Posts Tagged ‘Mr Bean’

A Royal Baby

July 22, 2013

Our British friends are celebrating the birth of the newest addition to the royal family. Catherine, the duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a boy. This newborn is now the third in line to the throne, after Princes Charles and William. I suppose its a good thing to know that the royal line will continue for another generation though there is no shortage of heirs to the throne. The Wikipedia article lists fifty people but states that there are several thousand people potentially in line to the throne.

I don’t think they have released any photographs of the new prince yet. If the young royals need a baby sitter, I understand that Mr. Bean is available, though perhaps they might not want to take advantage.

They also haven’t released the name of the baby yet and people are taking bets on what names will be chosen. I wouldn’t care to speculate myself, but I can guarantee that the name chosen will not be John. There was only one King John of England who was not a very successful king. His legacy has been so negative that no royal prince has been named John since his time.

In case you’re not that familiar with English history, John reigned from 1199 to 1216. He was the youngest son of Henry II and the brother of Richard I the Lion-Hearted. He wasn’t actually a complete disaster as king. He made the administration of his government more efficient and continued the judicial reforms of Henry II. He paid more attention to England than his brother Richard, who was always off crusading. Unfortunately he was unsuccessful at war and during his reign, England lost most of its territory on the continent to France, earning John the name of lackland and soft sword with his barons. He managed to alienate the Pope, who placed England under the interdict, and his barons, who rebelled and forced him to sign the Magna Carta in 1215. When it became clear that King John would not adhere to the Magna Carta, the barons rebelled again and invited Louis, the son of Phillip II of France to be their king. They changed their minds when John died in 1216 and his nine year old son Henry III became king and Louis had to go back to France. No one in England wants a king so bad that rule by the French is preferable, so the royal family avoids the name John.

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Rowan Atkinson and Free Speech

October 19, 2012

I really enjoy watching  British actor Rowan Atkinson‘s two signature characters, Mr. Bean and Blackadder, but now Mr Atkinson has given me another reason to like him. He, along with some others, is campaigning against a British law which outlaws insulting words and behavior. I found the story in the Mail Online.

Rowan Atkinson is demanding a change in the law to halt the ‘creeping culture of censoriousness’ which has seen the arrest of a Christian preacher, a critic of Scientology and even a student making a joke.

The Blackadder and Mr Bean star criticised the ‘new intolerance’ behind controversial legislation which outlaws ‘insulting words and behaviour’.

Launching a fight for part of the Public Order Act to be repealed, he said it was having a ‘chilling effect on free expression and free protest’.

He went on: ‘The clear problem of the outlawing of insult is that too many things can be interpreted as such. Criticism, ridicule, sarcasm, merely stating an alternative point of view to the orthodoxy, can be interpreted as insult.’

Campaigners say the Public Order Act is being abused by over-zealous police and prosecutors. Section 5 of the 1986 Act outlaws threatening, abusive and insulting words or behaviour, but what constitutes ‘insulting’ is unclear and has resulted in a string of controversial arrests.

A 16-year-old boy was arrested under the legislation for peacefully holding a placard reading ‘Scientology is a dangerous cult’, on the grounds that it might insult followers of the movement.

Gay rights campaigners from the group Outrage! were arrested under the Act when they protested against the Islamist fundamentalist group, Hizb ut-Tahrir, which was calling for the killing of gays, Jews and unchaste women.’

He added: ‘The law should not be aiding and abetting the new intolerance.’

Mr Atkinson was joined by Lord Dear, former chief constable of West Midlands Police, who plans to lay down a Parliamentary amendment to delete the word ‘insulting’ from the Act.

Lord Dear said: ‘Section 5 wrongly brings the criminal law – and the police who must enforce it – into the realm of debate and dissent.’

Former shadow home secretary David Davis, a leading campaigner for civil liberties, said: ‘The simple truth is that in a free society, there is no right not to be offended.

‘For centuries, freedom of speech has been a vital part of British life, and repealing this law will reinstate that right.’

The campaign is backed by unlikely bedfellows The Christian Alliance and The National Secular Society, as well as Big Brother Watch, The Freedom Association and The Peter Tatchell Foundation.

Quite right, The right of free speech and the supposed right to not be offended are completely incompatible. If we are only free to say things which offend no one, than we don’t have freedom of speech at all.

The real problem with such laws is that insulting words and behavior are really in the mind of the one insulted and are therefore subjective, which makes it almost impossible to enforce such laws objectively and even-handedly. Anyone can claim offense at anything anyone else has said or done and there is no way to know to what extent they really are offended. Enforcement of such speech codes, therefore has to be somewhat arbitrary with unpopular or politically incorrect persons and causes subject to harassment. I note that the Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir was not disturbed.

 

The Royal Wedding

April 29, 2011

I understand that there has been a wedding over there across the pond.

I hope they are luckier than the previous generation of Windsors

I also hope they didn’t invite Mr. Bean.

Of course he has had run-ins with the royals before


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