Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Cut Louis some slack!

Good article on the NSS website today. It discusses the recent castigation by the media and British Gymnastics (the governing body of his sport) of gymnast Louis Smith (I posted on the topic on Tuesday). The release of the video clip by the Sun newspaper was also followed swiftly by Mohammed Shafiq, the chief executive of the Ramadan Foundation who said "our faith is not to be mocked", or what we ask, is this a threat? There's nothing special about Islam that means it should not be mocked, some might suggest it would be good to mock it more; and blasphemy was abolished in English law back in 2008 (alarmingly recently!) as the article suggests, are we seeing a reversion to a situation in the UK where criticising certain things is simply taboo?

"The very public castigation of the British gymnast is illustrative of the troubling return of blasphemy. As the former Strictly Come Dancing winner has discovered – and to his immense cost – Britain's burgeoning 'culture of offence' is ensuring that any action deemed likely to offend religious sensibilities, but particularly Muslim sensibilities, is strictly taboo."

Here in the UK we have a long tradition of free-speech and dissent, this includes the mockery of authority and of deeply and widely held beliefs, like politics and religion. The price we pay for living in a free and tolerant society is running the risk of being mocked and/or offended from time to time, if any organisation is so insecure that it cannot deal with this in a grown up (non-violent) way then it gives us little reason to tolerate it.

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