Jeremy Paxman religious comments were offensive, rules BBC Trust

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Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman went too far when he talked about religious hogwash and stupid people who believe in the Old Testament, the BBC Trust has ruled.

Paxman made the comments in an interview with Professor Richard Dawkins, the outspoken author of The God Delusion, prompting one viewer to complain that the presenter of BBC2‘s Newsnight was biased and offensive.

The trust’s editorial standards committee rejected the accusation of bias, but said Paxman might have unintentionally caused offence with the comments which had no clear editorial purpose.

Originally, BBC management rejected the complaint in its entirity, denying that Paxman had shown any anti-Christian bias and saying the presenter had played devil’s advocate to Dawkins, who was on the programme to talk about his new book, The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True, on 13 September 2011.

However, the complaint then went to the BBC Trust editorial standards committee, which ruled that Paxman had a well-known interviewing style and viewers would have expected a lively discussion between the pair on the programme.

Written By: John Plunkett
continue to source article at guardian.co.uk

90 COMMENTS

  1. What do you expect from BBC. Pure bullshit from a spineless organization! I am offended by their coverage of any Royal Affair and their constant worship of anything to do with the Royals. Could I get an apology for their constant worship of the monarchy? I dont think so :(

  2. The trust’s editorial standards committee rejected the accusation of bias, but said Paxman might have unintentionally caused offence with the comments which had no clear editorial purpose.

    Except in telling the truth, which has a clear editorial purpose.

  3.  Offensive? I saw this when it was first broadcast, and I took it then as Paxman making a kind of parody of Dawkins. Reviewing it now I think the same thing. But if we’re going to complain about being offended, I’m offended that the BBC still has religious programming built into its charter and that it continues to exclude non-religious commentry on Thought-For-The-Day, because obviously you need religion for thoughts about ethics.

  4. Personally I can’t quite be bothered, partly because Paxman is a bit of a dimwit anyway, but this ruling clearly goes against the BBC’s statutory obligation not to seek to promote religious views or beliefs by stealth

    if your read that to mean ‘religious views in general’ as opposed to ‘some specific religious view’, then censuring Paxman for expressing a core atheist belief (that religious beliefs are hogwash) during an interview specifically about atheism, is surely promoting religious belief?

    Even the view that religious people are stupid to believe their myths and legends, whilst not a particularly intelligent view itself, is a common atheist opinion.Might be worth a complaint about the BBC Trust regarding its judgement and the BBC policy’s bias against atheism. (I expect they’d want to throw it out as trivial or vexatious though).

  5. It’s not always comforting to hear the truth. Should he have called these people ingorent or not so very smart? What else are these people to be called?

    If an adult still believes in Santaclause or gnomes, we wouldn’t trust anyone like that to guide our children in to the future, right? So why would we trust people who still believe in men walking on water or women turning in to salt pilars to teach our children about life and morals? Because it’s in the bible? Well so are tips on how to treat your slaves or how to trick your brother out of his enheritance.

    But maybe they are right. They are not (all) stupid. Some of them are dangerously clever and very good at misleading and scaring people. Beware of them.

  6. Religious hogwash.Hogwash; food fed to hogs. Was this the offensive remark they are talking about? Must be, because anyone believing that hogwash in the old testament is not only stupid but needs to be reminded of that fact at every opportunity presented.

  7. “Jeremy Paxman religious comments were offensive”

    to quote Stephen Fry -
    “It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that’,
    as if that gives them certain rights. It’s no more than a whine. It has
    no meaning, it has no purpose, it has no reason to be respected as a
    phrase. ‘I’m offended by that.’ Well, so fucking what?”
     

  8. Wikipedia has an interesting and amusing page on stupidity:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S

    I liked this quote from A Short Introduction to the History of Stupidity by Walter B. Pitkin 

    Stupidity can easily be proved the supreme Social Evil. Three factors combine to establish it as such. First and foremost, the number of stupid people is legion. Secondly, most of the power in business, finance, diplomacy and politics is in the hands of more or less stupid individuals. Finally, high abilities are often linked with serious stupidity.

    If the Newsnight discussion had been about dangerous driving, inconsiderate parking, racism, littering, or any other example of human stupidity, then the term ‘stupid’ would not have caused offence. But certain irrational beliefs in ancient mythology are protected from such criticism. Now that’s stupid.

