Tag Archives: BBC

Was the highlander’s contribution to BBC’s Question Time a ‘Better Together’ plant?

You might disagree with the sentiment of this man’s contribution to last night’s ‘Question Time’ but you have to appreciate the passion…

There is debate though about whether or not he was ‘Better Together‘ plant in the audience. Personally, I think there is about as much chance of that as this chap being a ‘Yes Scotland‘ campaign plant.

 

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Palestinian human rights activist on BBC’s ‘Desert Island Discs’

Raja
Raja Shehadeh, the human rights lawyer and writer who founded the human rights organization Al-Haq, yesterday appeared on BBC radio 4’s ‘Desert Island Discs’.

Just before he tells Kirsty Young his final choice of disc (about 38 minutes in) he makes an important point about the importance of humanizing the conflict and generating empathy between different people. A point that should be axiomatic but is so often ignored and/or forgotten.

As with all things Israel/Palestine related I need to cover myself and say that I don’t know enough about Raja to make any sweeping generalizations about him. On the occasions though that I have read his work or heard him speak he has always come across as passionate, articulate and most importantly willing to build rather than burn bridges.

This for me as a human rights activist is incredibly important. As an aspiring writer though I have also been taken aback by the beauty in which he forms his words.

A friend sent me this quote from his book ‘Palestinian Walks: Notes on a vanishing landscape‘:

To my left at the perfectly still waters of the [Dead] Sea, transformed by the sun into a luminous platinum sheet, and to my right at the formidable wall of incandescent rock along which we were travelling, towering steeply, challengingly, seemingly an impenetrable line of defence, a mighty gateway into another world. 

This imagery resonates powerfully with my own memories of walking in the West Bank.

This book, Palestinian Walks, is itself a combination of his human rights activism and his commitment to personalize the conflict that is intertwined in some truly beautiful adjectives.  It is a deeply personal reflection of walking, or not being able to walk, in the West Bank.

I think this is why I was drawn to the Desert Island Discs programme, because it is once again a deeply personal reflection on the conflict and the human rights abuses that occur there.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Human rights, Media, Middle East

BBC asks: “Should homosexuals face execution?”…Hynd’s Blog asks: “Is the BBC a sociopath?”

Last week I highlighted BBC Radio Bristol’s inappropriate question, “Is a victim of rape ever to blame for being attacked?

By forming this into a question, there is a tacit suggestion that there is a credible debate to be had; that maybe a man forcing his penis into a women against her will could be her fault.

It can’t.

I thought this was shocking and called for BBC Radio Bristol to remove the question mark and to clarify their position.

All I got was silence.

Apparently though the BBC has a bit of history. In the comments section for this article I was directed to this ‘BBC Debate’ that opens by asking:

“Should homosexuals face execution?”

To try and justify the question they added:

“Yes, we accept it is a stark and disturbing question. But this is the reality behind an Anti-Homosexuality Bill being debated by the Ugandan parliament”

The article then factually covers the bill before asking:

“Has Uganda gone too far?”

Again, by forming questions around these repulsive suggestions the beeb is offering a tacit suggestion that there is a credible argument to be made for the execution of homosexuals and that no, this wouldn’t be seen as ‘going too far’.

What next for beeb and their obsessive compulsion to make everything into an interactive question? ”Is it acceptable to beat a man to death with his own shoes if he looks at you strangely?”…

If a person asked any of these questions they would be treated as a sociopath. Should we judge the BBC with any different standards?

If you want you can make a complaint to the BBC, you can do it here.

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Remove the question mark BBC Radio Bristol, a rape victim is never to blame

A series of posters have been put up all over Bristol highlighting some of the lingering myths around blaming the victims of rape. The campaigns message is simple: There are no excuses for rape and the victim is never to blame: Whatever they were wearing; However much they’ve had to drink; Even if they’ve said yes to other sexual activities.

It remains a depressing reality that such an advertising campaign is needed in the first place. Sadly though, they really are.

