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Feb 10 2014

We must protect the students!

Administrators at London South Bank University have taken steps to protect the religious sensibilities of their student body, banning blasphemous portrayals of deities and important religious figures. Followers of those beliefs can’t possibly be expected to deal with ridicule, so the offensive portrayals must be taken down.

You might be wondering whose image is being redacted. Mohammed? Jesus? Buddha? L. Ron Hubbard?

Nope. A flyer that committed sacrilege by using the holy figure of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has been prohibited.

I can understand how Pastafarians might be up in arms over any portrayal of a tangle of noodles and a pair of meatballs — we have an Italian restaurant in Morris, and sometimes I too am shocked when I see a plate that has spontaneously ordered itself into a perfect simulacrum of the one true god. It’s why I’m always careful to segregate the pasta from the meatballs, to make sure no untoward activity takes place on the plate. Also, because as we all know, while meatballs are particularly blessed, pasta must always know its place as inferior and subservient (it’s so pliant, and always so seductive).

I am pleased to report, however, that London South Bank University did exactly the right thing in silencing those heretics emphasizing the silliness of the divine. It’s just as well, too, or Pastafarians around the world might have been motivated to riot. Or set sail to live a pirate’s life, with a yo-ho-ho.


Oh, wait. I have just been informed that the Pastafarians weren’t complaining, it was other religious groups trying to suppress the expression of other beliefs.

Never mind.

50 comments

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  1. 1
    damien75

    Why do they call the Flying Spaghetti Monster an “online deity”? That too is offensive. The Flying sSaghetti Monster is everywhere!

  2. 2
    chigau (違う)

    PZ
    Who “informed” you?
    I don’t see a comment about it…

  3. 3
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    On top of spaghetti
    All covered with cheese
    I lost my poor meatball
    When somebody sneezed

    It rolled off the table
    And onto the floor
    Now my poor meatball
    Is rolling out of the door

  4. 4
    Lars

    Oh, a denial of service attack that was not distributed. The Warriors for Silence really have a diverse set of tools at their disposal.

  5. 5
    chigau (違う)

    “Usually in the SU. If not enquire at the bar.”
    My kind of people.

  6. 6
    Gregory in Seattle

    It is starting to look like the only “offense” is that the groups exist at all. At what point does it move from “protecting the delicate fee-fees of everyone else who might, possibly, without ever saying anything, be offended” to outright harassment?

  7. 7
    Trebuchet

    From the linked article:
    Initially SBAS were told that it was the visibility of Adam’s genitals that was offensive but when SBAS offered to blur them out, they were told the problem was religious offence, because it was based on religious art.

    What was that about bearing false witness?

  8. 8
    jnorris

    University students in and around London have very fragile feelings and must be protected by the admin from even the smallest tiniest wee bit of contrary thought about any particular deity or pious religious person.
    -
    Just tuck the poor little things into a warm bed with a soft blankie and their favorite doll. Kiss them on the forehead and leave the night light on. Bless their little hearts.
    -
    So saith the University Nanny.

  9. 9
    anteprepro

    PZ
    Who “informed” you?

    I believe that was just was his way of transitioning out of parody mode. He never really thought Pastafarians were calling for people to stop depicting the holy image of their deity :P

  10. 10
    Bronze Dog

    One thing that annoys me is that there’s a big overlap between the people who complain about anti-religious messages regardless of context and the people who complain about “political correctness” when others have legitimate complaints about coercive government endorsements, outright discrimination, or up front bigotry against people with certain inherent traits.

  11. 11
    zenlike

    (from the original article, via Trebuchet)

    Initially SBAS were told that it was the visibility of Adam’s genitals that was offensive

    Wow, a university that censors one of the most well-known paintings in the world.

    but when SBAS offered to blur them out, they were told the problem was religious offence, because it was based on religious art.

    Wow, a university that lies through its teeth.

    (from Wikipedia)

    LSBU is the first university sponsored by the Office of Chinese Language Council International (Hanban) to establish a Confucius Institute for Traditional Chinese Medicine in London.

    Wow, a university that teaches pseudoscience and quakery.

    At what point does a university looses its right to bear the name ‘university’?

  12. 12
    Sastra

    Look, if you allow students to think that it’s okay to make fun of religion, pretty soon they’ll think it’s okay to make fun of politics. And then we’re in the soup.

    Suddenly you’ll see all sorts of debates and challenges and people trying to cope with having to support what they believe going on — and it’s going to be happening among college students who are vulnerable. After all, this is the time they’re supposed to be acquiring the basic skills they need to make a living!

    Outrage expressed over yet another parody of the Sistine Chapel? Must be Fatwah Envy. This is what happens when people are allowed to believe that fact claims are their identity. They can no longer discern the distinction between what they’ve concluded and who they are. And faith is apparently a weakness by their own standards.

  13. 13
    chigau (違う)

    anteprepro #9
    I was trying to find out if PZ got his information directly from … you know.

  14. 14
    anteprepro

    ….Voldemorte?

  15. 15
    Sastra

    zenlike #11 wrote:

    LSBU is the first university sponsored by the Office of Chinese Language Council International (Hanban) to establish a Confucius Institute for Traditional Chinese Medicine in London.