  9. First of all Paxman was careful to preface his comments with “apparently” so I am surprised this complaint was upheld.
    Had the religious story immediately following the use of “Hogwash” not been a christian one, there would hardly have been any complaints.
    Is there any way we can complain officially to the BBC about this ruling?

  10. Funny, I remember being in kindergarten and getting “spoken to” for telling the other children in the class that there was no Santa Claus around Christmas time. I was surprised that most of the kids actually believed he did.  I was like ” you’re kidding me, right?”

  11. So it’s ok for theists to say atheists will burn in hell, but totally unacceptable for an atheist to say religion is hogwash. Seriously, where’s the common sense here ? I’m fed up with these whiny apologists playing the offense card every time someone expresses a god view that’s different from theirs. Pathetic !

  12. Paxman may be many things, but ‘dimwit’ isn’t one of them. He’s one of the very few journalists on TV who insist that their questions get properly answered. More power to him. As to this particular occasion, what he said needs to be said in public, especially on the BBC, whose fawning towards anyone religious offends me. See, I’m offended! Call the BBC!

  13. Originally, BBC management rejected the complaint in its entirity,
    denying that Paxman had shown any anti-Christian bias and saying the
    presenter had played devil’s advocate to Dawkins, who was on the
    programme to talk about his new book, The Magic of Reality: How We Know
    What’s Really True, on 13 September 2011.

    Ah! But then it was passed to the “politically correct” muppets who have been promoted way-beyond their levels of incompetence! – http://www.businessdictionary….

    However, the complaint then went to the BBC Trust editorial standards committee,

    sunbeamforjeebus
    How the hell is this offensive?I can think of a lot more offensive terms
    for religious cretinism than ‘hogwash’!

    Mmmm!  Sounds like cultured pearls before REAL  swine!

  14. Auntie is very old and turned a bit senile. she used to be fun, a bit challenging sometimes mischevious and always happy to let others air their views. now she’s a bitter old spinster agreeing with anyone who complains loudly. Sachgate (Ross and Brand showed themselves up, BBC turned it into a circus), Clarkson (made a joke about the BBC’s obsession with balance), now Paxo (alluding to the idea that some people might find people who believe stupid things a bit stupid)

    from someone who has argued passionately for the BBC in the past to accepting it’s a far from perfect system, I’ve now come to accept the license fee is a waste of money. i used to think i was paying to keep debate alive, to give alternative views an airing but right now i find youtube is probably a better place to go

    Auntie needs to be taken outside shot in front of her stupid family. who i’ve shagged.

  15. I just can’t believe that it is really about trying not to offend. Not one prosecutor in the UK will bring charges against someone who has done something deemed illegal? What does your justice system say? How do they justify it? Is there some human trafficking militia running the show there? Can one sue the government for prosecuting them for a crime by claiming discrimination, or what? If someone mutilated the genitalia of my kitty cat I’d file charges and demand the bastard go to prison for it!

  16. Paxo’s comments were about religious hogwash and the stupidity of believing the old testament.  So how is this anti christian? Moreover if he had said something that was anti christian and some xtians were offended so fucking what!

  17. It might be offensive to call people who believe these myths (and do not know the facts) stupid. Some are, many are not. They are certainly ignorant. Ignorance is not necessarily a put down. I’m ignorant of 90% of known information out there today, I do my best not to be ignorant and that’s the best we can hope for. 

    Of course, some religious people are stupid. But if that is true, the blame goes to those who take advantage of this stupidity to promote their agenda. I know several people with low IQs and could easily convince them of anything. But if I were to do this, it would be my issue, not theirs, that I’d be concerned about.

    So the use of the word “stupid” is an unfortunate one (although I do it often myself on this topic). In the context it was used on the show, it was meaningless other than being an insult. BTW, it’s a fact that 50% of the population of the world is below average in intelligence.

  18. Little over the top. Are you a conservative troll? Paxo is a legend and the interview I thought was between two consenting intellectuals. Mistakes in wordplay can be forgiven. I would have used ignorant if I had the wit. I happen to love the BBC having worked all over the world and seen the alternative.

  19. I think it’s kind of a conundrum. People who are willfully ignorant and profess to know what they refuse to learn (such as Evolution through natural/selection) should be able to be labeled stupid. But also, people who actually have a low IQ (or simply have smaller mental capacities) could be labeled stupid also, but it seems derogatory.

    Nonetheless, in a democratic society, people from either groups of “stupid people” are eligible for important decision making occupations. And here in the USA, many people from both of my definitions of stupid HAVE become important decision makers.

