Archive for the ‘Christ…’ Category

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 12, 2005

Category: Christ...

Read this.

Then do this:
ignorant bigots

That is all.

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 11, 2005

Category: Christ...

You. Must. Read. This. Now.

Then forward it to everyone you know.

Send them a copy of this as well if you like:

If you don’t have a (free) Guardian registration, get one just to read this (it’s worth it) or use

Read. This. Now.

Guardian – The moral minority: BBC2’s broadcast of Jerry Springer: the Opera on Saturday met with protest on an unprecedented scale – most of it by a little-known group called Christian Voice. Its director, Stephen Green, tells Stuart Jeffries about his crusade to stop this ‘tidal wave of filth’

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 10, 2005

Category: Christ...

Jerry Springer the OprahI’ve been wearing my Angry Pants for 3 days now. I’ve tried turning them inside-out, but I think the time has come to drop them in the laundry basket. I also have my hands on a lot of new data.

Please note that the following post is meant for clarification purposes, and such a post requires me to give everyone concerned The Benefit Of The Doubt wherever possible.

1. This is the email/circular that is central to the affair.

It is what caused the initial level of outrage and led to the number of complaints that made this ‘newsworthy’. The BBC and Ofcom received mainly email complaints until papers like The Sun got on board. Others may have provided the spark or fanned the flames further their own agenda, but this is the true cause of last week’s blaze:

The Sikhs have made a stand – but will Christians?

Below is a transcript of a television billing that is scheduled to be shown on BBC2 on 8th January 2005 at 9pm (unless we get enough people to complain).

“BBC2 plans to broadcast Jerry Springer’s “The Opera”, immediately after Christmas. This musical, notorious for containing over 8000 expletives, depicts the characters of Jesus, Mary and God as self-centered sexual deviants who give and receive extreme verbal abuse and a horrific series of blasphemies, all in the name of comedy. The show’s artistic director admits that it is a deliberate attack on “good taste”, and the BBC concedes that the intended broadcast “pushes back the boundaries of taste and decency”. Nevertheless, the show is scheduled to be transmitted without any cuts.”

If you disagree with the BBC’s plan to broadcast this material, please register your feelings with the BBC tel 08700 100222) or OfCom ( tel 0845 456 3000). Could you also forward this message to anyone else you feel would want to be aware of this. This does make a difference – 500 calls are considered as a very significant complaint, so I am sure we can do this!!!!!!!!! You need to complain to both OfCom and the BBC.

The following URL is a direct link to the Ofcom website – and to register a complaint online. Please make use of this:

Please forward this message to as many people as possible, because time is of the essence as the 8th Jan gets nearer. Let us also pray for the material that is now being presented as entertainment on the BBC, and let us make a difference by being salt and light. The BBC plans to show the most expletive-strewn programme in history despite the following review from their own BBC reporter:

(Note – there then follows a full repeat of this review)

2. There is no direct link between Tara Conlan, John Beyer or Mediawatch UK and the circular at the centre of this affair.

It relies heavily on content provided by these two, but Tara Conlan is a journalist (not a campaigner) and is therefore an unlikely suspect. However, the Daily Mail – despite being aware of subsequent threats made to BBC bosses and (hopefully) being aware that the risk of harm coming to someone prior to transmission – does not appear to have denounced these threats until after transmission (1, 2).

John Beyer is a campaigner, but has denied categorically that he or any member of his organisation is behind this circular and claims to have no knowledge of its origin. But he also failed to publicly denounce it before transmission of JS:TO, and – presumably knowing it was out there – drafted and published this Jan 4 press release (note addition at tail).

3. Content used by the circular, quoted from The Daily Mail, contains questionable and misleading information

This Dec 3 2004 article by Tara Conlan was used as the centrepiece of the circular. It contains the following claims:

Roly Keating said the show would “push back the boundaries of taste and decency” – There is no record of Roly Keating actually speaking these words apart from this one article, but the BBC have failed to issue a denial. These same words just happen to contain a favourite catchphrase of John Beyer (1, 2, 3). LexisNexis reveals 21 Tara Conlan articles that quote John Beyer, dating back to July 2001 and no less than 12 of these attack the BBC, so some form of collusion or magical serendipity isn’t out of the question (e.g. John Beyer somehow colouring Tara Conlan’s line of questioning and Roly Keating phrasing his response using words from that question) but there is no proof of this. Conlan being on the ‘showbiz’ beat and writing for a newspaper known for its conservative views also more than accounts for the frequency of her encounters with John Beyer.

