Friday, June 30, 2006

Freedom of Speech 2, Catholics Nil

The Broadcasting Standards Authority has rejected all complaints about the "Bloody Mary" episode of South Park recently screened on C4. The BSA's words speak for themselves:

[116] Although it accepts and acknowledges the degree of hurt apparent in the complaints it has received, the Authority is of the view that the institution of the Catholic Church, its practices and its icons, are entitled to no greater degree of protection than any other institution in our society, whether it be religious, political or cultural.

[117] Were the Authority to uphold the complaint, this would amount to a statement that broadcasters who offer satire, humour and drama as their fare may not offend against the religious convictions of others, and that such offence amounts to a breach of good taste and decency. That, in the view of the Authority, would be an unreasonable limitation of a broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression, which includes the right to satirise religious issues.


[135] Again, while acknowledging the genuine concerns of the complainants, the Authority declines to uphold this aspect of the complaint [that the programme encouraged the denigration of Catholics]. In essence, the complainants are asking the Authority to compel a broadcaster to respect a religious figure that they hold dear. The Authority, however, remains unpersuaded that this lack of respect amounted to an abusive attack on Catholics or Catholicism.

(Emphasis added)

This is an appropriate decision for a society which repsects freedom of speech and holds no-one's beliefs to be sacred and above criticism, parody, or simple laughter. And the precedent should be very useful in any future cases.

The full decision is here.


Wait a moment, this Catholic actually thinks we won out of this decision too. After all, IMO, what the 'Bloody Mary' episode of South Park mocked was idolatry (which was considered a profound sin by the Catholic Church, last time I looked) not Catholic belief. I find it rather ironic that Messers Parker and Stone appear to understand mainstream Catholic doctrine better than the New Zealand Catholic Bishop's Conference.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 7/01/2006 08:38:00 AM

Ms Freer asked if South park's Bloody Mary isn't obscene then what is. Well, a gay blowjob is (BSA decision here:

Posted by Hans Versluys : 7/01/2006 03:13:00 PM