Will the government's proposed ban on incitement to religious hatred have consequences for comedians and satirists? As we've already seen, Rowan Atkinson says yes. Home Office Minister Fiona McTaggart begs to differ in today's Telegraph (reg required):

"It is very difficult to imagine any circumstances in which telling jokes would amount to stirring up hatred. Hatred does not mean offence or ridicule."

I'm willing to take her at her word. Maybe this law wouldn't be so terrible after all. On the other hand, I wonder if there's more to the issue than"telling jokes"? Consider how politically-commited performers such as Mark Thomas or Rob Newman present entire shows - lectures almost - devoted to the evils of capitalism. Even if you don't agree with them, they always have at least a couple of interesting points to make. Off the top of my head, I can't think of a right-wing equivalent (Jackie Mason occasionally comes close, but politics only counts for a small part of his act). Now, what if someone were to devote 90 minutes to denouncing Islam in the style of a Thomas or Newman? I can see problems there. Twenty years ago, a minister could easily have written that it would be difficult to imagine a highbrow novel stirring up hatred. Then along came The Satanic Verses.
|||Clive|||http://clivedavis.blogspot.com/2004/12/that-law-will-governments-proposed-ban.html|||12/16/2004 06:25:00 pm|||||||||