Ever hopeful.

Sweden had a referendum today on whether to join the Euro. Voting was overshadowed by the murder of Anna Lindh, foreign minister and leading voice of the Yes campaign. The BBC had six quickie quotes from Swedes exiting the polls, clearly gathered before the result was known. How come five out of the six people whose views were quoted had voted Yes? The No campaign led the polls throughout, and in the end won.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see some hurried revision of this story. So, just for the record, the people quoted were Per Schonborg, Halldis Hag Andersson, Beatrice Janzon (the sole No), Jon Lagerberg, Annika Schwarts and Roger Charmete.

Even Radio 1 – what’s on the play list?

I listened to the lyrics of this song a couple of weeks ago, as I was heading out the door in the morning. Caught it again today, and looked them up to check. And yes, Black Eyed Peas – Where Is The Love is nuts….

“What’s wrong with the world, mama

People livin’ like they ain’t got no mamas

I think the whole world addicted to the drama

Only attracted to things that’ll bring you trauma

Overseas, yeah, we try to stop terrorism

But we still got terrorists here livin’

In the USA, the big CIA”

The CIA are terrorists? This may be chatting about various cold war stuff, in which case we’re in well charted regions of politics, fine, let it slide. But the context makes me feel much more suspicious that we’re talking crack epidemic/September 11th/Oklahoma conspiracy theories

“The Bloods and The Crips and the KKK

….

It just ain’t the same, always unchanged

New days are strange, is the world insane

If love and peace is so strong

Why are there pieces of love that don’t belong

Nations droppin’ bombs

Chemical gasses fillin’ lungs of little ones”

Other than tear gasses etc, which can be dangerous but which don’t come from bombs normally and aren’t intended to be fatal, what chemicals have been used as weapons recently? (I include Russian use of sleeping gas). Last use of chemical weapons I know of by a nation state was by Iraq, over a decade ago…

“With the ongoin’ sufferin’ as the youth die young

So ask yourself is the lovin’ really gone

So I could ask myself really what is goin’ wrong

In this world that we livin’ in people keep on givin’

in

Makin’ wrong decisions, only visions of them dividends

Not respectin’ each other, deny thy brother

A war is goin’ on but the reason’s undercover

The truth is kept secret, it’s swept under the rug….”

Did I mention conspiracy theories?

There’s other stuff in there too that seems a little suspicious. But it strikes me that odd facts and at least hints at conspiracy theories are on the play list at Radio 1 (and I think high in the charts, though the catchiness of the tune may be a factor there….)

Actually and Persistently Misleading.

In his latest roundup of the EuroPress, Denis Boyles notes the convienient disappearance of that embarrassing Gilligan story.

In London, a parliamentary committee has reported that Andrew Gilligan and the BBC lied when they broadcast the allegation that the Blair government had “sexed up” its claims of Iraqi threats in an effort to convince Britons to go to war. The BBC had staked its reputation on the accuracy of that claim, yet somehow, in the fog of the British press, exemplified by this report in the Guardian, the committee’s findings have morphed from an obvious indictment of the BBC into yet another Blair blunder, with defense chief Geoff Hoon accused of being “potentially misleading” (as opposed to the BBC, which was actually and persistently misleading) and once again left hanging limply in the wind. Poor Hoon could moonlight as an American flag in Paris and get more respect.

In a similar vein, Andrew Sullivan mentions a couple of “Baathist Broadcasting Corporation” stinkbombs.

Laban Tall

has spotted a BBC interviewer (John Pienaar) apparently comparing the Coalition in the recent Iraq war to the Nazis.

To be fair, if Pienaar really has read Anne Frank, he might have intended a more subtle and accurate comparison. I haven’t a copy to hand, but in her diary Anne Frank several times expresses her support and admiration for the Allied bomber crews – even though she was at risk of being bombed herself. So Pienaar might have meant to equate the citizens of Baghdad hiding in cellars from American planes dropping bombs, all the while praying for the bombers to be victorious so that the tyrant Saddam will be overthrown, to the citizens of Amsterdam hiding in cellars (or attics in Anne Frank’s case) from American planes dropping bombs, all the while praying for the bombers to be victorious so that the tyrant Hitler will be overthrown.

He might have meant that.

John Pienaar used to work as a political correspondent for The Independent.

Mike Zom

writes:

This is for the “BBC Bias” files. It shows how they rewrite stories

that aren’t sufficiently negative.

This is how the story originally appeared:

Sunday, 7 September, 2003, 03:43 GMT 04:43 UK

Second wave heads for Iraq

Another 50 British troops have flown to Iraq, taking the total number of reinforcements this weekend to more than 100.

