Blasphemy has risen from the dead. Would Jesus be this easily offended?
The National Secular Society ran a long, honourable and successful campaign to decriminalise blasphemy but sadly the Advertising Standards Authority still thinks that portraying the son of God in an unfavourable light is unacceptable.
How depressing that some people are so readily offended they take umbrage by proxy on behalf of the son of God. And how comically delusional it is to think Jesus needs you to fight His battles for Him! He’s divine, perfect and strong and died for you because you’re sinful, imperfect and weak, remember?
I would have thought the direct offspring of a deity – who can defy the laws of physics by walking on water, who can put on a fantastic spread for thousands with a few humble kippers, and who can pull off the ultimate party trick by turning water into booze (was it Blue Nun, or Rosaré, or Bordieu, or maybe just Desert Wine?) – would be Christian enough to take a harmless joke.
In fact, I would have thought Jesus would even be able to take a harmful joke because He also defied the laws of biology, after all. (“Hey, it’s me, Jesus. I’m not dead anymore.”)
And how equally depressing that a supine government agency would take such protestations of offence seriously and actually ban the advert, thereby doing something that all people, whatever their faith or whether they have a faith, should find really troubling: curbing free expression and free speech for no legitimate reason.
In a free society we must accept that we will all be offended from time to time. I’m regularly offended by some religious nutcases, for example, but as long as they don’t infringe my legitimate rights and they let me resume my godless, selfish, immoral, nihilistic and worthless existence then that’s absolutely grand. I don’t consider that I have a legitimate right not to get offended.
Of course, Jesus is not humanity’s only religious figure and so all religious figures must be afforded the same level of respect if we are ever going to achieve social, utopian equilibrium in the shape of a culturally-relativist, religiously-sensitive, cohesive, inclusive society with lashings of inter-faith dialogue.
I can’t see how we’re going to have much of this precious dialogue, though, if discussion, analysis or portrayal of these religious figures is so heavily regulated to the point where it is BANNED and we are unable to debate their relative pros and cons, Top Trumps style.
“My religious figure is better than yours.”
“You are a racist, capitalist, imperialist Infidel. You have failed to take account of my faith needs and you have deeply offended my religious sensitivities, because you’ll actually find that mine’s better than yours. I’m going to see to it that the Authorities ban you from speaking like that.”
“Well, you have failed to take account of MY faith needs and you have deeply offended MY religious sensitivities by even ASKING me why mine is better than yours and then by saying that YOURS is better than MINE. So I’m going to see to it that the Authorities ban YOU from speaking like that.”
“So we agree on something.”
It should worry all of us deeply – religious and non-religious alike – that free expression and free speech can be so easily curtailed. All that is necessary to stifle debate is to play the God card because the playing of this particular card signals a crucial stage in any debate: The End.
Maybe some Christians would argue that showing a lack of deference to Jesus in the way this advert did is a sin.
Who cares if it is, I say. Because like the cheeky T-Shirt says: If you don’t sin, Jesus died for nothing.