Dispatches from the Creation Wars

In case you think it’s only Muslims who want their feelings protected against religious criticism that might hurt their feelings, Christian groups in the UK are doing the same thing:

A Christian woman is taking an art centre to court over an exhibition which included a statue of Jesus that she believes is lewd and offensive. Civil rights advocates say that this is an attempt to reinstate blasphemy laws by the back door.

The private prosecution, which has been postponed to 23 September over legal technicalities, is being backed by the Christian Legal Centre and campaigners, including Stephen Green – who unsuccessfully challenged Jerry Springer – The Opera.

The details:

They will say that the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art committed an “act of a lewd and a disgusting nature and outraged public decency contrary to Common Law” by displaying a statue of Jesus that shows an erect penis.

They will also claim that visitors who saw it were likely to be “harassed, alarmed, or distressed”.

Ms Mapfuwa says she believes in free speech, but that “this statue served no other purpose than to offend Christians and to denigrate Christ”.

Translation: I believe in free speech, unless you say something that bothers me. The UK allows “private prosecutions” – it’s literally a criminal trial but brought by a citizen rather than be prosecutors. In a famous 1976 case, Whitehouse v Lemon, a private prosecution was used to convict a gay publication of blasphemy for publishing a poem someone didn’t like. It’s hard to imagine a more oppressive law than one outlawing blasphemy.