Another Thing The BBC Don’t Report

While the BBC look for the Palin connection, at left American magazine Mother Jones, reporter Nick Baumann interviews an old friend of Jared Loughner, Bryce Tierney :

On Sunday, federal prosecutors charged 22-year-old Loughner with one count of attempting to assassinate a member of Congress, two counts of unlawfully killing a federal employee, and two counts of attempting to kill a federal employee. Giffords was the target of Loughner’s rampage, prosecutors say, and the sworn affidavit accompanying the charges mentions that Loughner attended a Giffords “Congress in Your Corner” event in 2007. The affidavit also mentions that police searching a safe in Loughner’s home found a letter from Giffords’ office thanking the alleged shooter for attending an August 25, 2007 event.

Tierney, who’s also 22, recalls Loughner complaining about a Giffords event he attended during that period. He’s unsure whether it was the same one mentioned in the charges—Loughner “might have gone to some other rallies,” he says—but Tierney notes it was a significant moment for Loughner: “He told me that she opened up the floor for questions and he asked a question. The question was, ‘What is government if words have no meaning?'”

“He said, ‘Can you believe it, they wouldn’t answer my question.’ Ever since that, he thought she was fake, he had something against her.”

Giffords’ answer, whatever it was, didn’t satisfy Loughner. “He said, ‘Can you believe it, they wouldn’t answer my question,’ and I told him, ‘Dude, no one’s going to answer that,'” Tierney recalls. “Ever since that, he thought she was fake, he had something against her.”

One gets a distinctly Mark Chapman vibe from that. From his Youtube videos we can deduce that Loughner, to put it charitably, is running on a different mental track from most of us. His ramblings about grammar seem like a bastardized version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
– that language and grammar can determine, or at least influence, thought. It was unfortunate for Ms Gifford – and even more so for the six people murdered, including a nine year old girl – that he chose to ask her his unanswerable question – and resented her inability to answer.

More Bloody Sunday

Stephen Pollard :

I took part in Radio 4’s Sunday programme this morning. To say I was flabbergasted by the report on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 is an understatement.

Nick Cohen :

Alas, whenever you believe that you have nailed British hypocrisy, the BBC comes along and proves that it is worse than you thought. If there were an award for intellectual cowardice, a gold medal for journalistic double standards, this morning’s effort by Radio 4 deserves it.

Damian Thompson :

Nowhere in the BBC’s output is Left-liberal bias more thickly applied than on Radio 4’s Sunday programme. If you didn’t think you could actually hear a lip curl, try listening to any of its “reports” that involve Christian conservatives.

The EDL – "Ultra-Nationalists"

I don’t understand. If the English Defence League are, as described on BBC news, an “ultra-nationalist” group, what does that make Sinn Fein/IRA, who killed more than two thousand people over 25 years for such crimes as holding a dying soldier or shopping in Warrington ? I don’t think I ever heard the BBC talk about anything but ‘Irish nationalists’.

I’m not an EDL expert, but I understand they were founded as a protest against radical Islamism – the sort of activity that manifests itself in insulting soldiers in Luton or beating up veterans in Manchester (a story you’re unlikely to hear on Today). In other words, they were ‘anti-extremist’, albeit a very narrowly-focused anti-extremism. Whether that declared aim is in practice maintained, or whether on the street it merges into a more general anti-Islam sentiment, is certainly a topic for debate. But at the same time as the EDL are described as “ultras”, the organisation Hope Not Hate is described on Today as ‘anti-extremist’, when in practice their ‘anti-extremism’ is very narrowly focused on one political party. You won’t find HnH protesting against ‘preachers of hate’ in mosques.

One other stick used to beat the EDL is that, in the presenter’s words “the English Defence League is associated in people’s minds with demonstrations that turn violent“. So is the National Union of Students, but the BBC haven’t exactly gone out of their way to investigate the many left extremist groups associated with the protests – perhaps because so many of their staff were members of those groups in their student days. In BBC-speak “activist” = “left-wing activist”, “extremist” = “right-wing activist”. And to be fair, much of the trouble at EDL demonstrations is caused by counter-protesters – whereas the violence and vandalism at student protests is all self-generated.

And while we’re on “activists”, I didn’t realise the rehabilitation of the Sydney Street killers was under way. BBC correspondent Sanchia Berg tells us how “after the failed Russian Revolution in 1905, many activists came to Britain“. “Activist” seems a mild word to describe revolutionary killers like Jacob Peters, controversially acquitted of the Sydney Street killings, who went on to increase his body-count exponentially as a senior member of the Cheka, the Soviet secret police who “policed labor camps, ran the Gulag system, conducted requisitions of food, subjected political opponents (on both the right and the left) to torture and summary execution, put down (peasant) rebellions, riots by workers, and mutinies in the Red Army“.

The hypocrisy of the BBC is in the language used to describe those they disagree with as against those they agree with. Anyone expecting balance from the BBC in their coverage of the political left and the political right would be sadly disappointed. But should it be really too much to expect?

The Important Stuff

I just heard Eddie Mair on PM conducting an admiring – to put it politely – interview with the agency photographer who was following a gang of ‘student protesters’ who were ‘trashing everything that wasn’t nailed down‘ (as the photographer put it), when the mob came upon Prince Charles and Camilla. Our hero was able to get off five ‘good’ shots of the attack on their car. I paraphrase :

Mair : “And not only that, at many public events there are many photographers – you were the only one to get these exclusive pictures

Photographer : “Well, yes, they’ve gone all around the world

Mair : “And how do you feel about that – it must be really special, a once in a lifetime scoop

Photographer : “Would you please remove your tongue from my lower digestive tract ?

