Victory

Acknowledge that your personal and vociferous demands for censorship of the Arts fall outside of any public authority that you have been afforded.

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Alderman William Ball, a DUP politician and apparent evangelistic Christian, recently (and successfully) led a call in Northern Ireland for the Reduced Shakespeare Company's touring stage production of "The Bible: The Complete Word Of God (abridged)" two day run at Newtownabbey's "Theatre at The Mill" to be cancelled on the grounds that it was mocking the Bible.

He is further quoted as saying that "My wife, councillor Audrey Ball, has recently been put on the artistic board, so I know in future she will speak up for Christianity. Those against her strong beliefs better watch out." Both Mr Ball and his wife are entitled to their opinions, but speaking out on a personal issue in such a way is an abuse of public office. Neither Mr. Ball, nor his councillor wife Audrey have "moral guardianship" in their job specification, and were not elected to enforce their personal opinions (however well-meaning), but rather to represent the well-being of their constituents - something which is clearly not at risk from a two hour, entertaining, and witty dissection of the Bible (I, for one, HAVE seen the production some years ago, but sadly was prevented from doing so a second time here in Northern Ireland).

Mr Ball's opinions may hold personal merit (although the production he didn't view had hitherto never been cancelled anywhere in the world in over twenty years worth of performances), but it is for each us to form our own opinion on such matters. For a production that has been admired the world over, by both Christians and non-Christians alike, to be cancelled at the behest of someone who, I believe, if a vote were to be taken, would be found NOT to be speaking on behalf of his constituents, sets a dangerous (and, I had hoped, defunct) precedent. Having lived in Northern Ireland for some five years, I have found the Arts scene here to be both vibrant and forward-thinking, and have seen several powerful productions that would no doubt have been denied to me under the remit of Mr. Ball's 'blue pencil'.



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