Thursday, February 16, 2012

Monty Python on Birth-Control & Religion

A (almost twenty year old) comedy sketch from 1983 is suddenly relevant in 2012.

"Every Sperm Is Sacred" is a musical sketch from the movie Monty Python's The Meaning of Life. Andre Jaquemin and Dave Howman wrote the music and Michael Palin and Terry Jones wrote the lyrics and performed the sketch.

The sketch is about a Catholic Yorkshire man (Dad, played by Michael Palin), his wife (Mum, played by Terry Jones) and their sixty-three children, who are about to be sold for medical experimentation purposes because their parents can no longer afford to care for such a large family with the local mill being closed. When their children ask why they don't use contraception, Dad explains that this is against God's wishes, and breaks into song, the chorus of which is:

Every sperm is sacred,
Every sperm is great.
If a sperm is wasted,
God gets quite irate.

The hearty and cheerful nature of the musical number is counterpointed as the children are marched off to their fate as the song ends, singing a dour rendition of the chorus as their middle-aged Protestant neighbours (played by Graham Chapman and Eric Idle) comment on that the essence of protestantism is birth-control.

From the script of "The Meaning of Life"

[The children emerge singing a melancholy reprise of
'Every Sperm is Sacred.']

[They are being watched from another Northern house.]

Mr Blackitt: Look at them, bloody Catholics. Filling the bloody
world up with bloody people they can't afford to bloody feed.

Mrs Blackitt: What are we dear?

Mr Blackitt: Protestant, and fiercely proud of it...

Mrs Blackitt: Why do they have so many children...?

Mr Blackitt: Because every time they have sexual intercourse they
have to have a baby.

Mrs Blackitt: But it's the same with us, Harry.

Mr Blackitt: What d'you mean...?

Mrs Blackitt: Well I mean we've got two children and we've had
sexual intercourse twice.

Mr Blackitt: That's not the point... We *could* have it any time we

Mrs Blackitt: Really?

Mr Blackitt: Oh yes. And, what's more, because we don't believe in
all that Papist claptrap we can take precautions.

Mrs Blackitt: What, you mean lock the door...?

Mr Blackitt: No no, I mean, because we are members of the
Protestant Reformed Church which successfully challenged the
autocratic power of the Papacy in the mid-sixteenth century,
we can wear little rubber devices to prevent issue.

Mrs Blackitt: What do you mean?

Mr Blackitt: I could, if I wanted, have sexual intercourse with

Mrs Blackitt: Oh, yes... Harry...

Mr Blackitt: And by wearing a rubber sheath over my old feller I
could ensure that when I came off... you would not be

Mrs Blackitt: Ooh!

Mr Blackitt: That's what being a Protestant's all about. That's
why it's the church for me. That's why it's the church for
anyone who respects the individual and the individual's right
to decide for him or herself. When Martin Luther nailed his
protest up to the church door in 1517, he may not have
realised the full significance of what he was doing. But four
hundred years later, thanks to him, my dear, I can wear
whatever I want on my John Thomas. And Protestantism doesn't
stop at the simple condom. Oh no! I can wear French Ticklers
if I want.

Mrs Blackitt: You what?

Mr Blackitt: French Ticklers... Black Mambos... Crocodile Ribs...
Sheaths that are designed not only to protect but also to
enhance the stimulation of sexual congress...

Mrs Blackitt: Have you got one?

Mr Blackitt: Have I got one? Well no... But I can go down the road
any time I want and walk into Harry's and hold my head up
high, and say in a loud steady voice: 'Harry I want you to
sell me a *condom*. In fact today I think I'll have a French
Tickler, for I am a Protestant...'

Mrs Blackitt: Well why don't you?

Mr Blackitt: But they... [He points at the stream of children still
pouring past the house.]... they cannot. Because their church
never made the great leap out of the Middle Ages, and the
domination of alien episcopal supremacy!

You can see the sketch here:

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