    What’s a society to do? legally prevent stupid people from bearing children and acquiring important decision making positions?

    I think in principle- yes.

    However, how exactly it would be done when the people who would implement this principle are the same people who would be deemed stupid (and there for prohibited) is a conundrum!

    The irony is that I may be declared not intelligent enough to reproduce- but I got that one covered. At 55 and no kids yet, I’d be very happy to stay on that course for the rest of my life :)

  20. Disagree.  Paxman introduced the phrase “stupid people”,  and Richard did not correct him.  Either Richard missed the sarcasm completely or both Richard AND Jeremy agree that adults that take Genesis literally are quite stupid.  FWIW, I tend to agree with both of them.

    Paxman neither disputes the factual evidence that Richard is putting forth in his book or Richard’s opinion that Biblical literalists are stupid.   His only pushback to Richard is along the lines of 1) The myths are easily corrected by modern science but my aren’t they pretty? 2)  Why does a world class intellect like Richard care so much that there are so many stupid people?

    From what I have heard about Paxman, this seemed to be a bit of a love in. 

  21. I am sorry to hear that some people who believe the literal OT story were offended by being forced to recognise their stupidity and further offended by the biblical stories being described as “hogwash”!  Hopefully they will gain something from the program, read the “Magic of Reality”, and clear some of the hogwash out of their brains.

    It is regrettable that some of the committee , while recognising that no deliberate offence was involved, nevertheless decided to pander to the immature stupid, illustrating their own immature stupidity. 

    Hopefully in the interests of public education, the BBC will employ mature rational intellectuals on such committees in future.  (I recognise that this is somewhat ambitious, given the well paid part-time employment it provides for politicians and journalists.)

    In April 2009, the Editorial Standards Committee (ESC) of the BBC Trust
    published a report into three complaints brought against two news items involving Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen.[7] The report received widespread coverage in the UK and in Israel 

    The complaints included 24 allegations of breaching BBC guidelines on accuracy or impartiality of which three were fully or partially upheld.[9] The Independent’s Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk was particularly critical of the ESC report, saying that the BBC Trust is “now a mouthpiece for the Israeli lobby”.[11] An editorial in The Independent said that the report demonstrated “a terrible absence of good judgement”.

    Allegations of offending the religious seems to addle the brains of this committee leading to partial upholding of complaints, as a sop to the religious.

  22. Talking animals, magic trees, dead people coming back to life, things magically turning into other things, some guy stopping the sun from going around the earth, the same earth that has foundations, corners, and pillars holding it up. Hogwash? How very dare he.

  23. Firstly, the government had nothing to do with this ruling that we know of, so we cannot honestly talk about anything being “squashed by the government”.
    Secondly, the show gets about 1.2% of the population watching (800k/66m). If the same proportion watched in the US, that would be 4.2m viewers (350m*.012) or so. For comparison, take a look here. None of the cable channels comes close to that, it’s about half what the big shows get. Even if, say, MSNBC would have an interview like this, which I actually doubt, that would not be equivalent. There are a lot more places in the US where content like this, broadcast over the air, could be and would be “censored” (that is prevented from being broadcast: how much difference does the mechanism by which this happens matter?)

  24. Would you agree, Professor Dawkins, that there are many stupid people among the atheists themselves??  Perhaps that’s what partly Jeremy Paxman meant.  In the programme “Who Do You Think You Are” he clearly stated that he would never laugh at the religious.
    Besides, even if I can accept that you see science as rather poetic, I consider that poetry comes from within the mind. Of course/and when a mind dies, specific poetry dies too in which case science is useless.

  25. hogwash !!
    one person complains out of goodness knows how many watching that night (i remember watching this)

    Having to listen to God Save the Queen offends me
    Stupid people that still believe the world is six thousand years offends me
    Child Molesting Priests offends me
    JW’s knocking on my door (to preach religion) offends me
    The cleric’s that preach hatred offends me
    The subjucation of females (because of religion) and circumcision offends me

    That’s just for starters

    Who did I complain to?

  26. To be a bit of a Devil’s Advocate – people who believe in Genesis may well be stupid and ignorant, but Paxman’s role in such a program is not to tell the audience that they are stupid and ignorant but to explore what is happening in the news.  His role is not to take a particular personal view with respect to religious faith – such programs are not supposed to be about the views of the presenter at all.  If he did use the phrase ‘religious hogwash’ in a way that he understood would cause unhappiness to some of the audience, then he has not being doing his job right:  It’s the role of the interviewee to express such opinions.

