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Birmingham play closed by mob

GUEST 20 Dec 04 - 03:00 PM
kendall 20 Dec 04 - 03:10 PM
GUEST 20 Dec 04 - 03:14 PM
PoppaGator 20 Dec 04 - 03:14 PM
Big Tim 20 Dec 04 - 03:20 PM
GUEST 20 Dec 04 - 03:29 PM
GUEST 20 Dec 04 - 06:21 PM
GUEST,Another Guest 20 Dec 04 - 06:27 PM
Georgiansilver 20 Dec 04 - 06:34 PM
Rapparee 20 Dec 04 - 06:35 PM
Georgiansilver 20 Dec 04 - 06:37 PM
GUEST 20 Dec 04 - 06:54 PM
Compton 20 Dec 04 - 06:58 PM
GUEST 20 Dec 04 - 07:09 PM
Georgiansilver 20 Dec 04 - 07:11 PM
PoppaGator 20 Dec 04 - 07:13 PM
GUEST 20 Dec 04 - 07:15 PM
Georgiansilver 20 Dec 04 - 07:26 PM
GUEST 20 Dec 04 - 07:28 PM
GUEST 20 Dec 04 - 07:29 PM
Big Tim 21 Dec 04 - 03:02 AM
The Shambles 21 Dec 04 - 03:47 AM
The Shambles 21 Dec 04 - 03:49 AM
cobber 21 Dec 04 - 03:51 AM
DMcG 21 Dec 04 - 04:04 AM
GUEST 21 Dec 04 - 04:44 AM
GUEST,greg stephens 21 Dec 04 - 04:46 AM
Dave the Gnome 21 Dec 04 - 04:50 AM
greg stephens 21 Dec 04 - 04:50 AM
Peter K (Fionn) 21 Dec 04 - 05:11 AM
Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull 21 Dec 04 - 05:18 AM
John MacKenzie 21 Dec 04 - 05:28 AM
MuddleC 21 Dec 04 - 05:29 AM
Pete Jennings 21 Dec 04 - 05:35 AM
Keith A of Hertford 21 Dec 04 - 05:41 AM
GUEST,rat 21 Dec 04 - 05:53 AM
Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull 21 Dec 04 - 06:10 AM
GUEST,Guest 21 Dec 04 - 06:40 AM
Blissfully Ignorant 21 Dec 04 - 06:41 AM
GUEST,Mingulay 21 Dec 04 - 07:11 AM
Leadfingers 21 Dec 04 - 07:11 AM
Blissfully Ignorant 21 Dec 04 - 07:17 AM
kendall 21 Dec 04 - 07:28 AM
DMcG 21 Dec 04 - 07:44 AM
GUEST 21 Dec 04 - 07:46 AM
Wolfgang 21 Dec 04 - 08:06 AM
GUEST,Redhorse at work 21 Dec 04 - 08:29 AM
The Shambles 21 Dec 04 - 08:32 AM
John MacKenzie 21 Dec 04 - 09:05 AM
GUEST 21 Dec 04 - 09:32 AM
Blissfully Ignorant 21 Dec 04 - 09:37 AM
Dave the Gnome 21 Dec 04 - 10:03 AM
Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull 21 Dec 04 - 10:09 AM
Dave the Gnome 21 Dec 04 - 10:54 AM
Ellenpoly 21 Dec 04 - 11:34 AM
burntstump 21 Dec 04 - 01:00 PM
Peter K (Fionn) 21 Dec 04 - 08:34 PM
Little Hawk 21 Dec 04 - 08:56 PM
The Shambles 22 Dec 04 - 02:00 AM
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GUEST,sorefingers 22 Dec 04 - 03:39 AM
greg stephens 22 Dec 04 - 04:30 AM
John MacKenzie 22 Dec 04 - 04:49 AM
Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull 22 Dec 04 - 04:52 AM
GUEST,kenny 22 Dec 04 - 05:02 AM
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The Shambles 22 Dec 04 - 08:34 AM
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GUEST 22 Dec 04 - 06:53 PM
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Strollin' Johnny 23 Dec 04 - 10:30 AM
The Shambles 23 Dec 04 - 10:43 AM
Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull 23 Dec 04 - 10:49 AM
greg stephens 23 Dec 04 - 11:03 AM
Big Al Whittle 23 Dec 04 - 12:19 PM
The Shambles 23 Dec 04 - 12:27 PM
GUEST 23 Dec 04 - 12:41 PM
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Once Famous 23 Dec 04 - 01:03 PM
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Leadfingers 23 Dec 04 - 01:52 PM
Leadfingers 23 Dec 04 - 01:52 PM
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Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull 27 Dec 04 - 08:16 AM
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Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull 27 Dec 04 - 10:09 AM
GUEST,kendall 27 Dec 04 - 10:11 AM
McGrath of Harlow 27 Dec 04 - 10:15 AM
Wolfgang 27 Dec 04 - 11:47 AM
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CarolC 27 Dec 04 - 05:28 PM
McGrath of Harlow 27 Dec 04 - 05:45 PM
GUEST,Terry K 28 Dec 04 - 04:31 AM
The Shambles 28 Dec 04 - 05:56 AM
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McGrath of Harlow 28 Dec 04 - 06:15 AM
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GUEST,heric 31 Dec 04 - 11:14 PM
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Subject: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Dec 04 - 03:00 PM

A religiously motivated mob have succeeded in terrorising a Theatre into removing a play from its stage in the UK. Estelle Morris a minister for culture defended this action, and on TV made no attempt to stand for free speech and the artistic community she is supposed to represent against intolerance. This is a nationally important moment for all who believe in our freedoms. Lacking leadership from the Government or support from the police the Theatre had little choice but to protect its audience, but this is the thin end of a terrible wedge that must be beaten on behalf of all of us who believe that art,be it visual, written or auditory should not be subject to censorship or bigotry.
Are our songbooks to be subject to the scrutiny of all religious zealots? Will we need their permission to perform our works?


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: kendall
Date: 20 Dec 04 - 03:10 PM

In America, the land of the free, there is a limit to fredom of speech. No one has the right to cry "FIRE" in a crowded theater. Anyone see the similarity?


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Dec 04 - 03:14 PM

Not really. Could you explain?


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: PoppaGator
Date: 20 Dec 04 - 03:14 PM

I's be curious to know more details -- what about the play did people find so terribly offensive? What exactly took place that is characterized as "terrorising a Theatre into removing a play from its stage"?

A link to a news report wouldn't hurt. I think we all would understand that there might be some built-in bias on the part of the reporting publication, but so far we have almost no information at all upon which to base an opinion.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Big Tim
Date: 20 Dec 04 - 03:20 PM

According to the bbc, it's a play written by a Sikh and includes in its subject material scenes of rape and sexual abuse in a Sikh temple.

A crowd of people, almost exclusively Sikh, beseiged the theatre and threw stones through windows. The management have ended performances of the play for reasons of safety.

You know they banned Sean o'Casey too.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Dec 04 - 03:29 PM

The play was written by a Sikh woman and raised issues that male memebers of that religion felt should not be addressed.
However,they mounted a peaceful and perfectly legal protest outside the theatre every night. The Theatre itself had liased with Sikh religious leaders before the play was put on the stage and printed a leaflet putting their views against the play which was handed to every audience member, and also read from the stage before the play started.
On Saturday night the peaceful picketing turned to violence. Police were attacked and five injured. Doors were torn off, windows broken, internal fittings smashed in the foyer and theatre staff attacked.
A production on another stage was for children and the parents and kids were terrified and that play was abandoned and the audience evacuated. The Sikh leaders could not guarantee that the same thing would not happen on other nights and threatened that bus loads of protesters would come from all over the country.
The play was closed because a mob attacked and terrorised a theatre.
Surely a terrible conclusion and a severe setback for all in our community of performance arts.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Dec 04 - 06:21 PM

Does no one else care?


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST,Another Guest
Date: 20 Dec 04 - 06:27 PM

Yes, they are discussing it on the discussion board linked to the news item on the BBC web site, not on an American folk music board.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 20 Dec 04 - 06:34 PM

I guess for me, a Christian, the thought of a play where a Christian woman is raped in a Christian Church is a bit repulsive and perhaps objections would be raised but not to the extent of rioting.
Difficult to put a sensitive and sensible perspective on what has happened really.
Best wishes.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Rapparee
Date: 20 Dec 04 - 06:35 PM

Shouldn't this be "below the line"?


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 20 Dec 04 - 06:37 PM

yes


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Dec 04 - 06:54 PM

No! There's a thread about Phil Och's birthday mentioning a play featuring Phil's work. He attacked a lot of institutions. Take "Cannons of Christianity". In the Birmingham Theatre debacle the Catholic Church came out in support of the Sikhs, a coalition of religions. How would we feel as a community dedicated to music and song if a religious coalition rioted sufficiently to get the play about Phil closed down?
This issue is one that certainly belongs in the musical thread.

Actually, it does belong in the lower section. The top area is for music, the bottom area is for discussions of issue that spawn the music, among other things.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Compton
Date: 20 Dec 04 - 06:58 PM

If we start protesting about everything we do not like....there will be nothing!!........and it's getting like that now!!. Because we do not like a particular thing, should we storm the battlements and have it banned. The behaviour of the Sikh community was well over the top.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Dec 04 - 07:09 PM

"During a performance by the Watersons in which they included a song about hunting "Dido, Bendigo" a group of anti-hunting demonstrators stormed the folk club, tearing off the doors, smashing windows and terrorising the audience.
The brewery responsible for the evening's entertainment upheld the right of the group to sing whatever they wished, but in the interests of public safety decided to close the folk club and ensure the Watersons were not booked at any of their other venues".

Okay, it hasn't happened yet, but the Birmingham case opens the door.
I'm opposed to hunting,but in a folk club, anything goes. If I don't like it I leave.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 20 Dec 04 - 07:11 PM

Compton, it is easy to say these things but if it was something that directly concerned your beliefs then perhaps you would be prepared to react in some way. I am not saying what they did is right but as I said before...if it was a Christian woman being raped in a Christian Church....I think I would not feel too happy....to add to that...if I were in India watching it I might feel even more aggrieved.
Best wishes.
P.S I am saddened by the fact that Christian marches are banned in certain cities in the UK because they might upset the ethnic minorities. We are supposed to be a Christian country!.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: PoppaGator
Date: 20 Dec 04 - 07:13 PM

It's not at all inconceivable that a play might address sexual assault in Christian church; the victim would more likely be a young boy than a woman, but the principle is pretty much the same. No wonder the local Catholic hierarchy is making common cause with the Sihks in this case.

Of course, there have been works of art touching upon various instances of abuse by Catholic institutions, but the general public, *including* most Catholic laypersons, has generally supported a skeptical attitude towards the perpetrators and sympathy for the victims. What's really scary about this incident is that so many members of the Sihk public seem to *support* continuing abuse, not to condemn it.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Dec 04 - 07:15 PM

Actually we are the most secular country in the Western world.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 20 Dec 04 - 07:26 PM

Interesting that you say that as in Victorian times we were considered the most Christian.
Best wishes.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Dec 04 - 07:28 PM

Progress!


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Dec 04 - 07:29 PM

Progress that must be defended!


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Big Tim
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 03:02 AM

I don't think that the Sikhs are supporting abuse, more like denying it. By their actions they have ensured far more publicity for the play than if they had quietly ignored it.

Today, I see the play billed as a "black comedy". However it doesn't really matter what what kind of play it is, if it's legal, and I assume the that the experienced producers had enough sense to check that it infringed no law of the land, then it shouldn't be allowed to be stopped, not "banned", by illegal acts.

I can understand why the Sikh elders are upset, but they have to accept the law of the land.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: The Shambles
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 03:47 AM

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/west_midlands/4112985.stm


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: The Shambles
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 03:49 AM

Neil Foster, of the Birmingham Stage Company, said the decision to cancel the play had been made by "cowards".

