Episode 6 The Big Questions

Episode 6

Moral, ethical and religious debates on these subjects: Is it time for the Vatican to confess?; Is trophy hunting good for conservation?; Are some topics too sacred for humour?

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Today on The Big Questions: The Vatican versus the UN. Big game


hunting. And, is religion funny? APPLAUSE


Good morning, I'm Nicky Campbell, welcome to The Big Questions. Today


we're live from Samworth Enterprise Academy in Leicester. Welcome


everybody to The Big Questions. This week the United Nations


Committee on the Rights of the Child issued a damning report on the


Vatican's handling of child abuse within the Catholic Church. It


called for the Vatican to remove all suspected clergy from their posts


and to refer them to the police. Is it time for the Vatican to confess?


Colm O'Gorman, author of Beyond Belief, and also a victim of Father


Sean Fortune, are they still withholding information?


Undoubtedly. It is clear that the Vatican were asked to supply to the


committee last year detailed information about their handling, or


the handling of child abuse cases. They failed to do that. The Vatican,


the Vatican has had an interesting response to the report in which it


suggested that the report didn't consider all of the facts. The


Vatican was 14 years late submitting its information to the Vatican. The


Vatican is withholding information. The reality is... What information?


Are priests currently abusing, or historical cases? Both. We know that


the Vatican jealously guards information at its own level. It is


said to the committee, its defence for not supplying information to


committee, it only shares information on these kinds of cases


in national jurisdictions where legal processes are in train. At the


same time it refused to share information to two state inquiries


being carried out be a judge in Ireland, so it is being disingenuous


in how it engages with the committee and responds to its report. The


Vatican has failed to put in place under Canon law the kinds of


measures that would properly protect children and would ensure that the


Vatican and the Catholic Church is compliant with its obligations under


the UN convention on the rights of the child. This was a UN committee


inquire ring to the rights of children that the holy sea ratified


and adopted and should be bound by. The hack should... It is a strange


construct where it has a quasi- status at the United Nations. The


holy sea signed the convention. The Vatican is inclined to claim


different legal personalities. It has so many different personalities


it jumps from one to the other, often as a way of avoiding


responsibility. The holy sea said, we signed the treaty as the


Government of the Vatican state. The committee rejecteded that notion and


said no, that is true that that's one of your entities, but you are


also the ultimate authority across the global Church and you can and do


direct the functioning of practices and parishes across the world and


the obligation of the treaty must apply to the Church at the global


level. Ultimately in short do you believe that the Vatican, the Kath


allege church, is still hiding and withholding information that should


be released? It is undoubtedly doing that. Undoubtedly? Absolutely. We


need to get the information... The fact that at this time refused to


hand over information shows that it is failing to hand over information


in an appropriate way. More importantly this report mirrors the


findings, in state investigation and judicial inquiries and grand juries


across the world. That is that the Catholic Church has, in the


interests of protecting the institution, its authority, its


money and its position, failed to protect children and has covered up


and facilitated child sexual abuse on a grand scale.


APPLAUSE On a grand scale. A litany of disgusting, heinous and


unforgivable crimes, has it been sorted? I hope we all recognise


these are disgusting crimes and there is a concern for everyone here


for the protection of children. That was why this UN report was a


travesty of ignorance and ideology over sheer facts and evidence. When


we look at the nature of the Vatican, something never taken into


account by the committee, which ignored the evidence that the Holy


See gave to the committee. The Holy See and the Catholic Church isn't a


multinational organisation, it is a hugely decentralised Holy Communion


of different Churches. Where disgusting abuse has happened, what


Pope Benedict called the filth of what happened, there is no evidence


that it happened on a Vatican level, it is utter nonsense. The reason why


we know that, the way that the actual Church works is when the CDF,


the congregation of the doctrine of faith, which has responsibility for


this, it is supposed to make sure that procedures are carried out. Not


that in each case something happens, but the canonical case in each


diocese, that means that the report fed back to the Vatican itself. That


is utter nonsense. They don't have files, they have copies. That is


utter nonsense. You don't know what you are talking about. I do


actually, I've worked in this for 20 years. You should have worked harder


then. Thank you for the insult! We discovered in an inquiry that took


11 years in Ireland that at the Vatican level were detailed reports


of internal inquiries and investigations into individual acts


of abuse which were held at the level of the Vatican. Which were


copies. So they held files. So you now acknowledge that the Vatican


holds very detail d files. Copies of files. Are people... Sorry Nicky,


one quick point. Since 2001 and beforehand, the Vatican asserted is


its authority for deciding how cases are to be handled. Yes. And when


actions are taken at the national or local level, often those that for


instance that disciplinary action is taken against appeals against and


the Vatican is the final arbitrator there. The notion that the Vatican


doesn't instruct what happens at the local or parish level is nonsense.


