Mystery Solved?

By Sean Carroll | January 9, 2007 5:17 pm

Apparently New Zealanders are more naturally curious about things than Americans are — they also noticed the puzzling absence of God in The Queen on airline flights, and actually started asking around about it. (Thanks to Richard Easther for pointing this out.) And they found an answer!

The story is that the version that was shown on Air New Zealand, and presumably also on United, was actually meant for Middle Eastern airlines. Flight Productions, the company that distributed the bowlderized version, suggested that some airline had requested that “God” be bleeped out. This raises another question, of course: why? There isn’t any traditional prescription against saying “God” that anyone could think of.

Hassan Hosseini, an Iranian community spokesman in Auckland, said he could not see why it would have been a problem with Muslims, as Allah was God.

“We believe in God, we would not be offended. We use the word God.”

And then, of course, if you’re going to start bleeping out words, there are better choices.

The Anglican Dean of Auckland, Richard Randerson, said he had seen The Queen at the cinema and could not recall much use of the word God.

“There were plenty of other words. I think the Queen said ‘bugger’ when her four-wheel-drive vehicle got stuck in a Highland creek.”

This would be the appropriate thread in which to debate whether the Queen was referring to the commonplace, literal, interventionist “bugger,” or whether she had in mind a more sophisticated, ineffable notion of “bugger.”

Update: There’s now an alternative explanation (thanks to several people for pointing it out). CNN claims it’s just an overzealous editor. One way or another, it’s not standard operating procedure, apparently.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Entertainment, Religion
  • Rob Knop

    I think we should consider the possibility that she was saying “blogger!” and that nobody heard it right.

  • fh

    “There isn’t any traditional prescription against saying “God””

    In Judaism there is. However it usually only refers to Gods true (hebrew) name, and not to the word god, yet if you goole for “g-d god” you will find many jewish sources which use g-d instead of god….

  • Jack

    I demand that the word “b-gger” be censored from this blog, on the grounds that it is offensive to the uphill-gardening set. Sean should know better, especially in C_lifornia.

  • nc

    Sean, the issue with “God save the Queen” (the statement and the National Anthem’s title) is not the word God but the tradition that people should be asking God to save the Queen, in particular. Because the Queen is clearly the head of one specific religion (Christian Protestant) it implicitly characterizes God as being of that denomination. By placing so much emphasis on the religious significance of one particular living person, it is a reminder of an aspect of the traditional side of Britain which some of other faiths might feel is an anachronism, together with things like the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, who have been guarding the British Sovereign since 1656, see

    However, I think it is fun. The BBC used to always play “God save the Queen” at the end of daily TV broadcasts. Shamefully they stopped. Cultural things are the right place for traditions (I do object to people’s insistence on obsolete traditions and mainstream ideas in science, which must be kept fact-based and progressive.)

  • B

    something completely off-topic: when trying to access CV, I’ve lately repeatedly gotten a blank page saying ‘this account has exceeded it’s CPU quota’. Just so you know…

  • JJ

    something completely off-topic: when trying to access CV, I’ve lately repeatedly gotten a blank page saying ‘this account has exceeded it’s CPU quota’. Just so you know…

    Oh yeah, Sean knows.

  • Sean

    Yeah, we know. Steps are being taken to address the problem. Mostly so far those steps involve grumbling to ourselves and imaginative scenarios involving Bluehost technicians and hungry mountain lions, but it’s something.

  • F.

    Perhaps the censored word was used in cursing, which is common but would surely offend some people, if not deities. Anyway, please,
    God save the queen!

  • B

    Ah, I see, I naively thought you’re hosted by some .edu server. How bout exporting the arxives elsewhere?

  • joe

    i love LF


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About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] .


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