I share the criticism of the Catholic church and Pope Ratzinger made by Stephen Fry (Letters, 15 September). But I wonder if they would extend their stance to rejection of state visits by other heads of theocratic states guilty of gross human rights abuses (Iran, Israel)?Anybody familiar with the history of the Middle East would struggle to deny a religious aspect to some (but only some) of what Israel does. As is the case with countries in Europe. And America. And Africa. Oh, and Asia, too. To deduce from this a nasty theocracy in action is absurd. To give it equivalence with totalitarian Iran is the sort of unabated willful stupidity that you only see exercised by really, really clever people.
The sort of people who would sneer at others for making jokes about gay men being defined by their preference for a certain style of sexual intercourse, and the counter-productive state of our prisons.
Unless, the subject of the joke is a celebrity, in which case, apparently, it's perfectly OK for a woman to write:
Loads of men around 24/7 and cannabis supplied on demand (Wham! Michael jailed for eight weeks, 15 September). George Michael must think he's died and gone to heaven!
Don't get me wrong. Jokes about the unique - how you English say? - culture to be found in prison can be amusing. But to be amusing, jokes have to be funny, strictly speaking. And original. The unabridged version of that letter probably implored him to drop the soap in the showers.
More than that, though, would it have been published had it referred to a normal punter convicted of an offence who happened to be gay? Or if it had been written by a male correspondent about a lesbian celebrity off to Holloway nick?
At least this week I have genuinely learnt something:
I might even have to respond, working in references to the five (yes, count 'em) Happy Days spin-offs.Your report on Harley-Davidson's woes (Unions vote for deal that stops Harley motorbikes moving out of Milwaukee, 15 September) named the Fonz as a Harley-riding icon. Despite being a native Milwaukeean, he was more commonly seen on British bikes, including the Triumph 500 Trophy seen in Happy Days' opening credits. Perhaps he anticipated the company's future woes.