Ill Wind

Boy, Conservative MPs don’t talk this way around here. Conservative MPs, conservative Representatives; whatever – anyway they don’t talk like that around here. We should be so lucky.

The whole climate in which religion is discussed has chilled notably in the past few months. After the Danish cartoon controversy, the momentum is with those people who use their particular, narrow faith to silence other voices. If you doubt that’s so, just ask why no British newspaper felt that it could reproduce those cartoons. And reflect on why the British and American governments had to apologise for the offence caused. What were governments doing saying sorry for the independent actions of free citizens? Bending before a very ill wind.

Exactly. And not only apologizing for the independent (and legal, and in the view of rational people, moral) actions of free citizens, but telling us we mustn’t do them. Telling us we were (technically, if we insisted) free to do them, but we mustn’t, that it was unacceptable. That we ‘enjoy’ normal freedoms but that if we exercise them we will be suspended and our newspapers will be seized and shredded. That we have freedom of expression but no duty to gratuitously offend. Not so much bending before an ill wind as falling face down on the ground and then burrowing their way into the earth until nothing but a centimeter of buttock remained visible, before an ill wind.

When the House of Commons debated the Religious Hatred Bill, the argument was made that criminalising what one said about faith would have a chilling effect on debate overall. And, even without the law having been passed, one section of our community has succeeded in just that aim…I’m sure that Trapped in the Closet is wildly offensive. I certainly hope so, anyway. Because the one thing that Scientologists need more than anything else is ridicule. A religion founded by a science-fiction writer in the 1950s which invites its followers to believe in an inter-galactic tyrant called Xenu and offers them the chance to control time itself by becoming “Operating Thetans” deserves nothing less.

It’s funny the way people keep on using the word ‘faith’ without quotation marks. It’s such a horrible word – wouldn’t you think everyone would want to sneer at it with sneer-quotes? But no, people keep on taking it seriously. That’s odd.

Comments are closed.