Sunday, March 16, 2014
Why did the BBC censor a debate about gay Muslims?
I’ve just been shown an amazing clip from a BBC programme called Free Speech.
The programme was conducting a live debate last night in the Birmingham Mosque, in which people are invited to submit video clips on various current affairs issues, which are then debated by an invited panel.
One of the questions was from Asifa Lahore, who self-describes as “Britain's first and only gay Muslim drag queen”. The question Asifa wanted answered was: “When will it be accepted to be Muslim and gay?”
The question was shown, and then just as the panel appeared to be preparing to debate the issue, the BBC presenter Rick Edwards announced, "We were going to debate that question but today after speaking to the mosque they have expressed deep concerns with having this discussion here… so we'll move on to our next question."
What was the presenter thinking of? What was the producer thinking of? What is the BBC thinking of?
If their hosts wanted to censor the content of the programme they had no business broadcasting from that venue in the first place. But once they were there and broadcasting they should have carried on the debate, or pulled the plug live.
It’s not the BBC’s job to pander to censorship or prejudice. The corporation has some serious explaining to do.
People cannot debate traditional issues because of liberal 'censoriousness', says Lord Neuberger
Traditional attitudes to issues such as sexuality are being shut out of debate by a new form of liberal “censoriousness” which only allows “inoffensive” opinions to be heard in public, Britain’s most senior judge has warned.
Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court, said that Britain could be becoming less diverse rather than more because once common opinions are now deemed “unacceptable”.
He likened the new form of “moral reaction” to the opposite but equally restrictive attitudes of previous generations.
The judge also warned that the children of Britain's elite will have to settle for worse jobs than their parents in coming years.
His comments came in a lecture at the House of Commons in which he spoke about improving representation of minorities including women, ethnic minorities, gay people and those from poorer backgrounds in the law and other professions.
But he said that in the area of sexual attitudes, attempts to improve diversity risked bringing a new restrictiveness of their own.
It follows complaints from traditionalists who opposed gay marriage that they were unfairly being treated as homophobic because of their stance on matrimony.
At the height of the debate over the issue, a housing trust manager from Trafford, Greater Manchester, was demoted from his job and accused of discrimination because he said in a private Facebook posting that he thought same-sex weddings in churches were a step too far.
Lord Neuberger said: “A tendency appears to be growing in some quarters which is antithetical to diversity in a rather indirect and insidious way."
In a reference to the Larkin poem Annus Mirabilis, which jokes that “sexual intercourse began in 1963”, he added: “As Phillip Larkin suggested in his famous poem, 1963 heralded a rather permissive period, partly no doubt in reaction to the very conventional and straight-laced post-World War Two outlook.
“Possibly as a counter-reaction to the permissive society, a combination of political correctness and moral reaction appears to be developing.
“While I have no wish to comment on, let alone criticise, this development, I fear that it may risk spilling over into a censoriousness about what views people can publicly air as to the merits of diversity or other issues which indirectly relate to diversity. “As has been said on more than one occasion, freedom only to speak inoffensively is a freedom not worth having.
“The more that arguments and views are shut out as unacceptable the less diverse we risk becoming in terms of outlook. “And the less diverse we become in terms of outlook, the more we risk not valuing diversity and the more we therefore risk losing diversity in practice.”
Lord Neuberger also said increased social mobility and the economic downturn would be "painful" for the "sons and daughters of those at the top".
He said: "Now that we have an economy that is expanding more slowly; consequently, improving diversity in the higher levels through increased social mobility is much more difficult, because the number of available jobs is hardly expanding.
"And increased social mobility is potentially much more painful, because, if the top echelon of jobs remains static, it is logically inevitable that the sons and daughters of those at the top will have to go down the snakes in order to enable those from less privileged backgrounds to go up the ladders."
Everyone has the right to offend – unless they offend a liberal sacred cow
We must be free to offend one another, the head of the Supreme Court has said. Lord Neuberger warned against a "creeping liberal censoriousness" that infects Britain today. He is right. Just try this: mock a gay politician's campness or Muslims' burkhas. Try making a derogatory comment about the abortion lobby, or the transgender minority. The ensuing brouhaha will drown out your voice and in some cases lose you your job. Or, as happened to journalist Suzanne Moore, you'll have a Minister – one Lynne Featherstone, calling for you to be sacked.
