During his Monty Python days he poked fun at everyone from the Establishment to Christianity.
But thanks to the threat of ‘heavily armed’ fanatics, Michael Palin has admitted there is one comedy taboo he is too scared to break- Islam.
He said: ‘Religion is more difficult to talk about. I don’t think we could do Life of Brian any more. A parody of Islam would be even harder.
‘We all saw what happened to Salman Rushdie and none of us want to get into all that. It’s a pity but that’s the way it is. There are people out there without a sense of humour and they’re heavily armed.’
Arguably that’s a reason to make fun of them. But that shows the limits of conventional anti-establishment humor. And in truth, I suspect Palin is less worried about the hypothetical Muslim fanatics. If Four Lions could get made, a properly gauged whack at Islam could be filmed, so long as Mohammed never made an appearance, and there were some Muslim participants to explain that it’s really about mocking extremism. Not Islam.
What he’s really worried about is miscalculating and ending up on the wrong side of the intellectual barbed wire fence the way that Richard Dawkins did. Dawkins to his credit is not backing down, but it’s easy to see from his treatment that there is one religion you can’t criticize for reasons that have little to do with bombs and bullets.
There are courageous comedians out there like Pat Condell. But they’re the exception. As a certain Ayatollah said, there is no humor in Islam. There isn’t much humor among its collaborators either.