Louis Smith’s ban? British Gymnastics needs to get off its high horse

News that gymnast Louis Smith has been suspended by his governing body for mocking Islam is so 2016. I don’t want to bang on about the auto-satirical state we’re in, but this is basically the blasphemy law being revived by British Gymnastics. It’s certainly one in the eye for parliament, which abolished the offence of blasphemy in 2008 – but perhaps those outplayed politicians can now retaliate by arbitrarily changing the scoring system for the uneven bars.

By way of a recap, Smith and his fellow gymnast Luke Carson were filmed at a wedding shouting Allahu Akbar and mimicking a prayer pose, and the video found its way to the Sun last month. Smith has since apologised profusely, and accrued the standard death threats and summons to appear on Loose Women.

But following a high-level inquiry into the incident at the Kettering nuptials, British Gymnastics has suspended him for two months. Announcing the decision on Tuesday, it declared solemnly: “As the custodians of the integrity and values of the sport, we have had no choice but to act responsibly.” [Marina Hyde, 1045 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 765 votes] Never thought I’d see the day when mocking religion is a punishable offence in the UK.

[2ND 563] Well said.

Islam should be fair game for light hearted mockery – as all religions should. Don’t see why Islam should be a special case when Christianity is lampooned regularly.

[3RD 498] Well, it’s not actually the law that’s punishing him, but a sporting body.

Still, it’s fucking ridiculous.

[4TH 353] “What is needed from the supporters of this very confident faith is more self-criticism and less self-pity and self-righteousness” Christopher Hitchens

[5TH 288 ] …. Imagine if he’d mocked Jesus or the Pope. We wouldn’t have even heard about it.

[6TH 273] Had he mocked Christianity would he have had the ban?

[7TH 268] Banned for being a bit of a wally. Seems a bit odd I must say.

[8TH 266] We should demand that all UK athletes sign a pledge to never watch Life of Brian or Father Ted.

[9TH 260] Blimey, a Guardian column which for once I pretty much fully agree with. Wonders will never cease. [The Guardian] Read more

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