He said he was now looking at staging the performance at the Old Rep Theatre.

Mr Foster told BBC Radio 4's PM: "I think it's one of the blackest days for the arts in this country that I've ever experienced.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: cobber
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 03:51 AM

First They Came for the Jews
First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.


Pastor Martin Niemφller


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: DMcG
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 04:04 AM

I'm a bit lost by the Niemoller quotation, cobber. Are you saying we should be standing up for the rights of the Sikhs to suppress the play or for the rights of the other Sikhs (such as the author, who is a Sikh herself) to speak out?


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 04:44 AM

First they came for the playwrights....


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST,greg stephens
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 04:46 AM

I;ve not seen the play(naturally, the protesters havent allowed me to). But I do think this is a disater for the country. Not because a mob closed a play, these things happen, and will happen: theatre is ften a subseversive art, and will often annoy the righteous. I think it is a disater but because the governement didn't stand up and say "You have a right to go to the theatre, and we are going to defend that right".
    We have a government which has annoyed a lot of Muslims, and it thinks it can get out of this fix by cosying up to religions generally. In this case, by appeasing a Sikh mob, I think they have generated serious trouble in the future, for all of us. Do we really want censorship carried out by screaming mobs? It isn't a very sane way to run a country.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 04:50 AM

I think we should all picket local infant schools. They are showing a play extemely offensive to all sorts of people where it portrays a woman giving birth to a baby, which is not even her husbands, in a stable of all places! It stereotypes the Jews as not being charitable enough to give the poor kid a room. It is offensive to Moslems in that is shows 'Eastern Kings' showing respect to an icon of Christianity. It is hurtful to Christians in showing all the early worshipers to be sheep lovers. Just who does it NOT offend. Sheesh...

We are living in an extemely sad time where a minority mob can dictate what does and does not take place in a legitimate theatre. How on earth can the police let this happen? If the mob were comprised of Aston Villa supporters outside Birmingham City's ground they would not get away with it. How can the leaders of the Sikh community support such an action? Would they also support the Moslem death threats on Salmon Rushdie?

Worrying. I do not particulary care about the play itself one way or another. I hope however that it is staged at a theatre with a bit more bottle and where the police will use their legitimate powers to disperse any such future mobs. Doesn't the government frown on giving in to terrorists?

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: greg stephens
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 04:50 AM

Got logged in at last.
THis should definitely be BS


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 05:11 AM

There already is a thread "below the line" with BS prefix (although the way my preferences are set, there is no line). It has the appropriate links, and was started by someone who feels no need for the cloak of anonymity. Altogether a better discussion. Religious intolerance - take two.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 05:18 AM

I completely agree with Dave the Nome, religous loonies are trying to take over, and this pile of shit goverment are letting them.
If the people that smashed a theatre up and issued threats were doing that in a pub, they would have been thrown in the cells, after been smacked about a bit by riot police.
But as they are religous types, council etc give in to them, and cancel the play.
If you don't like they play, don't go to see it, but dont smash the place up that is showing it.

If the play was about a footballer raping someone, i doubt there would be gangs of footballers smashing the place up?

I reckon if Satanic Verses was released now, this stupid goverment would try to ban it.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 05:28 AM

If the members of the Sikh, and other immigrant communities integrated more with the inhabitants of their adopted country, and remember that it many cases they chose to live in the country, then the would be more accepted. This in turn would lead to their feeling 'at home' and secure. It is insecurity and suspicion of the motives of the predominently white run theatre that put this play on that is behind this. The way they see it, this play would never have seen the light of day in the Punjab, and they seem to be trying to impose the same values on this country. I can't remember who said it, or the exact words, but this play may be crap, but I defend to the death their right to put it on. They showed Tracy Emin's 'Bed', and Damien Hirsts 'Mother and Child'and I hated them, but that doesn't mean I should rouse a rabble of my mates and force the National Gallery or wherever to close down.

Giok


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: MuddleC
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 05:29 AM

In this 'free' country that everyone seems so intent on entering, the proper response should have been ..
Last night was the opening of an extremely nasty play at the Vic. Being a critic, I didn't have to pay to get in, but still felt cheated....@
-remember, you don't have to go in. Vote with your feet!
Just look at some Shakespeare plots for 'non-politically correct' plots, -I'll just go and get my pitch-fork, Stratford's not far....death to the RSC! down with iambic pentameter!
.. I think the stuff in the Tate Modern could do with a bit of a torching, who's coming???.....

Actually, what 'Guest' had written earlier is very thought provoking:-
"During a performance by the Watersons in which they included a song about hunting "Dido, Bendigo" a group of anti-hunting demonstrators stormed the folk club, tearing off the doors, smashing windows and terrorising the audience.
The brewery responsible for the evening's entertainment upheld the right of the group to sing whatever they wished, but in the interests of public safety decided to close the folk club and ensure the Watersons were not booked at any of their other venues".
-similar songs were declared illegal under Health & Safety legislation passed following a lively 2 minute debate after which the Parliament Act was used in order to allow the whole House of 5 MP's to go home for their tea.
I.D cards will solve it...................................NOT!


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Pete Jennings
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 05:35 AM

Sir jOhn has identified the main issue here. It is NOT about religion, who likes what, who cares about what, censorship, etc, etc, it is about LAW AND ORDER.

Anyone, and I mean anyone, attacking a building, breaking windows and doors and threatening those inside should have been arrested on the spot and the riot police deployed to prevent any further such criminal activity.

The police have totally abdicted their responsibilities.

This country is going to the dogs, if it hasn't already.

Pete


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 05:41 AM

I might reasonably object to being criticised for being a white anglo saxon. I did not choose my race and we have no common, unique human qualities.
If someone attacks my Christian beliefs, I can choose to change my religion or challenge the challenge or just ignore it. I have no right to forbid anyone expressing opinions that cause me discomfort.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST,rat
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 05:53 AM

Hoo hah Mr Keith, all it is doing is stoking the fires of the wretched BNP.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 06:10 AM

Mr Rat is exactly right.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 06:40 AM

When a group of cultural iconoclasts take it upon themselves to intimidate the people of a country, through ignorance and uncivilised behaviour, the very least we can do as a civilised nation is support the endevours of all the artists involved in putting on this play. Instead ministers and officals hope the whole episode will fizzle out, however the embers of cultral and artistic intimidation are still burning. From the renaissance to tate modern a great number of people have suffered, died and worked hard just so we can we can put plays on like the one in Birmingham.

Regards G.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Blissfully Ignorant
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 06:41 AM

I think the theatre had every right to put on the play, regardless of what or who it could be seen to be criticising, because i think everyone has the right to criticise any idea they want to...that includes religions. I also think the protesters had every right to protest peacefully for the same reason. As soon as a protest becomes violent, however, it's a completly different situation...


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST,Mingulay
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 07:11 AM

Has anyone ascertained which particular Sikh faction was responsible for the demonstration? There are several in this country who support parties based in the Punjab and are anti/pro Khalistan etc etc. It is possible that politics plays a part in this just as much as the subject matter. It is not unknown for opposing factions to attack each other with kirpans (swords) etc at their Gurdwara's. However, if the various religious leaders gang together so will their followers until they fall out again, and they will.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Leadfingers
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 07:11 AM

What got up MY nose was a 'Spokesperson' for the Sikh community blathering about their RIGHT to protest . Since when does a RIGHT To Protest give them the right to smash up other peoples property ?


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Blissfully Ignorant
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 07:17 AM

It doesn't. That's the point.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: kendall
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 07:28 AM

Do we have a God given right to piss people off? Does that scene have to be in a holy temple?


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: DMcG
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 07:44 AM

Having not seen the play either, I can't answer that, kendall. But IF part of the point of the play is that evil can exist anywhere, maybe it does have to be in a temple - or at least in some exceptionally 'safe' place.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 07:46 AM

a - Yes. b - Ask the playwright.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Wolfgang
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 08:06 AM

Guardian article with the offensive excerpt from that play

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST,Redhorse at work
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 08:29 AM

There seems to be a current belief that people have a right not to be offended.Where did this come from? Protect kids by all means, but adults shouldn't need their sensibilities protected. Grow up for gods' sake.
nick


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: The Shambles
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 08:32 AM

I am just jolly glad that there are people who are prepared to protect us from seeing these things - whatever methods they use. I think that this level of censorship is acceptable.

Thank you to all those who volunteered to smash up the theatre - you are doing a great job.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 09:05 AM

Our right not to be offended

Our right not to receive/inflict corporal punishment, even if it is because we inflicted physical pain on someone else.

Our right to be shitty and rude to our parents, and any other adult we want, because they can't touch us, and anyway kids on TV do it all the time.

Our right to walk about drunk or drugged or just plain antsy, and trip over an uneven paving stone and sue the local council for millions.

Our rights our right our rights!!!
What about our responsibilites, to be pleasant, to be helpfull, to not kick others when they're down.

Traditional Scout Promise

On my honor I promise that I will do my best:
To do my duty to God and my country;
To help other people at all times;
To obey the Scout Law.

I took this oath as a kid, do they still do it?

Giok


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 09:32 AM

It makes a difference who's ox is gored. I wonder how christians would like it if this took place in a church? I don't know how Sieks think, so I don't know why they are offended. It follows that many people don't care how they think, that's why we have endless wars. It takes less brains and effort than trying to understand other people.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Blissfully Ignorant
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 09:37 AM

Um...wait a minute, nobody's being forced to see the play, are they?


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 10:03 AM

I wonder how christians would like it if this took place in a church?

I don't recall any hoardes of screaming, violent Christians picketing any showing of Beckett. Isn't a murder committed in a cathederal in that one..?

DtG


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 10:09 AM

Doesn't someone get murdered in the Nativity Play?


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 10:54 AM

Only in Hull, jOhn, only in Hull...

:D


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Ellenpoly
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 11:34 AM

This is a sad situation, but only history repeating itself yet again.

I understand why the Birmingham Rep closed the play, feeling they had to protect their other audience members, but it's an issue which needs to be discussed again and again.

Freedom of Expression vs Censorship

I'm in complete agreement that the Sikh community did not serve their own cause by what happened on Saturday night, and it will be interesting to see what now happens when the play re-opens at another theatre.

Mob rule is not the way. Freedom of expression needs to be protected. Protest is good, and not supporting a theatre if you disagree with what it produces is valid.

But no one won anything over this mess.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: burntstump
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 01:00 PM

It will be interesting to see what action is taken against those who were arrested.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 08:34 PM

Kendall should know that our right to piss people off doesn't depend on any God, thank God. And that analogy he cites about shouting "fire" doesn't work in the UK, where "free speech" is taken to mean the right of every individual to express views, regardless of whether such views might offend others. A moron in a hurry could not confuse that concept with a malicious shouted warning.

However there are two laws which do curb this freedom of expression: those concerning racial incitement and blasphemy. The blasphemy law protects only Christian churchs - perhaps only the Church of England - though it is soon to be extended to other religions. (For my part I'm against both laws, but that's a separate debate.)

Here are some sentences from the Birmingham Post review of the play at issue here, published before Saturday night's violence:

[....] After such a build up, you're expecting quite a shock, and this terrific new play doesn't disappoint. It is offensive, and furious, and bloodthirsty, and angry, in all the right places. Set mainly in the Gurdwara, the Sikh place of worship, this searing comedy features rape, abuse, murder, violence - while still managing to be touching and tremendously important [....] The best drama takes risks, kicks out and offends, and the best writers expose hypocrisy and pretence where they find it. Gripping and essential.

