Feb 29, 2012

Is the BBC coming close to calling me an extremist?

If an extremist is someone holding extreme views then 5Live presenter Peter Allen suggested last night that holding orthodox Christian values could well label you an extremist.

In a discussion about the Republican primaries being held in Arizona and Michegan conversation turned to the candidate Rick Santorum. Santorum is an orthodox Roman Catholic with conservative views on social policy eg. abortion and homosexuality.

The following is a transcript of the conversation last night between Peter Allen 5Live’s drive time presenter and British broadcaster Simon Conway who hosts the drive programme of Iowa’s WHO radio station (to listen click here and forward to 2 hours 41 minutes).

Peter Allen:  When you say he [Santorum]won’t stand any chance that’s because of what, some extreme views he’s got?

Simon Conway: He’s ultra-conservative and those social issues , which is what we refer to them here, would be played up by the Obama campaign in a 1 on 1 and I don’t’ think they would play well because just like in the UK it’s not the traditional conservative and labour voters who decide any election it’s the middle.

Peter Allen: Give us an example of the extreme views on social policies. What is it abortion and stuff like that?

Simon Conway: Abortion is something that does play in the middle here. It’s more about homosexuality his views are very extreme.

It seems to me an unavoidable conclusion that at least some BBC presenters are ready to label  Christian views as extreme (not conservative, not traditional but extreme) and it is a very small step indeed to describe someone holding extreme views an extremist.

What makes this language quite scary is that the BBC has advised its presenters NOT to speak of Abu Qatada as an extremist despite the Islamist Cleric having been described by a judge as ‘Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe’.

The Daily Telegraph reports:

BBC journalists were told they should not describe Qatada as an extremist. The guidance was issued at the BBC newsroom’s 9.00am editorial meeting yesterday, chaired by a senior manager, Andrew Roy.

According to notes of the meeting, seen by The Daily Telegraph, journalists were told: “Do not call him an extremist – we must call him a radical. Extremist implies a value judgment.”

Now Peter Allen’s description of Santorum may have been a one-off. Only time will tell as to whether Christians in this country will face the same charge of not just holding ‘extreme’ views but perhaps in time joining the number of those labelled ‘extremists’.

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