Guilty Without Association

I don’t like the views of the British National Party. In fact, I find many of their views reprehensible.

In fact, the only thing as bad as the BNP is the persecution of BNP members.

There has been a leak of the BNP’s membership list and it has been published online. It included names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, and in some cases employment. This will put jobs at risk due to political affiliation.

The place of the BNP in British politics is a bit like that of Communists in 1950s America. It is the forbidden party. Because of that, witch hunts are allowed.

Police officers who are members of the party can be sacked from their jobs.  As revealed by the Daily Mail, they can commit crimes while employed by the police (including benefit fraud, gun crimes, drug crimes, assault and theft) and keep their jobs. This is not seen as being incompatable with their job. They are protected by Government rules called Police and Misconduct Regulations which treats them differently form the general public. However, being a member of the BNP conflicts with the force’s duty to promote race equality and that means they can be summarily dismissed.

Stuart Janaway was with the Greater Manchester Police for 14 years, until last month. There’s no indication he was anything but a good cop. That was until he was accused of wearing a BNP badge at an England football match. Well, it wasn’t actually a BNP badge, but it was also worn by BNP members.

Janaway is not and has never been a member of the BNP, but that doesn’t matter. In fact, the BBC, the Mirror, nor Manchester Evening News’ main outlet bothered to mention that bit. Some outlets ran the story with a picture of an actual BNP candidate badge (every candidate for Parliament wears a party badge during the announcing of the election results), implying that this is what Janaway was wearing. To find out that Janaway isn’t a member of the BNP, you actually have to go to the MEN-published Asian News. In a surprisingly sympathetic approach, the Asian News noted:

A police spokesman said there was no evidence that he was a member of the BNP.

Acting Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney, head of the Professional Standards Branch, said: “The Chief Constable’s Order of 2004 makes it clear officers are banned from being members of the BNP. This requirement extends into the private lives of officers.

“All officers and staff are aware that non-compliance will likely result in dismissal. The officer failed to live up to the high standards we demand.”

One source said: “The swiftness with which this matter was dealt with indicates that GMP will not tolerate such breach of police regulations.”

In 1998 Mr Janaway hit the headlines when he helped treat a shooting victim. He also saved a number people intent on committing suicide.

That’s right, the police said both that there was no evidence he was a member of the BNP, but that since officers are banned from being members of the BNP, being off-duty and wearing an emblem sometimes also worn by members of the BNP resulted in his swift dismissal and the loss of his pension.

In fact, it wasn’t even a police officer who reported seeing Janaway wearing the badge. It was a member of the public who had a grudge against him. Something even scarier? As another police officer noted, how did the police get a search warrant for Janaway’s house because of something that did not constitute a criminal offence?

Is it any surprise that the BNP are a little angry the personal information of their members has been published?

The Price of Profanity

While Americans are focused on the run-up to the General Election, Brits are in a frenzy over a late night prank on BBC Radio 2. Now you might think that put in perspective, the Russell Brand/Jonathan Ross scandal is insignificant. Perhaps it is. But in and of itself, it is quite significant.

There are a significant number of people who think it is much ado about nothing. They argue that only two people complained when the broadcast went out and that it was only the national media outlets that have churned up the froth. Listeners to the more youth-oriented Radio 1 appear to be mostly in support of Brand and Ross. It says a lot about Radio 1 listeners that they have found the abusive and obscene phone calls to 78-year-old Andrew Sachs amusing.

For those blissfully unaware, Brand and Ross placed four telephone calls to the actor whose most famous role was as Manuel on Fawlty Towers. Using the crudest language, they describe how Brand had slept with Sach’s granddaughter. They also joked that Sachs might kill himself. That’s the bit that made the pre-recorded broadcast. Senior producers who signed off on it, actually cut fouteen lines of the dialogue. Sensitive readers might not want to click here for a transcript of what was said.

To draw an American analogy, it was basically like a Howard Stern routine with all of the obscenity explicit rather than implied. The other difference is that it was funded by license payers – in other words, everyone who owns a television. Television viewer pay for all of BBC Radio, with our forced £139.50 per year charged by the government (or fines of up to £1000 for failure to pay, and roaming enforcement vans with electronic spying equipment to catch offenders). If you had to pay $240 a year for other people to listen to Howard Stern say things for which he would be fined by the FCC, you might have something to say as well.

