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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Friday, February 02, 2007
    Pranks 2 and Popper
    All the way from San Francisco, Pranks 2 reached my door today. In this sobering corporate-run, fundamentalist-frightened world, it's great to be reminded that to be effective, resistance should be fun. Pranks 2 celebrates the work of various 'driven individuals ... attempting to give wake-up calls', who 'deserve our support not only for their perseverence, but for their unfettered imaginations, as they reprise the eternal role of the mythological Trickster, reinvented for our hyper-media-sedated society'.

    These are the likes of DEVO's Gerald Casale, who, as Jihad Jerry and the Evildoers, has released Mine is Not a Holy War, an album with a title which of course subverts itself and opens the way for Jihad Jerry to attack 'ALL idiotic, illegitimate authority spawned by fundamentalist beliefs'.

    Or Stephen Colbert who used a stand-up slot at the White House Correspondents Dinner to relentlessly and skillfully savage the President, two seats away from him, and the 'tolerance' of those who share Bush's beliefs: "Though I am a committed Christian, I believe that everyone has the right to their own religion, be you Hindu, Jewish or Muslim. I believe there are infinite paths to accepting Jesus Christ as your personal saviour." Or the Billboard Liberation Front with their billboard improvement 'in celebration' of McDonald’s 50th Anniversary featuring an animatronic Ronald McDonald force feeding a hamburger to an obese child.

    Pranks 2 features far more extreme examples than these, and some would say that the pranksters' extreme behaviour is a form of fundamentalism itself, it displays intolerance of others and seems to deny others the freedom to express themselves. Well, as Jello Biafra says, "that doesn't fly when the deck is stacked so far on the other side."

    I like it when things connect. So it was great to see the pranksters' instincts affirmed in a far more temperate publication, this week's New Statesman. Reviewing American Fascists: the Christian right and the war on America, Giles Fraser cites Karl Popper saying something very, very important:

    "Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend the tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them."