Friday, February 06, 2009

on carol thatcher

I am disgusted with the fashion in which the Queen has capitulated to the Golly-hating Nazis at the BBC. I used to admire the Queen till she started pushing the diversity agenda of the lefties, signed the Lisbon Treaty which gave over the country to EU control. The Queen took a coronation oath to serve her country but it seems now she serves herself and the Marxist Government! I urge everyone to complain to the BBC and Buck Palace. Carol Thatcher should not be fired over a private comment about a well-loved toy!
- Pat, Dublin, Ireland, 5/2/2009 22:48

If I write about Carol Thatcher and the fact that the Daily Mail are orchestrating yet another public campaign to influence the perception of, and activities of, the BBC, I know that I am just falling into a helpless trap; giving yet more oxygen to a spurious subject and allowing myself to become enraged by myopic prejudices which are, despite the amount of coverage they generate, largely on the wane.

So its ok for that Jo Brand to make jokes about women and their times of periods and the BBC consider it comedy to be broadcast, also Ross and his twisted idea of filth, but to use the word Golliwog is a sacking offence. I hope the tories when they get in purge the BBC of all the freaks who staff it-
Stephen H Print, Thailand, 5/2/2009 6:35

Yet at the same time it's incredibly hard not to be exercised - and incredibly frustrated - by the whole kerfuffle. The facts as they stand are reasonably straightforward. Carol Thatcher, in conversation with a number of colleagues in The Green Room after a recent appearance on BBC's One show, made a comparison between a black tennis player and a 'gollywog'. Several amongst the number present were upset at this remark, which they interpreted as racist, and the BBC, after failing to extract anything but a very half-hearted apology from Thatcher, decided to terminate her contract with the show.

So all those Enid Blyton books I grew up with will have to be edited now, since golliwog is soooooo offensive?
- nell, sydney, australia, 5/2/2009 5:16

Now, as the comments above demonstrate - which are taken from the Daily Mail website - the right-wing media are swinging behind Thatcher (and most importantly, against the hated BBC) by declaring this a victory for political correctness and a defeat for common sense. So far, so very predictable. Just as the Mail occupied a position of moral authority when it decided that Jonathan Ross (the personification of the vulgar, liberal Briton they deride) had gone too far in his merciless teasing of Andrew Sachs, now they decide that Thatcher has been a victim of the same, ultra-liberal forces. Never mind that Thatcher's comments were arguably much more offensive. In the minds of the Mail, there is no connection between Ross's offensive language and Thatcher's. Far more important is that they hate him, and are like her.

If political correctness means anything, it is that those that practice it believe it important to take care, when using language, not to gratuitously cause offence to others. Ross was scapegoated by the Mail because they considered his words gratuitous and offensive (as indeed they were). Yet nowhere in their coverage was any mention given to the fact that what they were in essence asking him to do was think about what he said and not say things likely to upset others; a classic argument for political correctness. Although their intentions were undoubtedly malicious, and borne out of a hatred of both Ross and the BBC, one couldn't help wondering if the Mail was at last becoming alive to the importance of not abusing, denigrating, offending others.

The Thatcher debacle proves they have learned nothing. Their argument is not for sensitivity, care, thoughtfulness and good manners, but rather for the promotion of their own, highly traditional, values, and the disavowel of any beliefs which contradict them. One can say whatever one likes, and offend whomever one likes, so long as one doesn't depart from little-England prejudices. That Thatcher's colleagues were offended by her words is deemed irrelevant. Much is made of the fact that the racist term was used 'in private conversation', but in fact it took place in the workplace, where no conversation can be considered truly private.

So - I admit that getting worked up about all the above is largely pointless. The Mail will continue to pursue it's agenda, and I will continue to either avoid it, or read it in a fury. What I think is relevant, however, and worthy of conversation, is the increasingly importance being afforded to public complaints and online petitions, and the way that media is able to manipulate stories by encouraging reader participation, and along the way turn minor stories which fit their agenda from trivia into headline news.

If I were asked to name one positive thing about the Daily Mail, I'd say that it's always been a good campaigning paper. It has the ability to flag up bellweather issues and make headway with them, and it's certainly the case that over the years it has been a powerful - if not always positive - lobbying tool. I admired it for its coverage of the murder of Stephen Lawrence and its decision to give away energy-saving lightbulbs to readers.

Nevetheless, its influence in the last six months has been deeply pernicious; by encouraging outrage and fermenting dissatisfaction with the BBC, it's whipping up a frenzy which actually puts the reputation and future of the corporation in some doubt. It's a deeply cynical move driven not purely by this simmering, inconsistent moral outrage, but by the fact that the paper's owners have a vested interest in the demise of its most significant media rival.

More broadly, I'm starting to worry that the Mail, with a reach which far outstretches most of its rivals, is using this sequence of media stories to try to encourage some kind of moral revival, akin almost to religious fundamentalism in the US. Its aims are not journalistic, or even strategic, but rather political - it's putting together a coalition of deeply conservative, disaffected readers (not limited to these shores) who are feeling bold enough to decry not just political correctness but the very notion of anti-racism.

I don't mean to say that the Mail is starting a political party, or stoking the fires of revolution, but just as the arrival of Tony Blair and the revitalised Labour Party turned the nation gently leftwards in the mid-90s, there seems a risk that the right is attempting a similar trick. Unless the Mail's petty concerns and prejudices are combated, there's a risk that this mini-moral revival will drag the country to the right - and that would be a disaster.

I am sick of forever walking on egg shells in case some wimp gets offended by something I inadvertently say or do that they chose to misinterpret so they can play the victim card. I cannot believe all the fuss over an innocent toy and it is a repeat of the Sootygate episode! Golliwogs are not illegal and are found in many homes and I for one still have my old Golliwog from childhood. What next? Will this petty. toy-obsessed Government appoint Golliwog inspectors to break down doors and confiscate all the Golliwogs and Sooties?
- Elaine Worthington, East Sussex, UK, 5/2/2009 21:24

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