Talk to any priest who has dared to talk, or Bishop, about issues like a


priest marrying oar LGBT rights and you will find that at the level of


the Vatican they swoop in with extraordinary force in a way that


(Inaudible) APPLAUSE Some people believe there


is no transparency. Cardinal rats I thinker for Pope Benedict collected


all of this information. Has all of that information been released? The


CDS... The police want to file they can go to the local diocese. I have


to connect this, there are three levels on which the Vatican's


authority over local diocese, the canonical procedures, the doctrine


and liturgy. Those aren't things that... Surely Pope Benedict read


them? He did much more than anyone else and passed on this


information... To the police? It is not his job to do that at the level


level. No they didn't. ALL TALK AT ONCE


Richard Scorer, author of Betrayed: The English Catholic Church and the


Sex Abuse. In crisis. There is seems to be a camera diction between we


are centralised, decentralised e, we abide by Canon law. There is There


is evidence of a cover up, and there is a simple way the Pope and the


Vatican could deal with this. They could direct that all allegationses


have to be reported to the police and civil authorities. They won't do


that. They did, in 2010. As a lawyer they have a legal obligation you


believe to do that? Is what the Catholic Church has said is you must


obey the law of the land. If a Catholic Bishop knows about abuse by


a priest, he has no obligation to go to the police. That will come if the


Vatican give as clear direction that that has to happen. First of all,


all of us in the Kath lick church -- Catholic Church accept there was


horrible abuse and there was a cover-up. As a mother of four


children I can't begin to contemplate how that must feel...


Can I ask you one question, this has been going on for decades, they knew


about it in the 1960s and 70s' and 80s. Why wasn't anything done about


it then? There are a couple of reasons. Just to come back... Can


you come back to that? I want to come back to the point that Colm


said. I think it wasn't fully understood what was happening. A few


things went on, none of which were excusable. What do you mean? When


you find out that one of your colleagues have been abusing your


children, priests who are known and loved, the first reaction is denial,


that this couldn't have happened. A second reaction, and again it was


the wrong reaction, I think when certain cases came to light, various


diocese engaged with their lawyers, who realised that a lot of money


needed, rightly, to be paid out in compensation. And they engaged in


legal terms which meant not talking to the victims, stone walling them,


not putting their hand up and saying, we are sorry. And not fully


understanding the nature of paedophilia? I think so, in as much


as... Surely knowing that molest egg a little boy was wrong. Of course


they would know that that was wrong. We are a Church of forgiveness and


there was a lot of naive I, when somebody said, I'm sorry... With


enormous respect. Can I continue? With enormous respect, because I


understand where you are coming from, the first law was introduced


in the Catholic Church against priests in the 14th century. The


first reference was from the second century. Catholic Church history is


littered with law which the Catholic Church tried to address child sexual


abuse, sometimes in respect of eliminating it or trying to protect


the institution. In the 1940s the Vatican established a congregation


whose only support was to provide support to priests with psycho


sexual problems. The head of that congregation had told the Vatican,


had told the Pope, that priests who had offended dependence children


even following treatment shouldn't be returned to parishes, because


they would continue to abuse. He said that granting them new parishes


like granting them green pastures in which they would continue to abuse.


What went wrong? It is a myth that the Catholic Church didn't


understand the nature of paedophilia 30 years ago. I dealt with case


where the Catholic Church got clear medical evidence from psychiatrists


that a particular priest was at risk of offending and he was allowed to


continue working with children. Caroline said they didn't understand


the nature of paedophilia. They took out insurance against the risk of


compensation claims 30 years ago. Why take out insurance against


something if you don't think it is a rievg?


APPLAUSE Reverend Canon David Jennings wants to come in with a


non- perspective. I'm an Anglican, not a Catholic. The Anglican church


is by no means immune from some of the things we are discussing. Nor


the BBC. I wouldn't dare mention the BBC. I want to mention how


institutions turn in on themselves to protect themselves. We saw the


NHS, the Mid-Staffordshire crisis, the Army, where they don't deal with


rape claims. All institutions have an ability to turn in on themselves.


