As well as leading to Christmas being called "Winterval," the archbishop said "virulent, almost irrational" attacks on Christianity led to hospitals removing all Christian symbols from their chapels, and schools refusing to allow children to send Christmas cards with a Christian message.
This is Archbishop 'Doctor' Barry Morgan - or to give him his correct title, Barry Morgan.
But as anyone with a fucking brain actually knows, no-one has ever called Christmas 'Winterval'. Birmingham once called the period from December to February Winterval as a marketing ploy. It never called Christmas Winterval. No-one ever did. Obviously this fucking 'doctor' is too stupid to realise, too wilfully ignorant or just deliberately shit-stirring.
And why can't the fucking BBC journalist actually do some research? What, because an Archbishop is talking complete shit, we just have to let him? It's not opinion - HE'S GOT THE FACTS WRONG. You're allowed to correct that as a journalist, you know, to actually do that. To point out when people aren't telling the truth. That wouldn't be wrong. For fuck's sake, why not? Why must we always respect the views of idiots? Why can't we actually say, well the archbishop says that, but in fact he's wrong. If he said that black people committed more crime than white people, would we just leave it at that, because it's his opinion, even if it's not true? If he said that Christians are more law-abiding than Jews, would we let that slip through the net? No? So why let him talk shit about other subjects? What gives him the right to be able to talk complete bullshit about something, unquestioned, unchallenged, in an article that is supposedly journalistic in nature? Why not actually fucking do your cunting job, you illiterate fucking BBC drone. Check the facts. Question things. Actually do some fucking journalism, rather than just parroting what one person says and then parroting what another person says. Why not actually stand up and be a fucking journalist?
And which hospitals? Where? Which schools with Christmas cards? Where? When? Did it really happen? Do we have evidence for this? (One thing's for sure, if it is complete shit, we won't know, because this BBC bastard is happy to let an archbishop talk total balls about something without bothering to check if it actually has any basis in fact or not.) If it did, what about the thousands of other schools that don't do that? What about that, doctor? What about the vast majority of atheists who are completely happy with other people having religious beliefs and expressing their faith? No, that doesn't matter, does it. Atheists are bad, mkay.
"We get this every year," a press officer sighs, eventually. "It just depends how many rogue journalists you get in any given year. We tell them it's bollocks, but it doesn't seem to make much difference."
No, it doesn't make any difference when you've got people with an agenda doing simple Google searches for a bit of evidence to back them up, regardless of whether it's true or not. Not when you've got barking mad twats like the good doctor deciding they know best, proclaiming religious bullshit without bothering to check any facts. But why should that surprise us? Here's someone who believes in virgin birth, resurrection, bringing people back from the dead, turning water into wine, feeding the 5,000 and all that weird acid-trip shit at the back-end of the Bible in Revelation - he's obviously someone who'll pretty much believe anything. He doesn't bother questioning - if it goes along with his world-view, then fine. If not, must be wrong.
Dr Morgan said: "All of this is what I would call the new "fundamentalism" of our age. It allows no room for disagreement, for doubt, for debate, for discussion.
"It leads to the language of expulsion and exclusivity, of extremism and polarisation, and the claim that because God is on our side, he is not on yours."
He said the nativity story in St Luke's Gospel, in contrast, had a "message of joy and good news for everyone".
Yes but that's kind of the problem. If you can isolate Luke from the rest of the Bible - the evil bits about sacrificing children, flooding the world in a fit of pique, turning people into pillars of salt, saying 'You shall have no other gods but me' and 'I am a jealous god' and so on and so on - then yes, it all seems hunky dory. But you can't. It kind of comes as a package.
As you'll know, I'm no fan of the religious nutjobs who sentenced a British teacher to jail for letting her class name a teddy bear Mohammed.
But some of the shots being aimed by the tabloids and other press at the people of Sudan are of the cheapest variety, and smack of 'Let's have a laugh at the silly blacks in Bongobongoland'.
