You may protest that this is a false equivalency, that the above-mentioned things are different from Christianity, which is merely belief. But that would simply be picking and choosing what you personally feel is open to ridicule - what's left is, by definition, sacred.
You may say, "I'm secure in my beliefs - go ahead and mock." Well, to be honest, we'd be in the same boat, you and I. As a Christian, I suppose I wouldn't mind watching "Life of Brian".
But to put ourselves in the shoes of the protesters - would you want the next generation to grow up in an environment where, say, the science of evolution is the target of mockery? (I imagine in some parts of the US that's not so far from the truth.) My point is, laughter is a powerful weapon. And children laughing along at the jokes may not catch all of the nuance outlined in the BBC article. Even if nothing is sacred, some things may still be important enough to try to influence the culture over.
Were the protests silly? Did they end up achieving the opposite of what they intended? Sure. But that's a matter of results, not purpose.
Maybe we should all learn to think twice before we laugh.
Is it? You've tried to distill things down to belief or sanctity, but if we go one step further, we're talking about opinion. E.g. "It is my opinion x is sacred."
The actual false equivalency to me would be that we can freely strip down facts and science to mere opinion and sanctity. "The Earth is sphere-like is an opinion and I hold it sacred." Sure, people are welcome to question facts, but the bar is higher if you actually want others to believe your version.
And that's the difference. If I have a differing view challenging a fact or theory, well, prove it. Do the work beyond just opening my mouth. Science is always trying to self-correct. One man in the system may hold firm to a belief without merit, but his colleagues may not, and what is provable lives on. But if one decides to have a different religion or decides gruyere is better, they don't have to prove anything to anyone, except maybe themselves.
If there is a time where the science of evolution is mocked and laughed at, because of the inherent bar of provability, I think we'll be fine either way.
"Maybe we should all learn to think twice before we laugh."
I personally think it would be healthier for people to learn to accept constructive criticism and be the butt of a joke once in awhile.
Which, if we get back to the heart of the matter (rather than "science"), The Life of Brian isn't just mockery for mockery's sake. It's satire and satire is meant to provoke and challenge thought, to raise questions. It is the opinion's humorous version of an opposing scientific view. The bar of quality is not so high as a scientific proof, but satire generally only works when the questions it raises are valid.
"It's satire and satire is meant to provoke and challenge thought, to raise questions."
That's a good way to separate mockery and satire, but unfortunately on sensitive subjects I get the feeling that some people may be so used to getting the former that it's hard to distinguish the latter. Humour can open up a conversation, but it can just as easily shut it down. And with a movie, it all comes down to the one watching; even well-meaning satire can end up being received as mockery, by both those who agree with the views presented and those who disagree. The result may end up being less thought-provoking and more calcifying pre-existing opinions.
Anyhow, I didn't intend to stir up debate re. science vs. faith. There's a much longer conversation that could be had there. My original intent was simply to try to provoke a bit of empathy, regardless of what one's beliefs may be.
You guys sound like the teenager whose parents (priests and theologians) are "always going on about that" wrt his drug usage. "No mom and pop. I don't have a drug problem. I can self-correct myself any time I want in time for Varsity."
Have to get right down the list of definitions, to the very end, to find a secular usage of sacred. Which then makes a circular religious dependency: "treating a policy or law as though it had religious significance, deserving of sacred separation".
I'd argue we have almost a duty to hold precisely nothing sacred of itself, perhaps especially those held sacred. "Because that's the way it is" and "because some people 1,000 years ago said so" are damn poor reasons to leave something alone. Heresy and blasphemy should be especially encouraged. If there really is a $deity, it can handle a little ridicule, or it would have created beings that did not ridicule the system.
> Maybe we should all learn to think twice before we laugh.
I couldn't agree more. What we choose to ridicule matters greatly.
The institutions, systems, social mores and assumptions I am so wholly a part of I no longer see them, those are deserving of endless and ongoing ridicule at every opportunity. At least until a majority wonder if the historic choices are actually the best approach or conclusion. I want extensive heresy of government, the system - any and every system, human choices, churches and all organised religions, of buildings and social habits. They are all choices, sometimes made a very long time ago. That includes the multiple, wildly diverging and mutually exclusive views held by all the different sorts of Christians. Ridicule the silly edifice they built, and rules they make, but not who they are.
