Friday, October 31, 2008

THE BIG BBC MELTDOWN: It was once a model of high standards and decorum -- but no more

Now that the Left have got hold of it, any garbage is fine and "standards" is a stupid old-fashioned concept. Tearing everything down is what the Left are all about. After just about everyone from the Prime Minister down condemned them, the principal offenders have now been suspended and one has resigned but how the BBC allowed such a foul and hurtful programme to be broadcast is the real issue. Two articles below on the matter. One from 29th and one from 30th


The BBC is under unprecedented pressure to crack down on offensive material after an intervention by the Prime Minister and 10,000 complaints over its decision to broadcast obscene phone calls made by two of its biggest stars. Mark Thompson, the BBC Director-General, maintained his silence on the conduct of Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand for a third day despite a growing clamour for an explanation as to how pre-recorded taunts directed at Andrew Sachs, the 78-year-old Fawlty Towers actor, went on air.

The radio transmission on October 18 included Ross shouting on to Sachs's answerphone that Brand had slept with his granddaughter Georgina Baillie, 23, and Brand joking that the actor might kill himself. Ms Baillie has called for the pair to be sacked.

Gordon Brown swung behind the flood of public outrage, saying that the incident was clearly inappropriate and unacceptable. David Cameron, the Tory leader, demanded to know who had given the green light to the broadcast. Andy Burnham, the Culture Secretary, described the incident as a serious breach of broadcasting standards.

The BBC has rejected calls to suspend the pair and Ross, who is paid 6 million pounds a year, was expected to record this week's edition of his chat show, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, tonight. However, Sir David Attenborough, who was due to appear on the show, was in discussions with the BBC last night. Frank Skinner, the comedian, and the American actress Miley Cyrus were also on the guest list.

Mr Thompson has been ordered by the BBC Trust to present a "formal report" to its monthly meeting on November 20, as to how the offensive material came to be aired. The trust also demanded an interim report to be presented next week at a meeting of its editorial standards committee. Ofcom, the broadcasting watchdog, was also investigating the material under Section 2 of the Broadcasting Code, relating to harm and offence.

The row led every major BBC news bulletin yesterday. Tim Davie, the corporation's director of audio and music and the most senior executive to comment, admitted that the programme that went out was "unacceptable". He said that the BBC would conduct a full investigation and decide the appropriate action and that it would be wrong to apportion blame at this stage.



The suspension of the foul-mouthed Jonathan Ross and the forced resignation of his equally disagreeable sidekick Russell Brand marked an extraordinary historic cultural victory. For the first time in living memory, the BBC has signalled that there are boundaries of decency it must not cross. But, my goodness, didn't this admission take a long time coming? No one at the BBC appeared to realise that the original show broadcast by Radio 2 on October 18 was so offensive.

Ross and Brand's vulgar abuse of the actor Andrew Sachs was passed on the nod by a 25-year-old Radio 2 producer, even though Mr Sachs had refused his permission. That young man evidently did not know any better. But nor did his bosses. It took several days of mounting Press coverage, and critical remarks by David Cameron, Gordon Brown and other politicians, before the BBC's management finally responded. Even then the person whose head was pushed above the parapet was that of Tim Davie, the 'director of audio and music', of whom none of us had ever heard.

Only yesterday did Mark Thompson, the BBC's director-general, and the man ultimately responsible for the Corporation's output, break his holiday and announce that he was suspending Ross and Brand. His statement was certainly everything one might have wished for, referring as it did to 'a gross lapse of taste that has angered licence payers', but it had to be wrung out of him.

Mr Thompson is a deeply symbolic figure of our times. He is not a bad man. He is civilised and well-read, having taken a first in English at Oxford. As a devout Roman Catholic, he adheres to moral values that are a million miles from those of Ross and Brand. And yet he has made no attempt to stem the tide of clod-hopping filth that pours out of their, and others', mouths whenever they broadcast.

Why should this be? Perhaps Mr Thompson believes that Ross and Brand are popular figures who will attract a large audience. Although the BBC is protected from commercial realities, it increasingly conducts itself as though these are the only realities that matter. Shielded from the market, the Corporation often strives to outdo the market in offering dumbed-down programming, and appealing to the lowest common denominator.

But I fancy there is a deeper psychological explanation for Mr Thompson's indulgence of so-called entertainers against whose vulgarity and ignorance he must privately recoil. Whereas some on the Left embrace Brand for his nihilism and for what they regard as his welcome flouting of bourgeois values - he seems eager to copulate with anything that moves - Mr Thompson is a more elevated, as well as a more interesting,

Like so many modern liberal-minded intellectuals, he has a horror of being judgmental. He knows that Jonathan Ross is a coarse figure, but he reasons that if there are people who enjoy his crudeness and lavatory humour and peppering of four-letter words, he is not going to prevent them from having what they desire. There is a fissure in him that permits this moral relativism. For himself and his family he wants culture and standards of decency, but if there are others who prefer dross, he is not going to stand in their way.

Yet, more than any other organisation, the BBC should not be in the business of providing dross. It is protected from the market. It was founded on high and noble principles. It does not have to follow the worst trends - far less take the lead - and lure us into the gutter. Mr Thompson might not be fitted by background or temperament to edit the Daily Smut, but he has all the attributes to guide the BBC towards higher ground. And yet he does not do so.