Jonathan Ross is the highest paid performer at the BBC, getting £6 million per year for crude and juvenile humour. When over 2,000 job cuts were announced at BBC News soon after he sealed his £18 million three-year deal, Ross openy boasted that he was worth more than 1,000 journalists. Russell Brand was on a mere £200,000 for an act that is entirey based on graphic details of his sexual exploits and proclivities.

Those who support Ross and Brand believe that entertainment, and particularly language, should have no boundaries – that there is nothing actually indecent. Well, you can’t say anything about Muslims, but other than that, everything is fair game. (And the whole Muslim thing is driven by fear rather than decency.)  Worse than that, it is a philosophy that anything that gets a laugh is acceptable regardless of who is hurts or offends.

Will the resignation of Russell Brand and the £1 million discipline of Jonathan Ross change the face of entertainment? No. Willing the BBC become a more decent place? Perhaps for a time, while everyone holds their breath waiting for the furore to settle. Sadly, I think that the values that underpin the glorfication of profanity are well entrenched, particularly amongst the young, and this creates a vicious cycle. The media panders to the profane and the profane become evermore acceptable, creating a greater appetite for it in entertainment.

The Prince of Darkness and the Unaccountable Media Bias

Anyone who has been watching media coverage of the US Presidential election can hardly have missed that any misstep by the Republicans is amplified and that of the Democrats is minimalised. Right now, with Obama leading in the polls, Katie Couric (who I watch most nights) is almost bursting with enthusiasm and joy.

Things are not much different here in the UK. George Osbourne, the Shadow Chancellor (Opposition spokesman on treasury matters) once attended a party given by rich Russian businessman on his really big yacht. He didn’t ask for a donation to the Conservative Party and he did not receive one. As a result, the BBC and other media outlets have been running this story non-stop. They are almost urging people to call for his ouster.

On the other hand, the sleaze-ridden twice-resigned and twice-rehabilitated Prince of Darkness, Peter Mandelson, back in the cabinet again, has now admitted that he lied about when he also met with the same Russian oligarch. He had previously said he met Oleg Deripaska, merely in a social context, in 2006 and 2007. Or as he finally had to admit, “During the weekend when I moved from Brussels to London and prior to me being admitted to hospital for an urgent medical procedure, a statement was released to the press which said I had had meetings with Mr Deripaska in 2006 and 2007.  Some people formed the reasonable view, therefore, that my first meeting with him was in 2006. This is not the case: To the best of my recollection we first met in 2004 and I met him several times subsequently.”

It also just happened that Deripaska’s aluminium business made huge profits because Mandelson, as European Trade Commissioner, cut back the import duties in 2005. Deripaska owns the largest aluminium producer in the world, UC Rusal.

But it’s not Mandelson, a member of the Government, that is being pressured to resign again, it is a front bencher in the not-so-Conservative Party. As David Cameron, the Leader of the Opposition, said, this must be the first financial scandal where there weren’t any finances involved. In fact, it is not even illegal to solicit political donations from foreigners (something both Mr Osborne and Mr Deripaska agree didn’t happen), it is only illegal to accept them (something the Tories didn’t do).

And it would seem that the only one in a position to start the allegations against Mr Osborne was someone else who was at the party, namely, Lord Mandelson. This would be the same Lord Mandelson that was recently attacked by George Osborne for his ties to Deripaska. Mandelson’s approach seems to be, “Attack me for my long-time relationship to a dodgy Russian tycoon and not only will I lie about it, I’ll say you were the one doing a dodgy deal.”

And unsurprisingly the BBC and print media have go along with it. They ignore the fact that Mandelson has fallen from power in a Government that has made it very difficult to fall from power in two separate financial scandals. They turn on the otherwise squeaky clean George Osborne.

It is as if the BBC is playing a game. Someone has decided that they will continue to report on this long enough and often enough that the Tories have to say something to deny it and then report the denial long enough and often enough until people figure there must be something to it, or the Tories wouldn’t keep denying it.

At Least They Admit It

The BBC admits that they treat Islam different than Christianity. The Director General of Britain’s public broacaster says that it is because they are a religious minority. What he means is that it is because if you were to make jokes about imams like the Beeb makes jokes about vicars, every one of the corporations executives and public figures would have to live in fear of their lives.

