Catholic complaint over song not upheld

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Copy of si rel priest David Bundy/AP

A complaint about a song titled ‘Vatican Rag’ played on Classic FM was not upheld, the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA (BCCSA) said on Monday.

“However painful the ridiculing of things sacred to many Roman Catholics might be, we cannot find in favour of the complaint,” the BCCSA said in its judgment.

“First of all, there is no reference to God in the lyrics. Even if blasphemy were mentioned in the code, there would have been no finding of a contravention of the code in this respect.”

According to the complaint the song was derogatory to the beliefs of millions of Catholics.

The complainant also said the song, dating from the 1960s by satirist Tom Lehrer, made a mockery of beliefs, rituals and things sacred to Roman Catholics.

The song was aired on Classic FM on September 13 last year in a time slot for “classical comedy”.

The complaint was treated as hate speech based on religion.

However, the BCCSA found that there was no advocacy of hatred based on religion.

“To advocate means to support or recommend a cause,” it said.

“There was nothing of this in the broadcast. Neither do we think there was any incitement to cause harm to Roman Catholics.”

The complainant also argued that the presenter of the programme was amused when he announced the song.

The presenter denied that he commented on the song and said he was amused because he was about to play a good piece of musical comedy.

“We accept this statement and do not find it necessary to consider whether clause 12 of the code, relating to comment, was contravened,” BCCSA said.

“In the result the complaint is not upheld.” - Sapa

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