Kendall, if you want to know whether the setting needs to be the Gurdwara, get hold of The (London) Independent (Dec 21), which published the offending act of Behzti across the whole of its front page and an inside page. Maybe after reading it you would conclude that the setting was inappropriate. That would be your entitlement. You are NOT entitled to rewrite the play to suit your own agenda, and neither is anyone else.

If you want to see a world in which art is not allowed to be provocative, and may be conceived only by committees truly representative of their communities, you will rejoice that the capitulation in Birmigham has brought such a world one step closer.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Little Hawk
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 08:56 PM

People who object to the content in a play have one simple and obvious course of action...don't attend said play! If they think they have the right to stop other people from attending it, they are wrong, and they are encouraging a form of fascism, in my opinion.

The play was apparently written by a Sikh woman. She has a right to present her view of reality about her community. Others do not have a right to suppress her view, but they have a perfect right to criticize it (peacefully), to demonstrate against it (peacefully), to write articles criticizing it, and to choose not to see the play.

I detest thought police, and I don't care what religion they pretend to be espousing when they attempt to violently force their views on others. Thought police are people who are scared. They must have very little real faith in what they stand for if they imagine it is so vulnerable to any alternative presentation of viewpoint! Thought police are the very expression of a mind crippled by fear.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: The Shambles
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 02:00 AM

Spot on - so why do the thought police have such support?


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: The Shambles
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 02:27 AM

Some folk may have missed this earlier post answering the suggestion posted, that this thread should be moved and suggesting that it should not - followed by an anonymous 'editorial' comment (in green writing) - explaining despite this - why this anonymous person's actions in ignoring this view and moving this thread to the BS section were superior, justified and necessary.

No! There's a thread about Phil Och's birthday mentioning a play featuring Phil's work. He attacked a lot of institutions. Take "Cannons of Christianity". In the Birmingham Theatre debacle the Catholic Church came out in support of the Sikhs, a coalition of religions. How would we feel as a community dedicated to music and song if a religious coalition rioted sufficiently to get the play about Phil closed down?

This issue is one that certainly belongs in the musical thread.


[The following in green]
Actually, it does belong in the lower section. The top area is for music, the bottom area is for discussions of issue that spawn the music, among other things.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST,sorefingers
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 03:39 AM

Britain the last place on earth where freedom still exists...but..

If the Sieks don't like the way society happens in Britain why don't they go over to where things are done their way ...and bloody stay there..

soley my opinion OC


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 04:30 AM

I think some people are putting an interpretation on these events that the facts don't really support. I dont think this is a huge attack on the fabric of tolerant British society by the Sikhs. It isnt. I definitely think this is a terribly dangerous thing to have happened to our society, but I dont particularly blame the Sikhs. What we have is an offensive play written by a young iconoclastic Sikh playwright. That is right and proper, that is what young iconoclasts are for. We have a dignified protest by the venerable grey-bearded elders of the religion. That is right and proper, that is what grey-bearded elders are for. We also have a moderately violent semi-riot by a few young hot-headed Sikh yobs. That, if not right and proper, is the nature of the young yob (and Sikh yobs, ike the aboriginal kind, are not averse to a drop of lager).
    No, the big problem was the activities(or lack of them) of the police, and more important, of the government. The row and ructions were just the sort of things we expect to happen from time to time. The terrible thing is that the government sat back and let the mob determine what plays the theatre put on, instead of doing what they should have done: stepped straight in and said this play stays on, if it takes all the midlands police force, if it takes troops, if takes whatever it takes. The government's craven capitulation to a sectarian bunch of stone throwers is a tragedy. Very few people in this government seem to remember Kipling's famous and obvious political gem, that once you have paid them the Danegeld, you never get rid of the Dane. Give in to one mob, and you encourage the next lot. Simple, reallY.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 04:49 AM

Even with David Blunkett gone, we are still fast becoming a totalitarion country.

Giok


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 04:52 AM

Instead of banning stuff the religous folk don't like,
why not ban all organised religon?, save a lot of hassle!


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST,kenny
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 05:02 AM

There was one similar incident in Scotland some 30 years ago, as I recall. Billy Connolly was in the process of breaking out of the Scottish folk club circuit, and was playing in a large theatre in Glasgow. At that time he had recorded an LP which included a sketch on the Last Supper, setting it in Glasgow. [ This was where he got the nickname of "The Big Yin" ]. The monologue was extremely funny – I saw him do it several times – but no doubt could have caused offence to committed Christians. The Glasgow show was picketed by one Pastor Jack Glass and some of his supporters, accusing Connolly of blasphemy. Their protest as I recall was entirely peaceful, and Connolly's show went ahead, to no doubt enlarged audiences as a result of the publicity it got on nationwide TV. Connolly's comment was that "Christianity has been around for nearly 2000 years. If it feels threatened by Billy Connolly, it must be in a worse state than I thought".
30 years later, Christianity is still around, and so is "The Big Yin".


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 06:53 AM

As the originator of this thread, I'm glad to see so many of you realise what this means, and Greg Stephens points above just about sum up my feelings too. Where is the leadership?


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: The Shambles
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 08:34 AM

We also have a moderately violent semi-riot by a few young hot-headed Sikh yobs. That, if not right and proper, is the nature of the young yob (and Sikh yobs, ike the aboriginal kind, are not averse to a drop of lager).

It is the Government's reaction - or lack of reaction to this latter action, preventing the play - by making it unsafe that is of concern.

Perhaps, if when threatened with closure, the participants of folk music sessions in pubs, were to have taken this course of violent protest action - the Government may have taken steps to ensure these esssions were not prevented by licensing legislation being taken beyond the letter of the law by some local authorities?

I also suspect that had these sessions been a musical activity by a minority group (like the Sikhs) under threat - that this government would have taken the issue a lot more seriously and many perfectly safe pub sessions would not have been prevented for no good reason.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Strollin' Johnny
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 09:46 AM

Folkies ARE a minority group, Shambles. At least where I come from! But I know what you mean.
S:0)


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 11:43 AM

Well if Jedi Knight has been recognised as a valid religion, then perhaps we should start our own church, name suggestions welcome.
Then we could become an opressed minority overnight, and people who made rude remarks about folkies could be tried for blasphemy, and if found guilty they could be sentenced to listen to Elmer P Bleaty records for 5 years. We could claim that our religion required us to sing in pubs with a load of our mates, and as it would be a religious ceremony we don't need a PEL. we could elect Bishops, and Archbishops, we could have Folkies and Tarts theme parties We would be entitled to have a Folking Archbishop sitting in the House of Lords, he'd fit in well with some of the folking idiots that are there already.
How about, The Folking Church ?

Giok:~)


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 01:00 PM

Georgiansilver made a point that seems relevant to me - "...if I were in India watching it (ie a similar play set in a Christian place of worship)I might feel even more aggrieved." Things that you can shrug off in a country where you are a well established majority feel a bit different when you part of a minority which is subject to various kinds of hostility and attack.

As I understand it the position of the Sikh community leaders was to ask for the play to be amended, so that the action took place in a community centre rather than a Sikh Temple, and that seems a reasonable and prudent suggestion.

In face of the refusal of the people putting it on to do this, they supported peaceful and legal protest. The riot appears, so far as I can see, was as spontaneous as such things always are (which means never wholly spontaneous). It's the kind of thing that has happened before, notably in the history of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.

It's all resulted in an enormous amount of publicity for the theatre and the people involved in the production. You can't buy media coverage like that...


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 03:45 PM

Greg's point about the role of the police is the crux of it. Before the play had been banned I started a different thread about it (there's a link somewhere above) and what particularly annoyed me then was that when the playwright had received death threats, the police reaction was to advise her to make no public statements. This was a bit like their response to the fatwah issued against Salman Rushdie, which was that he should hide from public view for several years (thereby ruining his life) until the fatwah was lifted.

The number of troublemakers was a bit larger than Greg suggested - several hundred last Saturday night, when they broke the foyer's glass frontage and also forced entry backstage. And then there was a shrieking mob of about 400 (according to Channel 4 news) at the Old Rep today, protesting at that theatre's proposal to take over the production. The Old Rep had gone as far as to call the other Rep's capitulation "cowardice" - but having had a taste of what the latter was up against, it has now been forced into the same capitulation.

Perhaps Greg is overly charitable to the "grey-bearded elders". Far from condemning the violence, they have in fact exploited it. But - again as I said in the other thread, and Poppagator said above - some Christian churches hastened to implicate themselves equally by joining the call for a ban. The guy who has been speaking for these churches (self-appointed or not I don't know) is the Catholic archbishop of Birmingham. Entirely fitting, when it is recalled that the Catholic church burnt books rather than see knowledge falling into the hands of the untutored masses.

Hardest to explain is that all three main political parties in Birmingham supported the ban. However Evan Harris, a LibDem spokesperson on the national stage, was vociferous from the outset in supporting the theatre's right to stage the play and to resist pressure to rewrite it.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Once Famous
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 04:56 PM

Remember what I said in another thread.    You are losing your culture to who you are letting into your country and will not assimilate, but will make your country, theirs.

Perfect example.

these are Sikhs first, Britains second, or not at all.

You are paying the price.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Blissfully Ignorant
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 05:19 PM

As i said in reply to that statement before, define British culture excluding any immigrant influences. Didn't get an answer to that one...Besides, it was a Sikh woman who wrote the play.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Once Famous
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 05:29 PM

OK, British culture equals Monty Python.

That's what you are most famous for here.

Anyhow it's apparent that a Sikh woman wrote the play. And the Sikh men there are reacting the same as if they were in Iran don't you think? They could care less what other people in the country think.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Blissfully Ignorant
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 05:39 PM

"OK, British culture equals Monty Python."

Unfortunately not. If it did, it would be worth defending.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 06:53 PM

As a Dutch politician, now living under death threats because of his speeches after a Dutch filmaker was shot by Muslim extremists said;
"We have been too tolerant of the intolerant"
This surely is the new war. The intolerant are in all our communities, from the fundamentalists of America to the Sikhs of Birmingham. Our dilemma is how do we defend our tolerance? By becoming intolerant ourselves? If we don't they win. If we do we lose what we hold most dear. It's a rock and a hard place. But if we don't fight what I saw today called "the counter enlightenment", then we go back to ignorance.
I think it's time to be counted though the cost may be great.But are we brave enough as our fathers were when faced with fascism?


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 07:00 PM

Martin, I doubt if the Sikhs would be unwise enough to stir up a fuss in Iran. Maybe you're getting your enemies confused? Anyway the Catholic church, some other Christian churches and the main political parties in Birmingham bave all sbown themselves to be just as intolerant as the Sikh protesters.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 07:17 PM

McGrath of Harlow's contribution was a little sad, from a man who used to support liberal values. He thinks the playwright should adjust the setting of the play to appease some elders or some mob or something. That's why O'Casey left Ireland: he felt, as a playwright, that he would kind of like to write his plays himself, and not have them written for him by priests. Joyce likewise.
    I can think of all sorts of ways I would like playwrights to rewrite their plays(and especially how Andrew Lloyd Webber should rewrite his musicals, basically he should give up): but by and large I'll go along with the kind of society which a lot have people have fought hard over centuries to achieve in Britain: when playwrights write plays and priests can organise church services.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: The Shambles
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 08:07 PM

As I understand it the position of the Sikh community leaders was to ask for the play to be amended, so that the action took place in a community centre rather than a Sikh Temple, and that seems a reasonable and prudent suggestion.

If I don't like a song that someone has written - I don't have to hear it, I don't have to sing it and I can always write one with my views on the subject. If someone does not like my song - they are equally welcome to write their own.

Kevin the next time you produce one of your songs here as a finished piece of work, (without asking for folk to comment on it) - would it be OK to reasonable and prudently suggest that you amended it to my wishes? And if I asked and you refused - would it be OK for me to demand its removal?


