Fuck off you cunt

Just celebrating the future success of this campaign:

Rowan Atkinson: we must be allowed to insult each other
Rowan Atkinson has launched a campaign for a change in the law that bans \”insulting words and behaviour\”.

The Blackadder and Mr Bean star attacked the \”creeping culture of censoriousness\” which has resulted in the arrest of a Christian preacher, a critic of Scientology and even a student making a joke, it was reported.

He criticised the \”new intolerance\” as he called for part of it the Public Order Act to be repealed, saying it was having a \”chilling effect on free expression and free protest\”.

Mr Atkinson said: \”The clear problem of the outlawing of insult is that too many things can be interpreted as such. Criticism, ridicule, sarcasm, merely stating an alternative point of view to the orthodoxy, can be interpreted as insult.\”

Police and prosecutors are accused of being over-zealous in their interpretation of Section 5 of the Act, which outlaws threatening, abusive and insulting words or behaviour, the Daily Mail reported.

What constitutes \”insulting\” is not clear. It has resulted in a string of controversial arrests.

As I have pointed out elsewhere freedom of speech does necessarily mean that I am indeed allowed to insult your most deeply held beliefs while announcing my own.

A central point of Christianity (not CoE of course, which doesn\’t insist on anything so doctrinally controversial) is that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, had/has divine status. A central tenet of the Islamic faith is that he was not, he was merely a prophet on the road to The Prophet. If we were to have a ban on insulting the faith of others we would therefore have to have not only a ban on Christian expressions of faith for fear of insulting Muslims but also a ban on Islamic expressions of faith for fear of insulting Christians.

At which point the only option is everyone is allowed to insult everyone.

24 thoughts on “Fuck off you cunt”

  1. Strongly approve of Mr A’s campaign.

    Devil’s advocate-ish-ly, however – the law could distinguish between insult and theological disagreement, such that “Jesus fucked goats” is covered whereas “Jesus was not the son of God” isn’t.

    There have been few (no?) prosecutions for religious insult under S5 so far, so it’s not clear whether that’s how the courts would interpret the current law (although given that judges tend to be moderate-small-c-conservative-CoE types, it seems likely that they would).

    I’m *not* saying S5 is a good idea. It’s a shit idea. But Tim has created a false dichotomy here – we need to argue for the right to insult in its own merits, not because the only other option is to ban all religious expression.

    Tim adds: You’ve clearly missed the idea been floated at the UN. That there should be a global anti-blasphemy law. Which would indeed fail on exactly the grounds I’ve outlined.

  2. Not just ‘everyone’ but ‘everything’ as well. In fact, ideas and beliefs should have less protection than living people (and living people shouldn’t have much.)

    Dead people, of course, having no protection.

  3. John,

    The problem is that the fundamentalist religious don’t seem to differentiate between ‘your revered figure was a goat-fucker’ and ‘not the Son of God / Prophet’ and ‘Xenu is a lie’ statements. There’s little point being the ‘Devil’s Advocate’ when you are proposing a position that the opposition will simply not recognise.

  4. So Much for Subtlety

    Surreptitious Evil – “The problem is that the fundamentalist religious don’t seem to differentiate between ‘your revered figure was a goat-fucker’ and ‘not the Son of God / Prophet’ and ‘Xenu is a lie’ statements.”

    But what do you do if their revered figure was a goat f**ker? Or in this case a nine-year-old girl f**ker? About whom he had erotic dreams before she was six. Is it theological disputing or insulting to say so?

    Although people miss the point of the new laws. They are not intended to be equal opportunity laws. Rather they are intended to codify the de facto situation as it stands – you can insult Christianity, you can’t insult Islam. Islam is our de facto official religion now. So you can’t call Islamist terrorists savages in paid ads on the New York subway, but you can show Piss Christ. You can’t mock a Mullah, but you can mock priests. What to do if you want to say Jesus was Gay, now there’s a problem. If we moved to ban both sides slagging each other off we would be better off than we are now.

  5. “If we moved to ban both sides slagging each other off we would be better off than we are now.”

    I don’t know. As a practicing christian, I feel that it is far better for the Church to be in a position of being persecuted (as happened in its early history) than being involved in the persecution of others (as has happened in most of history since then). Of course, I’d rather the state kept out of regulating speech entirely.

  6. If we moved to ban both sides slagging each other off we would be better off than we are now.

    Yes – okay, a slight improvement in ‘fairness’ (equality?) at the cost of a more serious diminishment of liberty.

