When was the last time someone ridiculed Christ

Reading through the Sunday Times’ coverage of the Muhammend cartoons debate, I came across this gem from Basil Mustafa. He’s a lecturer in Islamic studies at Oxford University:

These cartoons are a form of western arrogance — anyone you don’t like, you can ridicule them, abuse them. I am not sure if Christ has been ridiculed in the same way in films in the West. There have been films about him, but not ridiculing him. The reason why Muhammad was ridiculed was because he was a Muslim prophet.

Now, I don’t know about you, but if pressed, I could probably reel of a long list of films in which Christ has been ridiculed in the West. The Life of Brian tops the list, Dogma would probably in there, and Jerry Springer: The Opera, which admittedly has only appeared on the stage so far, seems to have attracted a fair amount of criticism for ridiculing Christ (who, as my girlfriend points out, is an integral part of the Holy Trinity that is God).

If even a scholar who lives and works in the United Kingdom hasn’t noticed this, what chance the average guy on the street in Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad or Tehran?

By the way, while I was reading the Sunday Times this morning, I also saw this comment from Jasper Gerard:

These extremists should be told: you can’t complain that Islam is being tarred with terrorism, then instantly threaten to terrorise those who have thus depicted Islam. It is perverse.

Well, it left me darkly amused.

Alleged war criminals waiting for trial

Ever wondered what life is like for a man (and it’s usually a man) awaiting trial for war crimes?  Julian Davis Mortenson of the Independent writes about his visit to the UN detention centre in Holland, where the atmosphere isn’t quite how you would imagine it:

(Apologies for the long excerpt, by the way.  But this is quite possibly the most thought provoking article I’ve read in years.  I’d encourage you not just to read the except, but to take the time to read the whole article).

…as our small group was walking down one of the prison corridors, we heard the murmur of a small gathering. It turned out to be a cell-block celebration for a prisoner who was being released later that week. As we passed by the open door of the recreation room, McFadden leaned in and told the group that he would drop by for a chat once he’d seen us on our way. I glanced into the room while McFadden was talking, and there, plopped in the middle of about five other inmates, sat Slobodan Milosevic. His hair and casual clothes were rumpled, a piece of cake sat on a paper plate in front of him, and he was holding a bite halfway to his mouth on a plastic fork. Next to him at the low table, also sitting on the hard plastic seat of a primary-school-style chair, was one of the tribunal’s most prominent Bosnian Muslim defendants. The Yugoslav people, to the extent that they ever existed at all, have vanished from the face of the earth. But somehow an ersatz version lives on within the walls of this hi-tech jail, where Slobodan Milosevic – the Serb once known as the Butcher of Belgrade – can now share a quiet piece of cake with a Bosnian Muslim at a farewell party for their mutual friend.

I’d love to tell you what I do think about it, but to be honest, I’m really not sure at the moment.

I don’t have particular concerns about the guilt of these men, or nor do I belive that they shouldn’t face the harshest of punishmentss for their crimes.  But it does make me wonder – how do people work.  How do friends become mortal enemies, and then friends again.

Does this microcosmic example contain any lessons for future reconciliation between estranged peoples?  I hope so.

New Zealand GP closes practice, opens brothel

A doctor from New Zealand has decided that there just isn’t enough money in doctoring these days, and has closed his medical practice so he can open a brothel instead:

Dr Benson said his brothel would employ “beautiful, experienced professional girls” from outside the district and cater for tourists and locals.

“Running a brothel is about providing a private service and maintaining confidentiality,” he said. “That is what my medical practice was about, so it’s not a big leap really.

“The standards of my medical practice were high and that will cross over to the brothel environment.

Catering for all your medical kinks.

German Wikipedia closed down

Wikipedia has temporarily closed down in Germany, because of a legal dispute. The family of a dead German hacker, Tron, whose real name had been posted on the site, have claimed that Wikipedia is violating their right to privacy.

James Enck notes though, that the family’s efforts to protect their privacy have largely failed:

It’s all a bit silly when you can read all about it here (English). This is, of course, the US site of Wikipedia, where the same information is available, including in German. National litigation rendered nonsensical by a supranational web.

It’s good news in one sense, as it demonstrates yet again the difficulties of inhibiting the spread of information via the internet.   But, sadly, not such good news for the family in question, as by launching this ill-advised lawsuit they’ve spread their son’s identity so far and wide that even I’m writing about it.

I know it’s easy to say this in hindsight, but one really has to question the competence of the lawyers who led them into this case.

Playboy centrefolds through the ages

Ever wondered how our tastes in naked women have changed over the decades? Artist Jason Salavon certainly has. For each decade since the 1960, he’s compiled a digital average of each playboy centrefold picture, and merged them together to create one slightly blurry but, happily, worksafe picture…

playboy-decades1.jpg

Sadly, it doesn’t cast any new light on the debate about whether 21st century man prefers women with larger breasts than did 1960s man. But it does clearly show that brunettes have been edged out in favour of blondes, and that tans are certainly no longer fashionable – in fact, judging by the final picture in the sequence, I think it’s only a matter of time before we see the first artfully undressed ghost in the pages of Playboy.