As the cartoon controversy intensifies, two things become clear.
One is that the rationalists, the debunkers of religious myth, the righteous campaigners against primitive superstition, the brave artistic iconoclasts, are remarkably quiet.
The Indie hasn't put the cartoons on its front page. Nor has the Guardian, or New Statesman.
Richard Dawkins is quiescent, Johann Hari schtum.
Gilbert and George aren't planning a new show devoted to images of Mohammed.
BBC television, which was happy to offend Christians, blurs out the offending images in its news reports, as if the story is about hard core pornography.
A Simon Carr in the Indie has an explanation.
"Rowan Atkinson has been publicly worrying that the (Religious Hatred) Bill will stop comedians making jokes about Islam. Comedians don't make jokes about Islam. They make jokes about politicians and Jesus Christ and English vicars but we're just too frigging gutless to apply the same satirical intensity to Islam. The penalties, as Theo van Gogh found out, can be more severe than anything [government minister] Mr. Goggins is proposing."
Which is the second strange thing. Because, as we're always being told, the death penalty isn't a deterrent. And the people who tell us that are the same people who are keeping their heads down now.
PS - the verdict in the BNP trial is due today.
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