Monday, 8 February 2010

The Bible: A History and British Intolerance

Channel 4’s television series The Bible: A History is a brave if not entirely successful project to examine the good book’s contemporary relevance. This week, Anne Widdecombe, Tory harridan and Catholic convert, made the case for the Mosaic laws as the best framework for a decent society, hardly a controversial assertion. But Widdecombe’s arguments raised the hackles of a number of atheist guests including, surprise, surprise, Christopher Hitchens whose ill-tempered turns are rather tiring. More surprising was Stephen Fry’s response: the normally affable and erudite polymath proceeded to shout down the entirely reasonable if argumentative Widdecombe who looked rather stunned by the whole episode. Recent reports suggest that Britain has become a more tolerable country over the last decade or so. But I suspect we are neither more nor less tolerant than before. It is the targets of our intolerance that have changed.

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