Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

I have been driven to radio 2 this morning by the blanket coverage of the Hillsbrough memorial on 5 live, and even radio 4. I have no wish to belittle what happened and I commend this article on the affair (ta Bob)but once again, the media has gone into overdrive and it is more than I can stand.

Radio 2 has got my goat as well though. Matthew Bannister is hosting a phone in about the huge hulking copper who assaulted a tiny, if vociferous, woman. Bannister is clearly on the side of the police and so are his guests, apart from a token appearance by a Liberty person. Everything seems to be, or appears to be. The woman was vociferous and berating him aggressively, he states, before pleading for the whole affair to be taken into context.

Watch the video. It show a young man approach the police line, very calmly and peacefully, the police refuse to allow him through, he argues his point, calmly, and is then shoved to the ground. There is some loud protest from the crowd, including the little lady and she gets a hefty backhander across the chops. Now, Bannister says that we should have sympathy for the copper, because he was being shouted at and it is reasonable for him to lose his rag, he then said that the woman became very aggressive. Well, if being shouted at is a reasonable basis to lose your rag, surely being smacked about the face by a bloke 3 times your size is reason enough to become irritated. The woman did lose her rag, and shouted at the copper, whereupon the baton came out and she was smashed about the legs.

I don't think the BBC showed balance here, the sympathy was definitely with the police. Which brings me to something that has been playing on my mind for a couple of months. The BBC as official state broadcaster. I had thought that the institution was supposed to be impartial, but over the last few months it has become the voice of the state to an extent that would have us all squealing like stuck pigs, if it was the Venezuelan state broadcaster or Iranian, or Korean.

5 live seems to be on a mission to glorify and beatify the armed forces. There have been several phone ins lately coming directly from army bases in which our boys have been afforded the status of heroes. They probably are heroes, and I have absolutely nothing against them; some of the programmes I have seen on the box of what they are dealing with in Afghanistan, have left me mute with admiration. But you know, why all the hagiography, why no questioning of what they are actually doing in Afghanistan and Iraq? It seems to me that these programmes have been little more than grubby attempts to use the heroic bravery of individual soldiers to deflect from the very unheroic actions of the state.

I have nothing against the police either, well, not much, anyway. I have cause to work with them quite often and most of them are fine people, with rare qualities of patience, empathy, good humour and fortitude. I have sympathy with them when the fine upstanding members of our football hooligan community spit and snarl at them and if one those fine fellows got a swift one across the jaw I would probably applaud. Bad bastards are bad bastards though and should not be protected.


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