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: LadyJean
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 12:34 AM

My mother went to see "The Last Temptation of Christ" picking he way through a crowd of pickets who were chanting, "Don't see this blasphemous movie". The film was picketed all over the country, but no one was violent.
Mother caught the first 20 minutes of the movie, before she fell asleep. She didn't wake up until the last credits. So, she didn't really see the blasphemous movie.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: The Shambles
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 02:01 AM

Unlike people in Birmingham - your mother did have the choice to see it or not - she also had the choice of whether to fall asleep or not. That is probably the right approach and also the best criticism....


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST,Chris B (Born Again Scouser)
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 05:12 AM

I'm getting tired of spending my life walking on eggshells for fear of offending someone or other. If people want to live somewhere their religious beliefs and superstitions will be treated as sacrosanct they know what they can do.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 08:06 AM

The Guardian exerpt for which Wolfgang gave a link is fairly short and doesn't really show why the setting of a gurdwara was central to the drama. The much longer extract in The Independent was much more useful in that respect and I doubt if McGrath would have blandly fallen in with moving the action to a community centre if he had read it. But the setting does not mean the play is about religion. It is about honour and dishonour, abuse of authority, the complexity of family bonds and the status of women.

All of which is irrelevant to arguments about free speech. But it does show that the playwright, in exercising her right to uncensored artistic expression, was not doing so out of sheer wilfulness. (According to her friends, by the way, she is still in hiding, on police advice. Some democracy.)

The whole furore has been an unmitigated disaster for the Sikh community in the UK and will set back by many years the progress towards wider understanding of their heritage and traditions. But we should keep in mind that very many Sikhs are ashamed and disgusted by what the Birmingham mob has done in their name.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 08:14 AM

Next thing you know we'll be letting them ride motor bikes without a crash helmet, and exempting them from the law on carrying bladed weapons, so that they can carry a Kirpan at all times as their religion requires.
Then of course our government wouldn't do that would they? I mean we all live in the same country and obey the same laws don't we?
Giok


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 09:08 AM

If Shambles, or anyone else, wants to suggest ways in which any song of mine could be improved they are welcome. If I agree, I'd change it. And even if I disagreed, they'd still be perfectly welcome to sing it their way if they wished.

Greg, I think you misunderstand my position. I think that asking a playwright - or a songwriter - to change a play or a song, for example because it seems insulting to people who do not deserve to be insulted, is a perfectly reasonable think to ask, and I think that it is right for a playwright or a songwriter to consider such a request seriously, which doesn't mean an obligation to comply with it. But nor is there any duty to refuse to comply, if there are no good reasons to do so, which of course there may be.

I also think the right to protest peacefully can apply in such cases. However I do not think there is a right to riot or to threaten people.

Om this particular case I can't see how switching the action to "a community centre" rather than "a Sikh Temple" would in fact have significantly weakened it. Here is an extract from the play, anyway, from The Independent.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Once Famous
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 10:02 AM

Peter K, yeah, but they were there first. I don't care if the Sihks are from the moon. Matter of fact, they can all go to the moon. You guys can now enjoy the diversity they bring to you.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 10:21 AM

McGrath, I've just been talking to a (non-practising) Sikh acquaintance in London. He reckoned a gurdwara was probably the most likely setting for a mother to approach a third party in seeking "a suitable boy" for her daughter. Apparently a gurdwara is a community centre anyway, in that it will typically be a drop-in centre, open to all, where rough sleepers for instance might get a square meal, have a chat or just get warmed up. To argue that rape and murder could never happen in such a place would be ridiculous.

So even if you can't tune into the setting's relevance to concepts like trust and authority, the argument would seem to be against you even on the level of simple practicalities. In terms of the former, however, it should be noted that many young Sikhs have rallied to the playwright's support. Clearly the play has struck a chord with some in the Sikh community.

I hesitate to lure you down from the fence to which you've so resolutely nailed your colours, McG, but I wonder whose fault you think it is that Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti is now in hiding: hers, or the mob's? And to go back to what The Shambles said, is there really nothing you've written yourself that you'd hold out for, even in the face of threatened violence?


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 10:27 AM

Perhaps anyone writing plays from now on, should take a copy of it to their local religous leaders to see if it meets with their approval before staging it?


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Strollin' Johnny
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 10:30 AM

ROFL jOhn!


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: The Shambles
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 10:43 AM

If Shambles, or anyone else, wants to suggest ways in which any song of mine could be improved they are welcome. If I agree, I'd change it. And even if I disagreed, they'd still be perfectly welcome to sing it their way if they wished.

A kind of answer to a simple question that Mr Blair's Government would no doubt approve of, for in this case we are not talking of improvements or asking the originator to come up with a solution - the protestors are telling the author what would be acceptable to them and not accepting the right of the playwright to state exactly what they wish to.

Would it not be equally reasonable and prudent - to leave the play as written and for those who had seen the play and did not share that view to produce something that did express their position?

Perhaps you would suggest that everyone should have their own website where they could tinker with and have their own preferred, safe and sanitised versions of all the existing great works of art? Art must be a personal statement. It is there to be appreciated or shot-at, but it cannot be first subject to committee approval or latterly to mob rule.

The only reason to ask a playwright to change the final version of their work - is in the expectation of their possibly being such a change in response. In my view, it is not acceptable to even make such a request or to have such an expectation - no matter how reasonable or prudent you may think the request to be (this time). Next time the mob is stirred-up you may not think the demands to be reasonable or prudent.

What is the message being given by this action to other groups, who may be making in the future - what you may feel, to be less reasonable and prudent demands? It really does not matter whether you or I think the demanded changes are reasonable or prudent - do you not accept that this is a matter entirely for the author?

You seem to be suggesting that the author was in some way responsible for the mob being allowed to break things and threaten violence - by not agreeing to what you consider were reasonable or prudent demands.
All this quibbling by you is not acceptable - we do have the right of freedom of expression guaranteed to us under legislation - the important question is why is mob rule being allowed to prevent it?


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 10:49 AM

I totally agree Shambles.
I've written 2 plays, a drama set in a cafe, and a comedy set in a hospital, if any religous groups don't like them, they can get lost.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 11:03 AM

Interestingly enough, there is a piece in the Guardian today about an actual rape in a place of worship(not a Sikh temple, I should make clear).


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 12:19 PM

Its all very interesting, and raises a worthwhile debating issue - well several issues really.

As a pre-amble I must say that I don't buy the one about us being the most secular nation in the world.

The men who founded the welfare state and the NHS had internalised the Sermon on the Mount much more deeply than some tripehound earnestly seeking to save his soul with a lot of prayers, and chanting and mumbo jumbo.

As artists do we have to censor ourselves?

The work we do does not exist in a vacuum and and it gains at least some of its validity from the audience. In his book My Guru by Christopher Isherweood - he describes taking his Guru to a performance of George Bernard Shaw - a play where GBS was poking fun at the church, in his imitable way. Isherwood asked his Guru, would you have laughed if those jokes had been about yourself and Krishna?

If the Rushdie case did not make it clear enough. It is apparent that some religious people simply do not have that spanner in their toolkit. No sense of humour, irony, literary understanding that separates the words said by the character in the book from the thoughts of the artist writing the book.

A while back I wrote a song called The Day Delaney's Donkey had sex with the Pope. I thought I'd done a decent job writing it. the only time I performed it though - a friend in the audience begged me never to sing it again. It had obviously caused deep offence, and I trusted his instincts. Some people came up afterwards ans said that they never missed a mass in their lives, but they loved it but I never have performed again, and doubt I ever shall. and when a mainstream radio station in Ireland started playing it - I asked them to stop.

I do admire people like Woody Guthrie who would sing a song fearlessly to a gang of segregationists.

I think maybe the difference is that Woody knew he was taunting complete assholes. Rushdie, this Sikh lady and myself - I suspect we were affronting some rather nice people........


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: The Shambles
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 12:27 PM

And a nice donkey?


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 12:41 PM

If you are walking around on egg shells for fear of offending someone, maybe you are not aware of other people's sensitivities. I'm reminded of the bull in a china shop.
I have a friend who makes crude remarks that would offend ANY woman, but when they get upset, he says, they should develop a thicker skin. No way does HE need improvement.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Blissfully Ignorant
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 12:44 PM

"I have a friend who makes crude remarks that would offend ANY woman,"

Bet you they wouldn't offend me. I'd just out-crude him.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: The Shambles
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 01:03 PM

As artists do we have to censor ourselves?

Yes but by the time you arrive at the final version - you have done enough of this. If you don't like the reaction to it at this point - you may choose to take action to limit the effect and any possible offence (like the donkey/pope song). Or you may not.

But surely any positive statement risks causing offence to somebody - does this mean that we should not ever make any positive statements?

This is probably the test of music. For music that does not risk being thought unpleasant sounding is probably not going to inspire anyone either.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Once Famous
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 01:03 PM

And that's what's cool about you Blissfully.

Guest is way too worried about what he/she says. Political correctness is truly a lifestyle.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 01:48 PM

I don't think there ever really is a "final version" of any play or song. Every production of Shakespeare is liable to rewrite it, and it's pretty clear that Shakespeare did that too.

As I pretty clearly said, I wholly disagree with rioting against the play, or disruption of performances or threats to the people involved. But a belief in free speech includes a right to peaceful protest by people who felt it insulted them, for example leafletting playgoers.

As weelittledrummer said "The work we do does not exist in a vacuum and and it gains at least some of its validity from the audience." If the effect of the production has been to ensure that it won't be seen by Sikhs, that is a loss which I am sure would not have been in the author's mind. You can't challenge people to look critically at themselves if you have driven them away.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Leadfingers
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 01:52 PM

The 'Sexual' activity in the play takes place in an OFFICE - not in the actual temple ! And the whole thrust is about mistreatment of Women !!


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Leadfingers
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 01:52 PM

And I got a 100 without even realising it !


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Once Famous
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 01:58 PM

Leadfingers, I thought all of the sexual activity took place in an ORIFICE. And the whole thrust of it lasted only about 30 seconds.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: The Shambles
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 02:38 PM

As weelittledrummer said "The work we do does not exist in a vacuum and and it gains at least some of its validity from the audience." If the effect of the production has been to ensure that it won't be seen by Sikhs, that is a loss which I am sure would not have been in the author's mind. You can't challenge people to look critically at themselves if you have driven them away.

You are in grave danger of falling off of the fence.

Again you seem to be blaming the production for the fact that the play has been prevented (by a mob). It is hardly the author or production that have driven this audience away. Unless it is because they did not agree with the protesters requests or the alternative (gun to the head threat) - if these requests were not met.

The right to protest about a view, that a piece of drama may express and to leaflet the audience, is one option - but not the only one. As you have said this protest (and its lawless result) is an option that will bring attention to something that many folk would never have been aware of.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 04:18 PM

As I pretty clearly said, I wholly disagree with rioting against the play, or disruption of performances or threats to the people involved. That would be clear enough if it wasn't swamped in a miasma of thoughts attempting to say all things to all people. For instance you imply that in this case there was an onus on the playwright to head off the mob violence. This is exactly like saying a victim of rape brought it on herself by dressing provocatively.

But a belief in free speech includes a right to peaceful protest by people who felt it [the play] insulted them, for example leafletting playgoers. Who's said otherwise? Not me. Not anyone in this thread. Not the theatre management. Not the protesters. (They did protest peacefully and they did leaflet the audiences. It just wasn't enough for them.)


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Big Tim
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 04:51 PM

It's just a an inevitable clash of cultures.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: CarolC
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 05:44 PM

It's just a an inevitable clash of cultures.

Not really, since the person who wrote the play, and the people who are protesting against the play all come from the Sikh culture.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 06:16 PM

a miasma of thoughts attempting to say all things to all people.