More than 8,000 obscenities will be broadcast when BBC2 shows a screen version of the musical Jerry Springer The Opera in January…. It contains 3,168 mentions of the f-word and 297 of the c-word… – Tara Conlan is not the origin of the inflated number of expletives. Thanks to further Googling, that claim can be traced back to this Nov 15 2004 Times article by Jack Malvern and even further back to this Oct 30 2004 Times article, also by Jack Malvern. The latter just happens to report “bitter legal action” between the producers of JS:TO and the Daily Mail. This case was due to be heard in December. The same month in which the article by Tara Conlan appeared. A later Mail article (with no byline) did take the time to acknowledge that; “The total number of obscenities is calculated by multiplying the number of swear-words by the number of people singing them.”

This didn’t happen until 6 Jan 2005, and another article followed on Jan 8 2005 that used the same 8,000 figure without this clarification, but it also has to be acknowledged that the producers of the show did not seek to refute the numbers until this late stage and the BBC (as far as I can tell) did not refute or seek to clarify the numbers until after transmission.

So, if you were so inclined as to speculate that the Mail deliberately targeted the broadcast of the opera because of their dispute with the producers of the stage show, you would also have to be willing to speculate that the producers and the BBC may have considered the claim to be so ridiculous as to be obvious, and/or allowing the claim to go uncorrected would do little harm by way of publicity.

It could also be speculated that the producers of the show themselves were the origin of the inflated numbers. But all this is just speculation. I plan to email John Malvern and continue following the trail, myself.

4. The circular further enhances these falsehoods to make it seem as if the BBC were being deliberately provocative

(The show) depicts the characters of Jesus, Mary and God as self-centered sexual deviants – the exact phrase “self-centred sexual deviants” appeared in the majority of initial email complaints to the BBC, so they can be traced directly back to this email. We can also draw from this that the author of the email know just which buttons to push to get action. For proof that the show did not depict Jesus, Mary and God as self-centered sexual deviants… well, you should have watched the broadcast. Exact phrases when taken out of context are certainly open to interpretation, but when you understand the intent of the show and see it in full it should be clear that these religious figures are not the targets of this satire.

The show’s artistic director admits that it is a deliberate attack on “good taste” – this is used in unison with the Roly Keating quote to suggest that both parties were doing this in a deliberately provocative manner. Stewart Lee, who co-wrote and directed the show, said on Jan 3 2005: “Neither Mary, God, not Jesus are represented as ‘self-centred sexual deviants’ – unless being ‘a bit gay’, which Jesus says he is, counts a sexual deviance, which we hardly feel it does. Both God and Mary are represented with the utmost respect, as is their holy due.”

Of course, from this sprang the whole BBC to claim Jesus is a bit gay ‘debate’, but I choose not to go into that. Because, at the end of the day, Jesus was a bit gay. But only if you consider being gay a sin. (See? That’s why I’m not going to get into it.)

The circular’s author – when using the Daily Mail content and his/her own – also describes all of the above as being from a transcript of a television billing that is scheduled to be shown on BBC2, further suggesting to any recipient that the the BBC was going out of their way to offend. There is no record of this information being posted as an official billing for the show.

5. The circular suggests the use of violence

And in the very first sentence, too: The Sikhs have made a stand – but will Christians?

The play Behzti (Dishonour) by Sikh author Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti led to violent protests and death threats. The reference is clear.

6. Christian Voice prompted violence, but cannot be confirmed as the origin of this circular

It has been hinted that they are, but you have to note the differing approaches to complaints and how they were expected to be received…

The circular suggested that complaints to Ofcom would have the show taken of the air (when the truth is that Ofcom cannot act until after a show has been broadcast). It also suggested that if enough people complained to the BBC, the show would be withdrawn.