    We can’t play the ‘assuming we have won the argument’ game here.  

  27. I quite like Paxman, and his shows are great sport. but still I beg to differ.

    IMO he has often evidenced a surprising lack of depth of understanding and he really only needs to have a pundit’s understanding of position, strength and appearances to do his job.

    ‘IMO’ because finding the references would take too long and I have an early start tomorrow.

    BTW I’m not saying his interviews are at all bad – the Michael Howard one was a corker – just that he is normally an integral part of the generally feeble level of political debate. Much heat, little light.

  28. “BTW, it’s a fact that 50% of the population of the world is below average in intelligence. ” So says Mordacious 1, who has perhaps read and believed the anecdote about President Eisenhower, which was unaccountably repeated by Carl Sagan.

    Eisenhower was said to be shocked on being told that 50% of the American population was below average intelligence. We are invited to laugh at Ike’s ignorance. In fact he was right to be shocked, because the claim is untrue. As a minute’s thought will demonstrate, 50% of said population is NOT below average.

    Any level of intelligence (call it an IQ for convenience), calculated by any imaginable method, will refer, not to an individual but to a group. In a place the size of America, that group will be large, probably millions. Therefore, you can’t have half the total number of individuals below – or above – the group which is average. The same would obviously apply to the whole world, though each “IQ” would then apply to a really huge number of individuals.

    Theoretical maths can be quite unconnected to the real world.

  29. Labelling people as “stupid people” was the only problem I saw.  I know lots of intelligent people who believe stupid ideas.  For the most part, I didn’t see anything wrong with what Paxman said other thant the “stupid people” comment. 

  30. Sorry that doesn’t make sense.  The number below the average and the number above average must add up to the total.  That can’t happen if they are both less than half the total.  Or are you worrying about the fact that some will equal the average ?

    Michael

  31. Just emailed  this to The Guardian:

    Editor:

    Will there be a place in your blog relative to this piece where
    readers can make comments and engage in the kind of dialog with
    other readers that is usual in these pages?  Would seem
    unattractively constricted and controlling if that were not to
    be offered.

    BBC please bear in mind that this censorship is extremely offensive
    to many of your readers, and so, if such offense is to be
    considered on a par with other offenses taken, then the
    censorship itself should have been quashed.

    Instead of referring to “stupid people,” Paxman and Prof.
    Dawkins might better have referred to those people as being
    infected with religious memes, that is, of being memetically
    afflicted.

  32. Paxman did obviously make the comment about religious hogwash but the rest of the interview involves hard probing questions to Richard Dawkins on whether myth rather than reality is the more believable and comforting explaination for the universe. Dawkins gave excellent replies to these questions and never once accused Paxman of questioning him in an offensive way. Society has to recognize that neither atheism nor religion are off limits to criticism.

  33. It might have escaped the notice of the general populace that their sales catalogue to claim the minds, lives and loves of unsuspecting children is a few millennia old and really waaaay past the time it needed branding far worse than “hogwash” or that those who defer, nay impose, and insist upon it are indeed in the very least stupid by definition – even if this is due them being indoctrinated delusional. 

    This is the least that must be applied them in order to fix responsibility upon carriers of their multifaceted corrupt memes that have garnered masses of protections and support from stations of authority and power absent any qualification or deservedness per se, for representing such utter cruel misleading and bitterly abhorrent immoral servitude to a god mouthing load of emotional and thought corrupting bullshit!This sales catalogue ought have had its double glazing removed long ago and needs treating with the contempt is really IS representative of in order children can get an angle on it and not yet again ride with its markets for the next thousand years!Jeremy, where is your stridency?

  34. Talking about stupid, has anyone counted how many times the terms “religious hogwash” and “stupid people” have now been repeated?  Has anyone noticed how many times it was repeated by BBC Trust’s comments?  Kind of, a few more times than necessary… maybe?  I think it was intentional.  Those who complain about being so terribly offended by such remarks end up having it amplified many times over.

    GOOD!  Keep it up all you offended ones!  It’s great entertainment.  You even act like stupid people who believe in religious hogwash!

  35. Well, an interviewer who made that assertion would clearly not be impartial, and under the current system would not be allowed. That leads to the question of whether the objective is false balance (nonsense vs sense in proportion to supporter noise), should be secularism in the original sense or something else.