Part of the second battalion light infantry based in Cyprus, they landed

at Basra airport at 0330 local time (1230 BST).

Their duties are likely to include guarding oil pipelines in the south

of Iraq.

(etc.)

The way it appears now – exact same URL:

Sunday, 7 September, 2003, 11:58 GMT 12:58 UK

Fears over troops’ training

British troops being sent to Iraq may not be getting the training they

need, the commander of UK soldiers during the first Gulf War has warned.

Major General Sir Patrick Cordingley raised his concerns as 50 extra

soldiers were flown to Iraq – taking the total reinforcements dispatched

this weekend to more than 100.

Then it goes on to quote the inimitable Clare Short, railing on about Dr Kelly.

Evidently the first version was not pessimistic enough.

I have the original version, taken from the BBC site, if you’d like to

see it.

Mike Zorn

Santa Ana CA

Anthony Cox

of Black Triangle writes:

“Bush has just given his speech, the BBC report it as: Bush vows to defeat Iraq resistance.

“Given that the majority of Iraqi’s do not want the US to leave and the people in the resistance are disguntled hardline Baath party members, or foreigners with their own agenda, then calling them ‘Iraq resistance’ seems a bit biased.

“Surely the real Iraqi resistance are those working with the Americans to make their country democratic.”

For myself, I would find it slightly artificial to call the pro-democracy Iraqis “the resistance” now that Saddam is gone. (While he was in power it would have been the correct term for them both literally and emotionally.) However the use of the term “resistance” with all its glorious anti-Nazi overtones for a bunch of Ba’ath gangsters and foreign fanatics is typical BBC. Typical in that, sure, it could be defended by recourse to the strict meaning of the word – and you can bet they have such a defence ready – but you know and I know and they know that they get a distinct thrill from using that word to describe groups killing Americans. The BBC proclaims with loud self-righteousness that it must take the greatest care to avoid using any word with negative overtones for those who slaughter busloads of civilians. I think it employs equal care in the selection and use a word with positive overtones for those who kill American soldiers and worshippers at a mosque. By “it”, of course, I mean the aggregate mindset of the BBC community: I do not claim there is a policy document telling staff they must use the word “resistance” to describe the remnants of Saddam’s regime. I mean that, quite unprompted, that is the sort of word the sort of person employed by the BBC will use. As Charles Moore is quoted as saying in the post below, BBC bias is a state of mind.

We’ve got some competition

. Seems that the Telegraph is going to start monitoring the BBC for itself. In announcing this move Charles Moore has this (and more) to say about BBC bias:

No, BBC bias is not a piece of partisan trickery – it is a state of mind. So strong is the state of mind that a great many of the acts of bias, perhaps the majority of them, are quite unconscious. It is time to delve into that unconscious. Hence our Beebwatch, which starts on the opinion pages today.

The BBC’s mental assumptions are those of the fairly soft Left. They are that American power is a bad thing, whereas the UN is good, that the Palestinians are in the right and Israel isn’t, that the war in Iraq was wrong, that the European Union is a good thing and that people who criticise it are “xenophobic”, that racism is the worst of all sins, that abortion is good and capital punishment is bad, that too many people are in prison, that a preference for heterosexual marriage over other arrangements is “judgmental”, that environmentalists are public- spirited and “big business” is not, that Gerry Adams is better than Ian Paisley, that government should spend more on social programmes, that the Pope is out of touch except when he criticises the West, that gun control is the answer to gun crime, that… well, you can add hundreds more articles to the creed without my help.

Nice try Mr Moore but you going to have to try just that bit harder if you want to be the Daddy of the BBC bashers.

Big Brother may not be watching you – but the BBC is.

Stephen Lewis of the Sterling Times message board sent this link.

Follow it, please. Now would be a good time.

Mr Lewis has found a report on the Radio Nederlands website stating that the BBC, the BBC, is to monitor message boards for hate speech on behalf of the authorities.

Once upon a time the only official way your home could be searched was by a policeman backed by a warrant issued by the courts. OK, as a libertarian I could raise certain objections even to that, but it was the evolved and generally agreed custom of my country and that counts for a lot. Then the privilege of search spread first to customs officers and then to tax-gatherers, until now practically any parasite of an environmental health officer or social worker can walk in.

Count on it. The same process is happening with restrictions of freedom of speech. Fifty years ago the legal right to impose restrictions was the preserve of the courts. Many of the restrictions were ridiculous: the Lord Chamberlain censored naughty bits out of stage plays until as late as 1968. However, in terms of political speech, freedom fifty years ago was greater than freedom now. Speakers in Hyde Park Corner could and did call for the gutters of Mayfair to run red with the blood of the rich and the copper would just say, “steady on mate, steady on.” Part of the reason for this freedom was that the right to restrict was itself restricted to the justice system.

