Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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( 'Nother Solent is this blog's good twin. Same words, searchable archives, RSS feed. Provided by a benefactor, to whom thanks.
I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)

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Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Merry Muslims, Congenial Christians and Jovial Jews. It's the end of a long day so here's a quick non-date-specific thought from the pile I keep in my frontal lobe for just such an emergency.

My son gets Horrible Histories magazine. This publication is tasteless, vulgar and of variable accuracy - and when my son asked me (he was aged eight) "Who is your favourite Habsburg?" I knew that the money for the subscription had been well spent.

The title of nearly every issue has been alliterative, sometimes painfully so. 'Orrible Ottomans, Vile Victorians, you get the idea. Not all the adjectives are uncomplimentary; your civilisation may rate an "Ingenious" or an "Awesome" if required by the demands of mild political correctness or a shortage of adjectives with the required initial letter.

The Youth of Britain must like what they see. (Free putty eyeballs were provided with an early issue, I forget why.) Recently, just as the planned run of sixty issues was coming to its end, the publishers announced that they would publish twenty more due to popular demand. Which is nice, because it gives them twenty more chances to Pull It Off Somehow. Pull What Off Somehow? you ask (in a polite sense, I trust.) Well, they've dealt with some pretty thorny issues in a reasonably tasteful way. Er, not tasteful, exactly; very much the contrary, but acceptable within the genre. The HH writers do get the tone right, switching at just the right moment from ghoulish relish to little touches of actual pity when considering the victims of some gruesome punishment or plague. The width of coverage has also been admirable, for a kids' magazine. The writers have touched on everything from the fall of the statues on Easter Island to the horrible childhood of Ivan the Terrible. However one vast chunk of history has been left out...

I can sympathise. I really can. How does a magazine like this deal with the founders of the world's Judeo-Christian religions? The crimes and oddities of their successors, no problem. The Inquisition had a double page spread. And Buddhism and Hinduism were sketched out in the India issue: the less personalised and politicised nature of these religions makes it easier. But when it comes to the stupendously historically important stories of Moses, or Abraham, or Mohammed, or Jesus... so far, nada. As there are only two episodes of the original print run left to go, I assume they were originally planning to fold up their tents and steal away without dealing with it all.

It's hard to blame them. My stomach is turning over at the potential for offence, outrage and potential prosecution if and when the proposed religious hatred law comes in, and it's not even my hot potato.

I think they are aware of the problem. The little timeline that comes with each issue seems to go out of its way to include events from the Bible, Torah and Koran.

But, despite their pivotal contribution to world history, and the availability of alliterative adjectives beginning with I, H or J, the Jews haven't even had an issue to themselves yet. (The Holocaust has been covered in the WWII issue. Some very careful writing there.) Nor have the early Muslim conquests been covered.

I shall watch the next twenty issues with interest.