The Christian Voice website that notoriously published the home addresses of BBC executives did not express this view. It said that; Neither the BBC nor Ofcom care what you think anyway. So we have to do something a bit more direct.

And here we stray into the realms of the suggested use of violence. In the interests of balance, I will precede these quotes with a statement made by Stephen Green (after transmission): “We completely distance ourselves from it and condemn these threats. We were a little naive in thinking our website was used only by Christians. Some criminal element have taken matters as they have.”

So – doing my very best to keep The Benefit Of The Doubt tocking over – we must maintain here that it was naivety that led Stephen Green to put his name to the above text and the text that follows, publish it alongside the home addresses of two BBC executives and also advise readers that the names and addresses other big wigs were available to members and supporters (who “are at liberty to share that publicly-available information”): It is interesting that this story should break a week after four hundred Sikhs felt strongly enough about the play Behzti (Dishonour), which depicted sex abuse and murder in a Sikh temple, to protest outside (and inside) the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. There were some arrests, but you have to admire their willingness to stand up for their religion. Is Almighty God sending Christians a challenge? Is He testing how strongly Christians feel about the sacred name of Jesus Christ?

7. The author of the circular remains unknown… for now

The first instance I can find of it being posted on the internet is a post to uk.religion.christian dated 23 Dec 2004. The author claimed to have received it “from 4 or 5 different sources,” so it’s more than likely that it had been bouncing around via email long before this. I’ve emailed the author of this post in an attempt to follow the trail, but if anybody else has any leads, I’d be very happy to hear from you.

UPDATE – In the Guardian article linked below, we have the following: What is clear is that by the end of last week thousands of people within the evangelical community were receiving details from Christian Voice of how to complain about the musical to the BBC. Mr Green said: “We sent an email to our supporters who sent it on to other people. It’s impossible to say how many of the complaints came from our group.”

Is he referring to the circular quoted above? Following this admission, the simplest thing to do is ask. With you shortly.

Provisional Conclusions

I still have more data to collect. An FOI request is with Ofcom and the BBC (to see all of the complaints… this may take a few weeks, but it will at the very least let me know *when* the circular began its journey) and there are a couple of warm trails to follow – but for now, here’s where I am…

Tara Conlan: Cannot be blamed directly for the threats of violence made against BBC executives, but she bears great moral responsibility in my view. Her article of Dec 3 2004 still warrants a complaint to the PCC and – at this stage – I still intend to make one.

John Beyer: Should also be getting a hot, uncomfortable feeling on the back of his neck. He has earned from this episode my determination to keep a much closer eye on the way he runs his organisation.

Neither Conlan or Beyer are directly responsible for threats of violence made against BBC executives, but I stand by my charge that they misled the Christian community.

Stephen Green: Is either naive, dangerous, or dangerously naive. And that’s giving him The Benefit Of the Doubt.

UPDATE – Shed a tear for journalism in this country. This kind of thing should have been investigated and reported last week…

Guardian – Christian protest targets BBC boss: A rightwing Christian group last night vowed to step up the campaign against the BBC after its screening of Jerry Springer – The Opera as details emerged of how a small number of determined activists was largely responsible for the biggest-ever protest against the broadcaster… BBC insiders also point out that only 14 of the complaints were received by post, suggesting that a large number were the result of orchestrated email and phone campaigns. They are yet to do a geographical breakdown, but anecdotally are convinced that thousands of protests came from multiple calls or were generated by email campaigns. They believe that ad hoc call centres were set up to bombard the BBC with complaints. One operator said she had received several calls in a row from the same number, each claiming to be a different person. Many of the emails used similar forms of words and were sent from around the world, apparently after Christian groups in the US and elsewhere were enlisted to join the campaign. Some of the electronic protests are also believed to have been the result of software that automatically sends out multiple emails, each appearing to come from a different address.

For the record, my FOI request to the BBC was designed to ferret out this kind of information and provide proof of such claims.

rushed-type linkdump:,14173,1387536,00.html

UPDATE – (Jan 19) Stephen Green denies being the source of the Jerry Springer protest email

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 10, 2005

Category: Christ...

