Wednesday, 22 December 2010

"Thinking allowed" and BBC objectivity

I've just been listening to a few episodes of this program. I can't find a way to comment specifically to the makers and anyway my comments would be lost ... I'm brought to a real soap-box subject for me - my views on  which I've bored my partner with many times.

If you look on the BBC website, their concise description of the program (on the podcast page - copy/paste) is "Laurie Taylor explores the latest research into how society works and discusses current ideas on how we live today"

ie: sociology. Lots of sociologists.

My impression of the program is that it's title suggests that you'll be listening to open-minded discussion whereas in fact Laurie Taylor just seemed to be giving his prejudices, he is already in full agreement with the people who get invited on - there should be opposing opinions and there aren't.

BBC news-presenters, program presenters and editors all seem to me to share similar views and don't brook counter-argument. I think they are mixing up education with their point of view.

Take today's programme: Taylor and a guest were discussing XMAS decorations on houses and antipathy towards the people who do this. seem to have visited a website dedicated to intolerance towards "chav"s, and picked out some of the more warped views. Taylor's guest called the views "obscene" - in other words she's well on the way to the same level of intolerance shown by loony contributors to web forums - and she's supposed to be an academic...

It's not hard to find extreme language and opinions on the web - it's where (sometimes unbalanced) people give full expression to their opinions*. When Jan Moir published an article that was seen as homophobic (and it was pretty awful) the amount of hate on the web - some of it apparently praised by Stephen Fry in a tweet - was something to behold. So it isn't just the reactionaries who vent intolerant bile once you get them on forums and blogs :)

As to counter-argument, there was no mention of the obvious point that others have to live with displays they find unsightly - and hence might have complaints about the fact. Just Taylor's opinion reigned supreme. Might we change the programme title to "Thinking not allowed"? 

(We already have "A Point of view" and it is generally rather better listening, in my view)

*and here I am :)

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