Friday, 21 November 2008

CPS incitement to disorder?

Baltic Flour Mills Visual Arts Trust put up a statue of Our Blessed Lord with an erect penis. The statue is a modified traditional statue of the Sacred Heart as I discover from the Guardian website which sees fit to include a picture of it. 

Emily Mapfuwa, a Christian from Essex, took out a private prosecution on the grounds that the statue outraged public decency. The Baltic Flour Mills people were bracing themselves for a trial by jury but then the Crown Prosecution Service intervened and ruled that there was no case to answer. Their statement included the following:
"We have taken into account all the circumstances, including the fact that there was no public disorder relating to the exhibition and that there was a warning at the entrance to the gallery about the nature of the work on display. The case has therefore been discontinued."
The CPS press release includes a statement from the Chief Crown Prosecutor Nicola Reasbeck, in which she says,
"Under the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985, which set up the CPS, we have the right to take over a private prosecution and prosecute it ourselves, take it over and stop the case, or allow the private prosecution to continue."
 Neil Addison of the Thomas More Legal centre is quoted in this week's Catholic Herald as pointing out that the CPS is only supposed to take this sort of action in cases which are "oppressive" or "perverse" - neither of which applies in this case.

Many commentators have observed that the reference to the lack of violence is almost an incitement to Christians to go to such exhibitions and wreck them. If you are tempted to do this, do bear in mind that anti-terrorism legislation may very well be invoked and you could be slammed up for ages with vastly reduced rights.

It is worth noting that this judgement discriminates particularly against Christians. We do not generally resort to violence. Around the world at the moment, Christians are subjected to violence in many countries but do not retaliate with terrorism. I am sure that many secularists would love to see Christians goaded into violent action so that the secularist portrayal of religious "fundamentalism" can be supported by news articles about enthusiastic Christians smashing statues. The pictures won't show evidence of the blasphemous and obscene nature of the displays.

I rather feel like repeating my encouragement to people to read Michael O'Brien's "Father Elijah". (This combox has a couple of suggestions for how to obtain the book apart from my link to Amazon UK.)
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