It’s a sign of a half-way healthy state (half-way being about as good as states get) that it is very clear who is doing the state’s dirty work.

Now, it seems, the job of spying on British citizens has been franchised out to that “much loved” institution, the BBC. As Mr Lewis says, that is not their role. Later on in the post some Radio Nederlands commentary is quoted, saying that it might be better to have “trained journalists” doing the monitoring than others. Not surprising, I suppose, that the trained journalists at Radio Nederlands rate their fellow trained journalists at the BBC as the best people to employ for this task. I must disagree: if I had to choose I’d rather be spied on by professional spies. At least they live in the real world, and in particular have the peril of Islamofascism very much in the forefront of their minds. I’d trust them way above the BBC to be able to tell the difference between clear statements warning against Islamofascism and genuine hate speech 1.

When it comes to judging others – judging us here, for instance – the BBC is very likely to imply that anyone who says out loud that a kind of death-cult has infected to some degree a disturbingly high proportion of the Muslim world is thereby an Islamophobe.

But when it comes to judging themselves, or judging the groups they have a soft spot for, the standard is very different. You can see the double standard in operation by the BBC’s choice of Jew-hating ranter Mahathir as official BBC “expert” on Islam for an upcoming forum. (See this website, here and passim.) Tell you what, Beeb guys, if you want to monitor “hate speech” why don’t you start with him?

  1. I do not make this distinction between real and apparent hate speech in order to say we should forbid one and allow the other. I am a free speech absolutist. That means I must support the political right to make truly hateful hate speech, however vile, while also asserting my right to condemn it. This includes hate speech about Muslims and hate speech by Muslims. But the distinction between real and apparent hate speech is crucial in terms of moral assessment and national security.

(This post also appears on Samizdata and its offshoot dealing with surveillance and privacy issues, White Rose.)

BBC Forums: Part II

It gets better – this forum on whether there should be a new UN resolution on Iraq and more troops sent there, features …(drumroll)…’BBC reporters’.

I am sorry, but a BBC reporter setting out matters relating to an issue is a news article, not a ‘Forum’. Perhaps they could ask Mahathir to comment on this as well (see post below on ‘Ask the expert’) – no odds on who he would blame for the current problems in Iraq.

There really seems to be a problem at the BBC – the BBC, which is supposed to be a non-profit public broadcaster, has swallowed the whole digital media thing hook, line and sinker.

Commercial stations have digital and satellite, so why not use bags of public money to screen BBC tat (4,000 home improvement shows, apologies for Islamist terrorism masquerading as human interest stories from the West Bank, and EastEnders) in direct, subsidised competition with shareholder-funded commercial outfits?

The internet is the future, so why not spend bags of coerced taxpayers’ money on churning out this sort of rubbish?

This is exactly why the BBC could be a narrow, high culture state broadcaster, or a privatised commercial one, but not the bastard offspring it is. This shows Blair’s mistake in corporatising it – witness the BBC’s institutional reaction to the Gilligan – Kelly scandal – close ranks, and defend, whatever the facts. Whatever you do, don’t let the organisation’s continued existence come into question.

I fear with BBC online that the tail has started to wag the dog – the BBC has a website, and it should get bigger and bigger of course (like all government departments – great when you are unaccountable and have £2.7billion of taxpayers’ money to squander), so let’s just fill it up with more and more of this rubbish. Someone is paid to sit there and idly think up filler, as the organisation takes on a life of its own.

How many jobs in the BBC depend on BBCi? I would be most interested to know.

LGF

has plenty to say about “Moonbat” Mahathir, premier of Malaysia and believer in every anti-semitic conspiracy theory going, who the BBC bizarrely picked as one of their experts on Islam. (See Toby Blyth’s post of Sep 02 for earlier commentary on Charles Krauthammer’s appearance then disappearance on the same billing.) The BBC’s page called “Mahathir in his own words” is somewhat more honest than I expected, and does include two of his milder anti-Jewish statements.

It’s good they are finally being reported. No, my quarrel this time is with the flattery of his ravings that his appointment as an expert implies.

Can you imagine the outcry if the BBC were to appoint as an “expert” on anything a white BNP member who held the same views about Jews as Mahathir does? For they do hold the same views: Mahathir is a great recycler of the screeds of Western anti-semites, being a particular fan of various writings of Henry Ford.

