One of my many weaknesses is the radio phone-in. In some respects it’s a (metaphorically) abusive relationship – I know it’s cheap radio and I know the exposure to ranting Daily Mail readers is bad for me, but for some reason I just can’t walk away.
Thursday morning’s BBC Five Live effort, entitled “Should you be allowed to say what you really think?” ticked all the usual boxes of the genre: daft opening premise, mostly male participants, more heat than light, early and excessive use of the phrases “the Nanny State”, “political correctness gone mad” and “the PC Brigade”, and ultimately no discernible end product that was of any use to anyone.
However what spiced things up for me in the half hour leading up to the phone-in was the participation of Stephen Green, the wild-eyed mouthfoamer who heads up loony fundamentalist hate-mongers Christian Voice. He had been wheeled out (presumably the Tax Payer’s Alliance were unavailable) to comment on the latest pointless piece of government tinkering aimed at outlawing incitement to homophobic hate crime. As so often with the government, behind this is a worthy goal which is unfortunately backed up with clumsy, counter-productive legislation.
Green wasn’t going to miss this chance to promote himself and his particular brand of intolerance, and sure enough he soon fired into his standard homily on why ‘gayness’ is wrong. “Nobody’s born like it, and even if you are born like it you don’t have to stay like it,” he opined, citing his ‘Good Book’ as the one true law. Of course, I took the bait and started shouting at the radio, although thankfully I didn’t phone up and spill yet more bile over the airways. But the sad thing is that this man manages to get a rise out of me every time.
Just who the bloody hell does Stephen Green think he is? What right does he have to drip his extremist poison in my direction? Who elected him? (Even as I type I feel the rage rising.)
I suppose I should declare an interest here. I’m not a Christian. I used to be (sort of) but a diet of forced religion at school soon brought out the atheist in me, and even now I resent the peddling of unsubstantiated superstitions in a public setting. Nevertheless I try to be tolerant, not least because religion often seems to give some kind of comfort to many of its followers, and most priests of whatever religion appear pleasant enough as they go about their business.
Stephen Green is a different beast altogether. Shrill, arrogant and untroubled by doubt, he has no concept of his own hypocrisy as he and his organisation push their fundamental message: hate. (Funny, I thought the principle thrust of Christianity was supposed to be love, but obviously that doesn’t extend to homosexuality or any of the other modern day facts of life that don’t fit in with Christian Voice’s Old Testament agenda.)
Of course, it’s homosexuality that gets Green hottest under the collar, and you could hear the delight in his voice on Thursday morning as he was invited to vent spleen freely at the suggestion that not everyone might find his views on the subject helpful. I wonder why he’s so fascinated about a subject that supposedly has no connection to him…
Green and the others of his ilk like to hide behind the selective quoting of Bible texts, and at times it seems that the exact prose of their scripture is of more importance to them than the philosophy it contains. Many of us may sneer at America and the malign influence of its evangelical groups, but we would be foolish to think that it could never happen here in the UK. Christian Voice are a noisy minority at the moment, but when the Tories follow Murdoch’s bidding and leave the broadcast media to the mercy of the market, how long will it be before our airwaves start to fill up with their nonsense?
Perhaps the scenario in this brilliant clip from the West Wing may not be too far away: