I was pleased to get a call a few days ago from my old friend Rowan Williams telling me how good Sharia Law was. I have to confess that I have not yet had the opportunity to listen to any of her music, and to further confess that until Rowan contacted me I had not heard of her, but I will certainly be going to my local record shop and sampling an LP or EP or two. Rowan has always been a very good source for musical tips – he has a keen ear. Much of my music collection – The Glitter Band, Robert Johnson, The Tremeloes and Grace Jones to name but a small cross-section – originates in his recommendations.
I was therefore sorry to see that he has got into some trouble in the media because, apparently, the young lady has Moslem connections. I am saddened by this, it is nobody’s business. Perhaps we are living in less liberal times. David Whitfield, Captain Beefheart and Mary Hopkins were/are all devout Moslems, and it never impacted on their careers.
If I listen to the news media, then it is usually Radio 5. This morning they were covering the hysteria surrounding the latest ill advised remarks by a minor cleric. They tackled this in a, sadly, typical way by first of all playing “pick a bigot” – the family game whereby you put some negative spin on a news story, and ask someone in the street, who has obviously not studied the reports, what they think about it. “If they come over here, then they should follow our laws”. They then interviewed a man who was a Moslem, but clearly not able to answer the questions about the processes of Sharia when it comes to divorce. Really helpful. I switched to Radio 4, which was a welcome relief (despite their having the idiot Blunkett on board). They put the speech into context, pointed out that there was perhaps a precedent in the Jewish community. They then interviewed someone from the Jewish community who had a clear understanding of how this worked, and corrected the assumptions they had made in relating this to the Sharia case. They then had further analysis, and discussed the real issue, which was that by making these comments the priest in question had invited the hysterical response that the media have displayed. But I doubt whether anyone much was listening to Radio 4. Very few were listening to Radio 5. The majority will get their prejudices confirmed by the Daily Pox, the Daily Scum and the Daily Asswipe, or the wailings of braindead disc jockeys on other radio stations or cheap news channels. Please refer to the title of this journal.