The campaign group behind the posters says that 3894 women and girls in Bristol aged 16-59 are victims of sexual assault in a year. This statistic becomes even more shocking in the context of there only being about 140,000 women of that age living in Bristol.

The campaign primarily focuses though on removing any lingering doubts that a victim is, in any way, to blame if he/she is raped. It is not a question – a victim is not to blame for being raped.

This is a point that BBC Radio Bristol failed to pick up on when they tweeted about these new posters asking the question:

Well, Radio Bristol (and local radio’s obsessive compulsion to make everything into an interactive question)…no, a victim of rape is never to blame for being attacked. By even asking the question I think you have missed the key slogan of this campaign: There are no excuses for rape and the victim is never to blame. 

Remove the question mark BBC Radio Bristol. A rape victim is never to blame.

Follow the conversation on twitter #noexcusebristol

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Filed under Gender, Human rights, Media, Social comment

Why would Channel 4’s decision to broadcast call to prayer ‘inflame community tensions’?

Channel 4 has announced that it will broadcast a call to prayer every day during the Islamic month of Ramadan.

As you could imagine, the tabloids have jumped on this.

The Sun goes with the headline ‘Ramadan a ding dong’ and goes on to explain:

“Daily broadcast of Muslim call to prayer ‘stunt’ could inflame tension”

The article expands on this point through the ever valuable medium of the UKIP’s spokesman. The Sun writes:

“But UKIP accused Channel 4 of a cynical PR stunt and said it risked further inflaming tension between communities in the wake of the Woolwich killing of soldier Lee Rigby – allegedly linked to Islamic extremists.

A spokesman said: “This is a priceless piece of attention seeking. I cannot believe that the majority of mainstream Muslims want to see this. It will inflame community tension.”

In light of this, I have a few questions for the editor of The Sun:

  • Can you clarify why you think the broadcasting of the call to prayer will inflame community tension?
  • Would you agree that quoting “Radical preacher Anjem Choudary, accused of encouraging terrorism” and “Abu Zakariyya, of the radical Islamic Emergency Defence Group”  as your two Muslim representatives might be more of a cause of ‘inflaming community tensions’, than the broadcasting of the call to prayer?
  • Did you approach the Muslim Council of Britain for a quote? If yes, why did you not run with it? If no, why not?
  • Why did you use a UKIP quote in this story? What connection do they have to broadcasting, Islam, sociology or any other element to this story?
  • Do you accept that the structure and nature of your article perpetuates the false link between Islam as a religion adhered to by millions and the extremist violent ideology adhered to by a minority and that this link risks ‘inflaming community tensions’?

And of course a few questions for UKIP:

  • Can you clarify why you think the broadcasting of the call to prayer that will inflame community tension?
  • Do you feel that The Daily Express’ use of the adjective ‘fury’ to describe your party’s reaction to the news is accurate? If so have you considered collective anger management for the party (it could be part of the membership deal)?
  • Can you explain how Channel 4’s decision to broadcast the call to prayer differs to the BBC’s decision to broadcast a Sunday morning service? If you’re answer is numbers (more people are Christian) can you explain why you think a broadcaster should not show minority interests?
  • Can you really not believe that the majority of Muslim’s would want to see Ramadan highlighted like this?
  • How would you respond to the accusation that your party is a baseless bandwagon jumping parasite?

Lastly, an open question to anyone:

  • Why would Channel 4’s decision to broadcast the call to prayer ‘inflame community tensions’?

This list of questions is by no means exhaustive….feel free to suggest others.

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Filed under Far-right politics, Media, Politics, Religion

F1, the BBC and Ecclestone – they all have some questions to answer

When explaining how Sky ended up with nearly all of the viewing rights for F1, Ecclestone explained that the BBC, “held all the cards”. Specifically, Ecclestone stated, “[T]he BBC brought Sky to us with the idea of a joint contract […] it was not us who made that decision.” Going a step further Ecclestone was quoted as saying, “We want Formula One to stay free to viewers”

If Ecclestone is to be believed (a big jump) – then the BBC are at least partially responsible for losing its rights to show live F1. This is in stark contrast to Neil Land, Chief Adviser and Business Manager at BBC Sport who commented, “Ultimately, it is the responsibility of FOM to decide which broadcasters cover the sport. FOM [Formula One Management] must decide what is in the best interests of the sport…On this occasion, FOM decided that a broadcast partnership between the BBC and Sky was in the best interests of the sport”.