  36. I’ve become a bit wary about calling people of faith stupid. Many of these people of faith are well educated and highly qualified so calling them stupid is at odds with that fact, and doesn’t help communications. What we can say is they are stupid if they base their behaviour on their faith, especially if it’s detrimental to themselves or others.
    In short, I think it’s better to say “that’s a stupid thing to do” rather than “you’re stupid”.
    Criticise the sin not the sinner.

  37. I can understand why you are wary, but I sense it’s not for the reasons you suggest. And you have my sympathy for being bemused by the educated and powerful who insist your mind real estate is submissive to their demands upon how you think and behave toward their general advantage and benefit. This is why they are essentially stupid – for promoting a fallacy as having unquestionable authority over all their subordinates 1) In terms of power and affluence, but especially 2) In terms of their intellectual currency claiming higher value.

    It is exactly the higher ups who deserve calling out as stupid! They – the promoters of lies as universal laws that garner powers worldwide!
    It needs calling out repeatedly as stupid, in the least , and bully – more accurately. They need to take full responsibility for hosting this consciousness that holds us all to account for having to register it as worthy of respect when in fact it is an impostor to how we all are permitted to think and address each other, not to mention their fundamental hidden agendas to promote and replace all alternatives to their way of thought controls – which most major belief systems covertly deceive us is representative of respectful morals. They are a sales pitch for intellectual deception and emotional abuse without relent – period!

  38.  

    Religious beliefs, pseudo-science, Creationists, Young-Earthers,
    flat-Earthers, anti-vaccination propagators, peddlers of lies should be called
    as Hogwash, as that is what it is. The call of offence is a tried tactic to
    endow unwarranted respect to an untenable, often ludicrous position. It is an
    effective tactic, often employed by the religious, and should be hotly contested.
    Respect has to be earned, it isn’t a human right.

    Anybody can call offence when
    their beliefs are challenged – it doesn’t make them right and if broadcasting
    hogwash, they should be called out on it. Personally, I may find Jeremy Paxman’s
    hairstyle offensive – who measures what is offensive, and what does it matter,
    unless it is beyond the bounds of normal human interaction, such as racism.
    Calling hogwash on ridiculous ideas isn’t offensive – it is a necessity!

    It isn’t a black and white subject; ignorance can be
    contested in a myriad of ways. Sometimes a Hitch-like put-down, a satirical
    sketch or a cartoon can be far more effective than hours of reasoned
    discussion. The rise of religious ignorance in American Presidential candidates
    wearing their ignorance as a badge of honour should be called as it is. The
    rise of Creationism should be called as the snake-oil it is. Peddling lies as
    truth in education should be called as it is.

    I do agree that many religious people are far from stupid.
    We have many stories on this site where reasoned discussion, strong arguments,
    keen knowledge, empathy to parties who may be accepting reason after a lifetime
    of religious indoctrination can pay dividends. They are many ex-theists who are
    valuable contributors on this website who have followed this route. There are
    also the Ken Ham type opaque God-gogglers who are utterly impervious to reason.
    You can never reason with them – you may as well talk to a cardboard-cut-out. They
    should be called out on their hogwash at every opportunity, as it is hogwash.

    So, yes, the argument that we should only use
    reason, and not use all the strings of our arrows to fight hogwash isn’t an argument
    that I subscribe to, although I am sympathetic to it. We should use every facet
    of our armoury to fight hogwash, as it is an alarming and growing phenomenon in
    the world. Personally, I find calling a spade a spade a highly effective technique,
    in some circumstances

  39.  mmurray, it makes perfect sense. You are ignoring my point that any given IQ applies not to an individual but to a group. So, before you count the number of individuals above and below, you have already removed that group from the reckoning, and the two remaining groups, above and below, added to each other, will total only the complete population MINUS that average group.
    Godzacon – curve or straight line, so what? The higher and lower groups cannot add up to the total, as I have explained above. This is sooo obvious.

  40.  

    Monika Magdalena Burbo
    Besides, even if I can
    accept that you see science as rather poetic, I consider that poetry
    comes from within the mind.

    This is confused nonsense!  While some science may feel poetic, it is a lot more rigorous than poetry in its description of the reality of nature, coming from objective odservation and testing.

    Of course/and when a mind dies, specific
    poetry dies too in which case science is useless.

