The following BBC story, Three killed at Turkish publisher, describes how three people have had their throats slit at a publishing house in Turkey that produces Bibles, or bibles as the BBC puts it. All the bold type in the excerpts below was added by me.

Nationalists had protested at the publishing house in the past, accusing it of involvement in missionary activities, local media reported.

There is a rising wave of nationalist feeling in Turkey, the BBC’s Sarah Rainsford reports, with Christian minorities complaining of pressure and harassment.

In the most serious incident so far, a Catholic priest was killed last year by a teenage nationalist gunman as he prayed in his church.


Malatya is known here as a very nationalistic city, often with an extreme religious undertone, our correspondent adds.

It is the hometown of Mehmet Ali Agca, who in 1981 shot Pope John Paul II.

Turkey’s Christian community comprises less than 1% of its population. More than 99% of the Turkish population is Nationalist.

I changed the very last word of the article.

Open thread – for comments of general Biased BBC interest:

Please use this thread for off-topic, but preferably BBC related, comments. Please keep comments on other threads to the topic at hand. N.B. this is not an invitation for general off-topic comments – our aim is to maintain order and clarity on the topic-specific threads. This post will remain at or near the top of the blog. Please scroll down to find new topic-specific posts.

One more thing. A commenter, Bryan, pointed out that our monthly archives seem to have disappeared. Presumably this is something to do with the new version of Blogger. Anyone know how to rectify this? The material is still there, because searching for key words works fine – in fact better than it did in the old version of Blogger.

Framed and unframed pictures

When the charges against the lacrosse team at Duke University were first laid the BBC covered it in this article by Daniel Lak.

The article correctly takes no explicit view about the truth or otherwise of the charge, as at that time investigations were still proceeding. A great deal of the article, in fact, is not about the details of the particular case at all. Rather it is “framing” – all about the race, gender and class issues that make it a big story. Fair enough. I hate to say this, but no broadcaster could cover all of the rape trials that take place in the world. The reason this one resonated was the contrast between the rich white frat boys and the poor black stripper, an unmarried mother. This wider interest is why we had the digressions into the history of North Carolina and into the current position of blacks in America.

In some relatively small ways the article was not quite as impartial as it should have been. For instance in this excerpt:

Civil rights activists, African studies professors, feminists, black community leaders and a lot of the stalwarts of the left that you find on any American campus have all lined up behind the victim and her claims.

Lacrosse team members and their parents, athletes past and present and various right-wing commentators in the US media hint darkly that the woman was either lying or had been assaulted before she came to the party.

-there should have been an “alleged” before the word “victim” and the picture of the stalwarts of the left lining up behind a victim is more positive than the “dark hints” ascribed to the right wing commentators. Still, the article does cite both white frat boys and black strippers as being the targets of “easy vilification.”

Now let’s move on to the account of the dropping of all charges against the Duke lacrosse players. (Hat tip: Terry Johnson) I thought more highly of this article than Mr Johnson did. It does make pretty clear that these men were innocent, unlike the pathetic grasping at straws (“We’ll never know what really happened that night”) I came across in some feminist websites. The facts are all there.

But it’s an unframed picture. There is little or nothing about the wider context that makes it a big story. The blogs and the media had as much to say about such issues as political correctness having overridden the presumption of innocence than they did about the individuals concerned. But with the BBC story, in contrast to the earlier one, it’s “just the facts ma’am, just the facts.” We hear that Nifong, the prosecutor, may be charged with witholding evidence – but not a word about why he seemed so madly determined to pursue the case long after the weaknesses in it had been exposed. (Winning an election and maximising his pension have been suggested.) Or why so much of the Duke academic community instantly assumed that their own students were guilty and went into candlelit vigil mode.

Justin Webb is quoted as saying “the charges had outraged many Americans, reminding them of the treatment of black people by privileged whites in years gone by.” I could not tell whether he meant that many Americans were shocked by what they believed to be a crime by arrogant white men against a poor black woman, reminding them of the way that white men could once rape black women with impunity – or whether he meant that many Americans saw the way that large sections of the university faculty and media acted as if the accused were already proven guilty by reason of race alone as reminiscent of the lynch law of the past but with the races reversed.

