Comedian Rowan Atkinson is understandably nervous about his career
October 17, 2001 2:50 PM   Subscribe

Comedian Rowan Atkinson is understandably nervous about his career in the light of proposed laws in the UK to outlaw insightment to religious bigotry. Having built his career from playing comedy vicars and priests you can imagine him wondering if all his old material is suddenly worthless. Downing Street has sought to re-assure as usual but you can see why he'd be filled with uncertainty. As he points out in a situation were personal opinion is involved, how would one tell if one was breaking the law. For example, some stand up comedy may be fine, but how about movies? Where does 'The Life of Brian' stand? Or 'Dogma' for that matter...
posted by feelinglistless (10 comments total)
Or Father Ted, for that matter.
posted by mcwetboy at 3:04 PM on October 17, 2001

From Atkinson's letter to the Times: For telling a good and incisive religious joke, you should be praised. For telling a bad one, you should be ridiculed and reviled. The idea that you could be prosecuted for the telling of either is quite fantastic.

This is a brilliant, quotable sound bite.

On the one hand it's easy to argue that Atkinson's fears are unwarranted. On the other, people have gone bonkers over rather innocent humor, so he might not be wrong to worry.
posted by mcwetboy at 3:33 PM on October 17, 2001

In general, relying on the authorities to "do the right thing" when enforcing a bad law is a bad idea.
posted by djfiander at 3:52 PM on October 17, 2001

He no doubt suspects them of having a cunning plan....
posted by rushmc at 5:43 PM on October 17, 2001

I can't stand how some religious people take things FAR TOO SERIOUSLY. It's obnoxious.
posted by kingmissile at 6:11 PM on October 17, 2001

Looks like a great argument against all the silly hate crime legislation that we've seen in the states over the last ten years. I've never believed this "some crimes are more equal than others" nonsense. A crime is a crime is a crime. Or it isn’t a crime.
posted by nobody_knose at 6:47 PM on October 17, 2001

he should be scared; despite of everything, strangely enough, i do think it's safer to argue a point in the UK than in the US; so aside from being nervous, atkinson should be glad that he's working mainly in the UK, not the US.

i thought 'dogma' was bad, because it was either pussy or inarticulate.
posted by elle at 7:09 PM on October 17, 2001

We should all worry about the Labour Government. They have a strong authoritarian streak that seems to infect Home Secretaries quicker than anthrax. First Blunkett suggests ID cards, which are roundly rejected by the Prime Minister; then he wants to push strong religious bigotry laws.

God knows what we'll see in terms of Internet monitoring laws and further anti-terrorist provisions (which strangely always seem to have more effect on peaceful protesters than they do on terrorists.)
posted by skylar at 12:56 AM on October 18, 2001

Is the law banning blasphemy still on the statute books? There was a famous case some years back when 'decency' campaigner Mary Whitehouse took Gay News to court over an article and won, condemning the publication to bankruptcy. However, I'm sure the Labour Government were talking about repealing it as it was considered out of date and only dealt with Christian blasphemy, not that of any other religions.
posted by kerplunk at 4:22 AM on October 18, 2001

nobody expects the spanish inquisition!

that dude left his address on the letter, hes soooooo anthraxed!
posted by darth_smoothies at 6:27 AM on October 18, 2001

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