    Perhaps you have never studied the works of Galileo, Newton, Pasteur, Darwin or Einstein, who BTW are all dead.  Only an utter ignoramus would describe their science as “useless”!

  41. Paxo, as he’s affectionally known in Blighty, is not afraid to speak truth to power, and should be left to his own devices; he didn’t go too far, he went exactly as far as was needed and no further, and we need more like him.

    Journalists of his calibre are rare and should be backed up by their editors and the suits, not abused as scapegoats.

    If a listener was offended tough, said listener has had her/his say and should now be quiet, go back to the comfort they so crave in their fairy tales for grown ups, and leave the more descriminating among the adult population in peace to enjoy the BBC for what it is – namely, the finest broadcasting organization in the world. 

    “Er, one is false and one is true!” Wonderful! Paxman’s face!

    Surely, this was broadcast ages ago.

  42.  Watch Paxman on University Challenge.  He’s often OTT amazed when students know answers to relatively simple scientific questions.  He’s hopeless at anything that involves science: a person who’s totally convinced that what clever people write down must be wonderful, regardless of evidence.  I think we call this ‘a man of letters’.

  43. I thought it was a rather even-handed review. The objectionable word, “stupid”, could have been omitted, but Paxman wasn’t talking about *all* religious people… just the ones who take Genesis literally, or believe Lot’s wife was really turned into a pillar of salt. Those people could fairly be described as “stupid”, though maybe “feeble-minded” or “credulous” might have sounded better. Anyone who believes the story about Mrs. Lot also has to believe that Lot’s two daughters committed pre-meditated drug-assisted incest with their father. Hmmm… inbreeding is a known contributing cause to intellectual deficit… maybe these people *are* descended from Lot. ^_^
    Steve

  44. Once again the commenters here show the world the superiority complex a lot of atheists seem to have. ‘I myself am the embodiment of truth, learning and rationality and I’ve read loads and loads of books and therefore I have seen through the nonsense believed by those detestable idiots with their comforting fairytales’.

    To continue believing this the angry atheist must firstly ignore the fact that the majority of the greatest thinkers to ever have lived have been religious (search for a ‘Greatest Atheists Ever’ list on the net and note how quickly deists and agnostics are roped in to pad out the numbers), and secondly ignore the fact that science can take us no further than agnosticism and go beyond the evidence while claiming to have done no such thing.

    While I am not personally in any way offended by the comments I would like to know what would have happened if Paxman, in a different interview, had referred to the ‘stupid people’ who support gay marriage or referred to the concept of gay marriage as ‘hogwash’. Is it even possible that more than one person may have claimed to have been offended?

    The truth as I see it is that intelligence has little to do with religious belief, clever people are just better at justifying their beliefs then less clever people. I know many atheists who couldn’t put up even a basic defence of their beliefs and many religious people too. As an agnostic I find the tone and language of many of the comments here as distasteful as I would if they were written in the opposite direction by religious people. Such certainty is always off-putting when it is clear that neither side is self-evidently right and childish name calling is always a sign that someone is insecure in their worldview.

    P.S. Religious parents passing on their beliefs to their children should not be classed as a crime (a claim made here distressingly often). This is a clear call for the government to have the power to arrest a person suspected of handing their child a bible or teaching the child moral principles based upon biblical teachings. Should this be allowed? Should a parent also be arrested for handing their child a copy of ‘The God Delusion’ or teaching their child moral principles based upon secular humanist teachings? My answer to both of these questions on reflection would have to be ‘no’.

  45. This is exactly why the BBC Trust was created by Anthony Blair and his cronies.

    Following the Gilligan affair (in which they were severely embarrassed because they were caught lying on an epic scale – epic, that is, even by the ‘standards’ of politicians), Blur set up the Hutton Inquiry to discredit the BBC’s editorial processes.

    Hutton’s job done, the road was clear to set up the BBC Trust in order to guarantee BBC News, current affairs and investigative reporting are all hampered by self-censorship, fear of the supervising Government watchdog and political correctness.

    Paxman is one of a few who still think the BBC hasn’t changed and is still a serious media organisation.  He’s learned a hard lesson.

    At the time, even though I thought it was great payback for the BBC’s largely long-term uncritical support for Blur, I can remember saying that Blur had struck another blow against free speech.

    Few organisations flourish more under conditions of censorship than religion.

    Have things improved under the ‘new’ Government?  No

  46. Why does an IQ apply to a group rather than an individual?  Usually an individual sets an IQ test and is assigned an IQ.  

