December 08, 2004


Michael Moore's al Jazeera cap was in the wash, so he had to wear something promoting the BBC. Via whom we learn, incidentally, that celebrities can sometimes offer intelligent opinions, if they concentrate on their particular areas of expertise; here comedian Rowan Atkinson defends the right to ridicule:

Blackadder star Rowan Atkinson has launched a comedians' campaign against a government bill to outlaw inciting religious hatred.

The Mr Bean actor says parts of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill are "wholly inappropriate" and could stifle freedom of speech.

Mr Atkinson told a meeting at the House of Commons on Monday night there are "quite a few sketches" he has performed which would come into conflict with the proposed law.

He added: "To criticise a person for their race is manifestly irrational and ridiculous but to criticise their religion, that is a right. That is a freedom.

"The freedom to criticise ideas, any ideas - even if they are sincerely held beliefs - is one of the fundamental freedoms of society.

"A law which attempts to say you can criticise and ridicule ideas as long as they are not religious ideas is a very peculiar law indeed."

Atkinson, a car fanatic, has always been a sensible fellow.

Posted by Tim Blair at December 8, 2004 12:07 AM

i now have yet another reason to buy all the blackadder dvds...

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at December 8, 2004 at 01:11 AM

I agree with Atkinson, but I don't understand why it has to be such a f*cking capital offense to kid about race or ethnicity; it actually seems more benign to me than taking jabs at someone's religion.

Either way, did anyone else notice how much Michael Moore resembles a Hut, as in Jabba's kin, in that photo?

Posted by: DrZin at December 8, 2004 at 01:20 AM

Be careful what you say about Atkinson's car worship. Since Atkinson refers to his purchase of a McLaren F1 road car as a "statement of religious belief", it could be a crime to kid him about it.

Posted by: David Radulski at December 8, 2004 at 01:34 AM

Between individuals everything should be in play. If freedom of speech has restrictions it is a privilege.

Posted by: Joseph Olde at December 8, 2004 at 01:49 AM

Smart move by Mikey to wear slimming black...

The good news about the Orwellian idea to sanction "offensive" speech about one's religion is that the Euro press and punditry would then have to shut up about Bush's and 61 million of his fellow Americans' supposed red-neck, throw-back, and crudely-crusading Christianity. And, since Zionism is to Judaism as re-establishing the Caliphate is to true-believer Muslims, then maybe Jew and Israeli bashing will finally be dammed/damned.

Or not.

Posted by: suzanne at December 8, 2004 at 03:06 AM

Good Lord, the man is ENORMOUS!

I hope he isn't on Marlon Brando's version of the low-carb diet!

Posted by: Richard at December 8, 2004 at 03:46 AM

These laws (this one and Brack's one in Victoria) are inherently absurd.

In many sacred texts, religions vilify other religions. The law is in breach of itself.

Posted by: 2dogs at December 8, 2004 at 04:44 AM

Trying link again


Posted by: Son of a Pig and a Monkey at December 8, 2004 at 04:44 AM

Hey, I just saw a pig-man!

Posted by: Kramer at December 8, 2004 at 04:55 AM

Looking at Mike Moore lately, it's obvious that his hindmost is the equivalent of Pinocchio's nose. He should be the size of a parade balloon by the next presidential election.

Posted by: Nightfly at December 8, 2004 at 05:08 AM

I see a distinction. Not as regards joking, though; someone's involuntary ethnic traits may be even funnier than their religious views. But when it comes to criticising or persuading, obviously it makes no point to say to someone "Stop being the nationality and skin colour that you are!" But religions themselves concede there is a point -- indeed, every point -- in arguing over the Kent Brockman Question. It's something you can meaningfully debate.

Posted by: Uncle Milk at December 8, 2004 at 12:34 PM

I really hope this law gets shot down. I'm a Christian, and one of the funniest bits I've seen Atkinson do was his skit about the bride-to-be in the confessional expressing her concern that she'd perfomed fellatio on her boyfriend. Classic skit, and the world would be less funny if he hadn't been able to do it.

Posted by: Squatch at December 8, 2004 at 01:03 PM

i am amazed at the concept that Michael Moore has put anything in the wash.....

Posted by: jr at December 8, 2004 at 02:34 PM

"Religions" may be subject to ridicule, but never the Word of Allah.


Posted by: AKBAR THE GREAT at December 8, 2004 at 03:07 PM

No doubt that means the monty python classic; 'Life of Brian' would become illegal as its a classic mickey take on the misconceptions of religion.

And as michael moore is virtually a religion to the US left at least, that law could spell an end to a whole genre of humour.
for example these gems would be no more :

Very soon it will become illegal to laugh at anything, as all humour is based on ridiculing someone or something.

Shakespeare will be outlawed next for ridiculing mans folly, oh wait, those foolish enough to make these laws probably miss his subtlety.

Posted by: Dawn at December 8, 2004 at 08:18 PM

PBS was running a Black Adder thing last year and threw in a Mr. Bean Christmas special with some other holiday. I confess to not getting the character before, but it was quite funny. One bit has him using a nativity scene to great comic effect.

Posted by: RC at December 8, 2004 at 10:00 PM

Bishop: You fiend! Never have I encountered such corrupt and foul-minded perversity! Have you ever considered a career in the Church?

Edmund: No, I could never get used to the underwear

Posted by: Baby Eating Bishop of Barton Wells at December 8, 2004 at 10:44 PM

RC - I saw that Bean sketch. Absolutely hilarious. If I still had my old Kenner toys from my youth, I would immediately have set up my creche with Darth Vader and Boba Fett standing watch with the shepherds in the fields.

Posted by: Nightfly at December 9, 2004 at 03:45 AM