What my the intention was was trying to put this into a context, rather than coming out with some kind of verdict. It seems to me it's all a bit more complicated than it's being presented; some of the actual facts as to what happened and what didn't happen aren't even clear, and we're seeing it through a media lense that always tends to distort and oversimplify everything. (As anyone who has ever been involved in a press kerfuffle can confirm; and as everyone who has ever worked in the mass media surely knows to be the case.)


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 08:07 PM

McGrath: you have dramatically and obviously changed sides completely in this argument over the last 48 hours, while pretending you have always said the same thing. Which is your line exactly, so as we can clearly decide which we agree with? Is it the playwrights naughty fault, for not making the reasonable changes you think she should have? or the nasty drunken would-be theatre demolishers and brick throwers who removed her right of free speech? The pain caused to one's fundamental principles by sitting on the fence are well-documented. You seem to be avoiding those troubles by sitting on both sides simultaneously.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 24 Dec 04 - 04:54 AM

I always liked to monster raving looney parties policy on defence. They were going to paint all de fences white so no-one could sit on them...

:D


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: The Shambles
Date: 27 Dec 04 - 05:54 AM

Not really, since the person who wrote the play, and the people who are protesting against the play all come from the Sikh culture.

The culture issue is a big red herring, so is the idea that the issue is complicated and all the other flimsy attempts to disguise the issue at stake here. The simple and basic right of freedom of expression is just that - simple.

It would not have mattered what the play was trying to say or what those who were trying to prevent it were trying to say. The right of freedom of expression - guaranteed by legislation to all those who live in the UK - means that both sides have the right to say exactly what they wish to - but neither side has the right to prevent, limit or inhibit the other's right to say it. Nor should those that make this attempt have excuses made for them.

There are many other tactics that are used by those who would try to justify and limit this freedom and they are all baloney. I suggest that Kevin's problem is that he is worried that a clear and simple outright defence of freedom of expression in this matter, may make it difficult to continue to support its limitation by others elswhere.

You can dress-up the quibbles and try to make them more presentable. By questioning the language used or limit where or when it can appear (in order to protect children, old folk or the cat) but accepting the freedom that you may have, to say and do as you wish - is also open to everyone else - is scary concept. It is obviously far too scary for some of us...................


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Dec 04 - 06:11 AM

below is the answer from the Culture Secs office to an E mail I sent.
My point was that the Culture Sec should have been backing the Theatre over the freedom of speech issue and opposing the rule of the mob. However, the reply, as you can see, dodges the mob issue completely and only talks about the play's subject matter, an Issue I never metioned. No backbone whatsoever! But what did I expect!


"Thank you for your email of 20th December about the Birmingham Rep's
production of "Behzti".

We are of course aware that there are strong feelings about the performance
but the theatre's artistic programme is a matter for the theatre and
Ministers cannot intervene in individual decisions. I understand that the
theatre took the decision to end the play's run because they could no longer
guarantee the safety of their audiences.   

Artists from all disciplines often confront difficult issues through their
work, and theatre has always thrived on innovation, experiment and
re-invention in its efforts to stretch the mind and challenge artistic
sensibilities. This can, at times, lead to controversy and criticism, but
it is not the role of Government to act as censors, nor to second guess the
decisions of individual theatres."


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull
Date: 27 Dec 04 - 08:16 AM

Qoute="they decided to end the plaay, as they could no longer gaurantee the safety of the audience"

Suerly it is the polices job to keep law and order and protect the public from rioting mobs? not theatre box office ticket stall staff.

The police spend thousands on crowd control at football matches, Notting Hill Carnival, and demonstrations by Hunt supporters, and anti hunt people.

So why should it be left to theatre staff to sort out riots at a theatre?

This sort of incident is waht riot police are trained for, and experineced at, [Miners Strike, Poll Tax riots etc].
Why werent they deployed?


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 27 Dec 04 - 09:36 AM

I believe that football clubs are charged/billed [sic] by the police Surge0n, but you're right about the rest.
Giok


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 Dec 04 - 10:06 AM

"you have dramatically and obviously changed sides completely in this argument over the last 48 hours, while pretending you have always said the same thing." I disagree, greg. I am inclined to think that there is fault on both sides, and have been all along.

It seems likely to me that the people producing the play acted in a way that they anticipated would stir up controversy, in the expectation that this would attract protest and publicity. That doesn't in any way justify the threats and violence by protestors.

Just because one side is in the wrong doesn't mean the other side is in the right. That is true of an enormous proportion of conflicts.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull
Date: 27 Dec 04 - 10:06 AM

I might be wrong, but I thought that the football clubs paid for the officers inside the ground, and the ones in the surrounding streets/town centre, railway station etc were paid for out of the general police budget by the local Police Authority, funded by Council Taxes and Non Domestic Rates.

Anyway=I just heard that my local theatre is staging Snow White and the 7 Dwarves, I reckon this is offensive to dwarves, so I'm going to go there, and smash the place up.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull
Date: 27 Dec 04 - 10:09 AM

PS, I'm not a dwarve but i think someone should stick up for midget folk, I'm going to finish my dinner, then go and smash the theatre up.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST,kendall
Date: 27 Dec 04 - 10:11 AM

Why don't we all dump all pretense at trying to get along, and just go ahead and openly disrespect and piss everyone else off? Might decrease the excess population. Having concern for others is a drag anyway.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 Dec 04 - 10:15 AM

But the dwarves are the Good Guys in Snow White. Now if you were protesting on behalf of witches or step-mothers you might have a point...


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Wolfgang
Date: 27 Dec 04 - 11:47 AM

In any conflict situation a bias in favour of one side has to mean a bias against the other side. (McGrath)
Just because one side is in the wrong doesn't mean the other side is in the right (McGrath)

Somehow it must make sense to you to hold both of these positions, but it doesn't to me.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: CarolC
Date: 27 Dec 04 - 02:40 PM

The Shambles, my point was not in any way about the Sikh culture. It was only that this situation can't be used to bolster the "clash of civilization" red herring that many people are using these days as a way of trying to oversimplify what are really very complicated issues, as well as a way of trying to scapegoat people who are different from them.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: CarolC
Date: 27 Dec 04 - 02:55 PM

In fact, I would go further and say that the issue is not at all about different cultures clashing, but is about what I have been talking about for a while now... clashes between different factions of each of several groups. Fundamentalists, vs. progressives are clashing within many different cultures (Christianity, Islam, Judaism and, apparently, also Sikhism), and the clashes seem to be getting more and more violent and extreme. But it is more about clashes within cultures than clashes between cultures.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Once Famous
Date: 27 Dec 04 - 04:08 PM

What violent and extreme culture clashes in Judaim Carol C?

None of the Jewish press I subscribe to (which is quite a bit) mentions any violent or extreme culture clashes. Orthodox and Reform don't always see eye to eye on some issues, but we do consider ourselves one family of God.

You win this month's complete generalizing award.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 27 Dec 04 - 04:27 PM

For goodness sake don't wind her up!


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: CarolC
Date: 27 Dec 04 - 05:28 PM

The Jewish fundamentalist extremists versus the moderate Jews, Martin. Some moderate Jews are calling these extremists "Jewish Ayatollas". One example of that would be the extremist who assasinated Rabin. There are plenty of other examples in the Israeli press on a fairly regular basis. The more moderate Jews in Israel are no more happy with the more extremist Jews than moderate Christians, Muslims, and Sikh's are with the more extremist elements in their own cultures.

Go suck a lemon, John 'Giok' MacKenzie.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 Dec 04 - 05:45 PM

"In any conflict situation a bias in favour of one side has to mean a bias against the other side."
"Just because one side is in the wrong doesn't mean the other side is in the right."


I may well be inconsistent sometimes, but I can't see any contradiction whatsoever between those two sentences of mine, Wolfgang.

"Bias" in relation to some conflict means having a predisposition towards one side and against the other. Thinking that both sides are wrong, in some ways (and perhaps right in some other ways) does not imply any such predisposition.

Of course, it would in fact be quite possible to think that both sides in a conflict are wrong in some ways, and still have a bias in one direction or the other, just as it would be possible to come to an unbiassed conclusion that one side is on balance more or less right or wrong than the other.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST,Terry K
Date: 28 Dec 04 - 04:31 AM

I would seriously worry if judgement of whether an artist is in the right or the wrong was vested in anyone except the artist him/herself. So long as the output is within the law and is staged appropriately (like the watershed on TV) then surely all is well.

And yes, we do have the right to piss people off, and we accept the consequences of doing so. But the consequences have got to be within boundaries of decent society too.....rioting ain't.

And the fault in this case lies not with the artist, but with those charged with seeing that the people she pissed off behave decently.

And kendall, your views are usually welcomed as meaningful, but your consistent take on this one is shite.

cheers, Terry


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: The Shambles
Date: 28 Dec 04 - 05:56 AM

Of course, it would in fact be quite possible to think that both sides in a conflict are wrong in some ways, and still have a bias in one direction or the other, just as it would be possible to come to an unbiassed conclusion that one side is on balance more or less right or wrong than the other.

It may be quite possible if you are determined (on this issue) to continue the attempt to balance on the fence. All sides can be wrong but does not one side lose ALL credibility if - for what ever reason - they do not allow the others to have their say?

What my the intention was was trying to put this into a context, rather than coming out with some kind of verdict.

On other similar issues - I have not noticed much reluctance on your part to arrive at a verdict or to pass judgement.

Kendall says.

Why don't we all dump all pretense at trying to get along, and just go ahead and openly disrespect and piss everyone else off? Might decrease the excess population. Having concern for others is a drag anyway.

Having concern for others to enable us all to get along and the 'balls' to express it - is exactly why the arts are used to make statements that may risk pissing some people off. Or may even be intentionally designed to to do this. Do not those that take these risks to express themselves in the arts, deserve your support more than those who would use violent and other means to prevent it?

Or is your support only there for the expressing of views that you may agree with?


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: The Shambles
Date: 28 Dec 04 - 06:05 AM

The Shambles, my point was not in any way about the Sikh culture. It was only that this situation can't be used to bolster the "clash of civilization" red herring that many people are using these days as a way of trying to oversimplify what are really very complicated issues, as well as a way of trying to scapegoat people who are different from them.

Your point was well taken. But my point it that all this reference to different cultures - is an attempt to complicate what remains a very simple issue of the right of freedom of expression.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Dec 04 - 06:15 AM

"...does not one side lose ALL credibility if - for what ever reason - they do not allow the others to have their say?" Not necessarily in all circumstances, in my view. (And I am not sure what "lose ALL credibility" really means when referring to something as non-specific as "a side" made up of a lot of people who have a wide range of opinions and ways of expressing those opinions.)

"Sitting on the fence" sounds very uncomfortable. But it seems to me that to decline to arrive at a fixed judgement about something about which we have relatively limited information is sometimes quite a sensible thing to do.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: The Shambles
Date: 28 Dec 04 - 06:41 AM

Not necessarily in all circumstances, in my view. (And I am not sure what "lose ALL credibility" really means when referring to something as non-specific as "a side" made up of a lot of people who have a wide range of opinions and ways of expressing those opinions.)

Did the 1930s Nazi Party retain any credibility, whilst imprisoning (or worse) their opponents?

These measures were seen at the time, as credible by many (who were not victims of it). Perhaps you would agree that this side did not lose all credibilty? Perhaps you can also explain (or excuse) what you do consider what remained credible - despite the methods used by this side to supress any altenative view?


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: kendall
Date: 28 Dec 04 - 08:42 AM

Don't tell me my sarcasm is lost on this lot...


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 28 Dec 04 - 11:26 AM

Martin Gibson, there was the mother of fights a few years ago between progressive and orthodox Jews about whether a piece or wire should be strung around a huge swathe of north London. This piece of wire was deemed to enclose an eruv - an area contained within a man-made boundary, and within which orthodox Jews were free to perpetrate crimes against G-d (*G*) such as the pushing of prams, the carrying of house keys and the using of phones to report the presence of intruders - on the sabbath!!!

