similar to what I was trying to say here (scroll down to point no.6).

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