The French philosopher Julien Benda famously coined the phrase 'La Trahison des Clercs' - the betrayal of the intellectuals. He was thinking of French and German 19th-century intellectuals who had become apologists for militarism and nationalism. The modern trahison des clercs is that of liberal intellectuals like Mr Thompson who can recognise goodness and truth but, out of fear of appearing judgmental or proscriptive, will not help others to find them.

This moral dereliction amounts to a fatal arrogance. Mr Thompson knows why it is wrong to scatter four-letter words on television. He can see that the kind of humour purveyed by the likes of Ross and Brand does not raise people up but often pushes them down. But, because he is terrified of being seen imposing his values - which are, in fact, almost indistinguishable from the old values of the BBC - he has so far said: let them have what they want. Then he returns to the books and music and culture of his pleasant house in Oxford....

BBC bosses were not able to see what was objectionable about Ross and Brand's outpourings, but thousands of ordinary people, once alerted, could. It was the shocking realisation that many licence-payers had had enough - that they still defended standards of decency and proper behaviour - that finally jerked Mr Thompson out of his holiday reveries....

Will this historic cultural victory stick? Yesterday's Mail reported that, in April, a BBC1 comedy drama called Love Soup showed a woman being 'raped' by a dog. The BBC still pumps out many programmes that offend against decency and taste, and are often particularly offensive to women. We should not imagine that the tap will be turned off in a trice. But, maybe the affair of those unfunny and grossly overpaid vulgarians Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand will show Mr Thompson and his senior colleagues that the BBC has become dangerously out of step with many of the people who pay its bills.

If Mr Thompson does not have the courage to act on his moral convictions, he will be wise to listen to the outrage of those who do.


Outrage as British council makes pupils stand on chairs and pledge to be nice to gypsy children

Villagers opposing plans for a travellers site have accused a council of attempting to 'brainwash' their children. Pupils aged between six and 11 were requested to stand up and promise to 'welcome newcomers' and not bully them. The incident happened at a workshop for youngsters that was part of Local Democracy Week, where talks were organised by Norwich and Norfolk Racial Equality Council.

A large proportion of the scores of children present were from Spooners Row Primary School, near Wymondham, Norfolk. Residents there are battling plans by South Norfolk District Council to build a permanent travellers' site with eight pitches. One parent, who asked not to be named, said: 'It appears as if the council was targeting children with propaganda to try to get them on side. My first thought was that it was disgusting to target children in such an underhand way when so many people oppose the new site.'

Another parent said: 'It's out of order that the council has done this.' They added: 'If I had been there I would have stood up and said, "Stop this". It's in breach of the children's rights, surely?' Another parent complained the workshop was planting thoughts about bullying into the minds of children who had probably not thought of it.

The primary school's headmaster, Simon Wakeman, has made an official complaint to the council. He said yesterday that a council official connected with the plans for the travellers' camp had been at the workshop-The two people taking the workshop asked the children if they wanted to stand up and make a pledge,' he said. 'None of the children stood up because I suspect they felt awkward, but the pledge was read out anyway. 'They were asked to make a series of promises to be kind to gipsy and traveller children, welcome them into the community and not bully them. The children were encouraged to put their fingers in the air or their hands on their hearts to signify their acceptance.'

He added that he supported talks to 'build bridges in society', but opposed having children make pledges, particularly in light of their parents' anxiety over the travellers' site. Mr Wakeman said the workshop had left the school in an 'invidious position' as it had gone to lengths to remain objective about the proposals but parents were now questioning its neutral stance.

The talk, on October 17, was one of several on offer to schoolchildren at the council's offices in Long Stratton. Headmasters chose which ones their pupils attended. No one from the Norwich and Norfolk Racial Equality Council was available to comment yesterday.

John Fuller, South Norfolk Council leader, has sent a personal apology to the school but yesterday he insisted that the council was not responsible for what the equality council told the youngsters. 'The workshop was run by the local racial equality council who are experts in this particular field and the council had no direct input in what was said.


That Leftist "tolerance" again

Vandals hit two San Jose homes with signs supporting ban on same-sex marriage

For the second time in a week, homeowners in South San Jose have been targeted for their support of a proposition that would change the California constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Unlike the previous incident where no law was broken, the culprits who spray-painted large "No on 8" messages Sunday night on the garage doors of two homes on a cul-de-sac near Monterey and Bernal roads could face jail time and a fine if arrested and convicted. San Jose police were called to the scene and filed a report, according to the homeowners.

The maximum sentencing for felony vandalism conviction is three years in state prison and/or a $10,000 fine, according to a spokeswoman for the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office. For a misdemeanor conviction, the maximum punishment is one year in county jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

The homeowners, Tom and Kelly Byrne and Frank and Evalina Ybarra, had "Yes on 8, Protect Marriage" signs posted on their front lawns on Southgate Court for about a week. The Byrnes and Ybarras, friends who live across from each other on the small cul-de-sac, had their garage doors spray-painted in large letters with the words "No on 8." The "No on 8" slogan refers to the hotly contested Proposition 8 ballot measure in next week's election that would ban same-sex marriage in California.

The rear window of the Byrnes' minivan was also hit with red spray paint. Two other homes located deeper into the cul-de-sac with Yes on 8 signs were unscathed.

"Regardless that it's Prop. 8, I'm angry that somebody would take it upon themselves to destroy my property," Kelly Byrne said. "To have such little respect for me as a person. It angers me that they would do something so extreme instead of coming and talking to me, especially if it's someone in our neighborhood. "Instead they took the cowardly way and painted our house."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

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