    The problem, as Tim points out, is that the core beliefs of a number of religions are blasphemy to others. And the core beliefs of many sects are heresy to other sects within the same religion.

    Yes, the drive at the UN is to protect Islam. And UK authorities seem to have passively accepted the whole “Muslim is a race therefore protected” nonsense – as far as harassing and punishing ‘islamophobes’ goes. And it should be resisted. And, my opinion, the best way to resist that is to have a level playing field – no legal protection for religious ideas, whose-ever they are.

    And, if people express their opinion of religion and it annoys some beardy twits, that’s probably a win too.

  7. SE: I genuinely couldn’t give a fuck what the fundies think. They don’t run the courts. The point is that a reasonable person can easily tell the difference, and the difference can easily be codified, so a law which bans one sort of speech and allows the other is perfectly viable. It’s obviously illiberal and it may well not satisfy the fundies, but neither of those points are relevant.

    SMFS: oh, give it a rest. The NY courts ruled very specifically the MTA had to run adverts calling Muslims savages. The MTA subsequently changed the rules so that no offensive NGO adverts would subsequently be allowed – which includes Piss Christ.

    In an ideal world, I’d put up posters on the subway saying “THERE IS NO GOD AND ALL RELIGIOUS PEOPLE ARE FUCKNUTS, BUT IF YOU THINK MUSLIM FUCKNUTS GET ANY BETTER TREATED THAN CHRISTIAN FUCKNUTS, YOU ARE THE STUPIDEST FUCKNUT OF THEM ALL”.

  8. What I don’t understand is this: If your god is the only god, and if he is an all-powerful god, and if you, when you shuffle off this mortal coil, are going to go and spend eternity – actual ETERNITY – with him singing praises or shagging virgins or whatever your personal paradise happens to contain, and if you KNOW that this is the ONLY TRUTH and that anyone who doesn’t accept it is going to be eternally – eternally! – damned then why the fuck do you care if someone happens to suggest that you’re wrong? Or that your all-powerful god doesn’t exist or is a bit of a fraud? Surely you’re the last person that needs legal protection.

    Unless, you know, deep down you suspect that it’s ballocks.

  9. @SMFS

    “They are not intended to be equal opportunity laws. Rather they are intended to codify the de facto situation as it stands – you can insult Christianity, you can’t insult Islam. Islam is our de facto official religion now”

    What a load of little-Englander -Daily-Mailograph shite that is.

    Sure, people who follow different religions have different reactions when their beliefs about their imaginary sky people are challenged/criticised. Scientologists go legal, extreme Islamists go boom, and Christians go ‘well golly, that wasn’t very nice… still, we mustn’t grumble’.

    All the fuss and nonsense about insulting Islam comes from those followers of Islam.. have you not noticed that ‘the law’ hasn’t gotten involved over youtube films or pictures of Prop Mo touching goats (or whatever). Just like it did nothing to stop ‘Jerry Springer – The Musical’ when the Christians woke up for long enough to be quite angry and make a fuss.

    That whole ‘Well it’s fine to say that Jesus bummed kids but you just can’t say anything about the Islams’ line is half right… you’ve just got the wrong half.

  10. “IF YOU THINK MUSLIM FUCKNUTS GET ANY BETTER TREATED THAN CHRISTIAN FUCKNUTS, YOU ARE THE STUPIDEST FUCKNUT OF THEM ALL”

    When the BBC broadcasts ‘Mohammed – the Musical’ I’ll agree with you.

  11. I’d have thought the CoE more firmly trinitarian than the Roman Catholic church. Do you think otherwise, Tim?

    Tim adds: Dunno…..it was more of a joke about the way that you don’t seem to need to believe anything to be CoE. There have been bishops not quite sure about the existence of God for example…

  12. “When the BBC broadcasts ‘Mohammed – the Musical”

    Mohammed and a lot of people at the BBC do have one common interest

  13. MakajazMonkee: “Mohammed and a lot of people at the BBC do have one common interest”

    The BBC – Fiddling its taxes and kids for 50 years…

  14. I seem to remember Mark Steyn wading into this argument and – inevitably, for him – causing a stir, when he wrote about the Ayatollah’s little green book in which the bearded one opined on the correct procedure if one had embarked on carnal knowledge with a member of one’s four-legged herd. He caused a similar fuss when he highlighted that Muhammad had taken as his wife – sorry, one of his wives – a 14-year-old virgin.

    Tim’s point is an important one: why should you be able to get away with saying, “Jesus bummed children” (when there’s no evidence that he ever did) but you can’t say “Muhammad was a paedo” (when there is Islamic evidence that he was)?