I think that's the kind of thing that needs to be looked at


critically and exposed, because it is very damaging to individuals,


such as was described and others know too well. It takes away any


credibility that the institution has if it can't openly face and admit


its own short comings. APPLAUSE Caroline? Just as the


diocese of Chichester in the Anglican church has recently as two


years ago has admitted it had huge safe guarding problems, no-one is


suggesting that Canterbury hoarded all the information. In Ireland


there've been three states reports into the problem of child abuse.


There are reports that the Catholic Church didn't fully investigate.


# They investigated about 86 of cases. In every one of those 86


cases it was shown that no information was sent to the Vatican


about this until 2005. This is what my report... I am quite familiar


with this. In 2005, the first Amendment talked about the


Vatican's central responsibility. The Vatican had distributed


information to bishops about how cases were to be handled. As part of


that policy, people were sworn to absolute secrecy. It talked about


the failure of the Vatican to make its dieses win of this phenomenon at


a time when it knew not only of the phenomenon, what the dangers


associated with it. That was in 2005. The enquiry dealt with about


28 priests in total. It dealt with hundreds of victims. The report


dealt with thousands of victims. We are talking about for major state


investigations. It ran for 11 years. If I may, let's speak to Evon


Brennan. What experience did you have in those industrial skills? I


am an ex-pupil of an industrial system of 18 years. My


Brennan. I and thousands of other people have gone through the system.


We people have gone through the system.


ideas of what the book says. This is physical abuse, sadism? Yes, but I


would like to talk about the legacy of the damage, the ripple effect of


what the institution has done to thousands and millions of people.


For example, the church is supposed to give comfort, love, it is


supposed to to give comfort, love, it is


of innocent children, it gave them the opposite to that, it gave them a


life of destruction, loathing of their bodies, it indoctrinated them


about complete hate. It actually bred hate. I would like to find out,


what does the Pope do with regards to all of the innocent minds that


were affected from very very young. This innocent mind has grown with


hate, with destruction, this innocent mind has then married, and


it has spread eight. The Catholic Church has spread the disease. How


do we reach all of these people who have been disease by the system? How


deep is this? It is very deep, and it takes years. It is still there.


How can you possibly get rid of something that was ingrained? In


order for it to go, you have to go back and you have to abolish it. You


have to say, where did it go wrong? You have to go back to the basics.


What does Catholicism mean? How do you become sacred? Through


persecution? Through abstinence? I think this confuses the fight. It is


important to listen to experiences like this. There have been terrible


abuses by Catholics, but to blame the entire Catholic Church for


that, I think it is a mistake. The vast majority of Catholics have


never hurt anyone. This is why the UN committee had a real


responsibility to bring out a report that would have had constructive


things to say. Is that not why all the files should be released? It did


not do that. It brought out this prejudiced report. It said to the


church that it should change its teaching on abortion. People like


Uganda have had horrible abuses of human rights. This is something


which is totally misunderstood, the nature of the Church, in terms of


its responsibilities on a local level. The report made unacceptable


claims about the church's record and human dignity. We should all be


concerned with the rights of the child. Let's get the audience. It


would appear to me and to most right-thinking people that there has


been a systematic cover-up within the Catholic Church, to cover up


these vile abuses of children. In what other walk of life would it be


right to have someone do something that morally wrong in one place, and


say, we will cover that up and move you to somewhere new? They are not


doing that any more. It is a disgrace. One of the limitations of


the report is that it did not mention that particularly in the UK


and the US, we have had 15 years of Gold standard, best practice. It has


created a climate of fear. What Evon Brennan said was incredibly


powerful. What happened to you, no Christian could condone. Think of


the Bible, anyone who causes one of my little ones to lose faith, the


better have a millstone around their neck. But what we saw in Ireland,


the state colluded with some of these institutions. They were not


monitored by anyone. If in the confessional, a priest says to


another priest, I have been doing this, is there an obligation to make


that information public or give it to the police? What is said in the


confessional has to be sacred. Why? If somebody is genuinely penitent,


we all go to confession, and we go to confession because we want


we all go to confession, and we go forgiven, and we want to amend our


lives. These are unforgivable. If you are genuinely repentant, Father,


I abused a child, you will go to the police. As a growing child, who is


becoming adolescent, and the child says to the priest, I touched


myself. What does the priest say to that? This is magical. The Catholic


Church has completely enjoyed -- has completely denied the enjoyment of


one's body. That has been the problem. With it is the Anglican


Church, the Catholic Church or any other, how do you actually select


priests and determine whether they are suitable? That procedure has


very much been sorted out. Thank you all very much for your contributions


on that debate. If you have something to say about that debate,


log on to bbc.co.uk/thebigquestions and follow the link to where you can


join in the discussion online, or contribute on Twitter. We are also


debating live this morning from Leicester, is trophy hunting good


for conservation? And are some topics too sacred for comedy? So get


tweeting or emailing on those topics now or send us any other ideas or


thoughts you may have about the show.