    O my FSM! Alternative medicine? There’s another crowd which reacts like Innocence Wronged whenever anyone points out the gimquackery of their Other Ways of Doing Science. Wait for more people being “offended” coming from this demographic. Don’t mock people getting better. Don’t mock people promoting healing through ancient Eastern wisdom — which also shouldn’t be mocked. In fact, stop all that mocking altogether.

    It’s getting ridiculous. “Mock, mock, mock.”

  16. 16
    chigau (違う)

    If the FSM is communicating directly with PZ, we may have a … situation on our hands.

  17. 17
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    damien75 #1

    Why do they call the Flying Spaghetti Monster an “online deity”? That too is offensive. The Flying sSaghetti Monster is everywhere!

    And lo! His birth-cry shall be the sound of every phone on this planet ringing in unison…

  18. 18
    chigau (違う)

    mork mork mork
    muppet videooh wait
    You said “mock”.
    sorry

  19. 19
    Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    I hate to think how I would have turned out if by precious little religious fee-fees weren’t challenged in university. I might *shudder* still be a xtian.

    Just so you know, we Pastafarians encourage the depiction (and subsequent consumption) of his Noodlyness, in any form of pasta you desire. And to those intimating that PZ might be communicating directly with the FSM, I feel I must draw your attention to #7 of His Noodlyness’ 8 “I’d Really Rather You Didn’ts”:

    7: I’d Really Rather You Didn’t Go Around Telling People I Talk To You. You’re Not That Interesting. Get Over Yourself.

  20. 20
    kevinalexander

    Just so you know, we Pastafarians encourage the depiction (and subsequent consumption) of his Noodlyness, in any form of pasta you desire.

    We were discussing this issue at last Wednesdays Noodle Studies group. While there are many tangled strands in semolinetics the consensus seems to be that rotini (the pasta, not the saint) is just too twisted.

  21. 21
    Louis

    There’s a bit of a rash of this stuff going on on UK university campuses at the moment. I may need to have a bit of a word, it simply won’t do.

    Of course I could go back to a campus university as a “mature” (scare quotes very much needed) student and educate them in the ways they seem to have abandoned. The Old Ways. The Ways Of Mockery And Satirising Goddists. Hmmmmm tempting. If only for the drinking.

    Louis

  22. 22
    Moggie

    zenlike:

    At what point does a university looses its right to bear the name ‘university’?

    In LSBU’s case, 1992. Wait, which way does the arrow of time point, again?

  23. 23
    Shatterface

    It’s itironophobia, pure and simple.

  24. 24
    gijoel

    I demand a pirate action day!!

  25. 25
    Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    We’ve already got a pirate day. Sept 19 is “International Talk Like a Pirate Day”, revelation from the FSM guided Ol’ Chumbucket and Cap’n Slappy in its creation. Demanding more days just seems greedy to me.

  26. 26
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Demanding more days just seems greedy to me.

    Almost piratical, you could say…

  27. 27
    anuran

    There’s no need to segregate the meatballs from the pasta.
    Remember, He boiled for your sins, and He wants to be remembered.

  28. 28
    John Horstman

    I’m offended by Michelangelo’s false depiction of a human-shaped god, when we all know perfectly well that FSM created Adam at some point after that hill, tree, and little person. (This is why pluralism is actually impossible and secularism is the only viable path – religions disagree about things.)

  29. 29
    Pen

    Anyone know the right email address for commenting to the university on this little piece of censorship?

    I was going to remind them amongst other things, how offensive the Bible and the Qur’an are.

  30. 30
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    I believe that they’ve also banned teapots from the campus.

  31. 31
    mnb0

    Perhaps Pink Unicorns are allowed?

  32. 32
    WhiteHatLurker

    The Independent reports that the school has also banned Jesus and Mo tee shirts, worn as a protest against gender segregated classes.

  33. 33
    WhiteHatLurker

    I apologise – on re-reading, I see that was a different school.

  34. 34
    anuran

    @31 mnb0

    Perhaps Pink Unicorns are allowed?

    Only invisible ones

  35. 35
    Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^=

    anuran (34)

    @31 mnb0

    Perhaps Pink Unicorns are allowed?

    Only invisible ones

    Bother. My pink unicorn is highly visible, wherever I take her. Indeed, her name is “Not Very” (being short for “Not Very Invisible Pink Unicorn”, of course).

  36. 36
    chigau (違う)

    dang
    my invisible unicorn aten’t pink

  37. 37
    echidna

    What bothers me is that it’s not the FSM that is offending people. It’s the public presence of atheists competing on a level playing field.

  38. 38
    Lyn M: ADM MinTruthiness

    Trebuchet #7

    Who provided this quote:

    Initially SBAS were told that it was the visibility of Adam’s genitals that was offensive but when SBAS offered to blur them out, they were told the problem was religious offence, because it was based on religious art.

    I do trust that the Vatican has been advised to get somebody on some scaffolding and cover that junk up.

  39. 39
    opposablethumbs

    Here is an email address for the London South Bank Students’ Union:
    [email protected]

    .
    .
    I just emailed ‘em. FWIW: (oh, and I nicked a little bit from left0ver1under, hope xe doesn’t mind!)