    Either there is free speech everywhere, or there is free thought nowhere.

    JohnB: I’d welcome your posters on the Tube. If you have the money, go for it. Perhaps you can get sponsorship from the Secular Society and other Dawkins-squawkers, so do it, capital letters and all. Though I would remind you that the founder of my particular religion spent rather less money – a few fish and loaves, if I remember – and his faith has lasted about 2000 years. So that is what you’re up against.

  15. So Much for Subtlety

    Andrew Pearson – “As a practicing christian, I feel that it is far better for the Church to be in a position of being persecuted (as happened in its early history) than being involved in the persecution of others (as has happened in most of history since then). Of course, I’d rather the state kept out of regulating speech entirely.”

    I am always fascinated by the masochism of some Christians. Maybe you’re right. But on the other hand look up the Moriori.

    9 Surreptitious Evil – “The problem, as Tim points out, is that the core beliefs of a number of religions are blasphemy to others. And the core beliefs of many sects are heresy to other sects within the same religion.”

    We could ban them all then. Singapore does something like this. They have a bigger problem with rioting Muslims of course. But they disencourage the religious explaining the core tenets of their religion and otherwise just pick on people who annoy the extremists. I don’t recommend it but it seems to work.

    “And, my opinion, the best way to resist that is to have a level playing field – no legal protection for religious ideas, whose-ever they are.”

    The problem is you need to have the spine to stand up to those that threaten violence. And we don’t.

    10 john b – “I genuinely couldn’t give a fuck what the fundies think. They don’t run the courts.”

    No but the Soft Left does and they are very sensitive to the feelings of the Fundies. As long as they are not Christian. Remember we came within an inch of the Religious Vilification Act which would have made much of this discussion moot.

    “The NY courts ruled very specifically the MTA had to run adverts calling Muslims savages. The MTA subsequently changed the rules so that no offensive NGO adverts would subsequently be allowed – which includes Piss Christ.”

    You can’t even report this honestly John. Pathetic. The ads did not call Muslims savages. The ads called those who carried out terrorist attacks against Israel savages. The MTA refused. Geller had to go to court. She won on First Amendment grounds. They then changed the rules – but only in cases where there was a chance of violence. So Piss Christ is still fine. This ad is not. We will have to see if their new policy survives the inevitable legal challenge. But the fact that there has to be a challenge at all proves my point. She would have no problem with Piss Christ.

    “In an ideal world, I’d put up posters on the subway saying “THERE IS NO GOD AND ALL RELIGIOUS PEOPLE ARE FUCKNUTS, BUT IF YOU THINK MUSLIM FUCKNUTS GET ANY BETTER TREATED THAN CHRISTIAN FUCKNUTS, YOU ARE THE STUPIDEST FUCKNUT OF THEM ALL”.”

    Good for you John. After all the Subway is full of ranting nutcases as it is. You wouldn’t detract from it in any way. But Muslim fucknuts do indeed get better treatment. They get free access to the editorial pages of the Guardian for instance. Christian fucknuts can’t say that even about the Telegraph.

    13 The Thought Gang – “What a load of little-Englander -Daily-Mailograph shite that is.”

    Oh wonderful. I could do with a career change. Anyone know if they are hiring?

    “Sure, people who follow different religions have different reactions when their beliefs about their imaginary sky people are challenged/criticised.”

    Or more accurately, if you want to be someone’s prison b!tch, people will treat you like someone’s prison b!tch. Muslims do not riot and blow things up just because their religion tells them to. Although it does. They do it because it works. If it worked for Jews and Christians, they would be doing it too. After all, even some Sikhs recognised us for the gutless wonders we are and tried it.

    “All the fuss and nonsense about insulting Islam comes from those followers of Islam.. have you not noticed that ‘the law’ hasn’t gotten involved over youtube films or pictures of Prop Mo touching goats (or whatever).”

    Ummm, the film maker is still in prison. Do tell how the law has not got involved. The real question is whether someone would be allowed to do it in the UK. And as I said, we came very close to having a Religious Vilification law that would have put people like TimW in prison for saying what he has said. Thanks to the House of Lords, we didn’t. But now the Hereditaries have gone, it can only be a matter of time. It was not the Islamists who got that law passed. It was the Soft Left who want, as I said, to be someone’s prison bitch.

  16. “Ummm, the film maker is still in prison. Do tell how the law has not got involved. ”

    For violating the terms of a prior probation, I understand.. not for being nasty to Muslims. If the film itself was ‘illegal’ then it would not still be up on youtube and atop google search results.