McG may have got himself into a muddle, but that's no excuse for lashing out at the media with all that "we can't trust what we read in the papers" stuff, and claiming we have gaively rushed to judgment without knowing the facts. I'm not sure what bit he's reluctant to take on trust. That the play was written by a Sikh woman? That the production was cancelled? That there was mob violence? And I can't see what "context" he thinks he's put it in, to help us understand.

Kendall, I'm sorry to see you refusing, or unable, to raise your game an intellectual notch of two in this thread. Brilliantly subtle as you must think your sarcasm was, I am quite sure - as I expect everyone else was - that Terry'sresponse was not to the silly comment but the even sillier message behind it. Just read the rest of his post to see where he's coming from.

In fact just as some posters were drfting towards "both sides have rights" positions, as though the Birmingham spat is about the rules of debate, Terry K's cracking post was a timely reminder that it is about artistic expression, pure and simple. It seems self-evident to me that in a free world such expression should not be compromised.

I've just been reading again Oscar Wilde's extraordinary, and obviously unrehearsed responses under cross-examination when he prosecuted an eccentric bully for criminal libel. Some if it was uncannily relevant. For instance Wilde was invited to condemn a short story, "The Priest and the Acolyte," which seems to have been an 1894 equivalent of "Behzti".

Edward Carson: You are of the opinion that there is no such thing as an immoral book? — Wilde: Yes.

You think "The Priest and the Acolyte" was not immoral? — It was worse: it was badly written.

Was not the story that of a priest who fell in love with an altar boy [...] and was discovered in the priest's room, and a scandal arose? — [...] I didn't care for it. It doesn't interest me.

Do you think the story blasphemous? — I think it violated every artistic canon of beauty.

That is not an answer? — It is the only one I can give.

I wish to know whether you thought the story blasphemous? — I thought it disgusting.

You know that when the priest poisons the boy he uses the words of the sacrament of the Church of England? — That I entirely forgot.

Do you consider that blasphemous? I think it is horrible. "Blasphemous" is not a word of mine.

Do you approve of those words? — I think them disgusting, perfect twaddle. [...] But I do not believe that any book or work of art ever had any effect whatever on morality.


Later Wilde was questioned about a book to which allusion was made in his novel, "The Picture of Dorian Gray":

Was the book to which you refer a moral book? — Not well written, but it gave me an idea.

Was not the book of a certain tendency? — I decline to be cross-examined upon the work of another artist. It is an impertinence and a vulgarity.


When later put on trial for gross indecency etc, Wilde was asked about poems by Alfred Douglas:

Charles Gill: The tone of the poems met with your critical approval? — It was not for me to approve or disapprove. [...] It is not for me to explain the work of anyone else. [...] It appears to be a question of taste, temperament and individuality. I should say that one man's poetry is another man's poison. (Laughter.)

Lastly, Wilde's celebrated response when asked about a specific line by Alfred Douglas, well worth an airing on any pretext:

What is the "Love that dare not speak it's name"? — "The Love that dare not speak its name" in this century is such a great affection of an elder for a younger man as there was between David and Jonathan, such as Plato made the very basis of his philosophy, and such as you find in the sonnets of Michelangelo and Shakespeare. It is that deep, spiritual affection that is as pure as it is perfect. It dictates and pervades great works of art like those of Shakespeare and Michelangelo and those two letters of mine [to rent boys] such as they are. It is in this century misunderstood, so much misunderstood that it may be described as the "Love that dare not speak its name", and on account of it I am placed where I am now. It is beautiful, it is fine, it is the noblest form of affection. There is nothing unnatural about it. It is intellectual, and it repeatedly exists between and elder and a younger man, when the elder man has intellect, and the younger man has all the joy, hope and glamour of life before him. That it should be so, the world does not understand. The world mocks at it and sometimes puts one in the pillory for it. (Loud applause, mingled with some hisses.)

I suppose if it had been down to Kendall, we'd still be where they were in 1895. And McG would be carefully balancing the degrees to which Wilde and Queensbury were respectively in the wrong.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: CarolC
Date: 28 Dec 04 - 12:56 PM

Your point was well taken. But my point it that all this reference to different cultures - is an attempt to complicate what remains a very simple issue of the right of freedom of expression.

I actually don't have a position on your point at this time, The Shambles. My only reason for posting at all was to head that old "clash of cultures" red herring at off at the pass. People in the West tend to throw it around an awful lot without really understanding what they are saying. Remember that I was not the one who brought the "different cultures" subject up. I was responding to someone else who did.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: kendall
Date: 28 Dec 04 - 01:15 PM

Look, I was raised in an era when people had some concern for the feelings of others.The very definition of manners is simple making others feel at ease. Lately, it seems that no one gives a rats ass about anyone but themselves and what they themselves want. That sucks. If thAT make me a dinosaur, fine, throw me a chicken.
I will not go around intentionally trying to make others mad at me. (Unless I don't like them)


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Ooh-Aah2
Date: 28 Dec 04 - 04:13 PM

I think CarolC is partly correct when she identifies this problem as a clash within cultures rather than a clash between cultures - ie, in this case, liberal, progressive Sikhs such as the young woman playwright v. conservative, 'sweep our problems under the carpet' Sikhs. The battle of secular v religious values is a universal tale.

However when one considers that the engine of liberal secular values is in the west, thanks to the struggles of courageous people such as this young woman Sikh, this does become a genuine clash between cultures - as is shown clearly by the simple fact that this play was produced in Britain and not in the Punjab. Some westerners are stuck in the past - as we see from the disgraceful actions of some churches supporting the protesters - many Sikhs like the playwright and her supporters are looking to the future. However there is a clash of cultures here. The ideal situation will be when Sikhs reconcile their religious identity with complete freedom of expression, a solution that will piss off racists and religious bigots alike. Sat Sri Akal!


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Wolfgang
Date: 28 Dec 04 - 04:42 PM

In this particular instance, I'm with those demanding that the play should be played and that the violent protesters are wrong.

However, those arguing for near complete artistic freedom should look at the extreme examples to see whether they would argue for artistic freedom even then.

Veit Harlan's film Jud Süß (1940) and the later film Der ewige Jude (famous for the, on the purely artistic level, impressive juxtaposition of Jews walking around on the streets of a town and of rats running in the sewage below the town) were films with a message (hardly necessary to state I don't agree with it at all) and a craftful artistry (in music, speed, cuts, lighting, acting). Nevertheless, Harlan has twice after the war been defendent in trials for crimes against humanity. He came away without a sentence each time for his line of defense that the final cut and version was not his work but someone else's could not be broken.

You are surely not surprised when I say that copies of these films have cult status among German Neonazis and also among some groups in the Arab states.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 28 Dec 04 - 05:04 PM

Wolfgang, in another thread I regretted the arrest of a UK neo-Nazi for making speeches likely to incite racial hatred. Voltaire is supposed to have said "I disapprove of what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it." One either thinks this is a commendable sentiment or one doesn't.

I think Kendall and I may not be that far apart. I assume when he refers to a bygone era that he did not mean the one in which Shostakovitch was obliged to create what Stalin deemed to be art; and if he reads the Birmingham play I think he will find - as I have done from reading the substantial extracts published in the press and linked to above - that the playwright was not in any sense setting out to cause offence. Indeed, as I have already remarked, the play's powerful themes seem to have resonated with many young Sikhs.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Wolfgang
Date: 28 Dec 04 - 06:36 PM

Peter, I'm with Voltaire, but only most of the time and I do not follow your either/or argumentation. You are consistent in your position but I do not agree with you here.

We have had our very special experience with language inciting hatred and promoting actions in gross violation of human rights. In our culture/system, such language wouldn't have the law on its side even if this language was rhymed, sung or processed/refined in some other way to make it 'art'.

Our law would in such (thankfully very rare) instances see an equivalence to the crying 'fire' situation for in both situation the language is used to make other people do something which is dangerous to themselves (or others).

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Dec 04 - 06:39 PM

I don't think anybody here has been suggestingbthta violence and threats by people protesting against this production were right.

And I don't think anybody has suggested that people objecting to the production did not have the right to protest peacefully.

That leaves two questions - "Were the people in charge of the production correct in their decision to put it on in the form they did put it on?" and "Was it wrong to cancel it in the circumstances?" Clearly the important principle of freedom of expression is involved.

However, there are, it is generally agreed, circumstances where the right of freedom of expression can come into conflict with other rights. One is the case exemplified by the case of crying "Fire" in a crowded theatre, where there is no fire. Another is the kind of example given by Wolfgang in his last post.

I just do not know enough about the precise circumstances of this episode to have any firm view as to whether it was one which fell into an analogous category with those cases.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Once Famous
Date: 28 Dec 04 - 06:49 PM

Peter K. truly an isolated incident. Subject to the air you breathe in England.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: CarolC
Date: 28 Dec 04 - 08:59 PM

the engine of liberal secular values is in the west

I guess I definitely have to disagree with this generalization. Although he was educated in the "Western" mode, Gandhi was quite "Eastern" in his approach to solving the problem of British colonialism in India, and promoting "liberal secular values" there. Such a suggestion, that the West is tbe only engine for the promotion of liberal secular values is a pretty enormous (and erroneous) assumpion.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 29 Dec 04 - 05:42 AM

I think Gandhi would never have described his thinking as "secular" - and I think that would also have been true of many other crucial figures in promoting and developing "liberal" values.

Just as it is common for highly illiberal attitudes to be founded on secularism, liberal values are very commonly rooted in and sustained by a religious view of the world.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Ooh-Aah2
Date: 29 Dec 04 - 06:04 AM

McGrath is completely right. Gandhi had a passionately religious viewpoint, albeit an enlightened one - alas he himself was killed by a bigoted co-religionist. His success in India can be largely ascribed to his brilliant tactic of pointing out, non-violently, the difference between the liberal values the British professed to hold and the reality of their actions on the ground in India.

Which other large engines of liberal secular values can you point to Carol, excluding those rooted in western ideas of course?


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: The Shambles
Date: 29 Dec 04 - 06:09 AM

We have had our very special experience with language inciting hatred and promoting actions in gross violation of human rights.

The simple incitment of hatred is not the issue, unpleasant and unwelcome as it is. This incitement can be dealt with in all society - but only by having the freedom of expression to enable other opinions and (more importantly) facts to be aired. The special experience you refer to is a terrible lesson in how any dissenting voice is effectively silenced and what happens when it is.

In our culture/system, such language wouldn't have the law on its side even if this language was rhymed, sung or processed/refined in some other way to make it 'art'.

You must be referring here to your present system. This system may be understandable, given the circumstances, but perhaps not really desirable. If incitement or other plain, deliberate offensive and insulting intention is otherwise dressed-up or presented as art - it is usually quite easy to see through this and to deal with it (perhaps best as bad art) without risking the freedom of expression that is so vital.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: The Shambles
Date: 29 Dec 04 - 06:24 AM

Look, I was raised in an era when people had some concern for the feelings of others.

I was raised in that same era. Taking a slightly wider view - it was also an era of the rise of facisim and of totalitarian states - that were not much concerned with the feelings of others.

Many in this era who did have concern for the feelings of others - or who were simply caught up in the struggle - gave up their lives for what they would hope to be the freedom of others in the future, to express their concerns.

I think that we owe it to those people to ensure that we always treasure that hard-won freedom, everywhere and all of the time.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Dec 04 - 08:35 AM

Some really interesting points have been made here, one of which bothers me not a little. If we censor, or even try to dilute the messages that art puts across, we simply drive it underground. In other words, the same "works" will be produced, but will only be available to the limited audience who are already supporters of such stuff (take Wolgang's example).

