Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Mohammed Cartoons Row

Who are the hypocrites?

I support free speech rather more robustly than your average liberal. That is, I support the right of free speech for people I disagree with as well as the ones who think like I do. I get the impression that for institutions like the BBC and the police, free speech only applies to causes they like. Examples abound.

Two racists were acquitted this week of stirring up racial hatred. The case was brought by a BBC undercover sting operation. On the charges where the jury did not reach a verdict, the Crown Prosecution Service is going for a retrial. Free speech? Not on the BBC's watch.

When a couple of old people complain to the local townhall about homosexual propaganda, the police come around and give them the once over. When a family campaigner says gays should not adopt on the radio the Old Bill are around in no time. Likewise, when a Moslem writes a letter to the Daily Telegraph that is unflattering to gays, the police get involved. Free speech? Not if you dare question homosexual orthodoxy.

Then we have the cartoon row where the British press (whether through principle or cowardice, I don't know) censor themselves and get a pat on the back from the foreign secretary. Which is odd, because Jack Straw did not feel a need to condemn the BBC for showing the deeply offensive Jerry Springer: The Opera last year. It is equally odd that the BBC won't show the Mohammad cartoons on its web site but did broadcast that musical.

Yes, Moslems over-reacted. They have a habit of flying of the handle and ought to grow up a bit. But they are the lucky ones. Institutional Britain won't stand up to their riots and insists we must respect their taboos. But Christians are fair game. As if you needed proof, no one seems to be particularly concerned that shock-artists Gilbert and George have a new show sonofgod pictures subtitled "Was Jesus a Heterosexual?". Don't even thing about what would have happened if they had picked on Islam instead.

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