Today, the Prince of Wales and Prince William issued a video


highlighting the plight of elephants, rhinos, tigers and other


species hunted for their ivory, their bones or other saleable body


parts. Britain is hosting a big international conference on the


illegal wildlife trade this Wednesday. But there are some voices


suggesting that properly licensed hunting can help conserve rare


species. Recently a permit to shoot an elderly black rhino in Namibia


was auctioned for $350,000, money which will be ploughed back into the


local community and its wildlife protection projects. Is trophy


hunting good for conservation? I am delighted to say that we have


Professor EJ Milner-Gulland. There are some estimates that 50,000


elephants were lost last year to poaching. Clearly these are


threatened and endangered species. Over 1000 rhinos killed last year.


How does selling permits to hunters to kill these beautiful animals save


them? It does seem counterintuitive, but there are a


number of examples were if it is properly managed, trophy hunting can


have successes. I have done work with brown bears in Croatia. Trophy


hunting is run with local hunting associations. Bears or annoying


neighbours to have because they destroy your property and eat your


beehives and things like that. Because it is locally done, the


compensation comes straightaway, and the population of beers is stable.


Across the border in Slovenia, it is ruled by EU la. It is the same


population of beers, and bears are protected. And yet 20% of their


population were shot as problem animals, because the people were


annoyed with them. That compares with 8% in Croatia. This is a good


example of where if trophy hunting is well managed, it can make a


difference. The animal is seen as an asset to the local community.


Exactly. You have come from Kenya, Doctor Paula Kahumbu. If you kill an


animal to save a species, that is surely for the greater good, money


will be ploughed into the community? Why do you not believe


that argument? Several reasons. I think it is ironic. It is like


saying during the famine of the 1980s, when Ethiopians were


starving, it is like having a fundraising event were your stuffing


your face. And eating competition. It is confusing for the people on


the ground. In Africa, where these animals are being shot, it is not


well-managed. Secondly, it runs counter to the value system.


European values, sport hunting, killing animals for fun... Are those


not African values? Absolutely not. Animals may be killed because they


are part of an initiation ceremony, or problem animals, but hunting


animals as a blood sport is not one of the values. There has been a


massive outrage because of the rhino in Namibia which is going to be


shot. People were so upset. It was all over the Internet. It was an


elderly, aggressive rhino. The animal is aggressive because it is


in a confined space. You cannot call it conservation when these animals


are being bred in little farms. They are contained in farms for the


purpose of hunters. That is not conservation. Having 1 million


rhinos for the benefit of these elite hunters coming in for the


United States or Europe, that is not conservation. Conservation is where


you are protecting the animals and the landscape. The communities that


live with these animals, and that happens in Kenya where we do not


allow this, I am not saying it is perfect, and we do not have all the


solutions, but Kenyans are saying that the sport hunting fraternity,


it would be the equivalent of Kenyans coming to the United Kingdom


and saying, we allow certain drugs in our markets, let's impose them on


you because we can make money out of it. This is a cultural imposition?


Charlie Jakobi, Hunter, owner of this Beales -- owner of the sports


hunting channel. What have you killed in Africa? I have shot


antelope and the zebra. This rhino that is going to be shot. It is a


lot of money. $350,000. Lots of rhinos saved. Can you imagine how


many animals you can save if you have $350,000. Is that where the


money goes? Yes. Describe the enjoyment of shooting a rhino? It is


a very complicated thing. One thing to get right about this first of


all, in Britain, we have a different view of how we should animals. We


like the idea of the rogue animal, the leopard that has taken the


child. Second is pest animals, then edible animals. In America, it is


the other way around. Trophy animals are the most important thing. What


is the enjoyment? Take us through this elderly rhino? It is


complicated. I will do my best. You'll leave your house with your


gun, you have a landscape in front of you. This is the rhino I am


talking about? Take that as an example, you're out on your farm in


Namibia. You see the landscape and suddenly everything is much better.


