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December 4, 2005

Support your local retailers

by Feòrag

United Kingdom: Two major retail chains have bowed to pressure from a tiny "Christian" group and stopped selling DVDs of Jerry Springer: the Opera

Woolworths and Sainsbury have both taken the unprecedented step of removing the film from shelves because of customer concerns about the content of the musical, released three weeks ago. Sainsbury has admitted it received just 10 complaints.

Presuming this is the miniscule Christian Voice, it seems that Steve Green now wants to control what you can watch in the comfort of your own home as well as what you can see on the telly.

This is not the first time the Sainsbury supermarket has found itself in league with barking mad fundies. Back in the 1980s, the wealthy Sainsbury family, which owns the chain, gave money to Derry Knight, a con man convicted in April 1986, who claimed to have escaped an elite Satanic group led by Willie Whitelaw, a senior government minister at the time.

Knight gained entrée into a circle of determined anti-Satanists who gave him several hundred thousand pounds to fund his campaign to bring others into the light. Contributors included the enormously rich family which owns Britain's Sainsbury's supermarket chain, and other wealthy supporters of the Charismatic movement. One of the most prominent was the wife of Timothy Sainsbury, the Conservative MP and anti-pornography campaigner. She claimed to have experienced the gifts of prophecy and glossolalia at a Bible meeting for parliamentary wives at the House of Commons.

Stores bow to Christians and ban Jerry Springer DVDThe Independent on Sunday, 4th December 2005. (via MediaWatchWatch); Prof. Dr. Philip Jenkins, "The New Witch-Hunt: Evangelical Christians and the Invention of the Satanic Threat"Millenium: Fear and Religion (IV Conference of the Sociedad Española de Ciencias de las Religiones), 3rd-6th February 2000. See also Jenkins' Intimate Enemies: Moral Panics in Contemporary Great Britain, 1992.

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Posted in Jerry Springer: The Opera and Stephen 'Dogshit' Green at 13:15. Last modified on December 23 2008 at 12:03.
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1: Posted by: G. Tingey | December 4, 2005 5:17 PM

Publicity is being given to this insanity (see Buuterflies and WHeels for instance)
It is to be hope sainsbugs wake up to the fact that they've been had - again ....

2: Posted by: G. Tiongey | December 5, 2005 12:48 PM

Secondly and I repeat:-

All religions are blackmail.
All religions are based on fear and superstition.

And this is blackmail, pure and simple.

3: Posted by: Red Wolf | December 6, 2005 12:55 AM

As the tried and true fundie method of blackmail works so well, why on earth don't the saner members of the public use the same tactics? Surely a couple of hundred letters stating that you've be forced to take your business elsewhere because their shop has elected to stop stocking the products you're interested in would catch their interest.

Perhaps the raging apathy of the great unwashed masses has something to do with the fundies being allowed to dictate policy.

4: Posted by: Feòrag | December 6, 2005 12:31 PM

Indeed, neither Woolworth nor Sainsbury will get any of my money for the foreseeable future, and I might well let them know why. The MediaWatchWatch article linked to at the end of the post contains links to both companies' feedback forms, and the comments thread attached to it shows that more than 10 people have written to complain about the removal. They've also lost the business of more people than they gained -- I doubt your average fundie is sophisticated enough to know what to do with the sort of groceries Sainsbury sells anyway.

I also get a bit angry when I see stories like this one, but then I remember the stushie over the Bank of Scotland and Pat Robertson, which makes me feel happier.

5: Posted by: Red Wolf | December 6, 2005 9:27 PM

Delightful. Aren't Focus on the Family the press wing of the KKK? Admittedly, that's probably a badge of honour in parts of the US, but it doesn't make them look terribly good elsewhere.

I wonder how Wells Fargo and Ford would feel if they were outed in the press for supporting lunatic-fringe hatemongers and racists.

6: Posted by: Greenster | December 8, 2005 1:53 PM

Hi there,

Came to your site via a beeb article.

I appreciate your stance and have a deal in common with it. I am actually a Christian, but that’s my choice and you don’t have to be.

I also think, since I do believe it all, that the whole God thing — if there was one — would be quite capable of looking after himself (generically neutral term in this instance).

The Springer Opera was of course offensive to Christians, so I of course watched some of it, but got bored and turned it off.

I do have a point to this rambling: it is very easy to become the same as the intolerant thing you oppose — extremely easy in fact. If you’ve ever listened to a Split Enz song “Bullet Brain and Cactus Head” it would say it all.

I would have said to the offended Christians prior to Springer — don’t watch it.

However if one were a slightly insecure Christian (the term has become almost nauseating due to the baggage that has been attached to it over the years), but if one were, then Springer, The Opera would have been deeply offensive and hurtful. After all the core belief — ignoring the crap portrayed in the media — is that pure love became manifest and having done some Good Things, allowed himself to be executed in a pretty horrendous way and go to Hell, in order to allow us ordinary lot to approach God without having to worry about our past murders, stealing, adultery, screwing around, envy, greed, etc... The Springer production basically takes the pee out of God and is offensive to that set of people who believe in it.

Okay — but one should be allowed to choose to watch what one wants — Basic freedom. But does this include paedophilia? “Dogging” videos shot in car parks? Badger baiting? — Okay they’re illegal, but only because some people stood up and said that these activities are offensive and undesirable, uncivilised, etc. So to many is taking the piss out of something that is to many people holy!

I don’t know the answer, but it seems to me that there is a great deal of intolerance on your site and in the reaction to the Sainsbury / Woolies ban on the Springer DVD.

Dunno! — I’m stuck and there are people a lot cleverer than I who can debate it, but I would caution against becoming the same as the very thing one hates!

All the best


7: Posted by: AJ | December 8, 2005 5:34 PM

Like the Greenster, I came here via the BBC. Unlike him, I have no strong Christian affiliations.

Personally I wouldn't touch the Springer opera DVD with a bargepole, but if other people want to watch it, then that's their choice. I certainly won't stop them.

Freedom of speech, especially when you have to go out of your way to hear such speech, is VERY different to paedophilia on so many levels. Jerry Springer is not forcibly denying anyone else their freedom, for a start. Forced censorship is denying people the freedom to see and hear things that challenge the accepted views of the establishment (an important function in society, IMHO), and strikes me as being more intolerant than defending the right to joke at the expense of Christianity (I make the distinction from God here, but having not seen the DVD I don't know if this is justified).

8: Posted by: Feòrag | December 8, 2005 7:33 PM

Greenster: just to let you know I had to edit your comment because it was full of high-end characters that got garbled. Normally I'd just delete such comments, but yours was interesting and well thought out. A note about curly quotes and similar has been added to the comment form templates.

As you note, child pornography is illegal, but that's because making it involves someone who cannot consent to being in it because they are too young; same with any other video taken and shown without the consent of the participants. In the case of Jerry Springer: the Opera, the actors all agreed to take part and were paid to do so.

A better analogy would be if Muslims started complaining about supermarkets selling pork (even though they don't buy meat from that store because they don't stock Halal meat), or if Hindus compalined about them selling beef (even though they don't buy meat from that store because they don't eat meat), or if they orchestrated a campaign to stop them selling meat at all, because it is offensive to their sensibilities to be in the same shop as it. And anyway, it's bad for you...