South African DJ Gareth Cliff has been castigated for his comments regarding blasphemy laws. Gerda-Mari Povey, a 5fm listener from Pretoria, sent an e-mail of complaint to Cliff on Thursday morning after listening to his show. Povey’s email was typical of religious complaints – oversensitive, overemotional and full of extraneous punctuation marks (I think Povey must have had a job-lot of exclamation marks). Some choice Povey quotes used by the News24.com site include the following:
“You know what, Gareth, I love your show, but this morning u shocked me!!!! just wanted to say, God is not petty!!!!!”, “I pray that something drastic will happen in your life, that will allow you to experience the loving kindness and mercy of God…” and “What if my children had heard his comments. It was very irresponsible of him. I’m normally the kind of person who just keeps quiet, but this time it was just too much.” Heh. Won’t someone, please, think about the children?!? Overwrought or what? Other busybodies were quick to jump on the bandwagon – “Cliff has gone too far”, “get Cliff off air” etc.
So what atrocity preceded the email of complaint? I’m not sure, as the reports seem to be focussing on what Cliff said in a later email. As far as I can tell, the original accusation of blasphemy relates to the ‘controversial’ DJ referring to a news report of the ‘Teddy Teacher’ Gillian Gibbons. Apparently, Cliff responded to Povey’s email with “Stop sprouting nonsense. There is no god. There is no tooth fairy and there is no Father Christmas.” – which sounds pretty darned reasonable to me. An email response from Cliff to Povey can be found here.
Povey also said “he can debate politics etc all he wants, but when it’s about religion, he should show more sensitivity”, which is a pretty typical response from a religionista. Why should religion have special privileges accorded, that other beliefs or belief systems do not? Should football fans show more sensitivity to my claim that the club I support are, in fact, ‘by far the greatest team the world has ever seen’? Jesus Christ! You’re just being goddamned ridiculous now. My personal view is that blasphemy is a victimless crime.
Footnote: DJ Cliff does, by the way, have form for this kind of thing: http://www.mio.co.za/newsitem.php?id=314.