Northern Light

Who is guilty of discrimination?

Do we show too much deference to religious people?

The British stand-up comedian, novelist and sitcom writer Ben Elton says yes in an interview with the Christian magazine Third Way.

”I think it all starts with people nodding whenever anybody says, ”As a person of faith…” And I believe that part of it is due to the genuine fear that the authorities and the community have about provoking the radical elements of Islam. There’s no doubt about it, the BBC will let vicar gags pass but they would not let imam gags pass. They might pretend that it’s, you know, something to do with their moral sensibilities, but it isn’t. It’s because they are scared. I know these people.”

Excactly. Here is what a BBC spokeswoman answered to Elton’s criticism:

”The treatment (i.e. jokes) should not cause harm or offense as defined by the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines or breach other BBC Guidelines.”

This concession of course was preceded by the ritual phrase:

”No subject is off limits for BBC comedy.”

Contrary to BBC Ben Elton insists that no one has a right not to be offended, and he is pretty clear that the lack of jokes about Muslims is discriminating.

”It’s incredible. I’m quite certain that the average Muslim does not want everybody going around thinking, ”We can’t mention you. We’ve just got to pretend that you don’t exist because we’re scared that somebody who claims to represent you will threaten to kill us.”

What do you think: Who is guilty of discrimination?

Those who tell jokes about Muslims or whose who insist on not offending people of faith or religious minorities?