    I bet there are plenty of examples of where desperately ‘PC’ people have treated Muslim and Christian beliefs unequally.. although scratching the surface of most of the popular Mail-esque outrages (banning Christmas etc) tends to reveal an awful lot of bullshit. The law itself, however, is pretty fair on the issue and if there’s any bias anywhere then it’s, quite obviously, towards the Christian values and traditions on which it is built (and more’s the pity… Eid is coming up and I’d take one of those December bank holidays now if it were offered).

  17. So Much For Subtlety

    The Thought Gang – “For violating the terms of a prior probation, I understand.. not for being nasty to Muslims. If the film itself was ‘illegal’ then it would not still be up on youtube and atop google search results.”

    I am all for people who violate parole being put back in prison but this is a bullsh!t complaint that there is no evidence would have happened if the film maker didn’t annoy Obama. The law got involved. America just has a First Amendment so they have to work around it.

    Google and Youtube are doing a better job of defending freedom than the White House.

    I bet there are plenty of examples of where desperately ‘PC’ people have treated Muslim and Christian beliefs unequally.. although scratching the surface of most of the popular Mail-esque outrages (banning Christmas etc) tends to reveal an awful lot of bullshit.

    Most of what the Mail says is bullsh!t. But that does not change the way the law operates in practice. Christians have been arrested for being rude about Gays. Muslims have not. Christians have been arrested for preaching to Muslims. Muslims have not. Despite saying vile things about non-Muslims a whole range of Islamists continue to hold positions on the Left. There is a double standard.

  18. SMFS: the guy was on probation from a prison sentence for fraud, including the use of credit cards and a bank account in false names. As one of his probation conditions he was forbidden to use false names. And, allegedly, he has been blatantly in breach of that condition.

    I’d expect the court to take this sort of breach seriously, directly related as it is to his original offence. But if you can cite similar cases where a similar violation has been overlooked, please do and you may change my mind. If, on the other hand, you’re just making wild and unsubstantiated claims because that’s what you do, let’s move on.

  19. But Muslim fucknuts do indeed get better treatment. They get free access to the editorial pages of the Guardian for instance. Christian fucknuts can’t say that even about the Telegraph.

    Please tell Christine Odone. Then she might shut up (although I’ll grant that she’s in the minority compared to the ullage over at the grauniad and the staggers.)

    But to be honest, it does really give me the arse that Catholics and fundies are now presenting themselves as victims for “not being allowed to hold their religious views” or even “not having freedom of speech”, via the process of using the free press (see?) to inform everyone what those views are (SEE?).

    What they want, of course, is the freedom to break the law, specifically the law that forces them to give equal treatment in provision of goods and services regardless of sexuality.

    Now, you can argue that it’s a bad law, and I’d be happy with that. Far as I’m concerned you should be allowed to refuse goods and services on any prejudice you like – they’re your goods and services, after all. If you happen to be a nasty racist or other form of bigot then people who don’t like racists won’t use you and eventually the market will sort it out (or not). But if you, say, set up as a B&B then the law says that you can’t disbar people for being gay in much the same way that you can’t bar them for being black. Being made to follow that law in the same way as every other B&B owner is ipso facto not discrimination.

  20. “What they want, of course, is the freedom to break the law, specifically the law that forces them to give equal treatment in provision of goods and services regardless of sexuality.”

    I understand that what they did was to refuse to offer rooms with double beds to unmarried and gay couples. It’s not like they were turned away at the door.

    I don’t know – it’s a difficult one. Some businesses offer discounts to pensioners. Some give discounts to local people, to those on benefits, to children. Some night clubs and sports clubs and other voluntary societies are only open to women, or to men. Some have dress codes, refusing services to people wearing jeans and trainers, or not wearing a tie. There are professional societies that won’t let you in if you haven’t passed the exam. It’s often quite difficult joining a church, mosque or temple (or even a religious school, as many hopeful parents will tell you) if you’re not a believer. And they won’t let you into any public building if you’re smoking a cigarette.

    Discrimination is normal – it is only a very short and select list of issues you are not allowed to discriminate on: race, sex (sometimes, when it suits), sexuality (except paedophilia), and disability. The more acceptable that sort of thing is, the more likely the list is to get extended.

    Legal/illegal is not the same thing as right/wrong, and if a law is morally wrong, isn’t the moral thing to do to break it and take the penalty? If the law *required* you to discriminate unjustly, for example against jews or black people, should you do so?

    How would unjust laws ever get changed if nobody ever made a fuss? Is there a place in a free society for civil disobedience?

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