(I may not have heard that last bit correctly).

You’d think, even were the couple in question not the heir to the throne and his consort, that the middle-aged couple who were victims of a mob attack might be the centre of the story. But no. It’s all about us. Media people reporting on what they really find interesting – media people.

UPDATE – Julia from Ambush Predator comments :

“Well, good grief! The BBC News just ran an interview with Charlie Gilmour (public school and Cambridge protester, stepson of Pink Floyd’s Dave, likes swinging from the flag on the Cenotaph – LT), made on the day, before they knew who he was, or what he’d done, and it’s pretty clear he’s either functionally retarded, or was drunk or stoned at the time. If you can catch it on iPlayer, I suggest you watch, and marvel at what passes for a Cambridge-educated student these days. ”

Anyone seen this interview and got a copy or a link ?

Dumb BBC (Again …)

Jenni Murray on Woman Sour rewrites the Mayor of Casterbridge :

“The Mayor of Casterbridge, written in 1886, opens in the market square in the town of Dorchester, where a drunk Michael Henchard is offering his wife for sale”

OK, who’s ignorant – Jenni, the scriptwriter, or the researcher? As any Hardy reader kno, Henchard sold his wife at Weydon-Priors fair, miles from Dorchester – and the book opens with the Henchards trudging towards that village. The news of Henchard’s wife-selling could hardly have come as a revelation to the citizens had he done the deed in the market-place.

The rewriting of history continues when presenter Fiona Clampin gets chatting to Sue Clarke and feminist English lecturer Dr Jane Thomas from the University of Hull.

“It’s worth remembering that labouring people in rural districts didn’t necessarily marry – they would ratify their engagement by having intercourse, and if the woman got pregnant than they would marry, and if she didn’t get pregnant then if they didn’t want to they wouldn’t marry … so I think that wife-selling was an early form of divorce in those days”

“Yes, I’ve heard that”

Three points here

a) labouring people DID marry, even in the distorted picture we’re given here. The authors of “An Economic History of Bastardy in England and Wales” give a figure of 6% for illegitimate births at the start of the 19th century (as compared to over 40% now). In fact pregnancy generally led to marriage – and the birth of an illegitimate child was usually followed by marriage unless the man defected. As the ne’er-do-well father in Hardy’s ‘A Tragedy of Two Ambitions’ describes it :

“She was my wife as lawful as the Constitution – a sight more lawful than your mother was until some time after you were born !”

b) AFAIK, the ‘proving’ of a relationship by pre-marital intercourse, with marriage the result of pregnancy, was ONLY a custom of the Isle of Portland, and notable because it was such an exception. In Hardy’s ‘The Well-Beloved’, Avice Caro’s “modern feelings” are quite against the tradition, which she feels Pierston’s father may insist on.

“If the woman does not prove with child, after a competent time of courtship, they conclude they are not destined by Providence for each other ; they therefore separate ; and as it is an established maxim, which the Portland women observe with great strictness, never to admit a plurality of lovers at one time, their honour is in no way tarnished. She just as soon gets another suitor (after the affair is declared to be broken off) as if she had been left a widow, or that nothing had ever happened, but that she had remained an immaculate virgin”

Hutchins, “History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset,” vol. ii., p. 820, 1868, quoted in Bloch.

“So faithfully was this “island custom” observed that, on the one hand, during a long period no single bastard was born on the “island,” and, on the other, every marriage was fertile. But when, for the further development of the Portland stone trade, workmen from London, with the habits of the large town, came to reside in Portland, these men took advantage of the “island custom” and then refused to marry the girls with whom they had cohabited. Thus, in consequence of freer intercourse with the “civilized” world, the “Portland custom” has gradually fallen into desuetude.” – (The sexual life of our time in its relations to modern civilization, Iwan Bloch, pub F.J. Rebman, London 1909)

c) the remark “so I think that wife-selling was an early form of divorce in those days” doesn’t follow from what goes before – and in any event, it was never considered as anything but a disgraceful proceeding.

"How Wimminz Won The War"

Dumb Jon, who’s (wo)manfully taken on the task of watching BBC Breakfast so you don’t have to, reports on the shock BBC revelation about the Battle of Britain – women were involved, too !

“This is the other thing about the BBC’s crappy reporting. Not only is the bias bad in and of itself, it also blinds them to actual points. It is genuinely interesting to hear from a – still lifey – 100 year old veteran plotter, and there is a serious point here about how the real difference wasn’t Britain’s technically meh radar, so much as that it integrated with a purpose-designed home defence system. But no: chicks fought too, that’s all you need to know. “

At the time, of course, in the bad old sexist world of the 1940s, the existence of women in air defence roles was a little-known secret.

The Larkin The Evening

The City of Hull has just begun ‘Larkin 25′, a 25-week-long event, marking the 25th anniversary of the poet’s death on 2nd December 1985. BBC Radio 4′s ‘Front Row’ hosted by Mark Lawson, plugged the event, but spent at least half its time promoting the charges that Larkin was:

a/ a misogynist;

b/ a racist;

c/ a Nazi sympathiser.

No-one on the programme challenged these claims and even the suggestion (from one of the organisers of the Hull event) that we should separate the man from his work, came over as tacit acceptance that the allegations are true.

Pretty par for the Front Row course. Shiraz Socialist takes issue with the evidence presented in the one-dimensional BBC view.