News websites, incapable it seems of checking their facts before chucking stories onto the web - well, if we get it wrong, never mind, every single person we've misled will check again later and read the same updated story - had a right old picnic over details of protests about the teacher's punishment. Many put the brakes on soon after, including the BBC, when it became clear that the calls for Gillian Gibbons to be killed, while true of some of the crowd, were misrepresenting a protest that might not even be representative of the population at large in the first place.
Let's look at the British media's sensitive handling of the protest.
Newspaper pictures of Gibbons were burned on a makeshift stage at the heart of Martyrs Square. One protester was seen making a stabbing gesture with his sword. A group of men shouted: "She must be killed by the sword."
One person making a stabbing gesture becomes
More than a thousand Muslim demonstrators in the Sudanese capital called for her to be shot or stabbed for insulting Islam after her pupils called a teddy bear Muhammad.
Shot or stabbed? Couldn't they make up their minds? Maybe they meant shot and stabbed. Wait, stabbed first, then shot. No point stabbing someone after shooting them is there? Or poisoned as well? And set on fire?
That's 1,000 people (well men, to be specific, and we know the reasons for that) out of a city population of 1,000,000. A tenth of one per cent, much of that whipped up by organisers and joined in by all and sundry, not all of whom were violent or had violent intentions. Sigh. But if it's the uppity blacks calling for murder of a white, we'd better make it sound as bad as possible! Let's see how the Sun's coverage compares to the Guardian's.
KNIVES OUT FOR GILLIAN: Thousands demand teddy teacher be shot
It's thousands now, is it? Blimey, these protests in Bongobongoland grow fast, don't they? (Still, at least the Sun subs got the subjunctive right, which is more than you can say for the Telegraph drones earlier in the day who said the crowd 'demand teacher is shot'.)
And on and on:
THOUSANDS of people, some carrying knives and sticks, have marched on the capital of Sudan calling for the teacher jailed for naming a teddy bear Mohammed to be shot. The marchers - amassing outside the presidential palace in Khartoum - are claiming Gillian Gibbons' 15-day jail sentence is too lenient and that she should be put to death.
Just shot, not stabbed this time. So why carry knives and sticks? To shoot her with? Hmm, sticks. Not exactly a weapon of mass destruction. Am I wrong to think they're trying to suggest spears? Anyway, there's one picture that keeps getting used in all the coverage, as well: of a single geezer with a big knife. No-one around him seems armed, but we've found one of the swarthy varmints tooled up, so let's make sure that picture's used nice and big! Just like the quotes from the wire services, the most shocking images get used time and time again.
Another bit of the wires here from the Mirror:
Abdul-Jalil Nazeer al-Karouri, a well-known hard-liner, told worshippers: "Imprisoning this lady does not satisfy the thirst of Muslims in Sudan. But we welcome imprisonment and expulsion. This an arrogant woman who came to our country, cashing her salary in dollars, teaching our children hatred of our Prophet Muhammad."
Why quote such a fucking idiot in the first place? He's clearly intellectually sub normal. Teaching hatred? Who except an imbecile believes that? And why represent the feelings of the Sudanese with the biggest nutter you can find? It's like asking Ian Paisley for his views on the new Pope.
Right, noseclips on, I'm going in. The Hate Mail:
MOB BAYS FOR HER BLOOD. Spitting hatred, thousands of hardline Islamists called for British teacher Gillian Gibbons to be shot yesterday.
Is it just me, or is there something curiously funny about the Mail attacking someone for 'spitting hatred'? Thousands called for her to be shot, though. And the evidence?
They streamed out of mosques in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, shouting: "Kill her, kill her, kill her by firing squad."
You mean to say the Mail had reporters outside various mosques in Khartoum waiting for the reaction? Hmm.
Ever tolerant of our Muslim friends, the Express opts for
KILL HER. Up to 10,000 Muslims took to Khartoum’s streets shouting: “Kill her, kill her by firing squad.” Armed with clubs, swords and axes, the mob burned her photograph because she allowed pupils to call a teddy bear Mohammed.
Ten thousand is it now? And where did the clubs, swords and axes come from?
But hang on, this is Web 2.0. Where's an ill-informed shite comment from a blethering idiot?
