Censor's cut that barely raised a whimper

Ethnic diversity" is the highest priority of a university education today

Kevin Myers
The Daily Telegraph
17 March 2002 E-Mail this page to a friend

NOTE the ruling last week by the Court of Appeal that in 1997 the BBC "unlawfully censored" a party political broadcast for ProLife, the anti-abortion group. Three judges declared that the BBC and other broadcasters should not have refused to transmit imagery in the advertisement. "This is about censorship of political speech," ruled Lord Justice Laws.

More interesting than the ruling is the subsequent silence. Imagine the outcry if the BBC had censored - as if it ever would - some political statement which graphically condemned, say, apartheid, rape, homophobia, sexual harassment or racism on the grounds that its imagery offended against "good taste and decency".

That would set a ferret in the dovecot, with the moral guardians of the Left in a fluttering uproar. Actors festooned with fake furs would probably present a petition condemning the beastly BBC. Their spokesperson, Sir Ian McKellen, his voice
The images that were deleted - of the severed head and limbs of an aborted foetus...
gravelly with gravitas, would speak of his profound dismay at this reactionary assault on civil liberties, perhaps signalling the depth of his disapproval with one of those flawless little facial essays of pain bravely borne that he does so very well.

Naturally, there was no such indignation over the censored ProLife advertisement. The images that were deleted - of the severed head and limbs of an aborted foetus - might well have been upsetting, as they were intended to be. Are we not meant to be upset by photographs of starving African children?

The general failure to condemn what the court has adjudged to have been an act of censorship is simply a classic example of selective libertarianism, the elastic creed by which the automatic right to freedom of speech diminishes the further away one stands from the liberal agenda.

So the free-speech barricades are not manned on behalf of Catholic priests, Afrikaners, the British Movement, hunt representatives, massage-parlour-owners, immigration-control agitators, the Ulster Unionists or anti-abortionists. But they are manned when free speech is demanded for Sinn Fein, the ANC, hunt sabs, Sisters Against the Sexual Exploitation of Women and abortion-on-demanders.

But if speech is to be both meaningful and free, its application should stretch seamlessly to the very edge of incitement to hatred. However, Anne Sloman, the "chief political adviser" to the BBC, apparently thinks otherwise. She defended the
the censors ... work to an unspoken feminist agenda
decision to delete all the images of the butchered foetuses from the advertisements, as follows: "The broadcasters have been entrusted by Parliament with the obligation not to broadcast material that offends against good taste and decency or is likely to be offensive to public feeling."

Ah yes; good taste, decency, offensive to public feeling - all meaningless mumbo-jumbo until they are incorporated into the bien-pensant filter which controls what one sees on television. This is the same filter which in a recent BBC television series about the development of the human body through adolescence felt able to show numerous and detailed photographs of the changes in male genitalia, without even suggesting that something happens to girls' parts at the same time.

Why? Because the censors - and that is what they are - work to an unspoken feminist agenda. Male bodies may be portrayed in detail on television; female may not. Why? No explanation is necessary other than a reference to that vigilant watchdog, "public feeling", whose every twitch may be predicted by the censors examining their hearts, and finding to their relief and joy that their cardiac sensors invariably know all.

The court thought otherwise. "I hope the broadcasters will recognise, unblinking, that censorship is exactly what this case
... "liberals" once again gallantly defended their inalienable right to agree with one another and to call the outcome freedom
is all about," said Lord Justice Laws. "But we should at least know the beast we are dealing with. In the context of political speech, it needs to be kept in its cage."

This isn't a question of whether one supports ProLife. Its leader, Bruno Quintavalle, declared that the court ruling signals the beginning of the end of legal abortion in Britain. Well, no, not really; though his words do signal that he might be a little off his rocker.

For abortion is now irrevocably part of British law, the vast majority of people rejecting the notion that a pre-cerebral embryo is a human being. This is not the same as allowing late terminations which involve the beheading within the womb of what would otherwise be a viable infant, followed by the hoovering out of the broken remains. You don't have to be a dogmatic anti-abortionist to find this grotesque, barbaric and usually unnecessary. But that's my opinion and a mere aside. There are those who will disagree with me.

Women's-right-to-choose broadcasters, blinking or otherwise, might well wish to justify their case using imagery as graphic as ProLife's. That is their right. But we needn't speculate over the scale of the liberal outcry if - a mightily unlikely hypothesis, this one - the BBC ever "unlawfully" censored it. The babble of indignant television producers and college lecturers would be deafening as "liberals" once again gallantly defended their inalienable right to agree with one another and to call the outcome freedom.

The original was published in the Daily Telegraph

Previous Visitor Comments

Name Email Subject Location
Hey Lenore!This is not a comment on your last post, sorry, but the only means of gettnig in touch with you since I don’t have your email address. And I can’t really call you ’cause I’m down with a bad flu and can barely talk.Apart from wanting to say "hi" I wanted to mention that I had my first CandyCaneCocoa yesterday, and it made me feel a lot better! Too bad the antibiotic I’m taking doesn’t go well with dairy products so I can only have chocolate milk at lunchtime which is when I least want it... but nevertheless, it was delicious! So thanks again!How are you and Daniel doing? Everything ok? I hope so!Hey, and I was wondering... is there any way of gettnig yours and Walter’s pictures you took on Christmas’ Eve?Bye and hugs,HaWeP.S. How was the movies? :)H a W e ___at___ gmxdotde

By Sad Warrior December 15, 2011 - 9:55 amThis is a wake up call concerning the ever griwong infringement by the Federal Governement under the new regime. The ultimate destruction of the Bill of Rights is not as prepnderous as this sounds. It’s about power and control period. The peolple have and they (Governemnt) want it. The denial of your basic right of expression is going to be denied. KYNDFAN needs to stay on the soapbox and I would advise all the rest of you to do the same, As radical as it sounds, the Wolf is at the door and he will knock it down before you realize what has happened. And this censorship of your right to Free Speech is not the only assault that is occuring. ObamaCare, attacks on the Second Amendment, and others are in route, depriving you of any personal freedoms and decision making capabilities.Thumbs Up/Down: 1 0

Jaco functionality
Iíve now added the comment and voting functionality to this old page as well. So, please feel free to join the debate - the issue is as relevant today as it had been a decade ago. Probably now even more so!

P L E A S E   P A R T I C I P A T E

No active contact accepted
E-mail Address

Previous Article IRA/Sinn Fein are also terrorists
Next Article Austria, Zimbabwe - Different rules apply

HOME Top Back Print E-Mail Page E-Mail us Guestbook