From the BBC...
A bid to force a rethink of plans to make inciting religious hatred a crime has been seen off by the government.
Comedian Rowan Atkinson supported the attempt to tighten the definition of racial and religious hatred.
But the government defeated the Lib Dem amendment, backed by 25 Labour members, by 291 votes to 191.
Critics fear the Serious and Organised Crime Bill could impact on performers making religious jokes. Ministers say it will not hamper freedom of speech.
There was a time when this sort of behaviour was almost acceptable. How many people have laughed at Bernard Manning jokes? Or Jim Davidson in his early days and many other of the comedians of this ilk and era?
There might even be what some consider to be a racially abusive joke in my humour blog (http://www.yaps4u.net/humour/index.html) but they wouldn't be there intentionally and I'd remove them the instant I was asked to.
When I was younger, I laughed at Mr. Manning, Davidson et al, but never considered how other people felt. Later on when I was serving in the Royal Navy, Bernard Manning appeared at a Senior Rates Mess dinner. He turned up, parked his Jaguar outside the front door, ordered his orange juice and proceeded straight to the stage to begin his act. The first thing he did was to order a toast to the two veteran sailors in the audience who were our guests of honour for the evening. The second thing was to remark to the one black Indian member of the mess not to worry because he knew he was in here, because he had seen his canoe in the car park. It was an old joke known by most of the people in the room but it still brought a round of laughter. I did feel a bit uncomfortable for the guy, but he was smiling too. He then made a few what you could call racist jokes and the completed his act. The very first thing he did after leaving the stage was to go over to the black guy in question and make sure that he was ok and to thank him for being a good sport. He also offered him and any of his friends a free night out on him at his Manchester venue. So although he was being racist, it was obvious that he himself was not, and it was just an act. But that was then, and this is now. I know that we have the choice of not listening to it if it offends us, but it could be said that it promotes racial hatred in some forms. I?ve told my fair share of racially orientated jokes in the past, but that is where they belong. I work with a multicultural team, live in a multicultural society and I should consider their feelings.
Whether it be black, white, yellow, Asian, African, Irish/English/Scottish we must be more aware of what we say and how we say it. You as a parent wouldn?t like it if your child was made fun at school for any reason and this would be just another form of that.
But racial hatred is nothing far short of bullying in just another context. Just because it happened back in the past shouldn?t mean that it is ok for it to happen now. We are a multicultural society and therefore must respect the views and feelings of others.
There is no room for anybody who incites religious hatred, but we must be cautious of going completely over the top as happened when the ?PC? era began. But unlike the positive discrimination brought about by the ?PC? brigade, the same cannot be said of religious hatred. There will always be the ?NIMBYS? when a mosque is to be built in their neighbourhood, but how do you campaign against it without being accused of inciting racial hatred? It means that you campaign for the right reasons and not those based on their religious beliefs.
Mind you, we could just solve 99% of all the worlds? problems and ban religion outright. We would then have to find another reason to hate each other.
Posted by Chris Wright at February 8, 2005 6:46 AM
Does banning religion solve the worlds problems? Let me quote you a religious text: "Love the Lord your GOd with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength, and love your neighbour as yourself". Are you suggesting that banning a doctrine teaching love for your neighbour would solve the worlds problems?
Posted by: Michael at November 14, 2005 5:38 PM
I'm not saying anything like that. I am suggesting that we should all that we can to ban/reduce racial hatred, and anything that incites it. I am saying that there is no place for racial abuse in our society.
Posted by: Chris at November 15, 2005 1:03 PM