The first editorial of a new year and I’m ranting and foaming at the mouth already! The cause of my agitation – religious fanatics! Ah, you are all thinking, he’s going to get polemical about the elections in Iraq and the forces trying to disrupt them, or maybe even he’s going to have another apoplectic fit about the US bible-belt and the fundamentalist loonies who support Bush. But you’d be wrong on both counts. This time I’m on about the fanatics on our doorsteps – the kind of religious freaks who bombard the BBC with e-mails and make threats against it’s executives, just because it is broadcasting something they don’t like. Yes, I’m referring to Jerry Springer – The Opera, which apparently offended some ‘Christians’ so much, they felt moved to attempt to impose their narrow morality upon the rest of us by trying to force a public broadcaster to change it’s schedules. Now, I can’t say whether this programme was, or wasn’t offensive or blasphemous or whatever. I didn’t watch it. Not because I thought I’d be offended, but because I don’t like opera. That was my choice. Got that? My choice. It was mine to make – not some mob of bible-bashing killjoys who, despite what they might think, do not represent a majority viewpoint in this country, and do not have a monopoly on morality.
I am sick and tired of people like this trying to tell me what I can and can’t do and, even worse, what I can and cannot think. Just what authority do they have? Oh yes, I forgot – the word of God! Strangely, I don’t remember seeing his name on the ballot paper last time I voted. This is what these lunatics just can’t seem to accept – we live in a democracy, government, law-making, etc., is based on consensus, that means no one minority group can impose it’s narrow interests upon the rest of us. But that doesn’t suit our fundamentalist friends, does it? So they try and short-circuit the democratic system with ‘direct action’ in the form of mass mailings and demonstrations. This is simply an attempt at mob rule. The BBC should be congratulated for sticking to it’s guns and showing Jerry Springer -The Opera in the face of this intimidation. Make no mistake, if they’d caved in , it would have been one more step down a slippery slope of repression – and we’ve got enough of that coming from central government already!
What really puzzles me, though, is just why these self-appointed guardian’s of the nation’s morals hadn’t complained about this play before? It’s been running in the West End for quite some time now, but I don’t recall any theatres being bombarded with e-mails and picketed. Mind you, that wouldn’t get as much publicity now, would it? Not only that, but we all know that only the wealthy go to the theatre, and they are immune to immorality – on TV it might be seen by the working classes, and we can’t have that! They’d be bound to be corrupted, they’re so weak-willed and stupid! You know, it’s my sincerest wish that these people would work themselves up into such a frenzy of moral outrage, that they’d all drop dead of heart seizures, and let the rest of us get on with making our own minds up! Trust me, society would be a far, far better place! If nothing else, it might be a bloody sight more tolerant.
That’s the thing I can’t tolerate about these fanatics – their intolerance of the beliefs and values of others. It’s the growing lack of tolerance in society which really depresses me, whether it manifests itself as a resurgence of militant (i.e. racist) ‘nationalism in the form of he BNP, or the rising tide of homophobia I see (particularly in the US). We always used to pride ourselves on being a tolerant society, but not any more, apparently. Whilst vigourously pursuing selfish individualism in the form of rampant consumerism, we simultaneously seek to stamp out anything or anyone that appears to differ from this ‘norm’. Why don’t we all just learn to tolerate eachother again, eh? Just because I don’t like opera, I don’t go around trying to get Jerry Springer – The Opera banned, now do I? I just don’t watch it. Similarly, if you think you might be offended by it – don’t watch it! It’s really easy! But sadly, we seem in danger of slipping into a new age of puritanism. I even see it here on the web, where stories which observe the time-honoured tradition of mixing smut with satire, find themselves branded as ‘porn’. With the current moral climate in the US, I fear things can only get worse.
All of which brings me, finally, to the subject of Dubya. I haven’t mentioned his re-election either here in the editorials, or in a story so far. And for good reason – a friend of mine in this strange on-line satire ‘community’ has said that she doesn’t want to give Bush any more publicity by writing about him, even satirically. I tend to agree. Frankly, the whole situation has simply moved beyond parody. Whilst I wasn’t at all surprised by Junior’s re-election (he had the advantage of being a sitting President, of being able to continually play the ‘security’ card to as to appeal to voters’ fear and insecurity, and his opponent was simply not the type of candidate who would inspire voters to make a change), it still depresses me somewhat. Whilst the macho-military posturing and the continual threat of force against anyone in the world who has the audacity to disagree with the ‘Bush Doctrine’, it’s the moral climate this administration is nurturing within America which really worries me.
Let’s not forget that, in the world’s most powerful and technologically advanced nation, a naked female breast can now provoke a moral backlash leading to the imposition of further restrictions upon broadcasters, and, in some states, established scientific theory, backed up by a body of evidence, is being usurped in favour of some fantastic story, with no supporting evidence, from an ancient book of dubious authorship. Yes, that’s right folks, creationism is being taught in science classes! I have nothing against the subject being taught, but in it’s proper place, as part of religious studies or comparative mythology. It can never have the same status as scientific theory. Sadly, of course, the Us is in a position to impose this new ‘morality’ elsewhere, whether by force of arms or, more sinisterly, through the dissemination of US popular culture. We have to be vigilant – keep watching the TV screens! Personally, I’m beginning to think that it’s about time we started sending missionaries to Bush’s America, to reintroduce them to such wonderful concepts as tolerance, cultural diversity, reason and the joy of sex, so as to save them from themselves!