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Not acceptable to all those who believe in respect for all religions

Via Padraig Reidy at Index on Censorship, a new depth of absurdity.

An Early day motion (query: wozzat?) in Parliament a week ago:

That this House notes with concern the sketch on the NBC Jay Leno Show where the most sacred Sikh shrine, the Golden Temple, was disrespected by Jay Leno when it was referred to as GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s summer home; expresses concern and regret that this depiction of the Golden Temple as a home of the rich shows a complete misunderstanding of the Sikh faith and is derogatory to Sikhs across the world; believes that these comments are not acceptable to all those who believe in respect for all religions; calls on Jay Leno and NBC to apologise to all Sikhs for this disrespectful depiction of the Golden Temple; and further calls on the Government to make representations to the US government that while recognising principles of freedom of speech there should be more understanding and respect shown to the Sikh faith.

What? Are they serious? Can they possibly be serious?

Let’s look at that sketch then.

That’s funny.

It’s also an outrage, in the usual way – it shows how rich religious organizations get and how lavishly they spend their money on baubles for the organization. This is particularly outrageous in India, which has – is it 3 million people? 7 million? – living on less than a dollar a day.

But that’s not what that ridiculous motion, sponsored by Virendra Sharma, was getting at. No, that motion was nagging a comedian and a tv network to “respect all religions” which means making no jokes in any way related to them.

It’s unbelievably pathetic.

Comments

  1. Dave says

    That would be three HUNDRED million in that kind of poverty… But hey, what does that matter when you can pimp yourself out to the religious sensibilities of a well-organised chunk of your Southall constituency with this kind of language?

  2. Stonyground says

    I take it that this is not about the Sikhs themselves getting all offended but other people getting offended on their behalf?

  3. says

    Early day motions are motions suggested to the speaker for debate if they have an “early day” i.e. if all the business of the house is completed before the official end of the session. Since parliamentary sessions usually go over time, EDMs virtually never get debated. If several hundred MPs sign the motion then the government might make time for it. This one has only six signatories and hasn’t a hope of being debated. They are usually used to show constituents that they have their interests at heart. In this case I would bet that the MPs who signed it have large Sikh communities in their constituencies.

  4. says

    It’s proving surprisingly hard to tell. Maybe he’s secular. He doesn’t wear a turban, fer sher. The Tory candidate does.

    There’s a lot of rancorous India-based sectarian anger directed at him on discussion boards, I can tell you that. Sigh. So useful for British politics to be entangled with who did what to which temple or what mosque in India.

  5. says

    Virendra Sharma is not Sikh. Sikh men have the Surname of Singh (It means Lion. Women have the surname of Kaur). He is a Hindu.

    It’s basically trying to kick up a fuss about a joke. I didn’t see any of them bitching about the british asian comedy Goodness Gracious Me which is far more satirical about asians and their relationship to white people than a joke about Mitt Romney’s house. (I urge you to find it on youtube. The parody ranges from Indian Takeaway houses to white people who think cultural sensitivity = turn a blind eye to honour killings) It’s a phenomenally smart sketch show.

    I have actually been to Amritsar. The Golden Temple is kind of interesting in a communal sort of way. The Sikhs adopted tennents of hindu and islamic belief. So the beards and hair are Islamic. But it’s weirder. Since women must have their hair covered in front of their more nebulous idea of a creator (A La Islam) Men also cover their hair in solidarity. At the entrance there is a big box of hair covers and bandanas that you put on. The only rules are no photography, no littering and respect. In the Gurudwara all humans are equal and from prince to pauper one must do service (So as an atheist I swept a floor for a while).

    Now what my gripe is this… An entire building shod in gold and the best joke you could do was a Mitt Romney one when Gold Standard Mc. Libertarian Ron Paul is in the same list of people you were making fun of?

  6. Michael Fugate says

    If someone wants to joke that Alain de Botton’s “atheist temple” is Mitt Romney’s vacation home in London, I promise I won’t be outraged and offended.

  7. Sili says

    these comments are not acceptable to all those who believe in respect for all religions

    Who are these people “those who believe in respect for all religions” and where were the when the tenants association reprimanded me for sacrificing the trick-or-treaters to Baal?

  8. Sili says

    If someone wants to joke that Alain de Botton’s “atheist temple” is Mitt Romney’s vacation home in London, I promise I won’t be outraged and offended.

    I find it hard to believe that Romney would stoop to live in a house costing a measly 1 million pounds.

  9. Deepak Shetty says

    @Avicenna
    Virendra Sharma is not Sikh. Sikh men have the Surname of Singh (It means Lion. Women have the surname of Kaur). He is a Hindu.
    Not necessarily true.
    http://tekeli.li/onomastikon/India/Sikh/Surnames.html

    @Stonyground
    I take it that this is not about the Sikhs themselves getting all offended but other people getting offended on their behalf?
    Anecdotally I would think that’s the case. Most Sikh’s I know have a much better sense of humor than to be offended by some comedian. However London does have a history of clashes so the Sikh’s there (usually in southall) might be more easily offended.

  10. evilDoug says

    Once again, I supect this is a case of someone, Virendra Sharma, opportunistically exploiting something for personal gain.

    I wonder how often politicians express disgust at jokes about Amish or Jehovah’s Witnesses, or Mormons – jokes that are far from rare in television programs and in movies. But those jokes tend to be about people, not books or prophets or buildings, so I guess they don’t matter as much.

  11. says

    A lawsuit in California – accusing Leno of “hurting the sentiments” of blah blah blah.

