Retailer pulls magazine off shelves for blasphemy

The Star, a Johannesburg newspaper, reported on 20 February 2009 that a leading South African food retailer, Pick 'n Pay, pulled a student magazine off its shelves in response to complaints by Christians. The story was also reported the next day in the Saturday Star. The magazine in question, the SAX Appeal, is produced annually by students of the University of Cape Town for charity and is sponsored by Pick 'n Pay.

The magazine reportedly had an article entitled "Top Ten Atheist Retorts to Fundamentalist Christians", which included things like:
- "Jesus died for our sins. - I bet he feels like a tool now."
- "Praise the Lord. It's a miracle! - No you stupid C.*.*.T." (Christian who Understands No Theorems), statistically they happen every 365 days." Apparently, god was called a "pervert".

More details are reported on a Christian website http://galmin.co.za/myblog/?p=437.

Errol Naidoo of the Family Policy Institute charged that the SAX Appeal "grossly overstepped the boundaries of decency and respect of individual beliefs individual religious beliefs".

The South African cartoonist, Zapiro, said that he thought that religions got far too much respect.

For me, although I find the Christians' touchiness about a silly students' rag magazine annoying, I don't know if it's worth writing to Pick 'n Pay. For anyone who wants to do so though, you can go to:
http://www.picknpay.com/static/section/index.php?page_id=3041

UPDATE 24/2/09:

The Christians have also reportedly lodged a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission and have been putting pressure on UCT. Here are some statements which have been issued from UCT:

Statement from the RAG Committee Chairman

It has become clear that many people of the Christian faith have been hurt and insulted by some of the contents in our magazine, SAX Appeal 2009. UCT RAG unreservedly apologises to everyone who has been offended in this way. We value all the responses and comments that we have received and we will endeavour to ensure that nothing like this happens in the future. We believe that, in our honest intention to raise funds for the needy, we overstepped the mark and we hope that you will accept our unconditional apology.

Cameron Arendse
RAG Committee Chair


Statement from the Vice-Chancellor:

The recent SAX Appeal has rightly caused an outcry from many people and some of its articles have caused deep offence.

The chairperson of RAG, Cameron Arendse, has apologised unreservedly for the offence it has caused.

I believe this apology is appropriate and I have a strong view that the editorial team overstepped the boundaries.

I have asked that the Editorial team meet with UCT Management as soon as possible. We will revisit the role of the editorial advisory board that should work with students to advise on the publication’s content.

Many of us regardless of religious affiliation have been offended by aspects in the publication and for those let me add my apology.

Dr Max Price
VICE-CHANCELLOR



And for light relief, here is a cartoon by Zapiro on navigating around religious sensitivities http://www.mg.co.za/zapiro/fullcartoon/211

Tags: Liberalism, blasphemy

Views: 27

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Replies to This Discussion

Absolutely agree. Well said.
So true, I've had a long exchange with a Rastafaian who insists that the mere use of the pun "Pastafarian" by Flying Spaghetti Monster jokes is racist and offensive. They'll play any card to defend their absurd beliefs. Yet, we have to be able to make fun of religion or it will for ever be sacrosanct and we will not see change.
If God doesn't exist then why do we need to worry about what we say about him Deborah?
It's not a question of offending god. It's a question of offending other people. I agree with Felch that a racial or ethnic slur is worse than calling a Christian a "C.*.N.T." because people can't choose their race or ethnicity. But is it necessary for a liberal society to support rude name-calling? I'm just trying to explore this issue.
The issue is the same as the Piss Christ controversy. The fact it exists and is displayed means my society is freer than one in which it is suppressed.

In a healthy society it is the duty of students to outrage the general public. It is their duty to push our boundaries. Student bodies worldwide are under evermounting attacks to de-claw and de-fang them. This is a very bad thing for everyone. It can have only one result - cultural homogeneity. Do you want a world like that ?
I was just over on the xtian website you linked to above. I left a comment about this story, but guess what? The comments are moderated! What's the bet they won't post my comment? I go to a lot of xtian websites and they all have comment moderation. What does that tell you?
Wow, big surprise! They actually posted my comment.
http://galmin.co.za/myblog/?p=437#comment-249

Gee, do you think I actually managed to get through to them? Naw, must've slipped through the cracks :-)

Edit: I've just realised why they let my comment through, so they can point to it as an example of "persecution". Too bad, fuck 'em if they can't take a joke :-)
Ag, never mind. At least Roelien is praying for you and you can check out Zapiro's cartoon which is reprinted from time to time as it never goes out of date. I put a link to it above.
Felch Grogan wrote on 24 February 2009 : The issue is the same as the Piss Christ controversy. The fact it exists and is displayed means my society is freer than one in which it is suppressed.

In a healthy society it is the duty of students to outrage the general public. It is their duty to push our boundaries. Student bodies worldwide are under evermounting attacks to de-claw and de-fang them. This is a very bad thing for everyone. It can have only one result - cultural homogeneity. Do you want a world like that ?


No. I would have preferred it if the Christians had ignored the article. But they have not. I could take the stance that Christians would not like it if Atheists were to appoint themselves as censors of Christian books and take offense at hearing about how wicked non-believers are and how we are going to go to hell. Question is, if the students had done an equally offensive article about the Islamic faith, would I fight for the issue equally hard even if there were to be the same sort of violence as has happened in other countries? Is it worth it?
Question is, if the students had done an equally offensive article about the Islamic faith

Probably not. Why ? The very real threat of violent reprisal. The only difference between your christians and muslims is the extent to which they will go to intimidate. The intent is identical. Christians are quite capable of the same monstrous violence - ref: US abortion clinic bombings and murders. Tolerating their behaviour only encourages them to overstep the line just a little bit more the next time. And then more, and more. This is how the Islamist rot set in. Tolerance allowed it.
I don't think that it would necessarily be violent reprisals to worry about. They probably go ahead and sell the magazine.
"But the religious think on some level that free speech was invented for them to express their religious views and contrary views are by definition hate speech or intolerant"

Yep..You hit the nail on the head there.
This is SO true!

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