This obviously polarises the "sides" involved because nobody gets to hear how the other half feels. Surely the way people can best get on with each other (and I'm sure we all want that) is to try to understand what it is about us that might be pissing people off - perhaps then taking the points on board and doing something about it. Art is able to express this by de-personalising the issue.

Surely also, by making sure, by whatever means (e.g. violent protest), that our perceived faults do not get aired, we simply perpetuate a less than satisfactory situation by keeping the head stuck firmly in the ground.

cheers, Terry


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: CarolC
Date: 29 Dec 04 - 11:22 AM

I think this attempt to separate secular and religious/spiritual liberal thought is an artificial construct. Much of what we think of as some of the most secular liberal thought has its roots in religious/spiritual thought. Much of what the "West" holds as its liberal secular values have their roots in the teachings of Jesus, who was not a "Westerner", but a Middle Easterner.

And Gandhi may have had a spiritual foundation to the philosophy that motivated him and that shaped some of his tactics, but it was humanism that he was promoting when he worked to elevate the living standards of the poor in India, and to gain political independence for his country. It was tools found in the secular world that he was using to help lift people out of poverty, such as this simple, portable, charkha spinning wheel, and the promotion of spinning and weaving as ways of improving the material circumstances of the poor, as well as using economic leverage through the use of the charkha spinning wheel as a way of accomplishing a political goal... the independence of his country from colonialism.

I think it is not really possible to say "this is entirely secular liberalism" and "this is entirely religious/spiritual liberalism". That is a false dichotomy.

One other non-Western engine of liberal thought that I mentioned earlier in this post is the teachings of Jesus, who, as I mentioned was a Middle Easterner, and not a "Westerner". I can find others, but I don't have time right now. Maybe later today.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: The Shambles
Date: 29 Dec 04 - 12:14 PM

This obviously polarises the "sides" involved because nobody gets to hear how the other half feels. Surely the way people can best get on with each other (and I'm sure we all want that) is to try to understand what it is about us that might be pissing people off - perhaps then taking the points on board and doing something about it. Art is able to express this by de-personalising the issue.

It is important to remember that those who would incite others to hatred do not create the hatred - they simply turn the existing xenophobia, mistrust and fear that is in all of us - and focus this into hatred, in order to use it and us.

If a State is seen to be protecting certain sections of the population (even if this is being done for the very best of reasons) and coming down heavily on others - this does risk providing the very ammunition that can (and will) be used to incite hatred, against those the State may be trying to protect.

Artistic freedom of expression is what we are talking about. It should always be born in mind that in order to express views in this form - there are many hurdles that have to be first overcome. In the case of of a play for example - the first thing you have to do is convince the theatre that the play can be a sucess and then to try and ensure that folk will pay to come and see it. So for the play to reach the stage that this one got to - it is likely that many compromises will have already been made to the author's original concept (the process is similar for all other forms of artistic expression).

Folk who seriously consider that this play should have been further ammended at this point and who blame the author for not doing so - to enable the mob to be called-off - should remember this.

I suggest that our best protection from the sort of artistic production that Wolfgang fears is our taste. Shit does not taste very nice (not that I am speaking as an expert on eating this) and most of us would not chose to eat shit - no matter how attractivly it may be packaged.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: The Shambles
Date: 29 Dec 04 - 12:34 PM

Peter, I'm with Voltaire, but only most of the time...

This is the crunch. It is nice to think that we are fortunate enough to live in a world where there was the luxury of such a choice - I fear that when it comes to this question - it is a case of all all nothing.

"I disapprove of what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it."

Are you going to defend someone only to the extent of being slightly bruised or at the first sight of blood?

Or are you going to ask them to whisper very softly?


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Ooh-Aah2
Date: 29 Dec 04 - 03:43 PM

I agree with just about all of your last post CarolC (hooray!) There are infinite shades of grey between the extreme lberal/secular and pure religious viewpints, in induviduals as well as in the broader picture, and Gandhi IS an good example (not many purely religious leaders have invented an effective composting toilet as he did!)
   However the basic point of this thread is concerned with
the reaction of religious people to criticisms of their religions, from inside or out. In these circumstances the secular values (free speech being no. 1) imperfectly attained by the West during the enlightenment after years of struggle and many deaths, stand as an anchor and a base standard, and are justly admired by progressive people all over the world. They have nothing to do with Jesus - when his religion was completely unchallenged in the Middle Ages we all know the complete tyranny of faith over reason and free speech that resulted.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: The Shambles
Date: 29 Dec 04 - 08:06 PM

For some reason I am reminded of this (profound) quote - that must have been lodged in a dark corner of my poor old brain since about 1969......

"We are into God - or it could be Satan"

Bill Ward (then the drummer with Black Sabbath)


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: CarolC
Date: 30 Dec 04 - 04:41 AM

However the basic point of this thread is concerned with
the reaction of religious people to criticisms of their religions, from inside or out. In these circumstances the secular values (free speech being no. 1) imperfectly attained by the West during the enlightenment after years of struggle and many deaths, stand as an anchor and a base standard, and are justly admired by progressive people all over the world. They have nothing to do with Jesus - when his religion was completely unchallenged in the Middle Ages we all know the complete tyranny of faith over reason and free speech that resulted.


Seems to me Jesus was killed for practicing free speech. I'm not a Christian myself, but it doesn't make much sense to me to be blaming Jesus and his teachings for whatever distortions and perversions of his teachings the Christian church has been responsible for in the years since his death. And the "Western" churches have been responsible for quite a lot of suppression of free speech. Even since "the enlightenment". The main difference is that rather than threaten a person with physical death for saying things they don't like, what the Western curches do is threaten people with eternal damnation.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 30 Dec 04 - 07:20 AM

Wolfgang, I don't see Nazism as anything specifically German. We've all got blood on our hands. Jews funded Hitler's war machine (most significantly from the US), and the anti-semitism exploited by Hitler existed across most of Europe. (Not so much in the UK, but only because the UK had got rid of most of its Jews many centuries earlier.)

Language can't make anyone do anything, and to blame one's own crimes on someone else's language is a feeble excuse. Hitlerism prevailed not so much because of Hitler's language but because of economic crisis and the humiliation to which Germany was subjected by the post-WW1 treaty.

To shift the focus off Germany, I have noticed in the past that Nazi memorabilia is openly bought and sold in the UK, whereas such trade was (maybe still is?) prohibited in France. This French constraint is healing the symptoms rather than the illness. But again I put this down to needless sensitivities in France about French collaboration with the Nazis. Needless because any body of people caught up in the same cirucmstances would probably have behaved the same way.

To deal one last time with McGrath's argument, Birmingham Rep judged Behzti on its artistic merit, as it was its job to do. Unless one supports censorship and Stalinist-like control of creative work, that should have been the end of the matter. As our laws are framed now, and even if they were amended as the Mercer bill seeks to do, the responsibility for upholding the peace in such a situation is on the police and not on the theatre management. There is simply no basis for mealy-mouthed pussy-footing around this basic fact. And no-one whose job it is judge work on its artistic merit should ever allow that judgment to be compromised.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 30 Dec 04 - 08:55 AM

Artistic merit isn't the only issue involved, and it rarely is. Even if Oscar Wilde might have thought it was, Birmingham Rep didn't in fact think it was, and it does appear to have made serious efforts over the years to recognise some of the other issues.

Here is an interesting letter from today's Guardian, by someone wh has actually seen the play, which fills out some of that stuff: Violence that threatens cultural exchange - "...as the historian of Birmingham Rep, I'm aware of the theatre's record in using public funds to "earn" rather than "assume" the right to stage works of intercultural significance...."

The point I've been making throughout is that a knee-jerk response to something like this is not appropriate, and that more information is needed before it is possible to form a judgement about what went wrong here. I was thinking in terms of the kind of information contained in that letter.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Wolfgang
Date: 30 Dec 04 - 09:46 AM

Yes, I'm speaking about our present system of law/culture which has a foundation in our (historically) recent experiences.

We have seen how language filled with hate can lead to actions filled with hate. Though the road from thoughts and language to action is not a road with one inevitable outcome, in our judicial system the person who has instigated someone else to commit a crime will be punished as well (though perhaps not with a lesser sentence).

Sorry, but to take that sentence by Voltaire verbatim under all circumstances is silly in my eyes, for we all agree that for instance in that 'fire' situation free speech can be restricted by the law. So we only disagree about from where on restrictions should be put on free speech and not whether at all.

In that concrete instance (Birmingham), I see not the slightest reason for any restriction of free speech.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: The Shambles
Date: 31 Dec 04 - 06:45 AM

Sorry, but to take that sentence by Voltaire verbatim under all circumstances is silly in my eyes, for we all agree that for instance in that 'fire' situation free speech can be restricted by the law. So we only disagree about from where on restrictions should be put on free speech and not whether at all.

It is a principle and a very good one, if a difficult one to follow. That it may be difficult to follow does not make it any less good as a principle.

So where should restrictions be placed on the freedom of artistic expression?

Simply in all cases where someone risks being upset by it? Or only when you don't like what is being said?


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 31 Dec 04 - 02:20 PM

It is a principle and a very good one, if a difficult one to follow.

The point is not that it's difficult to follow, but that in some circumstances it would be wrong to follow it, as the "Fire" case exemplifies - circumstances where an utterance that might just be a word in some situations takes on the qualities of an action, and an action that is potentially very dangerous.

Perhaps it is best seen as a guiding principle rather than a ruling principle.

Incidentally it pretty definitely wasn't Voltaire who said it, though that doesn't make any differrnce. Quotes like this atr always getting fathered on people who are famnous enough to help them stand up.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 31 Dec 04 - 09:17 PM

Wolfgang and McG, as I said much earlier, the "fire" analogy has no place in this argument. (I've always been amazed that it cut any ice even in the context in which it was first drawn.) "Free speech" is well understood in English and welsh law to be about freedom of expression. Deliberately confusing this with a malicious intent to create panic serves no purpose. (I suppose it is for this simple, common-sense reason that no-one ever claimed "free speech" to be a complete and absolute defence in any action for slander.)

In a free world we are entitled to our thoughts. And we are entitled to express our thoughts. Start qualifying that and you're impinging on basic freedoms. Living up to the sentiment attributed to Voltaire may be hard work for individuals, but that's no excuse for a state or government to equivocate.)


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST,heric
Date: 31 Dec 04 - 11:14 PM

Excuse me for interrupting so late in this conversation (especially when I hardly ever sing folk songs), but I think you put your toe over the fence, Peter K., with this line: ". . . that the playwright was not in any sense setting out to cause offence." That point should be irrelevant to a freedom of speech analysis. (Artistic expression is the same thing.) I may deeply desire to offend the ones I love in order to rattle their cage and bring them around to seeing something I feel they need to see. The ones I love may be of my culture or another. So it is also irrelvant whether the playwright was a member of the offended culture.

If the offended culture is of an identifiably oppressed minority (a matter of degree, certainly), then in an inspection the judiciary should maintain a heightened awareness that what is presented as art or satire may be illegal and immoral hate speech. Hate speech has the potential to incite inappropriate discrimination and even violence (even if directed at a powerful majority cutlure), and should by properly banned by due legal process.

Rock throwers and intimidators (using implied or overt threats of violence), should be prosecuted, of course. We do not need to understand their religious or cultural sensitivities in this instance.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST,heric
Date: 31 Dec 04 - 11:27 PM

Langauge recommending sexual relations with minors without the capacity for consent could properly be examined for whether it has the requisite propensity to cause such assaults. Wilde's words above would almost certainly not rise to that level, but it has nothing to do with his eloquence.

Movies in 1930's Germany which arguably incite hatred toward Jews, increasing the risk of harm to an identifiable class, could justly be prohibited, even with artistic merit otherwise present.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Jan 05 - 03:55 AM

Context is everything. Some of us just aren't equipped to deliver the message - whatever its merits. And sometimes the magic just doesn't work.

