Monday, 7 June 2010

Should bible ownership be licenced?

I got carried away by other stuff yesterday and forgot to pose a question inspired by a Beeb Sunday morning live comedy show, i.e., ‘should bible ownership be licenced?’
I ask after viewing as much of The Big Questions as they could transmit before either a technical fault or (as I suspect) they stopped recording so that Campbell could gaffa tape the gob of a particularly stupid audience member.
Inevitably, the Cumbria shootings spawned an inevitable question about gun control, ‘Should all guns be illegal’,with the inevitable lunatic fringe views ranging from, on one side, a bloke who thought all pensioners should be issued with handguns to a madwoman whose son had been shot, thus giving her a permanent income screeching about it to the media.
And Wendy One Note (as we’ll dub her), really did screech. From the point Campbell began introducing the topic, and she interrupted him, to the point where, having allowed her to screech for 30 seconds, he tried to bring in another speaker, who she interrupted. At this point there was a technical breakdown, and when abnormal service was resumed Campbell tried to precis the argument thus far, only for Wendy One Note to interrupt, at which point there was a longer technical breakdown.
The signal came back, Campbell tried again to precis and Wendy again screeched before he had got two sentences out, at which point technical difficulties again stopped play, and the Beeb finally gave up and moved to a replacement programme.
Much as I love such knockabout stuff, there is a serious question to be asked, if only we can move away from kneejerk stuff about gun control.
And that question is ‘Should bible ownership be licenced?’
Think about it, compared to the miniscule number of nutters running amok with shotguns, the damage caused by widespread, often totally irresponsible, bible ownership in this country is immense. This isn’t just individual lives, but whole families - whole communities even – who get damaged.
Now historically, of course, bibles were chained to the lectern in churches and only licenced priests could read them. But were things any better in the good old days?
No, they may even have been worse. Because religious nutters totally ran the country and nobody else even had a bible to bash back with. Plus, being illiterate, they couldn't have quoted it out of context as an excuse.
So was the invention of the printing press, the rise of Protestantism and literacy – thus bringing the potential of bibles for all and the ability of most to read them - an improvement?
If anything, things are much worse. Bibles are everywhere – not just in churches or hotel bedrooms but readily available in bookshops without mental health or criminal record checks… and even compulsory in schools.
And that’s not all. In addition to officially condoned bibles, cheap replicas and a whole range of similar weapons are flooding the street for the impressionable to get hold of. The Book of Mormon, the Koran and the I-Ching (how on earth do you get ‘divine wisdom’ from a glorified gambling device, by the way) to name but a few… and not a training manual or certified course of instruction in sight to prevent any passing lunatic from picking one up, opening it at random and causing untold havoc.
Forget tightening up on the licencing of shotguns. There’s a far greater menace to society on our streeets, and we need to get a grip on it.

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