Can you imagine what would happen if they allowed a production about Muhammad like the live broadcast on BBC2 of Jerry Springer – the Opera, in which Jesus is part of a dysfunctional family, dresses as a baby and poos himself? The BBC Television Centre would be levelled.  The 2001 IRA bombing of the building would look completely amateur in comparison. This eggshell approach just another example of how terrorism is effective.

Mark Thompson has said that programmes criticising Islam would be broadcast if they of a good enough quality. It’s a shame the same standard doesn’t apply to Christianity.

Disconnected from Reality

Last night’s series finale of Doctor Who featured the Doctor’s mobile telephone number, used by various other characters in the episode to contact him in the TARDIS while they are all in the process of saving the world. (If you haven’t seen the episode, don’t worry, this isn’t a spoiler – every Doctor Who finale involves saving the world.)

The Mail on Sunday has revealed that there are a lot of angry fans out there. When the number (07700 900461, if you are curious) was shown records show more than 2,500 tried to call the Doctor. In the TARDIS. After all, reasoned (if it can be called that) one angry fan on the BBC website, “Grrr – I phoned the Doctor’s phone number but there was just an annoying network message. What’s the point in showing a phone number if you’re not gonna use it?!”

Never mind that phone numbers beginning with 077009 are the equivalent of the 555 numbers used when films and TV shows are set in the US. There are just some people who have a complete disconnect from reality.

These same people are going to be very disappointed when they make a teleport vest like the one worn by Martha Jones and can’t get it to work, even with the base code oscillating between 4 and 9.

Enough is Enough

So while the Catholics are baptising the children of unrepentant, flagrant fornicators, the Anglicans have a whole other thing going on. At least this is in the news.

The Anglican Communion has been split in two like the veil in front of the Holy of Holies. I can’t believe it has taken so long to happen. There have been ruptures and breakaway groups and flying bishops, both across diocesan lines in England and across intercontinental lines in America. Now we are talking about at least half of the Communion saying enough is enough.

They are finally having the testicular fortitude and intellectual honesty to start referring to a false gospel.

Robert Pigott, religion correspondent for the BBC, gets it. The rift is not about homosexuality.

In reality, the dispute centres on how strictly Anglicans should interpret the Bible, and whether, for example, it should be read as ruling out active homosexuality as a sin.

Homosexuality is simply the presenting issue – the human behaviour that exposes radically different approaches to the Bible, and helps to make this such a fundamental dispute.

It is not coincidental that the same bishops who are promoting the normalisation of gay “marriage” are also the ones who don’t believe in the Resurrection or the exclusive claims of the Gospel. After all, the Presiding Bishopette of the Episcopal Church doesn’t believe that Jesus is the only way to salvation. She’s echoed by Bishop Marc Andrus of California, who told the BBC,

The only need is that which St Paul expressed, that each of us should be ready to give witness to the faith that is within us. St Paul saw no need to seek to convert, but simply to make clear the origins and the dimensions of one’s own faith. God leads each of us in the spiritual path that leads to communion with the Divine.

So Jesus, whoever he might be to you, is a way, a truth, and a life, but everyone comes to the Father (or Mother, or whatever God or Goddess is to you) using the path of their own choosing. The Bible does talk about taking a path of our own choosing.

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.

The BBC Version of the Bible

They made up their own version of the Passion, so now the BBC has decided they will re-write the Bible.

Well, not the whole Bible. They are going to dramatise what they consider to be the most important stories. According to reports in the Daily Mail, these will include Cain and Abel, Noah, Joseph’s coat of many colours, Samson and Delilah and David and Goliath. Other that those, I’m not sure what other stories the BBC considers important. It’s going to be a six-hour mini-series.

And if they can exonerate Pilate and Judas, how will they re-cast the Old Testament? It wasn’t Cain’s fault for killing Abel. It was his upbringing. And Delilah was an empowered woman – a proto-feminist. And Goliath was only upset because people made fun of his size. We need to understand the causes of bullying. And that whole war? The Philistines were only seeking a two-state solution, after all.

I only hope it isn’t a boring as the The Passion, so I can stand to watch how badly they’ve handled it.