    But I think I see what you are saying. You divide the population into three groups. One group containing people whose IQ is strictly less than the
    average, one group whose IQ is equal to the average and one group whose IQ is strictly greater than the average. Is that it ?

    So would you be happy with

    “It’s a fact that 50% of the world have IQ no better than average ? “

    Michael

  47. It may have escaped your notice but “taste” is hardly what gets millions of genitals incised this next year, or people killed for not wanting to become slaves to a set of delusions. Taste will not win any argument or sustain and maintain equality of thought for everyone. Logical fallacy is tasteless, unless you let it lie enough to you that you begin to respect is e.g. “God save… whomever you choose to select a mantra in support of.” It is not about whether it seems or feels hunky dory for the moment or the “community high”, but about the implications of lasting omnipresence it insists upon together with all the bureaucracy this drags along to be carried on the shoulders of the lower classes as polished ornaments to the minds of the ruling classes.

    Seeing this might well appear tasteless. Taste as been stolen by logical fallacy! 

  48. So some stupid people were offended. So what! I am offended every day by the antics and assertions of the religious. Five days a week my drive to work is punctuated with the religiobabble spewing from BBC R4 ‘Thought For The Day’. I am offended EVERY DAY by articles on the BBC News Website of murder, mayhem, intolerance, child rape and many other horrors perpetrated in the name of some god or other. Time for the religious to clean up their own act rather than trying to gag the voices of reason such as Dawkins and Paxman.

  49. It’s quite clear that Jeremy is an admirer of Richard and that as one of the sharpest journalists in TV.
    He is also probably an atheist.
    The irony is that if he were an obvious believer ;this piece of controversy would not exist.
    But then again he would probably be annoyed ,if his audience thought he believed in religious hogwash.

  50. @Relapsedatheist – As an agnostic I find the tone and language of many of the comments here as distasteful as I would if they were written in the opposite direction by religious people. Such certainty is always off-putting when it is clear that neither side is self-evidently right and childish name
    calling is always a sign that someone is insecure in their worldview.

    Are you serious?  You are agnostic about the OT Genesis story???? (to which the comments were addressed)

    Such certainty is always off-putting when it is clear that neither side is self-evidently right and childish name calling is always a sign that someone is insecure in their worldview.

    “Neither side is self-evidently right” – about OT Genesis????  Have you never heard of cosmology, astronomy, or geology? Are you uncertain about “tooth-fairies”?

    The recognition of childish fairy-tales is a sign of intellectual maturity, not insecurity! – Especially when those fairy-tales (as  Premiseless points out), are used as an excuse for causing physical and psychological harm to others.

    Are you sure you are not a relapsed theist?  You confuse stating facts, with “name calling”. You also assume a Xtian god and some merit in bible stories, whereas atheists disclaim all gods. – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L

  51. The same thing as the board of governors before it.

    Naive? Isn’t that what 9/11 truthers say when people disagree with their conspiracy theories? I’m not saying you’re wrong, just that I’ve seen no evidence.

    Further, which is worse: a publicly accountable, open board or an unaccountable board restricted only by the strict letter of the law and the requirement to create a profit? What I’m getting at is that you should be equally if not more concerned by the other media entities operating in the UK.

  52. It’s followed a similar pattern to the states: the centre right (which is still only a faction in Labour, not as dominant as amongst the Dems, I think) sets up legislation that their party won’t greatly abuse (just a bit, perhaps), but that can then be used by subsequent more right-wing administrations, who take it as the new “left-wing”, move to the right of it and use it without much restraint. I use left and right in the sense of “in the interests of the people” and “in the (self-perceived) interests of the business elite” here, rather than in the sense of the parties’ mythoi.

  53. The truth as I see it is that intelligence has little to do with religious belief

    I agree. Belief in salvation thru Jebus, or Mohammad, is an emotional attachment, which has been instilled in the person from a young age, by their parents, guardians, or close family members.

    We believe our parents when they tell us Santa Claus, the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny exist; however, we also believe our parents when they then tell us later in childhood that such things are childish, and do not exist.

    Unfortunately, parents fail to remind children the myths of their religion are just that.

  54. I recall recently hearing a neuroscientists mention there were more neuron permutations in a human brain than stars in the universe – or something of that order. 

    Obviously all humans are able then to secure a few intelligent solar systems therein. Some many!

    This in no way seems to resist certain individuals from hosting black holes filled with bullshit. 

