"A crank's charter"

Tying in with Gonzo’s post on the Spotlight programme, the Observer’s Henry McDonald defends the right of Pastor Clifford Peoples to be an anti-Catholic sectarian bigot.. and argues that, as the Labour Government introduces its Racial and Religious Hatred Bill, it is the only way to ensure that we can be free to call Clifford Peoples an anti-Catholic sectarian bigot – he also quotes the excellent tagline at Harry’s Place, “Liberty, if it means anything at all, is the right to tell people what they don’t want to hear.” There was also a lively and interesting discussion (ie worth listening to) at the Hay Literary festival on Blasphemy, and the same Bill, with Stephen Fry and Christopher Hitchens. [RealPlayer audio]

  • spirit-level

    Really interesting listen peteb compulsory I’d say.

  • peteb

    The Fry/Hitchens piece, spirit-level?

  • James Orr

    Henry McDonald is too scornful and dismissive of B-I belief. Whilst I dont buy into it, I’m amazed at how many people worldwide do, and have done for centuries.

    Some contemporary Israel-based research from Orthodox Jew Yair Davidy is available here:


  • peteb

    Patent nonsense, James. But let’s try to keep the discussion on the wider topic.

  • James Orr

    And of course there’s this from the Declaration of Arbroath, written to the then Pope on April 6th 1320 by Bernard de Linton, Abbot of Arbroath and Chancellor of Scotland, asking for the Pope’s intervention against the English:

    “To the most Holy Father and Lord in Christ, the Lord John, by divine providence Supreme Pontiff of the Holy Roman and Universal Church… Most Holy Father and Lord, we know and from the chronicles and books of the ancients we find that among other famous nations our own, the Scots, has been graced with widespread renown. They journeyed from Greater Scythia by way of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Pillars of Hercules, and dwelt for a long course of time in Spain among the most savage tribes, but nowhere could they be subdued by any race, however barbarous. Thence they came, twelve hundred years after the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea, to their home in the west where they still live today. The Britons they first drove out, the Picts they utterly destroyed, and, even though very often assailed by the Norwegians, the Danes and the English, they took possession of that home with many victories and untold efforts; and, as the historians of old time bear witness, they have held it free of all bondage ever since. In their kingdom there have reigned one hundred and thirteen kings of their own royal stock, the line unbroken a single foreigner…”

    It always mystified me as to why 14th Century Scottish nobles felt the need to establish a Middle Eastern lineage.

  • spirit-level

    “The Fry/Hitchens piece, spirit-level”.. yep 🙂

  • Alan McDonald


    Thanks also from me for the link to the Fry/Hitchens piece. I particularly liked Fry’s describing himself as the Devil’s Avocado, and Hitchens’ self-description as an anti-theist.

    I have sent it on to two friends here in America. One is a big Hitchens fan, and the other is an Episcopal minister.

  • Biffo

    James Orr,

    “It always mystified me as to why 14th Century Scottish nobles felt the need to establish a Middle Eastern lineage.”

    Be mystified no more, the middle eastern credentials were invented long before the 14th century.

    Your “chronicles and books of the ancients” refer to “Lebor Gabála Érenn”. There’s a translation from the Irish at:


    In the light of the introduction of christianity to Ireland the all-important genealogists invented a lineage back to Adam – not surprising.

    “British Israelites” is just a whole load of nonsense from people who, if they really wanted, could easily become a lot better informed.

    Apologies to any British Israelites who might be offended!

  • james Orr

    Thanks for that, it’s pretty wierd stuff – cool names too – some bloke in that list called Refill, and another bloke with a “green hand”. Wierd wierd wierd.

  • Joseyboy

    Lost Tribe of Israel……dear me. Mind you, is it any more preposterous than the notion held by many people here as elsewhere that when they kneel down on Sunday mornings they do so with the direct and conscious intention of ingesting, literally, the flesh and blood of a man who, even by their own admission, died over 2,000 ago ? And they teach this hook, line and sinker (as it were) to impressionable little children ?

  • Effra

    I wouldn’t take the professed commitment of Harry’s Place to freedom of speech too seriously. It is assiduous in deleting comments, particularly those it feels are anti-Jewish, while permitting endless abuse of Islam and sneers at Christianity.