The ‘wit’ and ‘satire’ of Peter Mullen

This entry was posted on
Wednesday, October 8th, 2008
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Peter Mullen has got himself into a bit of a muddle:

Disruptive – Dr Peter Mullen: The Rev Dr Peter Mullen is the Rector of St Michael, Cornhill and St Sepulchre without Newgate, and the Chaplain to the Stock Exchange. He is a well-known “conservative” in the Church of England, and fairly frequently airs his views in the comment and letters pages of the “quality press”. He has been in the news in the last couple of days as a result of some homophobic remarks that he made very recently on his blog, which is now no longer available. I noticed that his blog had disappeared for quite different reasons: I had complained to the Bishop of London (in June this year) about some utterly outrageous and repulsive Islamophobic remarks that he had made there…

Guardian – Vicar could be disciplined for blog slurs against gays and Muslims: A Church of England vicar could face disciplinary action for saying gay men should have “sodomy” warnings tattooed on their bodies. The Rev Peter Mullen, who is a parish priest and rector in the City of London, made the remarks on his blog, which has since been removed from the web under an agreement with diocesan officials….

(Psst! See also: Mail article with 141 comments, if you think you can stomach them.)

1. It’s really not fair to describe Peter Mullen as a ‘blogger’ as some people have been doing, because he’s as much a blogger as I am a mountain climber*; like Iain Dale did when he first ‘started’, Mullen turned the engine over with maybe a dozen entries in quick succession in 2006 (1, 2, 3), and gave up for a bit a lot. He then did slightly better in 2007 with maybe thirty entries (sample), gave up again, and then spat out four entries during what must have been a very quiet or frustrating week in June 2008.

(*Number of mountains I have climbed = 2. Small ones, at that. And it was a very long time ago.)

2. A modest Partial Credit goes to the Telegraph for mentioning that he had written for them, without actually linking to a key example of this that some might find pertinent to the conversation.

3. Mullen is now claiming that his outbursts were satire, and the problem (apparently) stems for our inability to understand this. Here’s his statement:

“I wrote some satirical things on my blog and anybody with an ounce of sense of humour or any understanding of the tradition of English satire would immediately assume that they’re light-hearted jokes. I certainly have nothing against homosexuals. Many of my dear friends have been and are of that persuasion. What I have got against them is the militant preaching of homosexuality.” – Rev Dr Peter Mullen (source: all papers)

And a semi-anonymous web user helpfully expands on this claim here:

“It was satire, you *** satire. We spend money on warning people against the dangers of tobacco but actively promote a sin that shortens the lives of its victims significantly – and not just by AIDS. Are none of you familiar with Swift?” – ‘Geoffrey Baxter-Wright’ (source)

It is in this second claim that you get your first hint that ANY humour in Mullen’s ‘satire’ relies on certain assumptions and prejudices.

Regulars of this weblog should recall one clear example of this kind of thing, where the joke or ‘satire’ is only funny if you’re a bigoted twit with rather unique views about how the world works, but for those who are new here, I offer the following selection of 4 original posts from Peter Mullen’s ‘blog':

The first is, I think it’s fair to say, an example of where Mullen’s fear of homosexuals intersects with his fear of Muslims, leading to what one might kindly refer to as a state of confusion…

Ramadan at Sandhurst

There’s only one religion in the calendar at Sandhurst Military Academy. Yes, it’s the bottoms-up chaps’ religion again. Ramadan is highlighted in the Academy’s calendar. Christian festivals don’t get a look in.

Originally published by Rev Dr Peter Mullen on September 12, 2007 at:

http://petermullen.typepad.com/peter_mullen/2007/09/ramadan-at-sand.html

The second entry should make it clear that Mullen might actually believe what he’s saying when he runs with the ‘satire’ defence. Take a look at the structure and the reliance on certain assumptions and prejudices…

Happy junkies make clean water

Wonderful to hear that the social services are rewarding junkies who provide them with a “clean” urine sample with the drug of their choice. Heroin addicts may be given methadone or antidepressants – or even diamorphine (prescription heroin)

I should like to see this arrangement extended. If I supply a sample of clean wee wee may I claim my free case of Chateau Margaux please?

And the scheme has even wider possibilities: why not reward successful slimmers with cheeseburgers and Black Forest gateau; smokers who’ve managed to quit with 200 packs of Capstan Full Strength; fill the swag sacks of unsuccessful burglars with pieces of household silver etc etc?

Originally published by Rev Dr Peter Mullen on October 18, 2007 at:

http://petermullen.typepad.com/peter_mullen/2007/10/happy-junkies-m.html

But the second and third entries should make it obvious that Mullen is pressing one point to a far greater extent than he is mocking another….