On matters of biology or what you cannot choose, well those are fundamentally different. You can't change an accident of birth, the processes of biology or ageing, the car crash that cost you your legs, or skin colour. Yet I don't hold those sacred either, just that they not be used as a means of discrimination, repression and othering. Targeting $other for being that way is not OK. Making reference to $self and ridiculing $self's disability, upbringing, biology, features and culture is perfectly fine.
Which is why religious folks are so easily threatened.
Laughter is a fantastic weapon because it is most effective against pompous bullies.
You are wasting your time. All people of faith believe that everyone else's beliefs are based on insane delusions and that their beliefs is based on evidence and truth and so they cannot do an unbiased comparison of their beliefs with others. Comparing belief in e.g. rights for sexual minorities with e.g. Islam is always going to be seen as a false equivalency. Just like the Muslim is going to see a comparsion of belief in e.g. feminism as a false equivalency with Islam. You see, the Quran is based on truth while feminism is based on an insane delusion.
They can't both be right. At least one of them is wrong.
Plenty of people of faith do not believe that, even within the Abrahamic monotheistic religions, which are known for being particularly exclusionary.
It seems that we haven't outgrown blasphemy. We merely go from one regime to another regime. And specifying the new blasphemies can itself be blasphemous.
It was absolutely withering on stupidity, though. Stupidity will always get the sand kicked in its face, even though The Stupid are a by-god majority everywhere you look!
Some of The Stupid were even out protesting it, but brought along the wrong signs.
Yes, although it does give Reg the last word, who claimed that Loretta was struggling against reality.
Regardless, that scene would I'm sure be regarded as too offensive to be released nowadays. The BBC article either didn't notice or they simply ducked the issue. My original comment, an innocuous statement plus link to a YT clip of the scene, was flagged and removed by HN.
> And children laughing along at the jokes may not catch all of the nuance outlined in the BBC article.
Children miss a lot of nuance in contexts. To assume such is always going to be nefarious..?
 I witnessed it first hand as atheist growing up in a Catholic region.
I assumed that because of it's age, it would be at least a bit outdated.
Perhaps it was just way ahead of it's time?
John Cleese has said that the Goon Show "influenced us enormously", and many well-known Monty Python's sketches like "The Funniest Joke in the World"  can be traced to the Goon's jokes like dropping 1918 calendars on Berlin to force Germans surrender (in episode "World War One").
For some reason, it also made a successful radio show in South Africa, Finland and Sweden. The latter two are translations (but set in UK like the original). Taylor wrote new episodes for Finland even after the show was discontinued in UK.
There was also an Indian spin off sometime in the nineties.. did sort of ok but iirc got called since it ruffled a few feathers here
They took a lot of ideas and turned them up to absurd. One or two turned out to be actually happening like they thought they'd only imagined. Others were grounded on real events.
One of the two writers, Jonathon Lynne I think, went to Oxford or Cambridge, and took part in the debating society. He mentioned something I heard mentioned again recently regarding Boris Johnson and his government cronies university and school days - so perhaps no wonder it seems horribly familiar again. Something roughly along the lines of university debate club being filled with self-important overblown and pompous asses, sure of their right to rule the world, and to be in the right by mere opening of their mouth, endlessly spouting crap and winging it. Yes Minister was born here. :)
A decade or two later all those pompous asses were populating the government and opposition benches, spouting the same crap.
Because, like, no Facebook and stuff?
Heck, most of Connie Willis' earlier books--which I do like but also involve people running around and constantly not being able to locate someone--really don't make sense in a world where people carry phones.
Some stuff is excellent but not all. It made more sense when the BBC interstitial was contemporary. (Goodies did the same thing with itv ad break intro pattern). The 'fake end of transmission' was also done by Spike Milligan. It got so we'd stay watching ten minutes after broadcast in case something was coming back.
One time in 1974 the BBC cancelled the broadcast for pompidou's death and we rang to complain. Outrage! How dare surreal humour be stopped for some french presidents carcass?
Given Chapman's homosexuality it has to be ironic. The cross dressing and ooo you are awful mincing stuff: It just doesn't seem funny to me any more.
Saw them live in the seventies, they were an excellent ensemble and Niel Innes (rutles) deserves more recognition for his pythyon role (he brought the kings theatre, edinburgh to a standstill reprising Elton John's 'tommy' gig with one chord)
Terry Gilliam nude at a piano and John Cleese nude as BBC presenter felt like some of the first male nudity on screen.