I was put in mind by the last few letters of a conversation I had with an artist a about 20 years ago or so. He had just been doing a gig with the late Tony Capstick somewhere south of Watford Gap.

Apparently Tony used the f word onstage. My friend was saying he could see the audience stiffen with revulsion at the language. But he was convinced that it was the word delivered in Tony's northern accent that had upset the crowd. From his tongue the word had seemed brutal and confrontational.

Earlier he had seen another artist with a southern accent actually get a laugh using the same word.

what I'm saying is, that getting up onstage gives us a sort of illusory power. but if an artist is to be successful ,he has to know how how his paricular set of performing tools work and their likely effect. Maybe with playwights its the same.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: The Shambles
Date: 01 Jan 05 - 12:55 PM

In that concrete instance (Birmingham), I see not the slightest reason for any restriction of free speech.

Wolfgang, your opinion on the restriction of free speech (by mob rule) in this case was not first sought. I suggest that it would not be sought when any other restriction of artistic expression was planned. Expressing your opinion that in this case there was no reason for its restriction - does not change the fact that it was wrongly and violently restricted, as were many meetings in 1930s Germany.

The fact that there may be occasions when you may have thought such restriction was needed and may have supported this - only makes it more likely that this restriction will be used (in your name) on other occasions - like this one - when you may not think that there was any need.

Sadly that is why there can be no real opt-out or degree - on supporting the right of others to freely express what may not be acceptable to you. For then the contol over what is - or is not restricted is passed to someone else to decide for you.

If you are not all the way with Voltaire - are you always (with no opt-out or degree) prepared to trust others to make the decision for you - on what artistic freedoms are restricted or not?


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: dianavan
Date: 01 Jan 05 - 04:30 PM

Freedom of dramatic expression is what theater is all about. None of our great plays would have been seen if religious or political groups were allowed to control the content.

Peaceful, political or religious demonstrations are also freedoms.

Violent, mob response to a theater performance is unlawful and unacceptable, regardless of content.

The public should be able to decide the artistic merit.

Let the show go on and if police in riot gear need to protect the general public, so be it. The public, in this case, is innocent. The mob inciting violence is guilty.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Wolfgang
Date: 01 Jan 05 - 04:56 PM

For then the contol over what is - or is not restricted is passed to someone else to decide for you. (The Shambles)

I very rarely have any control over things outside of my personal life. But I can have and express an opinion. That's how I can (or cannot) influence things a bit.

People disregarding context in ethical decision always make me uneasy. I think human life should not be taken by anybody, but I agree that police may shoot to kill if there is no other way to save the life of a hostage. And many other examples.

The 'fire' example is relevant here, Peter, for the type of argumentation used by Shambles makes it relevant (otherwise it wouldn't). If the Voltaire rule (have you ever heard, Shambles, that such sentences too are spoken in a context?) holds under all circumstances, then also a work of art (a longer equivalent of shouting 'fire') planned deliberately to create panic among the spectators is covered by the Voltaire rule. I think it shouldn't.

I just try to show Shambles how silly his all or none thinking can be in the exteme case. People like him make me afraid. In the extreme case, they even would sacrifice humans for the sake of their principles.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: The Shambles
Date: 02 Jan 05 - 07:02 AM

I very rarely have any control over things outside of my personal life. But I can have and express an opinion. That's how I can (or cannot) influence things a bit.

I accept the practical difficulties of where this play was staged, but in cases like this - but you can do more than simply allow others to decide your principles for you.

You can support the play - by paying to go to see it. Then even if you find that you do not agree with its view (the only way the find out for sure) - you would have at least supported the right of the playwright to express that view.

You can't do this if you allow the play to be prevented by mob rule and allow the principle to be trampled (by later expressing a view that there are occasions when it can be trampled). You are passing the whole thing for someone else to decide for you. Probably THE most foolish thing that history tells us that anyone can ever do.

I just try to show Shambles how silly his all or none thinking can be in the exteme case. People like him make me afraid. In the extreme case, they even would sacrifice humans for the sake of their principles.

This and the 'fire' argument are far more silly and worry me just as much. The whole point of upholding this (or any) principle and certainly of not allowing others to decide it for you - is to try and avoid these extreme cases and save humans and the world from foolishness such as yours - and not to sacrifice anything (including important principles).

Sadly issues do not come neatly signposted, as ones you can let by and ones you can't. There may be a time when you can address them before they become too big for you to ever address and when no one is going to ask you. That, I would suggest is the best time for you to address them and that there never is a time to allow anyone else to decide for you.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 02 Jan 05 - 07:37 AM

Heric, I agree entirely with your response to my earlier post. The playwright's intent had nothing to do with her right to the freedom of artistic expression. I mentioned her intent merely as a fact, and only in response to something Kendall had said. I had made my position on the broad principle abundantly clear earlier in the thread. I don't agree with your poimt about Wilde, because who is to judge when a line has been crossed? Jerry Lee Lewis, who married his 13-year-old cousin? People in far Eastern countries where marriage at that age has been a commonplace? In a democracy we should obey the prevailing laws of the day, but be free to say what we like about them.

Wolfgang, here's the Shambles argument put another way: the Birmingham Rep theatre decided to produce Behzti, judging it on its artistic merit. Who should have taken the decision, and against what criteria? Are you, for instance, with Kendall who would have nothing produced that might offend a single soul? Or would you allow productions unless they were likely to effend a subtantial, if unrepresentative group of people? Or would you allow even these productions, until or unless they could muster a crowd determined enough to end it by main force?

In any but the last case, which you seem to consider unacceptable, the decision would have to be taken in advance. That is, any proposed work would have to be submitted to a censor. This is Stalinism. Is it really what you want?


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: The Shambles
Date: 02 Jan 05 - 12:09 PM

The problem as I see it is that folk here are confused between what they may not like to see expressed or may not agree with and the method by which they don't have to see it - is achieved. As if the end justifies the means.

They also seem confused that folk who point out that the freedom to express a view how one wishes to - is a freedom worth fighting for - are in some way insisting that others should be forced into being exposed to what is being expressed.

I am not asking anyone to like it or agree with it. You can judge its worth and chose to ignore it, have nothing to do with it or to argue with it. It is simply to accept that what I (and Wolfgang) accept as our right to express our personal judgement - is never denied to others. It might not be to your taste - so you don't have to eat it.

The problems in 1930s Germany where less to do with some promoting and inciting hatred as it was this same group, by the use of force, by controlling the media and using any other method - of preventing any alternative view from being expressed. That is the big danger and why the principle of defending someone's right to say what may not be to your taste, will always be so vital.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 03 Jan 05 - 10:23 AM

This has moved on a bit since I last read it - To such an extent that I have no idea what direction it is going in now! Surely all the other arguments are secondary. Whether the playright, the theatre or the crowd were right or wrong is all subjective. The only objective, and objectionable, action must be from the 'authorities'. Any state which allows a portion of its populous to blatantly break the law while hitting hard at any other section of the community performing the same illegal acts is discrinatory. Simple as that. To not apply the law purely because the lawbreakers belong to one particular section of the community is a despicable act. Not only have the police and their controling authorities in Birmingham shown themselves to be corruptable by mob rule but they have given ammunition to all the right wing racists who will now be rubbing their hands in glee!

There are many things I object to. In fact most people think me very objectionable;-) But I don't go around threatening violence and destrying the property of the people performing the acts I don't like. Keep a handle on this guys and galls. Don't get so hung up about whether plays are free speach or what constitutes an insult. We will probably never agree. When a real, basic and quantifiable freedom, like the right to not have bricks thrown through your window or to have your very life threatened is not upheld though we can all start to worry:-(

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST,heric
Date: 03 Jan 05 - 12:26 PM

DtG I don't think we strayed off of the path, it's just that it gets complicated when you try to decide who is responsible for protecting various interests: (1) the playwright and theatre's rights of expression; (2) the Sikhs' rights not to be subjected to offensive disparagement, or even hate speech, and (3) the theater's and theatregoers' rights not to be assaulted.

It appears to be unanimous agreement on (3), and this was a failure of government. We have mild dissent on (1). I was unclear in addressing (2). I was there addressing the Sikh's rights to redress of their grievance. (In my opinion, after someone hears them out, they need to understand that there are certain advantages to living in a theocracy but they ain't got one.) (I also think I am in agreement with Peter K on Wilde - I was just pointing out that it is a proper function of government to look at what he said, for its risks, even if it didn't rise to a sufficient level for action.)

Shambles is also talking about the problem where the government is actively part of the problem, rather than passively negligent. THAT'S when you've got the obligation to fight.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: GUEST,heric
Date: 03 Jan 05 - 01:01 PM

All right I just re-read it and Shambles does advocate fighting back against the mob. It was the last sentence he wrote that made me think otherwise. I guess you could get wide disagreement on that point. I'd say fight back against the mob only in extreme circumstances after clear failure of government. Not in this case.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: The Shambles
Date: 04 Jan 05 - 02:00 AM

Fighting back against the mob on one's own is difficult. Doing it with others is probably more effective but as bad if not worse than the intital violence.

I would suggest that the trick is not to allow a situation where mob rule (or the prevention of artistic freedom by any means) ever comes into play. The main way of encouraging such things is for a Government to sit by and watch such methods succeed (as in this case).

But as with all things - if you as an individual ever agree to its limitation or wish to limit this freedom (in any way) - there is a price to be paid.

If you agree that there are some cases where something should be prevented from being said - you then have to accept a censor to make your decisions for you. To blindly accept their opinion on what is acceptable or not.

You don't have to worry about what is censored, who is qualified to do this or where all this censorship may eventually end - if you first simply accept and fight for the the right of others to be able have the freedom of expression that you - hopefully and depending on where you live, may be lucky enough - take as a right.

I feel that if you are fortunate to have this hard-fought freedom - it is criminal and dangerous to treat it so lightly and be prepared to throw it away so easily, as so many people seem to be prepared to do.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: The Shambles
Date: 05 Jan 05 - 02:02 AM

This has moved on a bit since I last read it - To such an extent that I have no idea what direction it is going in now! Surely all the other arguments are secondary.

Yes they are, but good folk like Wolfgang and Kevin, have in the past strongly supported the limitation of the freedom of expression on this public discussion forum - so are unable to fully support the basic right that is the simple issue at stake here. This is a good example of the price that is to be paid when always blindly supporting the principle of censorship. By accepting a censor to make the decisions for you, about what is allowed to be said.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 05 Jan 05 - 05:59 PM

This is a good example of the price that is to be paid when always blindly supporting the principle of censorship. By accepting a censor to make the decisions for you, about what is allowed to be said.

Hmmmm - Know what you are getting at Roger but not sure if it is applicable here. The censorship in this case is being applied by a mob while the authorities do nothing about it. Aren't you refering more to the authorities doing the censoring while the mob just complain?

In either case I think we must agree that the 'authorities' have to behave even handedly to everyone or we are completely up the creek:-(

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Birmingham play closed by mob
From: The Shambles
Date: 05 Jan 05 - 06:27 PM

Dave you were referring to the directions the thread was going. I was addressing the reasons for this quibbling and fence sitting here, rather than the prevention of the play.

You could perhaps say that the mob took the action it did - as it was clear that there was going to be any official censor who was going to get rid of the bits they did not like?

The general point is that if you always accept the principle of the right of others to express their view - you never need to worry about the who, what and why of censorship.

If on the other hand, you think that the right of others to express their view should be rightly prevented sometimes - you then have all the resulting arguments and problems that come with this censorship.

I also consider that always sticking to one's principles is less cause for concern than having none at all or being prepared to sacrifice those that you claim to hold - at the first sign of any difficulty being presented.


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