In a guest post, Harry Miller (Fair Cop) compares how different groups are treated by police when they critique or offend other religions and beliefs.
Imagine a musical in which the prophet, Mohammed, is cast with the swivelling hips of Little Richard and Muslims are kept in line by a dancing pork chop. If it got past the censors (which it wouldn’t) it would be closed down during opening night.
Now imagine a similar musical but this time it’s Mormons dancing with Hitler, Jefrey Dahmer and a giant Starbucks cup. Imagine it featuring a baby-raping warlord and a chorus of Elders who preach that the cure for Aids involves carnal knowledge of a frog. And imagine that, although the headline, take-away song may sound like it came straight from The Lion King, it actually contains blasphemies that would make the demon Screwtape blush.
The Book of Mormon, written by the writers of South Park, has been playing The Prince of Wales Theatre since 2013, unencumbered by accusations of stirring up Mormonophobic hate. To their credit, the followers of the late Joseph Smith appear less prone to register religious displeasure than those of Mohammad but, nevertheless, this still seems vaguely unjust given that both groups share precisely the same protections under The Equality Act.
Last month, in my role as Police and Crimes Advisor for Laurence Fox’s mayoral candidacy, I was invited to meet the Deputy Commissioner of The Metropolitan Police. I brought up the subject of the police having favourites.
Why is it, we asked, that the police will stand idly by whilst climate change activists take hammers to the windows of the HSBC yet will send in the troops elsewhere? The Deputy Commissioner’s answer was that perceived difference of approach is merely the result of operational necessity. This simply does not wash when decision making always seems to favour those at the top of an ideological tower. It is clear that the police have their favourites.
Of course, this makes it a great time to be a hammer wielding warrior in the cult of Mother Earth but not so great if your message is ‘Jesus Saves’. Toward the upper end of the hierarchy, you get to commandeer the entirety of Trafalgar Square and hang apocalyptic messages from Nelson’s Column; toward the lower end, you get thrown in jail for standing on a pop-up stool and reading from The Book of Genesis. Satirising Muslims lands you with a police investigation. Satirising Mormons gets a belly laugh. Beneath the Tower of Babel, the sin of Mormonophobia does not exist.
Transphobia, on the other hand, most definitely does exist. The political ideology, predicated on a gendered essence at odds with its various body parts, sits at the pinnacle of the icon to holy secularism, sharing the sunlight with Black Lives Matter, Antifa, Lockdown Fundamentalism and Extinction Rebellion. Detractors, sceptics, and satirists are threatened with having their names added to a Hate List. The List exists. We are currently seeking to have it declared illegal by The Court of Appeal.
At the foot of the Tower, down in the dust amongst the gender theory critics, the pro-lifers, and supporters of Laurence Fox, are the street preachers who labour under the illusion that they, too, are protected by The Equality Act and Article 10 of the ECHR. Again, good luck with that. Rights afforded at law are summarily swept aside when the preacher fails to mention that God made Furries, Enbies, Adrogynes and Pans, in addition to Man and Woman. The Preacher is a hater. The Bible, his manual of hate.
Let’s be honest. Many preachers do have views which are incompatible with progressive, secular opinion. But so what? The question is not whether a view is compatible with public opinion but whether its expression is permitted at law. As Brendan O’Neil so bravely wrote, Some People Think Homosexuality Is A Sin – Get Over It.
This should be the joy of living in a secular, multicultural society – we bring to the common feast a host of incompatible ideas and yet somehow manage to get by. It is not the job of the police to intervene when a Christian with a bacon sandwich offers half to his Muslim neighbour. And yet, given the recent rush to hound teachers from their positions across the Islamic belt of Yorkshire – Batley, last month, Sheffield, this – the Christian would have to be very brave or very foolish to reach across the divide with such an offering. Regardless of intent, under current Hate Crime Guidance, the proffered sandwich could land the good neighbour with a police investigation.
Of course, the crux here is that pork is classed as haram to Muslims whereas we Christians call it breakfast. Even so, one cannot help but suspect that standards are not applied equally. Why, for instance, in the context of a play about Mormons (caffeine is forbidden) is the actor playing the dancing Starbucks Coffee cup less at risk of arrest than an actor playing a dancing pork chop in a play about the Quran? Mormons are not immune from offence and presumably love their prophet every bit as much as Muslims love theirs. The difference is the tacit threat. Babel respects violence.
A correlation between acts of extreme violence and The Church of Latter Day Saints simply does not exist in the public imagination, and one cannot imagine there to be anything more sinister in a missionary elder’s backpack than some caffeine-free snacks and a Pass-Along Card. Perhaps it is for this reason that satirising Mormons, Christians, and evangelicals is ignored.
Arresting street preachers tends not to risk prompting jihad. What is more, street preachers tend to be regarded as religious anoraks, proclaiming the gospel with maybe a dash of hellfire on the side. On the basis that a traditional, evangelical message may upset someone, the police wrongly cite the Public Order Act whist snapping on the handcuffs. Yet, concerns for public sensitivity simply vanish when Greta Thunberg and her scarlet army of priests prophesy the imminent extinction of every living thing. Rather than being arrested, the leaders are invited for tea with Prince Charles.
Meet the new Tower of Babel. Same as the old Tower of Babel. Back in the days before Google Translate, God confounded the ideological hierarchy by confusing the languages. Now, a different kind of resistance is required from The Body of Christ. Would I advise a Latter Day Saint to gain equity under the hate crime practice by lobbying the police to have The Book of Mormon closed down? Absolutely not. The answer to unequal censorship is not more censorship but to pick up the sword of Truth and start slaying.
In modern day Babel, with its towering hierarchy of state approved truth, all offence is equal but some is more equal than others. To shed light on this hypocrisy, I intend to spend the weekend Islamifying the The Book of Mormon. Elder Price will be replaced with Mullah Ali and Elder Cunningham by Imam Khan. Once complete, I shall hand myself and my musical into the police.