Brickbat: A Distinct Lack of Passion


The Oxford, England, city council's licensing officer has apologized for blocking a public performance of a Passion Play planned for today. Though the event was organized by a church group and a theological college, the licensing officer was under the impression that it was a sex show. A spokesman for the council blamed the organizers for not providing them with enough information.

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  1. I suppose for some a Passion Play is hard to distinguish from a sex show?

    1. Or perhaps just not everybody is familiar with what a “passion play” is. Really. Not everyone is familiar with the rituals and customs of every religion. And if you don’t know WTF a “passion play” is, it’s not an unreasonable assumption.

      SLD’s about freedom of expression, of course.

      1. Even if you do know what it is, you still might think it’s some weird BDSM thing. I mean nailing people to crosses? Pretty kinky!

  2. Interesting that in Oxford, England it is part of the “licencing officer’s” duty to approve the content of any shows put on there.

    1. If you want to put on pretty much any entertainment in England you need a licence for the premises, which is granted by the local council’s licensing officer*. They consider it in accordance with the council’s policy and can reject your application if it breaches it. Content could conceivably be a factor, if for example it’s likely to lead to a breach of the peace. Or people just don’t want a sex show next door and lodge an objection.

      On the bright side, plays no longer need to be licensed by the Home Secretary.

      You got to remember, the US is exceptional in having a First Amendment. The rest of us have only free-ish speech at best.

      *I’m pretty sure this means schools need a licence to put on a school play if parents are invited, as that’s considered public.

  3. It’s not a sex show, it’s a self-help show

    1. Blessed are the cheesemakers

  4. I’m sorry, Julian, but your case of stupidity is terminal. You may want to get your affairs in order before your brain turns completely to sludge and blocks your windpipe. Since at that point you’ll be legally braindead, the NHS won’t try to drain the sludge from your sinuses. You are also disqualified from becoming a brain donor.

  5. I never heard the term Passion Play until I was in college, so the guy’s misunderstanding doesn’t seem as strange to me. That said, who would think a church and a college would put on a sex show? And if they needed more information, why not pick up the phone? Everybody seems to have three of the damn things anymore.

    1. The official’s ignorance ought to be surprising since he’s in Oxford, which produced so many distinguished divines – but I wouldn’t consider it surprising since even in a university town like this, they need to reach into the bottom of the barrel to fill government posts.

      1. Nope, not everyone else’s duty to keep up on the arcana of every single religion out there.

        1. “arcana”

          interesting perspective.

        2. Yeah, and speaking of eccentric and obscure practices, what’s with all these dorky guys I see wearing ridiculous little beanie caps this time of year?

          And when I ask them, “Hey, where’s your propeller?” they just give me an annoyed look. Like I’m supposed to know all this shit.

  6. Roll with it dude, roll with it.


  7. It does involve a guy getting nailed…

  8. A spokesman for the council blamed the organizers for not providing them with enough information

    A government functionary playing shifting the blame? This is my shocked face.

    1. It’s your fault I’m so stupid.

    2. We frequently don’t get enough information here. When that happens we have a procedure – we ask for the missing information. While this annoys the crap out of people because their processing is put on hold, it is the least bad option.

  9. And then Jesus handed the innkeeper some nails and said “Can you put me up for the night?”

  10. ‘You can’t hold a crucifixion these days without a licence’

    “Show the bureaucrat your cross.”

    “Hey, Mister — Get the fuck out of the way!”

  11. Imagine Huxley, Ingersoll, Mencken, or any of history’s great unbelievers making a mistake like this. No, it’s clear the quality of unbelief has considerably declined. They used to at least have some idea what they were rejecting, now they can’t even be bothered to know the content of the faith they disbelieve.

    And will modern statists consider the lesson? They have ambitious ideas of expert government officials managing our lives, but they don’t realize that in practice these decisions often devolve, not on experts, but on some clerk in a n ancient university town lacking the most basic knowledge of the world.

    1. You have a right to your own beliefs. This does not imply a right to make other people study your belief system.

      1. Just an observation.

      2. Murray Rothbard is one of the actors on Game of Thrones, right? I can’t be bothered with the details.

      3. Born and raised a Fundamental Baptist, but I knew Ramadan was a Muslim holiday, not a place to get bed lice when I was in high school. “Passion Play” is not arcana.

      4. Actually, I think that if you are (by some bizarre turn of events) put in an authoritative position to ban the public observance of someone’s belief system, you should know what you’re doing.

        Or at least pick up the phone or Google and look stuff up, instead of just jumping to conclusions.

        If my government, in its unwisdom, put me in charge of approving all public events held in the local park, and a Native American group wanted to hold a “Spirit Dance Festival,” I wouldn’t just say, “Sounds like a bunch of hallucinogenic-substance-using and whiskey-drinking to me. You can’t do it.” I’d pick up a phone and ask someone what the hell that actually was.

  12. Imagine Huxley, Ingersoll, Mencken, or any of history’s great unbelievers making a mistake like this. No, it’s clear the quality of unbelief has considerably declined.

    Very apt comparison. “History’s great unbelievers” vs. Julian Alison, City Licensing Officer.

    You’ve got a great tradition to uphold, Julian!

  13. There was a rush along the Fullham Road.

  14. “Hello, Homeland Security? I just received a terrorist threat. Some group says it’s going to be setting off explosives on…let’s check the date…July 4….”

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