The concept of the boarding schools were because they worried the compassion of women raising young men would make them too weak. Their whole foundation was frankly of the "so misogynistic it winds up automatically homosexual because women can't be considered people by them". I state homosexual as opposed to gay because it refers to behavior rather than preferences. Surprisingly the majority won't choose celibacy over their preferred gender - so women are subsitited for men despite a preference for them. The crossdressing speaks to both the "boys club" society and the "easy to laugh at" - comedy actors are usually about average or below in attractiveness.
Graham Chapman also was very to the "ubermanly men". It could have been a "stop being stereotypical" thing - a "it should be laughed at because the mincing is ridiculous" attitude.
Life of Brian is the Python that really aged well for me because it does have that satirical element that goes deeper than most of the things they did.
I immediately remembered several movies with Peter Alexander from the early 60s like "Charlys Tante" or Billy Wilder's "Some Like It Hot".
Although in the latter there are several scenes going beyond "men in women's clothes are funny" and homosexual acts are evoked in the viewer's minds (but of course never actually called on screen).
Coincidentally, youtube suggested it to me last night, and I watched it. That Archbishop of whatever was generally lying when responding to Cleese's (very commonly held) points about how nobody tells you we don't know who wrote the Gospels, or even in what city, and that there's quite a bit of argument about when they were written. And even more about the common content, and why it's in different orders in each gospel (except John, which is really different, and Jesus is 40 years old at the time of the crucifixion).
It was as if the two old fops hadn't even watched the movie in question. I'm surprised Palin and Cleese didn't just tear into them. Maybe I'm just used to folks live-tweeting events like that nowadays.
Monty Python was a genius comedy troupe, but all you have to do is look at the sad life that Cleese ultimately led to see they may not be a source of inspiration for how you should lead your life.
The disciples of Jesus on the other hand were, with one exception, killed for their beliefs. The one exception being John, who died in exile on an island.
I'm not sure I understand what you're saying here. Seems like a pretty interesting life to me, but you know, facts don't matter any more. He's still alive too, which the "ultimately led" part makes me think you're thinking of someone else, Graham Chapman, perhaps?
Also, bit of a diversionary argument that the author of the movie's life (sad or otherwise) is a source of inspiration for anything. Cleese was arguing with upper crust britons. The points that Cleese made, and that were ignored by said britons in favor of putting words in Cleese's mouth are the issue here. I also think that the (semi-legendary) fates of the apostoles is also diversionary. Those fates, true or false, fact or legend, really don't have too much to do with how Cleese and Palin's arguments were treated by the Bishop and Muggeridge.
Wikipedia maybe says it well: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synoptic_Gospels
> they include many of the same stories, often in a similar
> sequence and in similar or sometimes identical wording.
> They stand in contrast to John, whose content is largely distinct.
This is reasonably well known among scholars, but not super common knowledge. I believe this is clearly what Cleese was complaining about, and what the Bishop tried to gloss over by claiming that knowledge is commonly imparted by religious education.
There's also things like the "Johannine Comma" (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannine_Comma), and the ending of Mark (https://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=201104301236...), if you want to dig deeper.
Is there a claimed inconsistency you would seek to have explained?
John Cleese claimed that a "public school" education netted him a negative impression of christianity. Cleese referred to the received christianity as garbage. Cleese went on to remark that upon looking into the Gospels, one finds that there's a good deal of confusion about who wrote them, when they were written, and even in what language and what city. This is true, by the way. The Bishop of Bath and Wells or whatever brushed Cleese's observations off by claiming that Cleese just didn't pay attention, that all that was laid out in front of everyone. I sincerely doubt that any of that is front and center, because that (after of course, The 7 Day Creation) is the main thing about christianity. Admitting that the foundational documents are of obvious human construction, contain non-unified views of Jesus, and don't even have all the same stories in the same order blows a huge hole in the side of organized christianity. The Bishop of Bath and Wells (or whatever) was definitely lying and trying to cover that aspect of the new testament up.
Its clearer now that broadcasting hot spots of New York City and Los Angeles were not prudish about content in the early 20th century, while the Oklahoma's of the nation only wanted fully clothed people, speaking very cordial language, as long as all the actors were white or portrayed segregated culture. Strange to think how that influenced a dynasty of casting decisions still seen today.
And yes, I think the history is especially interesting around visible versus invisible minorities. Plenty of people in the Hollywood of old were GLBTQ and got away with it because they could hide it. But that didn't work for racial bias.
