I’m in a desperate moral dilemma.
I’m actually quite glad Russell Brand has left the BBC. He’s an irritating idiot who rarely makes use of the decent brain he was born with and isn’t funny. BUT, I’m deeply concerned that his departure means giving in to the wishes of the easily offended, ignorant mob.
I’m getting fed up of the whole circus surrounding this whole saga. Listening to Richard Allinson in the mornings (a welcome break from Sarah Kennedy) I have to agree with his weariness.
Do I need to summarise the situation? Well OK I’ll be quick. The week before last, Andrew Sachs was due to be interviewed by Russell Brand and his guest Jonathan Ross for the Russel Brand show on Radio 2. Only, he was unexpectedly and inexplicably unavailable. So they decided to leave a message on Sachs’ answer phone, in the manner of teenage youths leaving a jokey message for a mate who’d forgotten to turn up at the party. Only Andrew Sachs is not a mate of Russell and Jonathan, and he didn’t find it all that funny. So far, so childish.
Fast forward to this Sunday just gone, and the Mail On Sunday gets hold of the story, over a week later, and in their inimitable style twist and misrepresent it in the worst possible light to elicit outrage from their readership. Which they get, in spades.
Unlike the 30,000 who complained, I actually heard the show “live”. OK, so not
live but on the original broadcast. It took me a while to work out that Jonathan Ross. It was not the best radio programme I’d ever heard, and I only kept it on because I was loathe to get the laptop out and listen to something else. It wasn’t, I have to say in the best of taste. They were irresponsible and did something wrong. It was as some say “out of order”. But it didn’t warrant all this.
To me, the people who are malicious are the hordes of people who didn’t listen to the broadcast and complained, based on the press hype. Particularly the ones who don’t care what was said, but just want to stick the boot in. People who complained because they hate Brand and Ross for being overpaid and overhyped, or because they can’t stand that sort of broadcasting were given an excuse to behave in a despicable manner. People who would describe it, not in terms like “a bit offensive” or “childish” or “stupid” but as “disgusting filth”. Most of the 30000 complaints could be more accurately described as malicious than that stupid childish broadcast.
These people and the ones in this case who deserve the lion’s share of the opprobrium. It is a massive injustice that they have been listened to. I can’t be pleased that a radio show I vaguely dislike is off the air, because of the terrible, terrible way in which it came about.
I am not sorry to see Brand go, and can take or leave Ross. But I am deeply concerned as to the sort of people who are getting their voices listened to over this.
Not a specific news item this time but a whole raft of coverage:
This has predictably been better reported better in, ahem, some areas of the press than others. Lurid headlines about Scouts being handed out condoms, and stories suggesting that actual sex education lessons comparable to those taught in schools will be taking place in every Scout Hut up and down the country. Based on this misinformation lots of people cough and splutter without engaging their brains and thinking there may be more to it than a tabloid newspaper story.
What was being announced was a new guidance note giving hints and tips on what to do if a young person approaches a leader with an awkward question. There is no obligation for any leader to give sex ed lessons, indeed the guidance suggests referring the young people to the experts, and the press release echos this. Actual sex education will remain the responsibility of the schools.
In Explorers we think about, discuss and examine all aspects of life. Scouting exists to develop well rounded people, with a sense of judgement and awareness of the world they live in. It is not just an outdoor activities club. The guidance focuses mainly on the moral side of all this, and not the biological side. Avoiding peer pressure and abstinence are key messages in all this, not “here’s a condom- get on with it, if you want”. So the spluttering types who are ranting about how we shouldn’t be encouraging sex don’t realise how close we are to how they would like us to be.
Schools teach sex from a biological and practical basis, and some kids think that there is something missing. Scouting gives young people space to talk about their lives, ask questions openly, and make sense of it all- not just on this issue but on any issue that concerns them. And, while I may not have been the best leader on this topic, I have worked closely with someone who was quietly asked the sort of questions that this guidance helps to answer.
Yes Explorer Units can, if their members ask, arrange trips to health clinics. Scouting has always focused on healthy living as part of the development of its members. But such trips are not compulsory programme items, and it is not the case that all units will run such trips: it will depend on the unit members’ needs if it is appropriate.
If the explorers don’t feel the need to discuss or focus on this topic, they will not be made to. And Explorer Units will not be handing out condoms willy nilly (if you pardon the expression)- that is a definite media distortion.
The bottom line is Scouting has been concerned with developing the moral, physical and spiritual potential of young people since year dot, and this is just part and parcel of that. These issues have never been off limits, we just now have guidance on how to deal with them.
As a coda, I have read how the person who wrote the press release “wants shooting”, because people in the more sensationalist end of the media were bound to take the wrong end of the stick. My point of view is this: The lions share of the blame for people getting hot under the collar after reading a sensationalised story in the tabloid press without the appropriate “pinch of salt” lies fairly and squarely in the minds of the people getting hot under the collar. Cries of “they should have known people would take the wrong end of the stick” unjustly spares due opprobium from the people whose nature it is to take the wrong end of the stick.
Another emotively misleading headline
(or at least it did at time of writing!)
It is not a ban, though. The article admits that the kids can still have tomato sauce – just not the bought-in stuff that was high in salt and sugar. The school makes its own tomato sauce in its kitchens. And making choices over the menu is hardly “banning” stuff.
And according to the TV reports on this story the kids like it!
The news reporter just quotes the one parent who thought it daft. This is a dishonest misrepresentation of the facts. A more accurate headline would be “School makes own tomato ketchup. Some don’t like it.”
As always in the media a story is distorted and spun into a form where it provokes rather than informs the reader. I expect this of some news outlets, but not the BBC!
I think we need to put this law in the perspective of the government considering using anti-terrorism laws as a solution to the Icelandic banking crisis. It’s all very well to say that this will only be used against terrorists, but we’ve been shown how it could be abused.
I received this from Amnesty recently:
There has been much media speculation that the 42 day proposal will be dropped. However at Amnesty we are all too aware that we can’t rely on political rumours that 42 days won’t become law when hard-won liberties are at stake. Plans to extend detention without charge should be abandoned once and for all. We don’t want them returning under another guise – not next month, not next year. Furthermore, Number 10 stated this week they are determined to pursue the 42 day proposal.
Now is a critical time for us to act and prevent this needless attack on our basic rights. If you haven’t already, say no to 42 days, sign our petition now
In the metro this morning there was a story in the Metro Train-in-Spain teachers shut school. It goes on to paint training days in Spain as a holiday in term time for teachers, and implies that closing the school for training is unusual.
Nothing could be further from the truth! INSET days are prescribed by government- the school has got to do them- this isn’t even obscure, it’s a well known fact and in not acknowledging in Metro were putting a dishonest spin on the story. The only story here is that a School chose to hold its training abroad because it was cheaper that way.
The BBC this morning had a more balanced view- parents were broadly in favour of saving money, and acknowledged that investing in training the teachers was investing in the kids- not creaming off money for a jolly away day.