This on-line forum or whatever it is is supposed to take place on Oct 12th. By now the BBC will already have appointed and briefed some smooth-talking gnome to sit behind Mahathir and respectfully say, “Ah, no, Mr Prime Minister, we can’t really say that here.” I wonder if they’ll pull the plug on him if he really goes ape.

I’d rather he were not censored. Let the world see him for what he is. But the fact that the BBC has appointed him as one of its two designated experts on Islam is odd on several levels. I wish I could say that my objection was he was unrepresentative of Islam as it stands today. He is not. The Islamic world is awash with crude anti-semitic conspiracy theories. I don’t want the BBC to paper over this fact as they usually do. Yet at the same time I feel that it is – and I really mean this – disprespectful of Islam to blandly choose this addled old Alf Garnett figure as one of its two representatives as if that was all there was to it. It’s as if a real Alf Garnett were solemnly instated as an expert on Britain. He might, at certain times have been a fairly representative representative but, well, you’d kind of hope that they’d hunt aroud for someone better than that. Experts are meant to be above average.

I am dumbfounded, actually. Who on earth first thought of ringing up the old git and asking him, hey, you wanna be our expert on Islam? Did he volunteer himself and the Foreign Office were too polite to refuse? It doesn’t seem to advance the BBC agenda at all. Paradoxically someone like Daniel Pipes, who is a hate figure to to the progressive/Muslim nexus, would actually give an account of Islam that would be less likely than Mahathir’s to arouse contempt for the religion.

I can’t see this as ending in anything other than a huge row and considerable embarrassment for the BBC.

The BBC’s view on UK citizenship

So, this is the BBC’s idea of what it means to be a citizen of one of the world’s oldest democracies, the country that invented the Westminster system and faced down Napoleon and Hitler?

One tourist attraction, the minimum wage, rubbish teeny-pop bands (or music attractive only to teenagers), the Queen’s birthday, the Welsh Assembly, the working time directive, Islam and minority languages…

Do you detect a left-wing bias here?

Firstly, the facetious and smarmy undergraduate tone of the quiz is presumably intended to ridicule Blunkett’s plans to introduce a citizenship test. While Big Blunkett is a terribly authoritarian Secretary of State and is criticisable all round for his anti-civil liberties ‘flog and hang’em’ mentality, this is an idea that plenty of other sane countries (like Australia) adopt (and hey, I am sure you have to pass a religious test if you wanted to become a Saudi citizen).

Secondly, the questions all deal with Labour/left wing issues – minimum wages (theoretically unsound to a non-Marxist economist), the Queen (she is so silly she has TWO birthdays – so let’s abolish her and become a republic), Welsh nationalism (hmmm…English bad, non-English good, two legs bad, four legs good), minority languages (we just love them don’t we – repeat after me – English bad…), Islam (what can I say – Western bad,…), consumer rights (kettles? obviously a plot by Western capitalists to screw good old workers who just want a nice cup of tea) and Labour Prime Ministers (Labour was only in power for about 25% of last century from memory – and did not in any real sense predate the 20th century in the UK – say it again, Conservatives bad,…).

What about an article about citizenship and toleration and respect for free speech, freedom of religion, the rights of minorities like gay people, and respect for womens’ rights, and whether one can be a citizen and espouse the violent overthrow of its democracy and its replacement with a grossly discriminatory and violent religiously based legal system?

This is a serious issue – and my taxes pay for this biased nonsense? Where is Cato (of Carthago delenda est fame) when you need him?

Blog comments have a way of mysteriously disappearing

, so I really must take steps to preserve the limericks about the Master of Balliol that were sent in by readers.

Here they are:



There once was a Master of Balliol

Whose writers delighted in onlyoil.

Needing nary a push,

To blame all on Bush,

Will Master throw Gilligan down’t’ hole?

Don Eyres

There was a Master of Balliol, called Graham

Who thought things and knew how to say ’em

When he looked at old Auntie,

He denounced her as slanty

And t’is pity we’re all forced to pay ’em.

David Carr

Graham, old Balliol’s Master,

Knew Beeb was set for disaster

When Gilligan said,

Through a hole in his head,

“I’m sad to report I’m a bastar- “

Sharpshooter

There once was a Master of Balliol

Who, taking a break from his daily toil,

claimed democracy

needs Aunt BBC

which in turn needs its unquestioned Charter Royal.

Blog Irish

Too cloistered, the Master of Balliol

was blind to the Beeb’s abject failiol

to be aptly fair

‘tween the critics and Blair,

falling in with the anti-war wailiol.

Norman Geras

Laban Tall also comments, but not in rhyme.