John Beyer and Tara Conlan may want to look up their names in Google, MSN or Yahoo this morning… it should give them a little lesson in how weblogs work. Thanks also to everyone who has chipped in with useful information by email and comments (again we see how weblogs work, yes?)…

There have been a few suggestions that we fight fire with fire. One such suggestion involves the creation of a similar machine to Beyer’s that counters his protests with equal or greater (and possibly inflate ‘er) numbers. I’m not thinking that way myself.

It makes much more sense to publicly denounce and cripple the Beyer/Conlan machine. Then the ‘unprecedented’ level of protest will be discredited for all to see. More in a mo…

Mail on Sunday – BBC boss in hiding: BBC2 controller Roly Keating, his wife and their three young children were driven out of their million-dollar house after a Christian group posted his private address and telephone number on its website. They fled yesterday morning after security experts decided the threat to kill Mr Keating if the programme went ahead was a credible one.

Let’s pass over that million-dollar-house-rich-bastard-probably-deserved-it nudge and move right along to the site that posted this information, which said on the offending page that: Neither the BBC nor Ofcom care what you think anyway. So we have to do something a bit more direct.”

It then went on to list the home addresses the BBC Director of Television and the BBC2 Controller and also said: The names and addresses of the other 10 Governors have been sent to Christian Voice members and supporters only, although our members and supporters are at liberty to share that publicly-available information. Click here to join Christian Voice.

Independent – The Moral Minority and the BBC: a reality showdown close to Jerry Springer’s heart: The email from Christian Voice’s national director, Stephen Green, to subscribers – obtained by The Independent on Sunday – stated: “We make no apologies for giving their home addresses and in as many cases as we can, their phone numbers … We know normal protests are channelled in such a way as to be ignored.”

Now what do you think this is suggesting?

While the above Mail article may be online, today’s follow-up article with the headline Running Scared is not. In this article, Beth Hale and Fiona McRae say: A spokesperson for Christian Voice… has now removed them from its website and condemned the threats. Director Stephen Green said: “We were a little naive in thinking our website was used only by Christians.” Mr Green added: Freedom of speech brings responsibilities – you don’t go out of your way to offend people. That’s a deliberate insult and the BBC don’t seem to understand that.”

The Warm Up GuyAhhh, I see. It was just a naive mistake. And this is all the BBC’s fault anyway. Now, I wonder where people got the impression that the BBC did this to deliberately offend people?

Allow me to repeat a phrase from Sunday’s Mail article: Security experts decided the threat to kill Mr Keating if the programme went ahead was a credible one.

So their comment on Sunday saying threats of violence are wrong and today’s expanded piece by Melanie Philips are not entirely unlike the warnings of the warm-up guy for Jerry Springer, who would tell the audience not to attack the guests. Even though that’s exactly what they know the audience will do.

The only difference is that the Mail has provided their warnings after the show.

The police – who are investigating the threats – probably already have their eye on Stephen Green. It was BBC lawyers who had him remove the addresses from his website, so a complaint is probably in place.

David Hope is another name that deserves attention…

The Sunday Times – TV chiefs given guards over Springer: Two of Britain’s most prominent churchmen – David Hope, the Archbishop of York, and Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster – were among those who criticised the broadcast. Hope, the Church of England’s second most senior bishop, said: “The BBC pushed the boundaries of taste and decency too far.”

Boundaries of taste and decency! The exact words of John Beyer fed into that circular. WTF is this shepherd doing acting like a bloody sheep?

And the IoS was spot on when it said: Michael Ancram, the Conservative’s deputy leader, should be mocked for his opportunistic leap on the moral bandwagon.

And we all know what Murdoch and Wade were up to…

There are other rather suspect names being put forward in comments. Feel free to poke around if you like, but I only have two names on my list: Tara Conlan and John Beyer.

They cooked this up and misled red-misted members of the Christian community.

Why the Daily Mail chose to go along with it is anybody’s guess:

Playbill – Jerry Springer The Opera on the Verge of Closure: According to The Independent newspaper, a closure announcement for Jerry could be imminent (the paper predicted that the show could shut up shop as early as lunchtime on Oct. 25, but at the time of writing that deadline has passed and the show is still officially open). The reason for the trauma, say the show’s producers, is that a libel action fought against the Daily Mail is proving cripplingly expensive.