You often hear people that -- say that they are there for the


stocking, not for the kill. It is a much more exciting way to see the


world. Then there is the bit where you pull the trigger. A friend of


mine described it as 99% late on and 1% horror. If you're an American,


you want the rhino on your wall. If it is me, I get to cook the rabbit,


if it is a rabbit. When the animal false, there is a feeling of


completion? Why do you not shoot it with a camera? It is not the same.


Hunting goes back thousands of years. We sat around campfires in


the Stone Age. We did not talk about decorating. We spoke about who got


the biggest animal. Is it a good idea to get people to pay a lot of


money to kill a member of a species to save a species? Let's put it into


some con decks, Nicky, because we are talking about -- into context,


Nicky, because we are talking about 1,500 elephant licences, 600 lions


being killed, going to the United States. Those who are supporters of


trophy hunting will say it is good for the local community, because it


provides employment. Very weak statistics on just how many people


it really does ploy. I give you a good argument on -- that it employs.


I can give you a good assessment. The UN says 3% of money goes into


local communities. The bottom line is it is all about an elite wishing


the put the head of an animal on their wall. The head of a lion...


APPLAUSE Go on, Charlie. In Kenya sports hunting was banned in 1997


and the lion and rhino population have fallen by 90% since then What


about Botswana which has banned trophy hunting and not for a year,


it has been banned until populations recover. The reason it has been


banned is because the Minister herself said the reason it has been


Banned is because wildlife populations are in decline and


trophy hunting is playing a major role than that. No they are not. You


are muddling poaching and hunting. Where do they go? The main reason


why many of Kenya's and Africa's big five are in trouble today are


because of hunting. I'm not talking about the last ten years but


historically. The reason why Kenya put in a ban on the hunting of


wildlife is because populations of the animals were already collapsing.


So hunting, think about it, in the 1800s and 190 #0s, el fancifuling


being hunted at the rate of 100,000 a year, by sport hunters. At that


time there were no proper regulations. Africa's elephants


declined from 25 million to just a few hundred. But they weren't paying


it back into conservation. Top police stations collapsed because of


sport huntling, so now to turn it around and say, guess what, I'm the


champion of conservation. Sorry, but Africans don't buy that. They've


never been hunters in this way. And they are not really paying it back


in any significant way now. $300,000 is not significant? Wait for it. The


total wildlife-based tourism income for Kenya alone is a billion US a


year. 165,000 people employed in it. The total according to Safari Club,


not the most reliable source, is 200 million. 100 from South Africa


alone. It is incomparable. It behoves me to come back to you at


this point. You love animals. I do. How do you feel when you see there's


quite a lot of stuff goes around on the internet and Twitter of people


posing the beautiful lion that they've shot? Does that make you


queasy or do you think, not much? That's not something I would


personally want to do. What do you think when you see the photograph?


It is not nice. But let's think about conservation and Rhinos. I


agree with Paul o that over the course the century sport hunting was


the major cause of the decline. The western black rhino was declared


extinct two years ago. In Namibia they hold 9 of the -- 90% of the


subspecies they have. It is well regulated. It is not true in other


countries, but perhaps in Namibia and South Africa, rhinos are a


conservative story and a lot of it is due to trophy hunting. Nicky,


there is a problem when you talk about South Africa. EJ is right,


southern Africa has a different model, and that's shifting, most


dramatically with the recent declaration in Botswana. In South


Africa the hunting story, which did look so good, has been quickly


compromised by criminal cartels by Asia. The poachers? No, hunting.


What they are doing is brilliant. These people are much smarter than


the rest of us. They come and buy a hunting permit, which costs maybe


$20,000, for a rhino, to get the horn of the rhino, which is worst


about $1 million. You buy up all the licences, had you have people that


shoot like this, because they are not hunters. They brought in


prostitutes at one point. They started with Thai, Vietnamese and


now even Polish hunters. They shoot like this, injury the animal and the


outfitter has to finish off the animal. They take off the horn, they


stick it on a wooden plaque. They declare it and they export it with a


legal licence, because the value of that horn is monumental compared to


the price of the actual hunt. People think it makes them virile when they


slaughter? And then it goes to Poland and then to the Far East. So


it is stimulating illegal trade. I heard you say a few moments ago, why


not give the money straight away. You grew up in Kenya? I grew up in


Kenya. I watched animals hunting in the wild. I loved elephants. To


think my grandchildren might not see those elephants breaks my heart. If


they care so much about conservation, why can't they just


give the cash? APPLAUSE I will go up to my next


American millionaire and ask why don't you hand over your $350


million. And tell him to get a life. How does putting a bullet through


the animal's head make you a man? It is fun and millions of people do it.


