Saturday, January 06, 2007

# Posted 11:05 PM by Patrick Porter  

CENSORSHIP A MILE HIGH: Hey all, happy new year! I could be mistaken, but in my travels I caught a faint whiff of what some people call secularist fundamentalism - the movement to forge an irreligious public sphere as a reaction to the dangers of religious fundamentalism.

For the record, I share secularists' concerns about the role of religious fundamentalism in public life, and agree that the separation of Church and State is a sound principle.

But the separation of faith is distinct from the total privatisation of faith. Here's what happened:

On board my flight back from Australia, I watched the excellent British film 'The Queen.' Only, ever time a character was about to mention 'God', the film would silence or blank out the word, so only their mouths moved.

Of course, there might be some far more innocent explanation. But regardless, the effect was quite insidious (and seemed to reflect a similar impulse in the hypersensitivity of some about celebrating or even mentioning Christmas).

Is this another tiny blow against pluralism, another gesture to the hard-core secularists whose battle-cries sometimes sound a little too much like their religious enemies?

Moreover, it was pretty counterproductive. Instead of the unspectacular effect of hearing the Queen invoke the Almighty, the silence lent a weird power to the name of God. In that vacuum, God suddenly seemed much more prominent, and more impressive than an hour-long sermon could have made Him.

Does purging spirituality from the public sphere in some ways strengthen it?
(12) opinions -- Add your opinion

Wish you a happy and prosperous new year.
what airline?
It was Air New Zealand. And it appears that this is happening to the film on other airlines:

Patrick, while I sahre your concerns, I think you've got it exactly backwards here. I'm pretty sure that "God" was purged from the film to avoid offending religious conservatives (not all of whom are Christian by any means), not radical seculars.
God save the Queen.
Were there any Hispanic characters in the film named Jesus? Were their names blanked out as well?
Porter, is there a reason you chose to ask about 'purging spirituality from the public sphere,' as opposed to purging religion? 'Spirituality' suggests a fuzzy kind of concern, while the prohibition against saying 'God' is at least clear, if a bit silly (to continue a theme of mine from another thread.)

I'd think the effect of being purged on a religion would depend on what sort of religion it was. Christianity began as a persecuted sect, yet its founder counseled acceptance of the state's authority as far as it went. I'm not aware of any such textual support for accepting a government of nonbelievers in Islam, though I know much less about that faith.
The Lord moves in mysterious ways. :-)
I saw that film last week while traveling to the US from London on British Air and I did not notice any such censorship. I think I would have noticed if it had occurred.
The following is a story which appeared in today's "NZ Herald" newspaper:

"Bleep save the Queen on Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand has apologised after the airline screened a version of The Queen that bleeped out all references to God.
A passenger on an Air NZ flight to London said she was surprised to find that the word "God" had been edited out on every occasion in the film, which stars Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth. She was even more puzzled that swearing was not edited out of another in-flight movie, The Departed, on the same journey.
Air NZ spokeswoman Pam Wong confirmed referencs to God had been deleted from its in-flight screening of The Queen on that particular journey but this was not the airline's policy.
"We had been given the incorrect version of the film" said Ms Wong.
"We don't have a policy of censoring any of our material because we have parental locks on movies with extreme violence or inappropriate language". A "new version" should be available soon".

[ Comment: For which airlines are such censored versions of films produced?! ]]
You may be interested in this piece, which appeared in the Guardian on Saturday:
It's not a terribly good article, but there are a couple of interesting ideas here and there.
Great to see you on Saturday - Rob.
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