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“”Arthur Negus has held Bristols ... And Mary Whitehouse has just taken Umbrage...
|—Monty Python's Election Night Special|
“”And do you feel abused?
You gotta stem the evil tide
|—Pink Floyd |
Mary Whitehouse (1910–2001) was a nutjob Christian who campaigned for censorship in the media of everything in that she claimed was immoral. Among her more jaw-dropping achievements were causing the last prosecution for blasphemy in the UK, against Gay News, for publishing a poem which featured a Roman centurion having sex with Jesus at the point of crucifixion.
She was the subject of the third verse of Pink Floyd's Pigs (Three Different Ones) on their 1977 album, Animals.. In 1992, on the Westwood One radio special Pink Floyd: The 25th Anniversary Special, Roger Waters told Jim Ladd that the "Whitehouse" mentioned had nothing to do with the home of the U.S. President, the White House, after Ladd told Waters he interpreted the last verse as an attack on Gerald Ford, who was US president at the time the song was recorded.
She was also referred to in the homoerotic film Sebastiane. In one scene, a group of Roman soldiers are holding a beetle-battle, forcing beetles to fight one another in a dirt ring, and naming them after famous women of the time, and implying they were embracing lesbians. But one beetle not named after a woman of the time was called "Maria Domus Alba", which is a literal Latin translation for "Mary White House". So essentially, the director of the film called Mary Whitehouse a lesbian. In Latin. Zing.
She's mentioned in the song Better Decide Which Side You're On' by the Tom Robinson Band on their 1978 album Power In The Darkness. Not favorably.
In 1980, she launched a private prosecution against the director of a London play, The Romans In Britain, for depicting homosexual rape, which you could say is fair enough. The case collapsed when a defending lawyer extracted an admission from the principal witness, who had attended the play for the sole purpose of being offended, that he'd been sitting so far back that he couldn't have seen what he said had offended him.
Quentin Crisp said she was quite attractive. In considering this, it should be kept in mind that Crisp was most famous for being camp as a flamingo sipping a Cosmopolitan in Mayfair.
One of her most frequent attacks was on violence in the media, especially Doctor Who, forgetting that violence on television isn't real.[note 1] Much better to leave your children in the capable hands of disgraced pedophile Jimmy Savile, who won the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association award for wholesome family entertainment in 1977.
To be fair
The Mary Whitehouse Experience was quite good.
- If you watch Doctor Who at any length, you will know that one of its most frequent messages is that violence is bad.
- Monty Python, Season 2, Episode 6–4, 6:10
- The gay poem that broke blasphemy laws (10 January 2008) - summary of the case by PinkNews. See the Wikipedia article on Whitehouse v Lemon.
- "Hey you, Whitehouse, ha ha charade you are./You house proud town mouse, ha ha charade you are./You're trying to keep our feelings off the street,/you're nearly a real treat, all tight lips and cold feet,/and do you feel abused?""
- See the Wikipedia article on Pigs (Three Different Ones).
- Rowland Wymer (2005). Derek Jarman. Manchester University Press. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-7190-5691-8.
- "Too late, trendy thinkers / Your time is running out / Ain't no time to wonder why / Ain't no time for doubt / Joseph, Reed and Whitehouse / Are out to get your guts ... (Watch on YouTube).
- Mark Lawson, "Passion play", The Guardian, 28 October 2005
- Robertson, Geoffrey (1999). The Justice Game. London: Vintage. ISBN 978-0-09-958191-8.
- For more detail, see Mary Whitehouse § Doctor Who.
- Ben Thompson "Ban this filth!" Archived 12 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Financial Times, 9 November 2012. This article is a reprint of the introduction to Ben Thompson (ed.) Ban This Filth!: Letters From the Mary Whitehouse Archive, London: Faber, 2012 ISBN 978-0571281497.