Saturday, May 14, 2011

BBC manages to make itself look silly, this time over Palestine

Claims of censorship and pro-Israeli bias are being dumped by the shedload outside Broadcasting House after 1Xtra cut a reference to Palestine in a Mic Righteous freestyle. MediaGuardian reports:

Mic Righteous, who was raised in Margate, was recorded saying: "I can still scream 'Free Palestine' for my pride, still pray for peace, still burn the Fed for the brutality they spread over the world. Pakistan's a[sic] ocean of bodies in the brown water still nobody helps."
The song was recorded for Charlie Sloth's late night hip-hop show on 4 December, but protests have been mounting since the performance was rebroadcast as part of a "best of" from the show on 30 April.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign on Wednesday posted a statement on its website urging listeners to write to the BBC and the Radio Times to complain, and to post their views on Sloth's 1Xtra home page.

Describing the edit as an "extraordinary act of censorship", the campaign asked why the BBC did not ban the song "Free Nelson Mandela" when it was released in 1984. At the time, Mandela was still considered a terrorist by many western governments.
Writing letters to Radio Times and muttering that they happily played Free Nelson Mandela when it was out? Is there anyone under 70 at the Palestine Solidarity Campaign? What will they do if this fails to get a reaction - a mass call-up to the Points Of View answerphone?

The BBC, of course, responded with a statement:
Sorry, everyone - yes, this is a bit silly; clearly what's happened her is that in the risk-averse environment at the BBC, someone has decided to err on the side of caution with the end result that a well-meaning attempt to not appear to be endorsing a political position has wound up making us look like we're taking sides. Sorry, we'll try to be a bit more analytical in future.
Sadly, that wasn't their statement. This was:
A BBC spokesperson said a late night music show was not considered an appropriate forum for political controversy.

The corporation explained its decision in a statement: "All BBC programmes have a responsibility to be impartial when dealing with controversial subjects and an edit was made to Mic Righteous' freestyle to ensure that impartiality was maintained."
A late night music show not an appropriate forum for political controversy? Isn't that the best place for airing music that deals with difficult subjects in difficult ways?