Grays Inn Road, London, December 15, 2004.
A play in a Birmingham theatre has been taken off because of violent behaviour by ‘devout’ Sikhs who find the play offensive to their religion. Ah, the poor dears. In an ideal world, every play would offend somebody’s religion. Correction: in an ideal world, there would be no religion and therefore none of the bigotry and intolerance which religious certainty breeds. As someone who was brought up in a fanatically devout Catholic family in a country (Ireland) dominated by a repressive, censorious and corrupt church, I had my fill of this nonsense by the time I was 15. Ever since then, I’ve taken H.L Mencken’s line. “We must respect the other fellow’s religion”, he wrote, “but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children are smart.”