Neither of the two BBC articles I have cited has much wrong with it individually. Nor should the writer of either be specifically criticised in relation to the other – they were written quite separately.

My point is that the BBC has a strong but unconscious tendency to provide a frame for pictures upon which it wants the eye to linger and to dispense with a frame for pictures it finds unattractive.

Did you think it particularly ill-timed

that the National Union of Journalists passed a motion proposing a boycott of Israeli goods even while one of their own members, Alan Johnston, has been kidnapped and may have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists?

Adloyada quotes a source who claims that the editor of the NUJ’s house journal has admitted it was a quid pro pro for the support of the Palestinian journalists’ union in the campaign to free Johnston.

If this turns out to be correct, I can sympathise with their motives. But paying the Danegeld encourages the Dane to come again.

Unmentionable words.

Back when US “shock jock” Michael Savage was fired by MSNBC (justifiably in my opinion) mention was made by the BBC of his right wing politics. (‘The brash, conservative Savage is founder of the Paul Revere Society, which advocates closing borders and deporting illegal immigrants.’)

When Rush Limbaugh was pushed into resignation (unjustifiably in my opinion) from the ESPN cable TV network, mention was made of his right wing politics. (‘The veteran commentator is also the radio host of the politically focused Rush Limbaugh Show … Mr Limbaugh uses the show to berate feminists, homosexuals and what he calls “environmentalist wackos” says he will not retire until all Americans agree with him.’)

There have been loads of BBC stories about the firing of Don Imus, too.

  • Bumpy career of originial “shock jock”
  • CBS fires racism row radio host
  • MSNBC drops race row disc jockey
  • Race row US DJ loses advertisers
  • Shock Jock racism

    Only no mention of his politics. This link takes you to a description of a (quite well publicised) incident when Imus and a friend fantasized about how various prominent Republicans would act on the gallows. Isn’t that quirky detail worth a quick note on his potted bio, such as Rush Limbaugh got?

    The clear dichotomy that these examples suggest may not really be so clear, however. Though a Democrat*, I gather that Mr Imus loathes and is loathed by the Clintons. Commenters knowing more than I about American shock-jockery are invited to offer their theories.

    *UPDATE: Lively discussion in comments as to Imus’s actual political affiliation.

  • The kidnapped BBC reporter

    , Alan Johnston, may have been murdered. Adloyada has more.

    Mr Johnston’s reporting from Gaza has been criticised on this blog several times. Some commenters have said that they have little or no sympathy for him because of their opposition to his views.

    After 9/11, so many people said that if this or that happened “the terrorists will have won” that the phrase became a laughing stock. But there was a core of truth in that phrase before it was damaged by over-use. If we fail, on political grounds, to feel sympathy for and outrage on behalf of a person who has been kidnapped and may have been murdered, it is a victory for the terrorists.

    Open thread – for comments of general Biased BBC interest:

    Please use this thread for off-topic, but preferably BBC related, comments. Please keep comments on other threads to the topic at hand. N.B. this is not an invitation for general off-topic comments – our aim is to maintain order and clarity on the topic-specific threads. This post will remain at or near the top of the blog. Please scroll down to find new topic-specific posts.

    A welcome move.

    Every now and then the cool squish of mouse innards under a naked foot as one steps out of the bedroom door reminds the cat owner that the animal he or she thinks of as “dear little Tibbles” thinks of itself as Devourer of Prey And Spitter-Out of Their Discarded Internal Organs.

    Thus I mused while trying not to put my foot on the carpet. I mused also on the fact (brought to my attention by commenter Alan) that the BBC’s Justin Webb is to host a series of programmes on Anti-Americanism. Mr Webb writes:

    It is time that we understood that this attitude, this contempt for what democracy can do, is at the heart of at least some of the anti-Americanism we see in the world today.

    My impression, looking over the numerous references to Mr Webb on this blog, is that having experienced the Mouse Intestine of Nasty Consequences resulting from the actions of the Tibbles of the Politically Correct Worldview he has now begun the long slow hop to the Bathroom of Reality. A good thing, and – seriously – good for him, but since change is always painful, expect it to be three hops forward, two hops back.