One of the reasons this programmes rings alarm bells with me is because I know that more than half the students I teach (16 -19 year olds in an FE college on the outskirts of London) would agree with the aims of MPV. Most of these students derive their views from their religions - Islam and Christianity of every hue. Most - not all - are profoundly homophobic (AIDs is God's punishment on queer people, black men only get it because bad women have sex with each other or white people), misogynistic (including girls who affirm that women shouldn't be doctors because they are too emotional and untrustworthy and it wouldn't be hygienic for them to operate or treat patients when they have their periods) and creationist (particularly the African Christians who equate evolution with racism because, historically it implied that black people were a step closer to the apes than whites and this is the depiction of evolution they get from the pulpit). In common with many colleagues I try to challenge these views as forcefully, rationally and sensitively as I can. But there is no institutional support for this position. The Head of Science has switched syllabuses so he can his staff having to teach the prinicples of evolution 'in case they offend'. A colleague in my own department was sanctioned only last week for using the offensive term 'Christian creation myth' because a student had complained about it. We have to be 'sensitive to religion and culture'; a seemingly innocuous aim in itself, but not when white middle class guilt - and fear of our current government's thoughtcrime legislation - permits an educational environment where reason equates to racism.
We privilege the position of religion, because in multi-ethnic London religion is linked to race, so we are obliged to tacitly endorse the bigotry, bullying and dogmatism that characterises the way these religions are organised at grass roots level. If I had a white student who, in the classroom, declared herself to pro-BNP (this has never happened) and therefore opposed to interracial relationships I could invoke the disciplinary procedure and she would be suspended or even expelled. If a Seventh Day Adventist Nigerian Christian makes the same statement (which happened in one of my classes last term) because that is the interpretation of Scriptural law that her sect adheres to, I am obliged (bearing in mind I am, myself, mixed race) to be sensitive to her repugnant views. This is one of the many reasons why I want to give up teaching.
The Italian obstetrician in the interview I just listened to has had his career ruined because he is one of the very few doctors in his Bergamo hospital who will perform abortions. Soon he may give up altogether. And, as in so many instances where religious dogmatism prevails over reason, it will be women who will suffer most.
For your info - two organisations that campaign against this kind of creeping censorship.
cross-posted to the ladies loos