Freedom to disagree - Jerry Springer The Opera
Tonight the BBC are broadcasting Jerry Springer The Opera despite receiving a record number of complaints before broadcast and sparking off public demonstrations. Predictably the hardcore religious element have been whipping up the storm, this time the Christians led by the Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Manchester, as well as the Evangelical fringe.
We have to stand firm against such bullying - lets face it, book-burning was never that progressive a decision by the Nazis. However, I fear that this is the way things are going in this connected world - a large group of people can easily be mobilised into action by an email or web campaign. Just look at the way things have gone in America - journalists fear to express dissent with Republican ideals, knowing as they do that a torrent of electronic abuse will come their way. And, more recently in this country, it was sections of the Sikh community whose campaign of intimidation and, most seriously, death threats, led to the Birmingham Rep pulling its stage production of Behzti due to perceived insult.
Its fair that the deliberate causing of offence directly to someone is not a good thing - that is abuse, after all. But we can't change the way that we all live our lives just because some groups of people might seek out offence in what other people enjoy, especially when you consider that only 44 % of British people would say that they actually believed in a God - a fair amount considering the sizeable numbers of people populating this secular country's great faiths.
And people of no faith have to face the everyday offence of living in a world where you are dictated to by people you fundamentally disagree with. Perhaps people like us should start jamming the switchboard every time Songs Of Praise is scheduled (although presenter Aled Jones is enough to turn the staunchest of Christians to Satanism!)
Still, a lot of good has came of the protests over the BBC and Jerry Springer The Opera - I wouldn't have known it was even on if they hadn't made such a fuss about it. Cheers then, overly-offendable puritanical types!