5 June 2011

Mail Online puts its fingers in its ears...

BBC executives rule most offensive word in English language is 'a good joke'  on the radio at 6.30pm

By Chris Hastings and Steve Farrell

Last updated at 11:27 PM on 4th June 2011

Continuing its incessant search for issues with which to bash the BBC, the Mail have once again come up with a corker!

"The BBC was at the centre of a new decency row last night after ruling that the most offensive word in English is acceptable for broadcast.
The Corporation decided that the word – most abhorrent to women – has lost much of its 'shock value' and is tolerable for radio and television.
An executive who cleared it for daytime transmission on flagship Radio 4 even said it would 'delight' many of its audience, who would 'love it’."

Having rummaged through my mental lexicon of the most indecent words filed in there over umpteen years of listening to the most colourful language ever uttered in a great variety of working environments and situations, I was surprised, nay shocked, to read that the BBC had allowed such a word through their sieve. 

Had the BBC been besieged by hordes of anguished complainants on hearing the expletive issuing forth from their radios? I read on:

"The BBC’s ruling is outlined in the rejection of a complaint from a member of the public, who took offence to a reference to the word on The News Quiz."

'A member of the public' - so, one person then? One!

"The Mail on Sunday feels it is necessary to the reporting of the story to repeat the joke, and apologises in advance for any offence caused.
Miss Toksvig said: 'It's the Tories who have put the 'n' into cuts.'"

At this point, I dissolved into a fit of almost uncontrolable laughter and disbelief. The Mail's cynical apology for having to fail print a word which was never spoken is ridiculous even by its own standards!

John Whittingdale MP
This abject apology is followed by a few words from John Whittingdale MP: 

"Obscene: John Whittingdale, chairman of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee, said the term is still offensive and should not have been broadcast"

As far as I can make out, despite all attempts by the Mail to give the opposite impression in this article, the term was not broadcast at all!
There is a growing public opinion that exposing the youngest members of society to inapropriate language and images is a bad thing and perhaps there is some justification for attempting to regulate what is available at times when they may be listening or viewing.
For the Mail to use this particular example, however, is disingenuous in the extreme. It has the whiff of desperation about it and seems to be more determined hammering of yet another nail into the lid of Auntie's coffin than any genuine disapproval. 
After all, while I was reading this article on the Mail Online site, six inches to the right were clearly visible images and text far more lascivious than Sandy Toksvig's joke. A tad hypocritical, perhaps, Mr. Dacre?