Not Saussure

October 15, 2006

Outrage and indignation all round.

Filed under: civil liberties, Community, Religion, UK — notsaussure @ 1:15 pm

Some people — well, me at least, think politics is a rough old trade and that political leaders should get used to criticism, no matter how offensive or lame, and not get too indignant about things like this:

In the Commons, Tory spokesman Mr Lewis suggested the posters were part of a wider trend and reminded MPs that Labour chairman Ian McCartney last year described shadow chancellor Oliver Letwin as a “21st Century Fagin”.

“Given the outrage that that smear caused then, how could you have thought anything other than the fact that what you were doing in reviving it in your poster advertisements was nothing more and nothing less than a calculated campaign of sly anti-Semitism?”

or, more recently, this, where the indignation at an embarrassingly very lame spoof seemed particularly synthetic:

A spoof video of David Cameron which invited voters to sleep with the Tory leader’s wife and take away his children was posted on the internet yesterday by a Labour MP.

[….] Peter Luff, the Tory MP for Mid-Worcs, said Mr Simon should be “thoroughly ashamed of himself”. “When you go over the top like this, you bring all of us in politics into disrepute.

“I just can’t believe that a fellow MP would stoop so low. It’s highly offensive,” he said.

Stephen Pound, Labour MP for Ealing North, described the spoof as “a new low in British politics”. He said he thought Mr Cameron’s wife would be “hurt and insulted” by such “sinister” remarks.

However, as David Davis tells us,

Much worse is the feeling of some Muslim leaders that as a community they should be protected from criticism, argument, parody, satire and all the other challenges that happen in a society that has free speech as its highest value.

It’s those bloody ‘leaders’ again. Mr Stephen Green, for example, could be described as a ‘Christian leader’ in that he leads an organisation called Christian Voice which is very upset about Jerry Springer: The Opera. Quite how representative he and his colleagues are of most Christians is, of course, another matter, as is the question of what, in practical terms, ‘moderate Christians’ might do to persuade him to cool it .

Meanwhile, in a separate development, I see Ann Widdecombe MP has decided to wade into the row about Heathrow check-in worker Nadia Eweida and her refusal to cover up her cross. Not sure what to make of this one. I can’t see the objection to allowing Ms Eweida to wear her tiny cross outside her uniform (it’s only the size of a 5p piece, for heaven’s sake), though it has to be said that BA’s a pretty large organisation employing a lot of people all over the world and it seems a bit rum that their wearing or not being allowed to wear visible crucifixes has never been a problem until now when there’s all this fuss about veils.

Comparisons with Sikhs wearing turbans and iron bangles are at work misguided, I think, because wearing those are requirements of Sikhism in a way that wearing a visible crucifix isn’t a requirement of most Christian sects (it may be one for Ms Eweida’s church, I suppose, but it’s still a bit odd that this has only now become an issue for her and her supervisors at BA).

But I do think Ms Widdecombe’s gone OTT, even for her, in her pronouncement that Christians are “suffering…It’s we who are being persecuted”; as Simon Barrow, of the Christian think-tank Ekklesia puts it,

Given that Britain is a pretty open society, this kind of talk lacks proportion and is grossly insensitive towards many different minority groups across the world who face prison or death for their convictions

and I have to say that Lord Ahmed is doubtless right to feel a tad more persecuted than is Ann Widdecombe at the moment.

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