We went over there to teach these heathens a bit of civilised society and what happens? They throw it back at us.
Thank you, 'Zeigfried'.
Look, I despise those who use religion to oppress others. I hate religious states enforcing horrible medieval laws because a Big Green Book told them to. I despise the idea of basing law and justice around the twisted interpretation of ancient texts that haven't kept pace with science, reason or enlightened values. And it makes me sick to think that relgio-fascists can take a grip around a nation state, suffocating democracy, common sense and justice. It is a crime against humanity.
But you might as well stick a bone through the nose of the Sudanese and paint them next to a cooking pot the way the British scum tabloids are depicting them. It's lazy caricaturism of the worst kind, twisting agency reports into your own agenda. It ignores the truth, or doesn't care about it. It depicts a thousand protesters as a lynch mob, ignoring the 999,000 people in Khartoum who maybe took a different view. It's outdated, rubbish, racist stereotyping of the very worst kind, which we should have seen off years ago. And it stinks just as badly as the disgraceful treatment given to Mrs Gibbons.
It raises a couple of issues. The first is that the children themselves chose to name the bear Mohammed but escaped punishment. Why? Are they deemed not to have the mens rea to have committed such an act? If not, then why should the teacher have to take the responsibility on their behalf? Is her only crime here cultural ignorance? Or rather, ignorance of extremism?
One thing that has always amazed me about the Muslim extremists is their insecurity when it comes to the prophet. Why feel the need to stick up for someone like him? Don't you have a god to do that sort of thing? And why shouldn't his name be used in such a way? People name their children Mohammed; why shouldn't a child name a teddy bear Mohammed? I think it's missing the point, perhaps wilfully so, to claim it is 'making an image of the prophet'; it's just giving an inanimate object, albeit one with eyes, a nose and a mouth, a name - that's the top and bottom of it, and we really shouldn't think the children wanted the bear to be Mohammed himself. Just to have the same name.
As ever, it's the innocence of children that gets trampled by the herd of religious nuts. The kids surely saw nothing wrong in naming the bear, much as someone might name a child; perhaps they were, in a formative way, thinking about the naming process for a child when they become adults. Children don't see a minefield of upsetting the prophet or upsetting their religion; names are just names, and mimicking behaviour is harmless to them. The kids didn't see why it was wrong.
I don't really venture over to Sky News, knowing who owns it, but I dipped a toe in earlier - and I might come back after being pleasantly surprised to see this little nugget uncovered by their reporter:
There is no specific, or explicit ban in the Koran on images of Allah or the Prophet Mohammed - be they carved, painted or drawn. However, chapter 42, verse 11 of the Koran does say: "[Allah is] the originator of the heavens and the earth... [there is] nothing like a likeness of Him."
Now that's interesting, isn't it? It's not even in the Koran, just in an
extreme interpretation of it. Nice work from Sky to go to the original source material rather than just interviewing a wingnut and asking their views - no wonder, with that sort of journalism, that Rupert Murdoch wants to squash their independence and make them more like Fox.
One thing that Richard Dawkins, love him or hate him (and you'll no doubt have guessed my stance by the title of the blog) makes a very good point about is the religionisation of children. He has made a very powerful case for we adults not to label children as Christian or Muslim or Jewish children, but children of Christian parents; children of Muslim parents; children of Jewish parents. It's a distinction that is very important, and right. This story itself is pretty good evidence that children aren't born religious and can exist to a young age without being imprisoned by the tenets of their culture and superstition.
So when the BBC drone says
One Muslim teacher at the independent school for Christian and Muslim children, who has a child in Ms Gibbons' class, said she had not found the project offensive.
That's just plain wrong, I'm afraid. The children are no more Christian or Muslim than I am. The children are just children: they may learn about Mohammed the prophet or Jesus Christ in their religious studies, just as hopefully they will learn about biology and chemistry in their science classes. But they are not Muslims and Christians. Not yet. One day they may decide to be, as is their right and their free choice, one hopes, but not yet.