    Dude, wake up, “hurting the sentiments” of someone doesn’t fly as grounds for suing in the US. That phrase has legs in India for some reason, but here it sounds like a petulant kindergarten baby who hasn’t learned to Play With Others yet.

  12. A Bear says

    Regarding the use of “Singh” in Sikh names; my understanding is that it should be used in all male names.I have usually seen it as a middle name.

  13. Roger says

    a) EDM’s have no legislative force whatsoever.

    b) Only 6 out of 600-odd MPs have signed it.

    c) Of these 6 Jeremy Corbyn is a bearded ultra left imbecile who will support any cause that presents itself as ‘anti-imperialist’ John McDonnell is usually a rather more sensible Labour Leftist whose constituency however contains many Sikh voters and Vivendra Sharma similarly owes his majority to a significant Sikh population.

    So this really is just what in the US is called pandering.

  14. says

    ‘No Respect for Bullshit’ entails ‘No Respect for Religion’.
    It is astonishing that always those endorsing the most ridiculous convictions expect and demand the most publicly displayed respect.
    Judging from how successful they often are, I wonder why all child molesters in the world have not yet united to declare that they believe that molesting children will make them immortal, so that they must be respected instead of being punished.
    Perhaps I should found my own religion which demands of its followers to spray deodorant all over people who do not follow this religion because the higher power I believe in thinks they stink! How about that?

  15. says

    A Bear

    A lot of Sikhs in the UK use it as a Surname for the same reason that I use mine. It’s easy to pronounce, I shortened my Grandfather’s titanic Ramachandran to Ram simply to make it easier to pronounce since I was tired of people garbling it up. It does help. Not every name is easy to pronounce and having an easy to pronounce name really helps particularly if you have a relatively weird name. And a lot of the names Dinesh put up aren’t unique to Sikhs. Most Sikhs quite prominently display the Singh in their names particularly in the UK.

    1. The original names are a combination of tribal/caste names and are uncomfortable to use. Using Singh simply avoids that issue. It’s part of the idea that Sikhs have (tried) to give up the caste system and so adopt a universal name that stops the differences. In practice the system ran too deep for that.

    2. Normally a lot of Indians use their father’s name as a surname a la Swedish people. So I would be A. Daddy’s Name Grandfather’s Name. My kid would be B My name, Daddy’s Name and so on… It’s highly confusing because in the UK I am Mr. Dad’s Name and my father is Mr. Grandfather’s name because of the naming convention in the UK refers to you formally by your surname. This has lead to a lot of people solidifying their surnames. So when I have kids I intend to make my father’s name a surname.

  16. Sili says

    2. Normally a lot of Indians use their father’s name as a surname a la Swedish people.

    Icelandic.

    Swedish surnames are as fixed as Danish ones, even if they did originate as patronymics.

  17. sailor1031 says

    Well it’s okay, it’s acceptable to me but then, I don’t buy all that religious bullshit. BTW where did Leno identify this stock photo as “the golden temple’? I didn’t hear him say that. Lot of words being put in his mouth here. But fuck it, it’s a joke; not a good one but then it’s Jay Leno…….although it could as easily have been ‘The Onion’.

  18. says

    Iceland? My bad!

    Sailor1031 It’s the Golden Temple. It’s a really famous monument. It’s like the Eiffel Tower or the Taj Mahal or the Giza Pyramids. Everyone should really know what it is and where it is at.

  19. Chris Lawson says

    This is great. Let’s pass a motion in UK parliament to pressure the US government to demand an apology from an American TV host to a group of Sikhs in India who got offended at a joke that wasn’t even making fun of Sikhs. Are we really living in an era where politicians try to prove themselves the most craven at pandering to groups who have developed finesse only in the art of getting attacks of the vapors?

  20. Torquil Macneil says

    For info (for the non-UKers) Early Day Motions don’t really have any weight. They are applications by MPs for debate in the commons, made by individuals and without Party backing; it is fantastically rare for an EDM to make it to the light of day. Instead they are usually just a way for an MP to get a bit of cheap publicity for herself or her cause (usually the first).

    This one seems to have been supported by John McDonnell, though, darling of the Labour left, which is intersting.

  21. sailor1031 says

    Avicenna: you suppose everybody in the USA recognizes the golden temple? I have my doubts about that.

  22. Dunc says

    Are we really living in an era where politicians try to prove themselves the most craven at pandering to groups who have developed finesse only in the art of getting attacks of the vapors?

    Yes, apparently we are. Really.

  23. Roger says

    EDMs are indeed nothing more than an opportunity for a random MP to declare ‘bravo’ or ‘shame’ and for other MPs to register their assent.

    Thus they are almost always couched in the language of ‘we deplore/condemn’ or ‘we support/applaud’ x.

    And they have on occasion been used to support secularist causes and to their credit 4 of the 6 signatories to this one also seconded the motion condemning the murder of Salamn Taseer:

    ‘That this House condemns the assassination of the governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer; notes his courageous calls for the abolition of Pakistan’s blasphemy law and equally courageous demands for clemency for Asia Bibi; further notes with concern the role of religious fundamentalism; and hopes that all countries will, in the future, move towards the tolerance that should be the hallmark of the secular state’.

    http://www.edms.org.uk/2010-12/1245.htm

    (although AFAICS not one of the 43 signatories was a Muslim or representing a heavily Muslim seat – which is truly depressing)

  24. FresnoBob says

    More bullying.

    What really irks me is that when the white house press secretary is asked to comment on the issue she has to treat the question and by implication the allegation of offence with respect.

    She can’t say what any normal person would do and say, “Are you fucking kidding me? It was a satirical comment on a US presidential hopeful. It didn’t even mention Sikhs. Grow the fuck up!”

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