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Sunday 8 February 2009

Utterly Bizarre

This is utterly bizarre to me. In the same week that Carol Thatcher was sacked from the BBC and received death threats, apparently, for using a word that was simply the name of a toy a couple of decades ago, without any malignant intent, the excellent Channel 4 programme, "Christianity - the History" showed the bonfire night antics in Lewes, where they burn an effigy of the pope.

My own - rather negative - view of the pope is irrelevant here. The question is political correctness and different laws applied to different people. The Channel 4 programme is brilliant. Presented each week by a person of a different faith - so far a Jew, a person who was a Catholic and isn't, a Moslem, a Catholic who is a convert from Protestantism - it is unbiased and wonderfully thought-provoking. The overriding thought it provokes in me is, "How come, when so many people follow their own beliefs and do so from their own sense of what is so for them, the authorities step in and control and inspire hatred and violence?" None of it has anything to do with beliefs. It all has to do with control. If people are confined by what they can and can't say, what they can and can't believe, someone else can take over and control them.

I am small - but not exceptionally small! - of stature. I have been in places where people have said things like, "You're small, aren't you?" It's rather rude. I joke about my height and think, "So what??". I know tall people who have received the same kinds of comments. I know red-headed people who have been called 'carrot top' or 'ginger nut'. I know black people who have suffered real abuse, and those who have been happy to be joked about the colour of their skin, or their hair. (Gosh, how many times have I compared mine to a mop??). I know blonde women who have been said to look like Barbie dolls - is that any different to comparing someone's hair to a golly off the old jam jars? Racism is utterly vile. Any form of discrimination is or control is utterly vile.But there was nothing racist or anything or the sort in what Carol Thatcher said.
So Carol Thatcher gets the axe, and I am amazed at Jo Brand reporting it (I thought she was rather liberal, whereas in fact she must be as narrow-minded as you can get to waste time over it!).

But then, they can burn the effigy of a person in Lewes - someone else's beliefs which, even if I do not share, I respect? Ann Widdicombe can receive hate mail for her conversion, and very nasty letters about her appearance? It's utterly bizarre.

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