A marvellous thing has happened for scientists and scholars everywhere: Charles Darwin's entire works have been put online here. Searchable, clickable, linkable... wonderful. It's all there, the Origin of Species, the Descent of Man, even sketches and notebooks - the whole shooting match. For me, this is what the internet is actually all about and should always have been all about, though I'm sure there are Web 2.0 disciples out there who are a bit miffed that you're not allowed to write 'what a load of shit' at the bottom and run off giggling.
But have a look at this report on the Darwin website by the BBC and see if you can spot what it is that disturbed me. Just a little phrase in there that should set a couple of alarm bells ringing.
The anonymous BBC drone writes:
The resource is aimed at serious scholars, but can be used by anyone with an interest in Darwin and his theory on the evolution of life.
His theory on evolution has influenced many science disciplines
One word. Theory.
Theory of evolution.
In 2007, we're still talking about a 'theory' of evolution?
Make no mistake: that word is significant. It doesn't just pop into sentences about Darwin and evolution unless it's meant to. It's not an accident. Let me make a comparison. Let's see what the BBC write about Isaac Newton here:
However, in 1687, with the support of his friend the astronomer Edmond Halley, Newton published his single greatest work, the 'Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica' ('Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy'). This showed how a universal force, gravity, applied to all objects in all parts of the universe.
There's no doubt about that, is there? No 'theory' of gravity. It's written as if it's fact - which of course it is to all rational scientists. But so is evolution, to all but the most wilfully ignorant of scientists, all but the extremists, the religious wingnuts who can't swallow the idea of evolution as a fact so try to get it taught as a theory instead.
It's in the classroom that the religio-fascists try to get their way, more specifically in the United States, though my own country isn't immune of course, as this creationist zoo near where I live shows - the website doesn't give much of a clue as to what's inside, and parents could be forgiven for thinking it's a zoo like any other... but when you get inside, the 'educational' side of the visit is taken up with pseudo-scientific explanations for the Bible and attacks on evolution. This is an attraction for children, I remind you.
Heaven forbid (yes, pun intended) you might try and be a politician, particularly on the right in America, unless you're determined to be a completely ignorant bastard about the truth of evolution:
Huckabee later added, "If anybody wants to believe that they are the descendants of a primate, they are certainly welcome to do it."
This isn't some complete jerk who's entered the presidential race as a bit of a joke. He's a former governor of Arkansas; he's someone who has garnered millions of dollars and thousands of backers in support of his push for the Republican nomination. He's someone who genuinely thinks - maybe thinks is the wrong word; believes - that human beings aren't descended from primates. He clearly has the intelligence of a gnat, created or evolved.
And he's also a baptist, as CNN finds it important to tell us. What? Is religion really that important? How about libertarian, liberal, socialist, Keynesian, monetarian? There isn't room for that on the CNN profiles, apparently. All we know is the religious status of these politicians: you have Hilary Clinton (methodist) against Rudy Giuliani (catholic); Barack Obama ('christian') against Fred Thompson ('protestant'), and so on, and so on. Not an atheist among any of the leading contenders, by the way. Not a single one of them with the cojones to try and be honest about it. Is it just that atheists don't want to be president? Or that a president could never (again) be an atheist? Even an agnostic? No? Are things really worse than I thought?
Here's another worrying sign. I put 'Darwin' into Google News to see how they'd be covering the release of the documents, seeing as I'd only just read about it on the BBC. And the search came up with this piece of excrement. In the news section. The fucking news section! Interestingly enough, I didn't come up with any such article from an opposing political standpoint. Is that because science is too smug about itself? Does it take it for granted that evolution is accepted as fact by all except a minority of stubborn religious limpets, clinging on against the tide? Well, it shouldn't.
There's still a battle to be fought by reason against these idiots. There's still a case to be made against those who pollute the internet with lies, fake science and religious rubbish. There are still those who would insist on calling evolution a 'theory', and some of them will be writing articles about science. Putting Darwin online is the beginning of that battle for reason; it's a wonderful step forward that will hopefully allow children of whatever upbringing to look at the great man's work and decide for themselves whether evolution by natural selection, or a fairy story, is how the world of today came about. As the American presidential race shows us, there is still much to be done.