Gay wedding at St Bartholomew’s EC1

The Bishop of London is in a high huff
Because Dr Dudley has married a puff;
And not just one puff – he’s married another:
Two priests, two puffs and either to other.
“It isn’t a wedding, for that’s not allowed;
They’ve just come together and promised and vowed
To shack up and snug up, to have and to hold:
Ooh aren’t we radical! Ooh aren’t we bold!”
Now here’s a most queer and most wonderful thing:
He’s given his hand, he’s offered his ring;
And each to the other forever will bend,
After their troll in the coach up West End.
Not a flash wedding, no pics in Hello!
Just a honeymoon cottage, convenient so.
Of such Dr Dudley a goldmine has found,
From shaven-head puftas the nuptial pink pound.
The new Church of England embraces diversity,
A fresh modulation on ancient perversity:
“I’m C of E and PC so don’t think it odd of me
To offer a licence and blessing for sodomy.”

Originally published by Rev Dr Peter Mullen on June 18, 2008 at:

http://petermullen.typepad.com/peter_mullen/2008/06/gay-wedding-at.html

Here’s the one that did the damage…

Matthew Parris

Matthew Parris is wilfully refusing to give his readers his opinion about the recent “gay wedding” and about relationships between the church and homosexuals generally. He says, “When it comes to the church, synagogue or mosque, if you think the whole thing ridiculous, its hard to get excited about the ridiculousness of a subset of it. I should feel the same if morris dancers or the British Astrological Society tried to exclude gays.”

So, for Parris, the views of billions of Christians, Jews and Muslims worldwide are of no more consequence than a couple of obscure sectional interests. From what point of privileged judgement does he thus discount 4000 years of civilisation? The great world religions have survived the criticisms of far more intelligent and better informed opponents than the ignorant upstart Parris. There is a whole history and literature of distinguished apologetics for religious belief, but Parris will attend to none of it – sufficient only to attract his disdain is mainstream religion’s disapproval of homosexual acts.

Since Parris will not dirty his hands by entering theological discussions with his readers, perhaps I might answer for religious believers in the purely utilitarian terms which even the lofty Parris is bound to engage with. We disapprove of homosexuality because it is clearly unnatural, a perversion and corruption of natural instincts and affections, and because it is a cause of fatal disease. The AIDS pandemic was originally caused by promiscuous homosexual behaviour. Such promiscuity is itself an evil because its perpetrators merely use others indiscriminately for their own gratification, treating their fellows as sex objects and as means to an end rather than as ends in themselves. I should have thought that Parris, having rejected religious belief, might want to construct his moral beliefs on this Kantian humanistic imperative. But I suspect he is not really interested in morality of any kind – except as a special plea to excuse his lust for gratification at whatever cost to human dignity and the sanctity of human life.

It is time that religious believers began to recommend specific utilitarian discouragements of homosexual practices after the style of warnings on cigarette packets: Let us make it obligatory for homosexuals to have their backsides tattooed with the slogan SODOMY CAN SERIOUSLY DAMAGE YOUR HEALTH and their chins with FELLATIO KILLS. In addition the obscene “gay pride” parades and carnivals should be banned for they give rise to passive corruption, comparable to passive smoking. Young people forced to witness these excrescences are corrupted by them.

Let me continue the comparison with smoking which is banned in most public places. Those committing homosexual acts in public places – such behaviour being a crime in any case under the Homosexual Reform Act of 1967 – should be arrested, tried and punished. Parks, open spaces and public lavatories would at once become more wholesome places. There ought to be teaching films shown in sex education classes in all our schools. These would portray acts of sodomy and the soundtrack would reinforce the message that it is a filthy practice ending with the admonition: “We do, after all, know the importance of washing our hands after going to the lavatory.”

But I should like to turn Parris’ disdain for religion back on to him. If I consider that homosexual practices are vile, why should I concern myself with subsets of their aspects? I might as well concern myself with other minor irrelevancies such as the Doris Day fanclub and polo-neck sweaters

Originally published by Rev Dr Peter Mullen on June 19, 2008 at:

http://petermullen.typepad.com/peter_mullen/2008/06/matthew-parris.html

UPDATE – As an added bonus, here’s a post on the subject of Stephen Fry. See if you can spot the moment where the Rev Dr Peter Mullen reveals that he might be a wee bit prejudiced:

Stephen Fry

BBC Four are giving us a “Stephen Fry Night”. Actually it seems to be going on all week. I can’t understand why they should give such space to this overblown wit, but what’s really astonishing is that they put on an episode of Clarke’s “Civilisation” documentary, discussing “the paintings of Michelangelo and Bertini” and billed this as “part of the Stephen Fry Night”. I didn’t know the egotistical exhibitionist and celebrated manic-depressive pufta did those paintings too?

Incidentally, the BBC has been banned by the old KGB hardliners in Russia. Must be because they can’t stand the beeb’s left wing bias!

Originally published by Rev Dr Peter Mullen on August 19, 2007 at:

http://petermullen.typepad.com/peter_mullen/2007/08/stephen-fry.html








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