Monday 7 April 2008

Ben Elton, Comedy and Islam

Those of us of a certain generation (i.e. getting close to 40) will remember a time when Ben Elton didn't just write books and shameless Queen musicals. Those were the days of Saturday Night Live and some good alternative political comedy and satire.

Ben Elton has made some interesting points on how while the BBC were happy to poke gentle fun at the Church of England in shows such as the Vicar of Dibley, jokes about Islam were deemed unacceptable.

I think he has it spot on when he says

"I think the concept that faith in itself is a good thing should be questioned from day one. There’s a presumption that if you're a religious leader you are in some way already halfway up to the moral high ground and your opinion has more relevance than anyone else's."

As someone who could describe himself as an agnostic verging towards atheism, I see no reason why we need to be deferential to any religion.

Religion to me is like politics - its there to be debated, discussed and challenged and shouldn't allowed to be set to one side because someone feels uncomfortable about having their openly held beliefs debated. If you're going to cast moral judgement on other people, expect to be able to stand your ground.

If you want a good example of this, check out this brilliant debate on the Life of Brian between John Cleese, Michael Palin, Malcolm Muggeridge and the Bishop of Southwark (its about 2 minutes in)

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