    Dear LSBSU,
    .
    I am writing to express my disappointment at the news of your recent decision to censor the Atheist Society stall at freshers’ fair.
    .
    You have a responsibility to care for the needs and interests of all the university’s students, including the incoming atheists, secularists and humanists and those already present among the student body. This is not achieved by censoring their voices while you (I presume) allow various Jewish, Conservative, Muslim, Labour, Christian, LibDem, Hindu etc. societies to advertise and express themselves freely. Will you at least be consistent, and insist that all religious material be kept strictly inside private areas such as chapels or meeting rooms only?
    .
    You owe an apology to the Atheist Society organisers and members and indeed to all students – who will fall foul of your censorship next? Will you censor the Jains, the Animal Rights society or the Sikhs tomorrow if they express a view or put up a poster you deem “offensive” to Christians, Keynsians, Muslims, UKIP ….. ?
    .
    Universities should be a bastion of freedom of speech, not a quagmire of lily-livered censorship. Sadly, I’m afraid this action has made LSBSU something of a laughing-stock.
    .
    yours sincerely,

    me

  40. 40
    anuran

    @38Lyn M: ADM MinTruthiness writes:

    I do trust that the Vatican has been advised to get somebody on some scaffolding and cover that junk up.

    Someone like Daniele “Pantalone” da Volterra?

  41. 41
    randay

    @15 sastra, Though of course I haven’t seen them yet, I already take offense at the potential posters promoting Chinese traditional medicine. Why can’t we, Muslims and Xians take offence at books they haven’t read?

    I am also offended by the xian sham of eating their god in the form of a cardboard wafer. Pictures of that are too horrible to be shown. We pastafarians show due respect to the one true god, the FSM. We treat it right by preparing good noodles, sauce, and meatballs. We do it respectfully by carefully eating a substantial meal, unless we’re famished and gulp it down.

    One question, what is the correct place for Ramen in the FSM’s creation?

  42. 42
    DanDare

    Do we need a T-Shirt drive to send all the students their own wearable FSM?

  43. 43
    Gareth

    I attended South Bank for 2 years before switching degrees, its quite possibly the most diverse univiersity in the UK, both from London’s local flavour, and its sizable number of overseas students, and it has the eccentricities to match it.
    Unfortunatly it also frequently gets rank near the bottom of the UK’s university rankings for academic performance.

  44. 44
    Malachite

    This whole stupid thing about UK universities banning things from atheists under the idea that religious groups are getting offended, this whole thing should be really easy to fix.

    All you need are a bunch of students from one religious group who are supportive of free speech and supportive of atheists being allowed to publicise their ideas/events/societies just as much as religious folks. Then you get those students to contact the university authorities, complaining about the advertising materials from a different religious group, saying that the other group’s materials are offensive.

    Then sit back and watch the fun as their heads explode with cognitive dissonance…

  45. 45
    Kate Viscardi

    As an academic member of staff at LSBU I feel I should point out an error of fact: the newspaper reports and what I’ve heard around campus all seem to agree that it was not a “university administrator” who took down the poster, but one of the Student Union officials. So, let’s not get too carried away by the act of one individual: I’ll reserve forming an opinion until I know more. But I shall be sending a message of support to the President of the LSBU Atheist Society.

  46. 46
    zenlike

    45 Kate Viscardi

    it was not a “university administrator” who took down the poster, but one of the Student Union officials. So, let’s not get too carried away by the act of one individual

    It doesn’t matter in the least if it is the ‘act of one individual’, if that particular individual has the power to censor things.

  47. 47
    KT Viscardi

    *sighs* the university and the Student Union are different entities. It was not a university administrator who took down the poster: it was a Student Union official. The university did not engage in censorship. Universities are not responsible for what Student Unions do.

  48. 48
    chigau (違う)

    KT Viscardi #47

    Universities are not responsible for what Student Unions do.

    um,
    wut?

  49. 49
    opposablethumbs

    Well I guess universities (in the sense of the administration and faculty as opposed to the student body) are certainly responsible for their response to what the students’ union does, but they don’t control or run the student’s union themselves, just provide premises for them (on which the student’s union pays rent???? not sure). So the student body as a whole is responsible because they elected these charming SU officials, but the admin and staff aren’t because the SU is independent of them.

    So I thought maybe we’re misunderstanding each other because of the ambiguity of which actual group of people we mean when we say “the university”?

    NOT that this detracts one iota from the question of whether admin and faculty generally foster an environment favourable to this kind of bigotry. Clearly some universities (like Liberty etc.) actively and deliberately set out to create and maintain a pro-bigotry environment. I have no idea what the general ethos of staff and admin is like in this case.

  50. 50
    duncanbooth

    It seems the university issued a full apology: https://humanism.org.uk/2014/02/12/london-southbank-university-issue-full-apology-flying-spaghetti-monster-censorship-issue/

    The apology refers to a ‘a Union staff member’, so sounds like it was a university employee rather than an elected student representative that had “a misunderstanding of Union policies” but not entirely clear.

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