    Whether you speak with a human brain ( which is essentially what we each do to each other) that is crammed with information or has difficulty locating it, what I find a distinction is how some are prone to reason with bullshit about major aspects of how they view other brains and the world in general , absent whatever other information they consider a temporary preoccupation to their bullshit.

    A universal equation tends to define itself to be part of the human brains existence: less bullshit – more reason; less bullshit – less theism.

    We see theism needs bullshit, but advertises sparkle, which you might sometimes see on a freshly produced dollop in bright sunshine – which is what children and the uneducated get caught blinded by.

    Even I don’t mind bullshit, it has its uses, but please not served up at breakfast and the evening meal on a rolling menu. That became my last supper long ago!

  55. If the Trust does the same thing as the former Watchdog, the Board of Governors, why was it changed?

    9/11 truthers believe things in the face of the evidence.  The BBC Trust is the conclusion of a long line of evidence – Iraq Survey Group, Kay, September Dossier, Gilligan, Kelly, Campbell, Hutton, Butler, Trust, Editorial Standards Committee.

    Lest we forget, there was a war somewhere in there – just a minor matter of a few tens of thousands of human lives.

    Whatever else we learned, we learned that all of the Government’s claims within the September Dossier have since proven to be false.  That is to say: Gilligan was right, the BBC were right to back him and the Butler Review has been exposed for what all the other media claimed since it published its ‘findings’ – it was a whitewash.

    We also learned that Government, according to commentators as diverse as The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph, not only conspires against its own citizens – to the extent that it will lie in order to send some to their deaths – but that Government will do anything in order to project, and to protect the legacy of, its propaganda.

    Have things changed?  The affair over Hunt and Murdoch has not yet run its full course – so let’s wait and see if any new evidence arises.  If the Gilligan affair is any guide we will have to wait a few years yet.  I am not hopeful.

    You claim that the BBC Trust is publicly accountable.  I can find no evidence for that.  It is, quite transparently, appointed by Government Ministers and accountable to no one formally (though being replaced in a job where one is expected to spend a few days a week for remuneration in excess of double the average salary creates interesting informal possibilities).  As such, the Trust is not as independent as the former Board.  Of course I may be wrong, Government Ministers may just pick names out of a hat …

    I saw the Leveson Inquiry, I know what you mean about other media entities.

    Part of the problem, of course, is now we have no truly independent BBC to defend free speech.  If Leveson goes the same way as Hutton … I fear for us all.

    Peace.

  56. I can only agree.  This seems to me to be a modern political problem.  Why is it that modern politicians are so bad at looking at the long-term consequences of their actions?

    Peace.

  57. Of course I don’t consider science useless.  Quite to the contrary in fact, but science can neither predict another Shakespeare nor prevent great poets, writers and artists from dying.

  58. poetry & science within family veins 
    Marie Curie Skłodowska

    Another Pole that reached the pole
    Of new discoveries making
    Was Marie Curie, you know,
    She was the other Pole.

    Reaching for heights till then bare,
    Though on a different scale,
    First she discovered the element ‘polonium’
    Following on with now known ‘radium’.

    For those she got two Nobel Prizes
    Never previously achieved by none.
    Her daughter also later got one
    As did her in-law son.

    She made a gift of it to Poles,
    Never forgetting her roots.
    My uncle it was who saved the gift
    By hiding it from Nazi boots.

    His name was Dyzio Zuberbier,
    Murdered in Katyn, you know.
    He worked on cancer wanting to cure
    People afflicted by stuff impure.

  59. Monika Magdalena Burbo
    Of course I don’t consider science useless.  Quite to the contrary in
    fact, but science can neither predict another Shakespeare nor prevent great poets, writers and artists from dying.

    I’m not sure what  “where poetry comes from?” or “if science feels like poetry?” has to do with this discussion, or the point of your anti science comments, but science/medicine, can certainly prevent writers and artists from dying – for a while at least, and can provide techniques and media to preserve, restore and represent their work from video – audio + archives etc. after their deaths.

    The poem about Marie Curie is a nice touch anyway.

  60. The CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) has been doing a series of radio broadcasts touting the value of prayer, “miracles” and other religious twaddle. I write them each time teasing, “What’s next astrology and homeopathy?”  I am offended, but surely that in itself should not be sufficient to shut them down. So why should someone offended when someone points out the lack of evidence for this nonsense have the power of censorship?

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