Monday, March 19, 2007

A Tale of Three Piggies and other horror stories

It's encouraging to know that common sense still, occasionally, prevails in this country.

Honley Junior school in West Yorkshire are due to stage a performance of Roald Dahl's adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs. However, the committee responsible for the production decided that the swine should be replaced with puppies instead, in case the depiction of pigs ‘offends Muslims’.

Utterly ridiculous of course. And, once again, the only really offensive thing here is the idea of someone second guessing what might cause ‘offence’ to one particular group of society, as if some people are so sensitive they require constant protection from anything that might fire them into a tailspin of sheer outrage, then altering it to ‘protect’ them. Deeply patronising and inverted racism to boot: “Well, we’d better drop any references to pigs – it might offend, you know, that lot.”

Thankfully, the local council stepped in and reversed the nonsensical decision. In the words of the education spokesman Jim Dodds: “There is something barmy going on here.” Quite, quite. Reports that the sale of sausage rolls in the interval will also be banned in consideration of the Muslim community, the Jewish community and the vegetarian community could not be confirmed.

Meanwhile, at Leeds University, a lecture on ‘Islamic anti-Semitism’ by Dr Matthias K├Ântzel was cancelled at short notice on ‘security grounds’. A somewhat spurious decision considering that the talk, clearly a controversial subject, was planned sometime in advance. More likely, it seems that the university capitulated to a vocal minority of Muslim students who complained about the nature of the discussion. As Dr K├Ântzel himself remarked:

“I have lectured in lots of countries on this subject. I gave the same talk at Yale University recently, and this is the first time I have been invited to lecture in the UK. Nothing like this has ever happened before – this is censorship.”

It’s difficult to disagree. How dispiriting that a university of all places suppresses debate and discussion within the confines of its own buildings on the grounds of a subject being deemed too controversial to be offered for public dissection. This was meant to be a conversation about the extremes of Islamism and the origin of its inherent anti-Semitism, but at the first whiff of dissent and ‘offence’ the whole workshop is scrapped. Could there be a better way of doing extreme Islam’s work for it, when it is not even possible to identify and comment on the nature of its philosophy at the extreme end? Depressing in the extreme.

1 comment:

ph said...

Every year around xmas we get the same old stories about various traditions being banned as it will offend 'The Muslims'. When asked the 'The Muslims' are not at all bothered my Nativity plays, Angels on the high street etc, etc. No, the people who do care are that awful class of folk, the middle class liberal. Deep down they hate traditions and are quite happy to stir up cultural animosities in a bid to get their own way.