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Raising the bar of pointless offence taking

Our Muslim friends rightly get a lot of flak from some sections of the blogosphere for offence taking.  They aren’t alone of course; the ranks of the professionally offended seem to swell daily.  And I can’t honestly say nothing offends me.  Running up a huge, un-payable national debt is offensive, demanding national insurance at gunpoint and maintaining the delusion of future pensions in twenty years is offensive (we’ve seen the demographics), killing people by star chamber declaration with drone strikes, that offends along of course with taking rucksacks full of home made explosives into populated areas and self-detonating.  All these things should and probably do offend you.

Trivia on the other hand, shouldn’t.  Specifically, you really don’t need to get too upset about the name of a packet of crisps.  But taking a tactic from the playbook of the ummat al-Islamiyah, the Reverend Nick Donnelly from the Diocese of Lancaster was very offended by a sandwich chain.

No, you haven’t gone to the Daily Mash site by mistake, he really was.

Pret a Manger launched spicy tomato crisps based on the non-alcoholic version of a Bloody Mary cocktail and they called them ‘Virgin Mary’ crisps.  This prompted complaints, including from Catholic groups, that it was an offensive reference to Jesus’s mother.

Astonishingly, Pret folded and withdrew the crisps more or less immediately saying

“It didn’t take many complaints, It’s the strength of feeling that’s behind them that’s important.  For the sake of a particular flavour of crisps, we don’t want anyone offended”

Father Donnelly said “One of the things we need to go away and think about is what this incident tells us about how we defend our faith in the future.  “We’ve been passive for too long in the face of mockery of our faith and discrimination against us as Catholics.”

Well I certainly agree he needs to spend a bit of time reflecting, and I am not sure what discrimination he thinks he has been subject to, but if he is seeking to avoid mockery, I might suggest a bit of a tactical re-think.


  1. Lynne says:

    Having visited Knock (as a tourist, not as a pilgrim) I was amused by the religious tat that passes for souvenirs, including Virgin Mary soap. And soap, as we all know gets everywhere when you shower.

    Perhaps Father Donnelly is less concerned with blasphemy than he is with protecting a brand…

  2. john in cheshire says:

    You seem to be saying he is not entitled to be, or should not be offended. He was offended, he complained, what’s wrong with that?

  3. Jim says:

    I’m all in favour of Pret a Manger having Virgin Mary crisps when they also have the plain bread and butter sandwich called the Prophet (there’s no filling because you’re not allowed to look at a representation of Mo), and perhaps a ham sandwich called the Varaha (being a Hindu god in the form of a boar). You can’t be picky on which religions you wish to take the p*ss out of. Its all or none in my book.

  4. Longrider says:

    I suggest that he needs a good, hard mocking repeated until he gets the message: there is no right to not be offended and religion is not a scared cow [sic]

  5. john b says:

    John: and we’re calling him a ridicuous moaning fool. what’s wrong with that?

    Jim: Pret exists in a Christian-led culture. I’m much more comfortable taking the piss out of the ridiculous nonsense of the Christian church, because I was born with it and grew up with it and understand it (particularly the Catholics, as the only foreign power expressly devoted to the overthrow and destruction of civil society). Mind, your other two sandwich suggestions would be fucking awesome.

  6. bloke in spain says:

    It’s the concept of a Creator of a universe, by some estimates 15 billion light years across, being concerned about the labelling on a crisp packet that stretches the imagination.

  7. bloke in spain says:

    Or perhaps not. Be nice to see manufacturers, in general, taking more after sale interest in their products.

  8. RAB says:

    Well a Bloody Mary is a cocktail of course, supposedly named after Mary 1 of England, and I haven’t seen a queue of Monarchists forming to have a moan, have you?

    And I was also under the impression that a Bloody Mary sans Vodka, is called a Virgin Mary. It has bugger all to do with religion.

    Besides Mary wasn’t a virgin either, Jesus had brothers.

  9. JuliaM says:

    I’m rather surprised they took any notice, Catholic nutcase offence likely to take the form ofvstiffly-worded letters to the local paper, and not vandalism or worse…

  10. Mr Ed says:

    When Mary I of England took offence, the consequences were often fatal. Oh happy days of roasting martyrs for the devout and dedicated who took offence too readily. The Act of Settlement, a faint echo of the fears of the Marian terror and the Stewart ‘ambiguity’, is still in force, for now.

    I recall on the 1980s that Spitting Image did a Jesus puppet sketch, who said something fairly banal about ‘peace’ (i.e. extending Soviet power), some Christians complained and were ignored. Someone told some vocal Muslims (when Satanic Verses was at its height) and they complained, and a fulsome apology followed.

  11. Kevin B says:

    I’ve got a slight smidgeon of sympathy for the good Father. Of course, pret-a-poser should have told him where to stick his offence, but the priest has every right to express it.

    It strikes me that in the current culture wars perhaps some overt expression of horrified offence from our side might do some good.

    For instance, during the latest gun grabbing exercise in the States, there were clear implications from some media types that the only reason ordinary civilians wanted or needed the mythical ‘assault weapon’ was to gun down schoolchildren. This should immediately have resulted in mass offence of the “Have you no decency!! How dare you accuse us!! Stop dragging the bodies of those poor dead children in!!” etc. etc. Instead we got far too many half hearted complaints and not enough offence.

    Similarly, the leftist accusation that we are stealing bread from people’s mouths to maximise profits should be met with full-throated assertions that “We are attempting to save civilisation from destruction by the callous disregard of budgetry feasance.” O.K., needs a bit more “How dare you!” but you know what I mean.

