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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Jerry Springer: Freedom Of Speech Is Not Negotiable

Christians protesting against Jerry Springer the Opera (which is playing in the Dome until Saturday) are misguided and ignorant, says the National Secular Society (NSS).

Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the NSS said: “The majority of people protesting about this show have not even seen it, they are taking the word of religious propagandists that it is anti-Christian. In fact, it is not an attack on religion at all, but a satire about the way reality TV uses vulnerable and disturbed people for entertainment. It uses Christianity as a metaphor to confront and satirise the cruelty of shows like Jerry Springer. It is deeply moral message, not at all about attacking Christianity.”

Mr Porteous Wood continued: “But even if the show were to be satirising and criticising religion, it still has a right to be performed. There is a vital issue of freedom of expression at stake. No ideology – whether it is religious or political – ought to be beyond criticism, and repressive concepts like blasphemy are unacceptable in the modern world. In the light of the violence and mayhem being perpetrated by religious believers around the world, there is no religious belief that should be ring-fenced from examination and, if necessary, criticism, satire and even mockery.

“Freedom of expression is under increasing threat from militant religionists. As well as protests against Jerry Springer – the Opera being broadcast or performed, the Sikh play Behzti was abandoned in Birmingham and an exhibition of Hindus painting was closed in London. Both were caused by criminal acts for which no prosecutions were brought. We must not allow Freedom of expression it to be curtailed – it is a bulwark of democracy.”

See also the directly relevant article by Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee.


Published Tue, 04 Jul 2006