So which was it? The BBC pushing or FOM pulling? Who made the decision what was “in the best interest of the sport”? For someone who doesn’t (and has no plan to) own Sky Sports – I for one do not think that this decision is in the best interest of the sport. Maybe I am being too short-sighted?

There are two issues here – one is the inconsistencies in the portrayal of events between the beeb and the FOM and secondly, who made the final judgement within FOM (assuming it was made there) that moving away from free to view TV was for the good of the sport? These questions currently remain unanswered!

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The riots happened behind closed doors

The riots happened behind closed doors. This is not some deep metaphor about how the real conflict lies within our broken homes, but a simple observation that for most people the riots happened outside, behind their firmly shut front doors.

The papers have been filled with villains and heroes. If the tabloids were to be believed, people either took the streets in an ad-hoc
territorial army and heroically defended our communities or they were scum looting our corner shops. The coverage of the riots failed to report them in a way that most people saw them – detached.

Throughout, journalists have gone to extraordinary lengths to try and pull the proceedings apart to state what they really mean for society as a whole. For me, the most startling observation was that it was not the rioters, the police or knife wielding Kurdish militias who were the main players. It was you. You who sat behind your computer and TV screens watching events unfold. You who would rather watch it all unfold on a 24 hour news coverage loop than step outside your front door to see for yourself.

Could you imagine a more graphic illustration of our apathetic, isolated and unconcerned society than people sat flicking between Sky news and BBC News 24 unable to distinguish between the noise on their TVs and the noise coming from the street outside? Was it through fear that people kept their bums firmly planted on the sofa, or was it apathy?

Of course, when I describe you, I also describe myself. My experience of the riots after coming back from holiday to Peckham was one of outside observation. If I had been in my house on Monday night at the height of the violence would I have wondered down Rye Lane to see what was happening, I doubt it. I would have justified my lack of action to myself through reducing the risk to myself or something. Would I have regretted this lack of action? Maybe.

Yet this apathy and reliance on the media brings with it real danger. Those who I have spoken to in Peckham who did venture out have talked widely of the events being over played in the press. The significant violence in Peckham, it would appear, was concentrated to just a few hours on Monday night. Equally, walking down and around Rye Lane it looked like predominantly chain stores had been attacked, despite media reports and focus on the small independently owned businesses being attacked. The riots were painted through a lens designed to sell papers (“TODAY 8 page riots special”). The realities of recent events are far less glamorous. Disenchanted people watched their TV as disenchanted people stole things from our shops.

What sets Peckham apart though from other communities that faced riots is that you do not need to even speak to people to begin ascertaining people’s actual views. Pinned on multi-coloured post-it notes on “Peckham’s peace wall” there are messages of people’s reflections, feelings and reactions. The wall, covering part of Poundland’s broken window will be kept in Peckham Library and will be available for all to read.

I would urge you, even if you missed the events as they unfolded, to go and read some of these firsthand accounts that vary from the trivial to the deeply moving. Otherwise my predictably middle class reader, you are as bad as I am.

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Raging at moral hypocrisy

This morning on BBC Radio Five Live the American band, “Rage Against the Machine” landed the BBC in trouble by repeating four times “Fuck you , I won’t do what you tell me” in their rendition of their song “killing in the name of”.  There are a number of issues which make this event note worthy.  In no particular order:

  • Rage Against the Machine is widely tipped to become Christmas number one this year after a grass roots campaign to keep X-Factor off the top spot.
  • Nicky Campbell was conducting the interview (which added to serious comedy value)
  • The production team had asked the band not to swear, were surprised when they did and then deemed it so problematic that they did swear that they decided to cut them off before the end of the song

I will briefly take up this last point. 