You don't know me. I have killed a rabbit which had myxomatosis and was


suffering. I killed it to put it out of its misery. I will kill an animal


if I need to eat it if I'm in the wild, but just for the fun of


killing it and watching it die, it makes me subhuman.


APPLAUSE Anyway, is there anyway this could help stop the illegal


trade? So much money's going into, coming from the poachers through the


Chinese and Vietnamese cartels and Triads, there's AK-47s, night vision


glasses, massive amounts of money. A slaughter frenzy at the moment. Is


there anyway that some of this money can combat that? Yes, the money from


trophy hunting, from that rhino that's going to be killed in Namibia


is going into anti-poaching. They had two Rhinos killed through


poaching last year compared to the 1,000 in South Africa. Once they run


out in South Africa, the guys will go to Namibia. It is managing to


fend it off soar far. In South Africa they have a massive problem


with poaching, separate from trophy hunting. With the point about the


fake legal hunting permits, had it is legal in as much as it is not


biologically unsustainable but it is fuelling the illegal trade. South


Africa has closed the loophole with Vietnamese citizens. They are trying


to strengthen... Something I want to address is this concept, people may


have heard of it, I will try to come to audience contributions, explain


this idea of canned hunting. It is used a lot with lions. It is breed


lions in a compound and then rich Americans or whoever come and pay a


lot of money and the lion is released on the last day of the


safari from the compound and the gullible person shoots. The lion is


used to human hands. Is a lot of this going on? A huge amount. It


almost exactly is as you described. Your tourist hunter goes in on a no


kill no fee basis. There is no fair chase. There is no opportunity for


this animal to get aye. -- to get away. Is this animal used to humans?


It is taken around in a circuitous route in order to make it feel like


the guy is on a hunt and there's the animal and they shoot it. The


problem with that is that the trophy hunter takes the head home and the


body is left behind. The body is stripped of the meat. The skeleton


is legally sold, because these are captive-bred animals, so they don't


fall under the same regulations as wild animals. They are sent to the


far east, to Laos. In 2009 five skeletons were exported. In 2011,


494 skeletons were exported to Laos. This is going to have a massive and


detrimental impact on wild lion populations across Africa. The


consumer market doesn't care where they come from. How many are left?


Between 25-30,000. 1,600 a year are killed by trophy hunters. I agree


with Will. I think canned hunting is unsporting and I don't like it


Because there is no contest? It is a difficult word to describe, but


there is no sport. No sense of the landscape, of the shooting should.


There is no sense of the (Inaudible) Why are you laughing, Will? You


stand 300 metres away with your high-powered rifle. I didn't say


high-powered. You look through the scope and you take out that animal


at 300 metres. Where's the sport in that?


APPLAUSE Just on this point, I don't think Will be be subscribing to your


YouTube channel. Can something like that, if the money doesn't go into


the commercial hand and pay for swimming pools, can we get to a


situation where more of that money goes into conservation? Is that your


battle? Canned hunting that nothing to do with conservation. My battle


would be to make sure that landowners and Governments who hold


these kind of endangered species in trust for all of us are effectiven


the support they need to be able to protect them. That involves not just


anti-poaching but empty of demand in consumer countries. I think will's


-- I think Will's point about the bonus is important. If these are


getting into the illegal trade, that's an issue that needs to be


addressed by trophy hunters and Governments and anyone who cares


about these endangered species. Thank you. We have to leave it


there. Some very interesting stuff. You can join in all this morning's


debates by logging on to bbc.co.uk/the big questions and


following the link to the online discussion. Or you can tweet using


the hashtag #bbctbq. Tell us what you think about our last Big


Question too - are some topics too sacred for comedy? If you would like


to be in the audience at a future show, you can email


[email protected] We're in Edinburgh next week, Oxford on 23


February, and Peterborough the week after that.