    And then there’s Global Warming. “We want to leave our children and grandchildren with the means to power their way through any crises, not with a few windmills to light their way!”

    No, we need to get in the left’s faces more often. In spite of the msm monopoly, it can be done.

  12. Single Acts of Tyranny says:

    What I was basically saying is that if you want to avoid mockery don’t moan about crisps.

  13. Captain Fatty says:


    “Besides Mary wasn’t a virgin either, Jesus had brothers.”

    Maybe, but the point I believe is that she was a virgin when Jesus was born which makes all the difference (as Hilary Clinton might not have said).

    Captain Fatty

  14. Philip Scott Thomas says:

    This has nothing to do with religious sensitivies and everything to do with stupidity. It’s in the same class as people whose insufficient knowledge of etymology (and spelling, for that matter) lead them to think that the word ‘niggardly’ is racially offensive.

    As RAB pointed out above, a Bloody Mary cocktail sans the vodka is called a Virgin Mary (in America, at least; according to Wikipedia Australians call it a Bloody Shame). It doesn’t require a thorough-going familiarity with mid-Twentieth Century American culture to know this. Heck, on The Archers last week one of the characters, a university student, told her mother she was going to the university’s Cocktail Society meeting. ‘Don’t worry,’ she said, ‘I’ll be on virgins.’

    Now crisps obviously aren’t going to contain vodka, are they? That would just make them soggy. So Pret called them ‘Virgin Mary’-flavoured. The similarity of name is a coincidence, as would have been obvious had Fr. Donnelly bother to apply minimum of rational thought.

    No, the real tragedy here is that Pret – McDonald’s for the middle classes – regards stupidity as a valid point of view.

  15. RAB says:

    Captain, a friend of mine sent me a cartoon around xmas which had Mary, the Baby Jesus on a donkey and Joseph leading them on the escape to in Egypt. Mary is saying to Joseph…

    You still don’t believe me do you?

    And he says… Nope!

  16. Captain Fatty says:


    I wouldn’t either…


  17. Mr Ed says:

    There is no natural biological explanation for the birth of Jesus from a Virgin (barring AI, accidental or deliberate). If an egg of Mary became self-fertile, Jesus would have been a woman, with two X chromosomes.

    It would truly stretch credibility for such an event to be accompanied by an X chromosome changing into a Y as well. It takes a positive change for a mammalian foetus to become male.

    Miracles are untouched by scientific explanations.

  18. Roue le Jour says:

    Mr Ed, the only Jesus Spitting Image sketch I remember was the one where the Pope says to a cardinal “Oha no! He’sa moving througha da crowd ina mystiousa way! He’sa gonna wanna seea da books! Here, you take the ring!” Which I thought was very funny and worth repeating. Was there another?

  19. Julie near Chicago says:

    Mr. Ed — As a biological matter, I believe it is indeed possible for a virgin to become pregnant, by human agency and without artificial insemination. “Just the tip, dear, I promise,” and if he doesn’t retract in time and if the hymen has a pinhole or has been previously ruptured somehow (which can happen), well, there’s the Child….

    From the Wikipedia article on the hymen:

    Additionally, the hymen may be lacerated by disease, injury, medical examination, masturbation or even physical exercise. For these reasons, it is not possible to definitively determine whether or not a girl or woman is a virgin by examining her hymen.[2][4][5]

  20. John Galt says:

    So we’re going to discuss whether a variety of mythical figures (Jesus, Mary and Joseph), for whom there is no historical evidence of their existence, may have been subject to spontaneous parthenogenesis in which a male child rather than a female clone of Mary was created?


    I’m quite happy for those of a religious persuasion to believe whatever they want to believe, but to attempt to give weight and structure to such delusions by viewing them as scientific possibilities is to descend into madness beyond rational thought.

  21. NickM says:

    I’m with JG here. Except of course Jesus is historically recorded by the likes of Josephus. As to his divinity or the Trinity or whatever – God knows!

    1. Hymen or not has, as Julie hints, frig all to do with virginity. You are or are are not a virgin depending on whether you have had sex. If a munster of the NHS (they are better now – apparently) wields a speculum like a pirate’s cutlass is not the issue. Though I’ve seen enough evidence that they certainly did with a “Yo Ho Ho!” and possibly a bottle of rum.

    2. As far as at least the Catholic Church is concerned a miracle is by definition something science can’t explain. So all this talk of X and Y is pointless. You or me have kids then yeah GCSE biology applies. God has kids – God applies and that fella is a law unto his own – if he exists.

  22. John Galt says:

    Except of course Jesus is historically recorded by the likes of Josephus

    Sorry Nick, love you lots, but I’m calling ‘massive overstatement’ on that. Josephus does contain references to both John the Baptist and the 1st Bishop of Jerusalem who may or may not have had a blood relation to Jesus (as the meaning of “brother of the Lord” is open to interpretation)

    I’m not saying that you are wrong, just that it is all too easy to read more into the work of early historians such as Josephus than is really there. If he’d written, “Jesus, great bloke. Good fun at parties.” then maybe I would have been more convinced.

    The old adage that “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy” keeps me on the fence in between atheist and agnostic, but stuff such as attempting to provide a medical basis for the virgin birth triggers my bullshit-o-metre to max.

  23. Anon says:

    Should’ve called ’em tight-arsed Mary, I reckon

  24. Anon says:

    (On second thoughts, that comment might be misinterpretetd by some. Probably best not published. Sorry!)

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