To add to your second point, a lot of European and Middle Eastern people changed their names to blend into the white majority power as their subgroup was not seen favorably for most of the 20th century and were many times not considered to be part of an amorphous “white” group which meant worse treatment in jobs housing credit and court rulings, this issue and distinction has mostly evaporated with "white" being expanded and reduced to skin tones in the later 20th century in the US with there very little interest or cognizance of pre-US heritage. This just being another example how invisible minorities and ability to "pass" to attain privileges, where people with different skin tones and visible phenotypes simply could not change those things and discovered that people with other similar phenotypes experienced surprisingly similar outcomes.
> In Britain, opposition wasn’t as fierce, but there was plenty of it. Some local councils banned the film, a measure which did it no harm at all: people would simply flock to the nearest city where it was showing.
This is a bit confusing but we have the BBFC who gave the film an AA (14 or over) age rating when it was released in cinemas, and then mostly 15s for the home releases, and most recently a 12A.
On top of the BBFC we have local councils who licence venues for entertainment, and some of those councils banned cinemas from showing the film.
Some of those bans were pretty long. I think Glasgow had a 30 year ban.
It's not a good situation.
Every year, the religion teacher at my school would organise a day together with the other class' teacher, where students of both classes would spend the hours together, and the activity chosen was a showing of Life of Brian.
I've always remember that as a beautiful idea. It's a movie that roasts everyone from believers to left wing associations, and yet with pretty clean humor - so it was an amazing tool to teach students of both "sides" the lesson that it's ok to laugh at yourself and to get along with others.
Of course the absurdity of it is that the film's biggest target for ridicule was the left wing of British politics at the time. It barely touched actual Christianity.
But as the article mentions, it was the next film that leaned in to the criticism of Christianity (albeit mostly mocking the modern day Church and not Christ).
Muggeridge and the bishop sounded incredibly pompous and anachronistic, even in 1979. The Catholic church particularly organised a fabulous publicity campaign for the Pythons. Every few days yet another fossilised Arch something-or-other relic turned up in the news to complain of a film they hadn't even watched.
I thought Meaning of Life carefully directed at ridiculous Papal edicts and Catholic dogma, vs equally ridiculous CofE flavoured Protestantism, rather than anything against Christianity itself. It was wildly heretical - against the church, but not blasphemous. And had the Galaxy Song, so should have been far more successful than it was. :)
Yes. And at the beginning as well.
So how does USA and Britain doing the exact same thing, to roughly similar extent prove any difference or historic need to separate?
I wouldn't say that. The main plot of the film is a regular guy accidentally becoming the head of a major religion, despite his protests and his exasperation, all the way to being crucified like Jesus.
The Judean People's Front stuff is at most a B-plot.
Alone these 'heretics' are not a threat, but as soon as two get together it's no longer about one lunatic deviant who you can ignore, but a social phenomenon.
The more you have heretics the stronger their social proof field becomes, enticing people away.
Religions are much more understandable as social movement and political constructs that lean heavily on propaganda rather than as methods of investigation into the nature of reality.
Organised religion is about control. Heresy was just as serious as blasphemy - both could get you executed. Can't have people saying anything against the church, they might start to question their tithes.
They know they won’t change anyone’s mind. But the action of standing up for their beliefs makes them feel like part of something. Part of their tribe.
They can't understand either
If you said a joke 10 years ago, i.e. blasphemed against some sacred topic, you can't host the Oscars anymore.
It was stupid then and it's stupid now. It sure looks like humans need to fill the void of religion with something.
But scratching my head as to why things like this end up on Hacker News? Seems to happen a lot these days.
> On-Topic: Anything that good hackers would find interesting. That includes more than hacking and startups. If you had to reduce it to a sentence, the answer might be: anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity.
I'd say this type of thing most-definitely applies here.
This little thread of mine is an intellectual discussion.
However, I'm fully aware that many in this community deem fit to vote me down for having it.
Maybe this trend is inevitable because people spend a lot of time here (as I do). It's a forum after all. Focus on tech and intellectual pursuit gets diluted in general conversation.
And that's really a loss.
They will, but now instead of a well known place where the police/FBI know they are going to go, they'll be deeper underground.
Sort of like the whole shutting down craigslist and other personals sites because they were a haven for sex trafficking - so instead of having a well-known place where law enforcement could find illicit activity, the activity was driven farther underground and harder to find.
A bit of philosophy is ok. In a way.
(Though religion and politics can fall in to that category and start fires)
But recently I've seen quite a bit of 'non-tech' stuff.
Just an observation.
Also: I am not Brian.