. This weekend Leicester launched its


21st comedy festival. In a city famous for being the most


multicultural in Britain, it must often be tricky for comedians to


raise a laugh without offending somebody in a Leicester audience. As


we know all too well, it can be a difficult line to tread. Are some


topics too sacred for comedy? When someone makes a joke about God or a


cartoon or whatever, clearly it is not offending God. Clearly God is


bigger than that. Surely it is only offending the people who want to be


offended. Otherwise don't look at it. I don't think that we want to be


offended. We worship that God, or respect that prophet, or love that


person or that book or whatever. We feel hurt because we have a deep


affection for whoever we are talking about, whether it is God or a


prophet. We have love and affection for them the way we have love and


affection for our parents or children. I wouldn't be able to


tolerate somebody making fun of my father. Lots of people don't believe


God exists, so for lots of people the jury's out or in, and for lots


of people there is no jury, but your family exist. Number one for us, God


and the prophets are real, so it is not like this is something ethereal.


I understand that, but for others they aren't. We have to show respect


and courtesy Tote people around us. they aren't. We have to show respect


That's what makes us human being. We know how to survive around people.


Our job isn't to say what we like regardless of the other person, as


long as I make the money from my next joke routine. Citizen Khan on


the BBC, I love him to bits, the programme. The Life of Brian? I


didn't find that funny. I found that quite offensive. But it wasn't about


Jesus but Brian. Yes, but a lot of the jokes there weren't.


APPLAUSE Shouldn't we be more careful not to offend people of


sincere faith like grat gratuitously? The American


journalist once said one should respect the other man's religion in


the same way once believes his wife and children are beautiful and


intelligent. She is right, in overday life we don't go around


saying what we like to anybody and just abusing people. But the point


of comedy is that transaggression to escape from the little constraints


that we put on ourselves every day. We laugh exactly because we we think


there is something that is said that maybe I thought, maybe I once


occurred to me and I didn't say it. Laughter is a release in a lot of


ways. I can remember in the 1980s, there were lots of little jokes


around sex abuse in Ireland. In some way, it was a way of dealing with


the fact that no one else was dealing with it. We knew there was


something going on. We thought, at least we can laugh at these people,


if nothing else. It is a great way of pricking pomposity? Exactly. That


is the point of comedy. Not to offend, but to make people think a


little bit. If you can use comedy, for example, I do gags about


Muslims. You are Muslim? Yes. I do gags about other religions as well.


I went to see a Buddhist pantomime the other day. Somebody shouted out,


he is beyond you. What about Pakistan, where there is a blasphemy


law? Are we in danger of having one through the back door here? I have


just come back from Pakistan three weeks ago. It is a beautiful place


with some very beautiful people. There are some very liberal people.


But on the subject of blasphemy, there are people who think you


should be killed. That is a place not to go to for stand-up comedy. It


is going to take a long time for them to understand that stand-up


comedy is a device. Comedy is a device for discussing subjects,


satire. Is there a danger that we will get that attitude kid if we are


too sensitive to people sensibilities? People overreacting?


Muslims love to overreact anywhere. It is the hot spices that weed, I do


not know! But we have to be very careful. Religious people have to be


careful not to take offence. When I see a comedian making fun of his


mother in law, I know that he is not making fun of his mother-in-law, he


is just making fun of the concept. But when God and the profit coming


to the picture, people take it personally. -- the prophet. We have


to be careful. You are right writer first bliss programmes, -- you are


right for some marvellous programmes. Was there anything in


The Life Of Brian that you find offensive? I thought it was


hysterical, but as a Christian, I found the crucifixion scene


difficult. I have been writing a book recently, retelling some Bible


stories. I have focused on the earlier parts, Adam and Eve, and


Noah and his Ark. When you get to the cross Andy Christy fiction, it


is like someone making a joke about your mum who has died in a car or


something. As a comedian and performer, I defend the right to do


whatever jokes you see fit, play the room, because I like to try and make


the most amount of people have as good a time as possible, which means


not targeting people. Other comedians like to do that. But I


think people should vote with their feet. If they do not like that, see


someone else. Is there not a difference between targeting a


race, which is unacceptable, and targeting a belief system,


religion? You cannot account for offence. As a comedian, you could


do, why does the chicken cross the road, and there could be a farmer in


the studio who has had his chicken run over and he may not like that!


What about Scientology? I think I have probably done jokes about that


at some point. You have got to think, with the laugh along with it.