(Cheers go to Joe for this lead. Joe also points out that: The first (Dec 3) article appeared ten days before the court case was due to be heard. He and I would like to know how that court case turned out. If anybody has any leads or links..)

I’m investigating the PCC route today. I would also appreciate any thoughts on what criminal charges – if any – can be brought against Tara Conlan and John Beyer for their role in instigating this outrage-based-on lies and the subsequent death threats. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that the email circular at the core of this begins with the words: “The Sikhs have made a stand – but will Christians?”

(Cheers to Daily Mail Watch for the screengrab.)

UPDATE – a rushed linkdump (no time for context, Dr. Jones! – but a quick nod to The Community At Large is in order):,11711,1386867,00.html

Note – I’m waiting for more data before I make my PCC complaint. (I particularly want to nail down the source of the quote attributed to Roly Keating. I also need to confirm that the JSTO email circular originated from John Beyer and not an ‘unrelated’ Christian group that just happened to use the ammunition he so helpfully provided.) BUT… if you want to make a complaint ahead of me, feel free. The links you’ll need are:

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 9, 2005

Category: Christ...

Huzzah! What a cracker!

I’m going to be busy digging and sorting and emailing and working tomorrow and Monday.

What I would really, really like to see (if you have the time) is some feedback from anyone who actually watched the show. Especially Christians. Who watched it. Please make a comment in this post or send me an email. People who are seeking information on this topic in Google and Yahoo are finding their way to this weblog.

Oh, and while you’re thinking if you should (they wanted it more) bother (they wanted it more) commenting…

Think of the evil done by good men – or women – (“Shut up, Stan!”) who would stand by and do nothing.

Think of the people who have misrepresented ‘their’ cause. Think about everyone these people have misled or placed in danger.

Then think of the actual message behind this opera.

Then. Speak. The (erm…) Fudge. Up.

Cheers all. With you shortly….

PS – I hereby offer a bounty of 5 white dress shirts in your size and and 5 matching ever-so-nifty black ties to the blogger who first brings me a verifiable statement from Quentin Tarantino disputing the claim for most swear words in a single broadcast in the UK.

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 8, 2005

Category: Christ...

If you are chatting/posting (or if you were chatting/posting) during Jerry Springer – The Opera, I’d like to get some links or see some logs. Please save them and/or send them my way.

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 8, 2005

Category: Christ...

Congratulations, Daily Mail; you just sold a newspaper. I knew you’d be too gutless to put something like this online…

Extract from print version of the Daily Mail – Sat Jan 08 2004:

BBC bosses get death threat as 50,000 complain over Springer
by Tara Conlan
As protest grew yesterday over the BBC’s decision to screen the controversial musical Jerry Springer – The Opera, it emerged that BBC bosses and their families have received death threats. Police are investigating warnings of ‘bloodshed’ made to the homes of key executives, understood to include BBC2 chief Roly Keating.

Note the author. Note the primary target of the death threats. Not the sheer audacity of Tara Conlan!

Her Dec 3 2004 article, which seemed to suggest that Roly Keating was deliberately goading conservative Christians, is the centrepiece of the main circular behind these protests. A circular that begins by asking if Christians are willing to go to the same lengths as Sikhs who recently made death threats of their own.

Even if it turns out that she didn’t inject words provided by John Beyer into Roly Keating’s mouth, she is largely responsible for these death threats. Yet here she is reporting it as if it’s nothing to do with her!

Telegraph – My show has 7,549 fewer swear words than people say, but who’s counting?: A pressure group called Mediawatch is orchestrating a campaign against the show, which it maintains includes 8,000 swear words, 3,168 of them f—s and 297 of them c—s. There are actually seven c—s in the show – four of them adjectives, and three of them nouns. At the National Theatre, the sentence in which they all appear often received a standing ovation. There are, in fact, 117 f—s in the show, all of them sung beautifully by a hugely talented cast, leaving Mediawatch with a shortfall of 3,051 f—s. The Daily Telegraph has gone to the trouble of counting all the swear words in the show and pegs the figure at 451, some 7,549 less than Mediawatch’s figure, but I think the organisation must have included category B and C obscenities such as “ass”, “poop” and “nipple” to hit this score.

