Saturday, February 07, 2009

Sticks and Stones. . . .

There seems to have been a plethora of "celebrity" name-calling in recent months and the BBC is generally at the center of the storms-in-a-teacup.

First we had the despicable behavior of Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross (neither of whom I have ever seen or heard on TV and radio) which caused Brand to be banished (and his career perhaps enhanced) while Ross was forced to take three months off without pay. And now Ross is back he has shown that his style of humor hasn't been tempered by the mild slap on the wrist he received.

Last week we had two interesting events that both had a political twist. Carol Thatcher and Jeremy Clarkson, both on the payroll of the BBC, have fallen foul of its rules. The former, daughter of ex-PM Margaret Thatcher, appears to have been rather stupid in using the term "golliwog" while on the BBC's premises. She has refused to apologize and has been fired.

Then Jeremy Clarkson referred to the current PM as a "one-eyed Scottish idiot". He subsequently apologized but tempered the apology with the statement that he still considers Gordon Brown to be an idiot. He hasn't been fired (as least not yet, and probably won't be).

What is interesting about all three events is that the BBC demanded an apology as if this would set everything to right. Make an apology that has no sincerity (as I think Ross did) and you are back at work. Refuse to apologize and you've lost your job. Make a politically correct apology and you will probably be OK.

Readers of this blog will know I think the BBC should be pared down with a large hatchet into two radio channels and one TV channel. Everything that they do in competition with commercial radio and TV should be privatized. In other words, the BBC should be more like America's PBR/PBS. But for as long as celebrities like Ross and Clarkson earn high ratings and (for Top Gear at least) overseas earnings for the BBC they will no doubt continue to be excused.

So what is the big picture emerging from all this? The BBC appears to be a law unto itself and doesn't always represent or cater to the wishes and demands of the license fee holders. It is damned difficult to opt out of the license fee and still own a TV (even if it may only be used to view non-broadcast material). But in reality the BBC is simply an extension of the way the present government (and future ones of any color if their manifestos are to be believed) has manipulated the way society works.

I grew up in a world where you said "Sticks and stones may hurt my bones but names will never hurt me". Sometimes the words did hurt, it's true, and in today's terminology they were not politically correct. But we were no less tolerant then; in fact I think today's elites are hopelessly intolerant of anything they feel they must disagree with.