Firstly, did they seriously expect a band (even if you knew nothing about the bands history could you not guess from the name) to not go against the orders and swear on live radio? Anyone (even Nicky) must have seen that one coming.  Apparently not, check out the surprise and panic in the reaction (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/dec/17/rage-agains-machine-singer-swears). 

Secondly, why are we so upset to hear swear words on radio? All you have to do is jump into a London cab or watch some football on the stands to hear some good old fashioned swearing! In fact, you have to do well to avoid swearing these days.  Fuck it…I would go as far as to say it’s almost impossible to go a day in an urban environment without hearing some “offensive” language.  Why do we insist on representing an alternative reality in our media and suppressing the charms of everyday life?

Let’s clarify something, I believe strongly in mediating what slips onto our TV’s and radio’s.  There is some stuff out there which is plain nasty.  What I am suggesting however, is that we have got our morals confused with tradition.  Why do we allow so much grotesque violence (for no reason other than historically violence was considered ok) and yet blackout swearing and sex? We can see this moral puzzle played out in film ratings.  Hotel Rwanda for example, follows the story of the Rwandan Genocide (in some harrowing detail) and is considered OK for a 12 year old to watch (in the UK).  If you added in some boobs and casual bit of swearing this would suddenly become unacceptable for a 12/13/14 year old to watch.  Have you ever questioned why an erect penis is an absolute taboo in film, but there seems to be no limit to the levels of violence that can be portrayed in films? Now question which one is most “normal”? If I had a choice I would let my kids see and hear swearing and sex way before the levels of violence that are normalised in our society.  I suggest the only difference is which morals have been historically acceptable?

The only shame about this whole story is that Rage and the advertising chiefs up at Sony BMG (who own epic records) know that swearing on radio will be a media money spinner!

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Do you have an opinon about the BNP?

Do you have an opinion about the BNP? If so lets hear it…no qualifications needed.  Literally anyone can say anything.  Stupidity is no restriction and badly thought out views are welcome.

If you quickly have a look around cyber space you will find lots of badly thought out opinions when it comes to the BNP.  They are not reserved for the likes of amateur bloggers such as me.  Lots of public figures have been out and about stating that they don’t like the BNP.   Even Pete Doherty hates the BNP (http://www.nme.com/news/pete-doherty/45098).  Can you imagine the situation?… A young male is angry and alienated and is considering joining the BNP.  Just at that crucial moment however, he stumbles across Pete Doherty, the moral guru of a generation and sees the light! Another soul is saved by Doherty.

Just in case you cannot be bothered to trawl your way through all these opinions, the BBC has served its purpose as a public service and provided a nice over-view. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8321627.stm.  This way you can be sure lots of people agree with you when you tell the BNP to go f*ck itself and such forth.

If however, you feel like me, and share Mitchel and Webbs concerns (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyl9wltqQZ4).  Then please stop filling cyber space with nasty drivel about the BNP.  Yes we know that they are a racist party; even Nick Griffins mother in law says so (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/6431159/Nick-Griffins-mother-in-law-says-the-BNP-leader-is-a-racist.html).  We know that their party is based on a core membership of some nasty characters. 

This is blog is simply a plea.  There are a few really well thought out responses to the BNP.  An example being the recent Quilliam foundation report that can be found at: http://www.quilliamfoundation.org/images/stories/pdfs/in_defence_of_british_muslims_09.pdf or a guardian article by Sunny Hundal  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/oct/19/bnp-nick-griffin-question-time.  Use your cyber space time wisely and get people to read and think.  Do not spend your time entrenching others engrained forms of hatred by ranting about how you would smash Griffins face in if you saw him.  If someone raises questionable views then challenge them but do not waste your time reiterating the anti-BNP message to no-one.  There are lots of people more qualified than us to do that.  Let’s try and rise above it.

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