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February 15, 2006

Gotta Love The Beeb

The BBC, no surprise, was one of the many media outlets that refused to show the twelve Jyllands-Posten cartoons. Their excuse was as lame and hypocritical as any other you've seen:

We recognised that among our users there is a wide range of different cultural sensitivities and that the images would cause genuine offence to some.
Tut, tut. Don't want to give offence you know. So sorry about that freedom of the press thing you Yanks are always on about.

Of course, they forgot to mention anything about that fear of gettin' blowed up thing. There's that too.

Interestingly, the Beeb has no problem with potentially offending Muslims when there is no chance that their offices will become targets for retaliation.

Exhibit A: the BBC didn't hesitate to plaster their website with the newest Abu Ghraib photos. Are they really taking the position that those photographs would not "cause genuine offence to some?" Or is the reason for their newfound boldness the fact that any retaliation would be directed at American troops, not journalists whose lives are, as everyone knows, worth more than the rest of ours.

I also love the disclaimer they added to the link in the main story.

Warning: You may find some pictures disturbing
The obvious rhetorical question seems to be: why wasn't such a disclaimer good enough to allow them to publish the cartoons?

Oh, yeah. It's that darn "gettin blowed up" problem.

Posted by annika, Feb. 15, 2006 | TrackBack (1)
Rubric: annikapunditry


You pose a very interesting and frustrating angle.

Are you saying that the position of the British press is that putting soldiers lives in danger is tolerable, but not so for journalists?

If this "every person for themself" mentality is true shouldn't the military stop protecting journalists? Obviously it is impossible to know for sure what the intention of the media in England is since it will constantly be changing.

Isn't the main lesson here that the only thing you can count on, from the media, is that it will take the side that makes the West look bad and the Middle East as the victim? Isn't this constant self-battering of the Western ideology self destructive?

I'm just amazed how few Muslim leaders come out and condone the violence. What is that religion working towards anyways if this is how its followers react to everything?

Posted by: Michael on Feb. 15, 2006

I don't think the Abu Ghraib photos would "cause genuine offence to some" as much as cause embarrassment to the Bush Administration. And the Bush Administration admonished the EU press for showing the cartoons, so you must be disagreeing with him.

Posted by: skye on Feb. 15, 2006

You are right; the Bush Admin did follow the PC lead of its State Dept, which was pathetic. This is just another illustration of the Admins unwillingness to call out the Muslim community and its medieval world view. This is an area (along with border security) that I think makes the Bushies look PC and weak.

The BBC is generally willing to put out anything that is anti-American and anti-Bush. That is just one of the reasons why their credibility has been under attack for quite a while.

Posted by: Blu on Feb. 15, 2006

I don't understand your point Skye. You don't think the Abu Ghraib photos are more offensive than the cartoons? And btw, I do disagree with the State Department's condemnation of the Danish newspaper.

Posted by: annika on Feb. 15, 2006

Regarding the State Department's response to the cartoon intifada, Victor Davis Hanson had this to say:

[Instead, by letting the Europeans take the lead with the Iranian negotiations, and keeping nearly silent about the cartoon hysteria, the United States essentially has told the Europeans, “Here is the sort of restrained sober and judicious global diplomacy that you so welcome.”]
( http://www.realclearpolitics.com/Commentary/com-2_14_06_VDH.html )

Instapundit also posted this:

[UPDATE: Reader Shivan V. Mahendrarajah emails:

"While I agree that the State Dept. was wrong to be nuanced in their response re the cartoons of the Prophet and the ensuing brouhaha, in a Machiavellian way, I think it brilliant (though unintentionally so, otherwise that would be giving the State Dept. way too much credit). Here's why:

1. U.S. Embassies worldwide have not been stormed, attacked or burned, and if they had been, Marines would have to disperse the crowds to prevent another Teheran, even shoot to kill (one of my former Army Drill Sergeants was in that sort of a situation in Baghdad - very unpleasant), and shootings by Marines would exacerbate the anti-Americanism that currently prevails and take the focus off the Muslim v. Europe fight as it currently stands;

2. Maybe now the Euroweenies will wake up and see what we "imperialist" Amerikaners have seen. . . ."

One hopes that this will serve as a wakeup call in some quarters.]

Posted by: reagan80 on Feb. 15, 2006

Spot on Annika!!!

Posted by: Roach on Feb. 15, 2006

We recognised that among our users there is a wide range of different cultural sensitivities and that the images would cause genuine offence to some.

If I lived in the UK, the fact that I'd have to pay a tax on my TV every year to support this sort of crap--even if I never watched the BBC--would "cause genuine offence" to me. As much I'd hope for them to do so, somehow I don't think that Auntie would either 1) cease to exist or 2) do away with its license fee, just to assuage my "cultural sensitivities."

The fact that, despite a more, um, vibrant print media than possibly anywhere else, many if not most people in the UK still get all their news from the BBC might make one wonder why they're not even MORE leftwing. And, of course, the fact that journalistic establishments everywhere routinely praise the BBC is reason enough among countless others for it to have been broken up and privatized ages ago.

Posted by: Dave J on Feb. 15, 2006

"I don't understand your point Skye. You don't think the Abu Ghraib photos are more offensive than the cartoons? And btw, I do disagree with the State Department's condemnation of the Danish newspaper."

We'll have to examine what we mean by "offence" (good training for your upcoming profession). The cartoons offended some Muslims for religious adherence reasons we all now know. The Abu Ghraib photos enraged Iraqi citizens, and disturbed many others, because of the treatment of detainees, not because of the intent of an illustrator. The treatment was a news item, not an editorial cartoon, and as news, rightfully belonged in the news media.

In a generic sense of the word 'offence', I believe one could argue equally well on both sides of the debate. In the sense that I believe BBC was using the term, the Abu Ghraib photos were not offensive the religious beliefs, but embarrassing to political elements because of their (to some) unethical actions.

BTW, I normally post here as 'will' but my frequently used handle now shows up here as a default. Perhaps I used it some time ago, but I just felt it was best to keep in the open.

Posted by: skye on Feb. 17, 2006

The original publication of the cartoons was needlessly provocative; if the intent was to satirize the apparent contradiction between words and deeds in parts of the Islamic world, there were surely more clever and even thought provoking ways for the cartoonist.

While I agree with Skye/Will about the difference between "news" and "commentary", the reactions of the various communities have changed the cartoons from commentary to news. The events post-publication are newsworthy - and how can the BBC and US press report on the controversary without showing the cartoons (or at least a portion?). While some Christians may have found the 1989 "Piss Christ" and related NEA funded "art" objectionable, publishing pictures of some of the "offensive" works was important so the public could understand the issue.

The same is true here. While the original publication was a gross example of the failure to balance freedom with responsibility/prudence, the events and reactions (bounty on the head of the cartoonists now!) are news -- and the press should include a portion of the cartoons since those items are central to understanding the larger issues.

I do agree with thought the reluctance of US media to show the photos puts the spotlight on European nations for a change. Perhaps I'm harboring a little resentment for when the French show up in New Orleans to complain about lack of government action post-Katrina, the media conveniently forgets how *15,000* French citizens died over a couple of weeks in the summer of 2003 when most of the government was on summer holiday (but I digress..)

Posted by: Col Steve on Feb. 17, 2006