An unofficial BBC count (which goes right down the list to include instances of ‘ho’) has the sweary count at 339, but personally I don’t think it matters. (Actually, I always found it kind of odd watching Jerry Springer in this country. Coming from the US, it has all the swear words bleeped out. These words would be broadcastable in this country after 9pm, and I’m quite comfortable about that. But broadcasters here do cut out moments of extreme violence and confrontation that were the trademark of the original show that this opera parodies – and I’m very pleased about that.)

What matters here is that the lie about the number of expletives – repeated in Conlan’s article referenced above and in The Sun today – was one of several lies in a campaign deliberately designed to outrage the Christian community.

What matters here is that John Beyer and Tara Conlan (and the lovely minions of Murdoch over at The Sun) spread these lies not to protect the public, but to further their own agenda.

What matters here is that – in these days of increased conservative confidence, with a recently stung and still vulnerable broadcaster, following a disgraceful incident of mob censorship – they very nearly got away with it.

I don’t think it’s entirely unfair to describe this as incitement to religious hatred. I’m seriously considering that criminal charges are in order at this stage. What do you think?

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 7, 2005

Category: Christ..., Rupert 'The Evil One' Murdoch

By jingo, by crikey!

Were you to read the fuggin’ Weegend Oztralyan, yew wood lurn that us poms ain’t got no sense at awl no-ow.

Weekend Australian – BBC blasted over Springer show: Christian protesters set fire to their television licences outside the BBC’s London offices today as outrage spread over the public broadcaster’s plans to air a profanity-laden musical.

They did what, where? Bloody hell. Either John Beyer is getting desperate (Burn their goolies! Buurrrn them!) or the Aussies are being told something we’re not.

But let’s get back to John, who is obviously the centre of this (very real) story: “The level of protest is unprecedented,” said John Beyer, director of viewers’ lobby group Mediawatch. “An awful lot of people who pay their licence fee wonder if this should be put on.” British viewers pay around 120 pounds ($300) a year for their colour television licences.

Please note:
1. Murdoch newspaper
2. “Level of protest unprecedented” says man who lied and cheated to make level of protest ‘unprecedented’
3. Australians are obviously meant to stare in wonder at our ability to broadcast colour television

I look forward to watching Jerry Springer – The Opera tomorrow night.

I also look forward to – early next week – bringing you a breakdown of what appears to be a very cosy relationship between Tara Conlan and John Beyer. It seems that they are quite the team. Him with his dreams of being on the telly every other night and her with her unfulfilled dreams of … being on the telly every other night.

Oh my, we are going to have fun.

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 7, 2005

Category: Christ..., Rupert 'The Evil One' Murdoch

OK, Mr Angry Pants is online….

I’ve been in touch with Roly Keating’s office. Sadly they do not have a record or recording of the exchange that led to the following ‘quote’ in the Dec 3 Mail article: At BBC2’s launch of its winter schedule, the station’s controller Roly Keating said the show would “push back the boundaries of taste and decency”.

They do, however, claim that these words were those of the reporter Tara Conlan, and used as part of a question put to Roly Keating on December the 2nd. They further claim that Mr Keating’s answer merely acknowledged that the strong language/content wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste.

I suspect – repeat suspect – that Tara Conlan took this as such a strong confirmation of her point that she presented her words as his answer in her article.

I further suspect that the origin of the question (or the phrasing of the question) was John Beyer.


Posted by Tim Ireland at January 6, 2005

Category: Christ..., Page 3 - News in Briefs, Rupert 'The Evil One' Murdoch

Today, Page 3 girl Ruth (22, from Kent) ‘can’t believe’ the Beeb is showing Jerry Springer The Opera. She says: “I’m not surprised they’ve had complaints about the swearing. Why can’t they plug the Saturday night telly gap with good sitcoms or quiz shows instead?”

RWCs have known for a long time that the best defence it to be downright offensive, so it’s no surprise that The Scum are running with this following news that makes it absolutely clear why Murdoch has an interest in attacking the BBC. But this story didn’t originate at The Sun


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