At a recent forum on free speech hosted by Oxford University, Mark Thompson, the director-general for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), said that Christianity is handled with less sensitivity by the media giant than are other religions. Basically, Thompson—a devout and practicing Catholic—says the reason is that Christianity is a “pretty broad-shouldered” religion that can take a joke … which, honestly, is sort of a compliment.
Thompson also notes many religions are tied to ethnicity and cultural identity–an insult to any religion may be perceived as a horrific slur that could evoke a violent response. “For a Muslim, a depiction–particularly a comical or demeaning depiction–of the Prophet Muhammed might have the emotional force of a piece of a grotesque child pornography,” he explains.
“Without question,” he says. “‘I complain in the strongest possible terms’ is different from ‘I complain in the strongest possible terms, and I’m loading my AK-47 as I write.’ This definitely raises the stakes.”