On the other hand, say something about paedophile priests and misogynist vicars, and the whole liberal world smiles with you. Establishment Britain is ready to respect certain sensibilities, just not others. Muslims, because so many belong to an ethnic minority – or is it that they don't believe in turning the other cheek when they receive a slight? – get the velvet glove treatment. In his brilliant blog post yesterday, Dan Hodges revealed how the BBC censored a debate on gay Muslims.
The Beeb refuses to upset the Islamic community – yet this same corporation has happily paid for and indulged countless programmes and debates about Catholic paedophile priests.
Double standards? You bet. Everyone has the right to offend – unless they offend a liberal sacred cow. The rest of us, who are not black or Muslim or transgender, must go to court for the right to upset these minorities. Lawyers are the only people who benefit from this kind of "free" society.
BBC chiefs in new Left-wing bias storm as Newsnight hires TUC man who used to advise Harriet Harman
The BBC ignited a new row over Left-wing bias last night by appointing a former Labour adviser with barely any journalistic experience as economics editor of its flagship TV news programme.
Tories expressed astonishment that Duncan Weldon, a former adviser to Harriet Harman and senior economist at the Trades Union Congress, had secured the plum job on Newsnight.
They said it did little to dispel the impression that there is ‘a revolving door’ between the Left and the BBC.
Other recent controversial appointments include the recruitment of Ian Katz, a former executive on The Guardian, as Newsnight’s editor and of the former Labour Cabinet minister James Purnell as director of strategy and digital on a salary of £295,000 a year.
Former BBC economics correspondent Stephanie Flanders dated both Ed Miliband and Ed Balls.
A Tory source said: ‘Arthur Scargill or Len McCluskey would have been a more objective appointment. This is a grade A BBC stitch-up.’
In his role at the TUC, Mr Weldon has regularly defended the economic record of the previous Labour government and attacked the Coalition. But he appears to have hardly any journalistic experience.
Gillian Tett, of the Financial Times, and Ed Conway, Sky News’s economics editor, had been tipped for the Newsnight job following the departure of Paul Mason.
Mr Weldon himself appeared to acknowledge his lack of credentials for the post with a jokey comment on Twitter in December: ‘Just read the Newsnight economics editor job ad. Does the odd comment piece count me as being an “established economics journalist”?’
He was senior economic adviser to Miss Harman when she was Labour’s acting leader, and predicted that Conservative economic policy ‘would lead to an economic disaster’.
But last night Mr Katz said he was ‘delighted’ that Mr Weldon, one of ‘the most exciting and original economic thinkers around’, was to join the programme.
Mr Katz said Mr Weldon had been ‘the strongest candidate from a very competitive field’, adding: ‘Are you suggesting we should not have hired the strongest candidate?’
Toby Young, a Tory-supporting writer and broadcaster, said: ‘You’ve got to admire Ian Katz’s total disregard for keeping up the appearance of impartiality.’
Tory MP Andrew Bridgen has written to the BBC’s head of news, James Harding, to raise questions about the appointment – saying it even appeared that Mr Weldon had run as a Labour candidate in local elections in 2010.
‘He follows in a long line of economics correspondents who have had clear links either to the Labour Party or Left-wing politics,’ he said.
Mr Bridgen said Mr Weldon had spent much of his career ‘campaigning against the Conservative Party’ and criticised his lack of journalistic experience. ‘It seems his only qualification to report on economics for the BBC is that he is Left-wing,’ the MP added.
‘This appointment confirms what [Today programme presenter] John Humphrys hinted at earlier this week, that Left-wing bias is endemic at the BBC.’
Tories also raised concerns about the appointment of Mr Purnell last year, though he ended his party membership on taking up the post.
But broadcaster Iain Dale, a former Tory parliamentary candidate, denied that Mr Weldon is ‘a prisoner of the Left’.
The appointment will be seen as particularly provocative with a general election – at which the economy will be the central issue – little more than a year away.
A BBC spokesman said: ‘Duncan’s economic commentary is widely respected on all sides of the political spectrum as fair and intelligent. BBC journalists do not bring political views to work and Duncan will be no different.’
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.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.