Probably not. It depends on the approach you take. There are ways of


doing it. David Jennings. I do not think that religious faith needs a


great deal of protection. If it is sincerely held, people will hold it


no matter what anyone says about it. But there is a difference between


being able to make a joke about religious faith and setting out to


be gratuitously offensive. I think there is a difference. Give me an


example where someone has been gratuitously offensive in comedy? I


cannot think of anything. Not off the top of my head. But if you said


something obnoxious about Jesus, just because you wanted to say


something obnoxious, that would be gratuitously offensive. Then do not


read it, do not watch it? Comedy can give you an insight into religion


that can be helpful. It puts it into a different context. That can be


positive. It does not need all that protection. Any comedy, we need to


remember that it runs the risk of offending somebody. It depends on


the attention -- the intention of the person making the joke. Let's


get some audience reaction. Good morning. That is the microphone from


above. The thing you have to remember about comedy and humour, is


that the reason something tends to be funny is because there tends to


be some truth behind it, as minimal as that might be. Perhaps it is


interesting that when comedians poke fun at religion, there is maybe


something to think about. The people being offended should maybe think


about something being said. You're far too young to remember Dave


Allen. Check it out online. Dave Allen used to make fun of religion


all the time. The gentle man over there. Good morning. I was just


going to mention Dave Allen. Keep old fun at religion all the time.


Mainly Catholicism. Yes, but let's just call it religion. He saw the


absurdity and religion. Let's face it, we are asked to believe in a


talking snake, we are asked to believe that there was a directive


to kill witches. We are asked to believe that the prophet could hold


back the night. We are asked to believe that another prophet flew


from Mecca to Jerusalem. You say it is baloney? We are told that


documents of tombs got up and walked around the town. You can choose not


to believe it. Finally, we are also asked to believe that the young


women was debauched by a ghost. -- a young woman. The whole thing is


absurd. There are some messages that comedy can bring out that are


difficult to touch upon another whizz. But for many people, face


forms a big part of their identity, so to mark what they believe... For


example, my face makes me respectful and inspires me to do good. My faith


inspires letting me. If someone wants to more clad, I would find it


difficult. That said, people can have different comedic case. That is


perfectly fine. How do you feel about this? I want to pick up on


something that was said. When people giggled about the abuse crisis in


Ireland, that is how it got covered up. It was seen as funny. It clearly


was not funny. Generally, when we say, are some topics to sacred, who


decides? As a Christian, I believe that my faith is historically


accurate. I believe that everything that Christianity teaches is true


and can be proven. Because of that, it should be subject to test. What


did you think about the Monty Python song? Every... Is Sacred. It is a


scream. A friend of mine sang the solo on that. It is annoying in that


it completely represents -- completely miss resents the Catholic


Church. But it is funny. It is a release? Yes, it is a release. It


tells you something. The Life Of Brian, it allows you to have another


insight into the nature of Jesus. If we look at Moses. Jewish people,


Christians, Muslims, we all believe in Moses. For 40 years, he took the


children avengers -- and the children of Israel and wandered


around the Sinai Desert. What kind of sad NAFTA date have? -- what kind


of sat nav did he have. In the Muslim community, we have a thriving


gay community, or as I like to call them, clerics. You mentioned at the


start, is there an attempt to bring in a blasphemy law. We only abolish


that in this country a few years ago. I was in Northern Ireland last


week were a controversy sprung up over a play by the reduced


Shakespeare Company. People got upset that there is an nearly got


the play band. People said, you would not say this sort of thing


about the Koran. What they really meant was, we want you to be as


scared of our religion as others. People are saying, we own this, no


one else can touch this. We are the only that hold the truth. If you try


to look at it differently, and make fun of it, then you must be stopped,


because you have offended my truth. Who makes that decision? I would


just like to say, it is important that religion is out there and


talked about. If you say that we cannot talk about this and that,


you're wiping it from the debate table. The comedy club is a place


where we tell jokes. I am doing a show in Leicester tomorrow night. I


will be talking a bit about religion. The Bible is the most


shoplifted book in the world. Some people think that the Bible should


be taken, literally! Why not talk about these things? 20 seconds.


Freedom of expression is a vital right. The only limits that should


exist on that is if there is an incitement to hatred or violence.


Nobody has a right not to be offended. People should engage in


those moments where they feel offended, because that is where real


discussion can happen. Thank you all very much. I am sure you have sold a


few tickets, good luck. Likewise. As always, the debates will continue


online and on Twitter. Next week we are in Edinburgh, my home town, so


join us then. But for now it is goodbye and enjoy your Sunday.


It's your job to keep law and order, isn't it?


It must be exciting being a policewoman. It has its moments.


Nicky Campbell presents live moral, ethical and religious debates from the Samworth Enterprise Academy in Leicester. He asks:

Is it time for the Vatican to confess?

Is trophy hunting good for conservation?

Are some topics too sacred for humour?

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