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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’.

Jan 6, 2012

Does bias at the BBC means your money is promoting assisted suicide?

The very first item of news on the BBC 5live breakfast programme yesterday morning was ‘Experts say patients with less than a year to live should be given help to die at home.’

So important was the news that the item was given the prime-time slot after the 8am news (listen in at 2hrs and 6 minutes) and was later a major focus on the Victoria Derbyshire show in which she interviewed Lord Falconer the chair of a ‘Commission on Assisted Dying’.

So who was interviewed, what views were put forward and how should we assess the BBC’s coverage?

For some inexplicable reason the BBC decided that rather than interview a member of the panel who supported its conclusion alongside one of the many voices opposed to its conclusion it would instead simply interview two members of the panel in support.

Nor did the BBC even decide to include in the interview the one and only member of the commission, Reverend Canon Dr. James Woodward, who did not support its conclusion  (unlike the Channel 4 7pm news later in the day).

Rachel Burden although making reference to opponents to a change in the law on assisted suicide  failed to highlight just how widespread that opposition really is.

Peter Saunders CEO of Christian Medical Fellowship has written extensively drawing attention to much that the BBC failed miserably to reveal.

You might think that listeners would like to have known a number of facts about the commission exposed by Dr. Saunders and yet not raised by Ms. Burden in the interview. For example wouldn’t it have been helpful to know that;

1. ‘Nine of the twelve members, handpicked by Falconer, are already known to favour a change in the law, including all four parliamentarians and all four doctors

That might have been especially pertinent when Penny Mordant MP (a member of the panel) was allowed to get away with stating in the interview ‘Members of the panel – many of them are very sceptical’ and further that the panel held ‘a very wide range of views.’

2. ‘46 individuals and 40 organisations who were invited to give evidence to the commission refused to do so.’

3. ‘all the major disability rights organisations in the UK (RADAR, UKDPC, NCIL, SCOPE, Not Dead Yet) oppose a change in the law.’

4. ‘The British Medical Association opposes a change in the law.’

5. ‘95% of Palliative Medicine Specialists are opposed to a change in the law

Instead the best we got from Rachel Burden was just one question about where the funding came from and therefore whether it was truly independent.

On the basis of the cross-examination of the two commissioners offered by the BBC it was impossible to arrive at a fair and unbiased assessment of the issues surrounding both the commission itself and the views of the wider medical profession.


Dec 27, 2011

When God is gone who do we worship? ‘Dr. Who’ reports the Guardian

Stephen Kelly, in an article entitled Does Dr. Who feature a god for our times assesses how a country that has turned its back on its God(s) resorts to making up new ones.

The article concludes

And that’s just it, isn’t it? In the absence of an interventionist God, people simply make their own. After all, when presented with such an abyss, you fill it with whatever you can. Even if that does happen to mean someone who now thinks bow-ties are cool.

As GK Chesterton once said

For when we cease to worship God, we do not worship nothing, we worship anything.

Nov 29, 2011

Gary Speed’s suicide – a death that defies comprehension

Every suicide is a tragedy but some suicides defy comprehension.

The overwhelming sentiment of those who knew the Wales football manager Gary Speed has been shock and disbelief alongside sadness and tears.  That someone at the top of their profession, surrounded by a loving family and carrying an outstanding reputation could decide that his life (for what reason we don’t know) was not worth living is beyond comprehension.

It is a blessing that few people make a decision to end their lives in such heartbreaking ways. But Speed’s death highlights a number of painful, but important truths.

1. No one is immune from suicidal thoughts

One friend of Speed’s commented:

That this should happen is just unthinkable because everyone you knew, in any walk of life, in any situation, you would have to say he would have been the last one you might have thought could have done something like this.

2. Not even everything you could want in life, a loving family, material security, success or fame protects you from inner turmoil with is much more about who you are than what you have.

3. It is possible to keep dark feelings completely hidden.

Behind the disbelief is the frightening thought that someone can battle with suicidal thoughts deep within their souls and yet present no suggestion of it in the way they relate to those around them.

Some people prefer to battle these things entirely on their own. They learn to cope with these feelings whilst unable or unwilling to communicate their despair to the world.

James Lawton writing in the Independent noted:

In all his time as a notably undemonstrative, but deeply respected member of his celebrated trade, Gary Speed seldom, if ever, gave a hint of vulnerability.

4. Friends blame themselves that they didn’t see it coming.

The testimony of those close to suicide victims is that it is inevitable that they should look back over previous meetings and conversations and think should I have spotted that something was wrong. Friends and family think they should and could have done more, maybe made themselves more available or offered better support. The sad reality is that so often in such situations there is little that anyone can do to predict the unpredictable.

Alan Shearer said it all when he said of Speed’s death ‘this just doesn’t happen to your best mate’.

5. It is extremely difficult to accept that such a thing can happen.

Howard Wilkinson, his manager when he won the Football League with Leeds United said:

For him – at 42 – to leave us is such a tragic loss. I’ve rarely come across a better balanced, lovely, genuine person. He was a terrific player – not as gifted as some but he made the most of everything he had. Worst of all for me I knew his parents, in particular his dad, his lovely wife and family – I just find it very, very difficult to come to terms with.


Speed’s death came just a day before the announcement yesterday afternoon of the winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award for 2011.  It was awarded to Ronald Reng for his biography ‘A Life Too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke‘ the German national goalkeeper who committed suicide in 2009.


Oct 4, 2011

Wow! Daily Mail publishes ‘Amanda Knox GUILTY’ story in error

Malcolm Coles on his blog highlights this extra0rdinary reporting of the Amanda Knox case.

When the Judge read out the verdict at the Amanda Knox trial later last night he began by finding her guilty of less charges before acquitting her of the murder of Meredith Kercher. However, on hearing the word ‘guilty’ from the mouth of the Judge the Daily Mail published this pre-written on-line article.

The article is complete with invented quotes from Prosecuting lawyers!

The moral of this tale, as if you didn’t know, don’t believe everything written bythe papers.

With thanks to The Alethiophile for pointing me to the story.

Oct 3, 2011

What excuse at the BBC for its silence on the fate of Iranian Pastor sentenced to death?

Update: Seems that the BBC do have something to say after all – it’s just that the BBC can’t spell his name correctly and that their search engine isn’t very sophisticated.

How is it possible that a search of the BBC News’ website should return ‘no matches’ when I searched this morning for news of the fate of Iranian pastor Yousef Nadarkhani. How is it possible that obsessed as the BBC is with the fate of Amanda Knox, et al., it has nothing to say or report on a man who has been sentenced to death for the crime of becoming a Christian in a Muslim country?

Visit the Sky News website and you will find up to date news. Search the Guardian, the Times, and this excellent post on New Statesman site for detailed coverage. But for some inexplicable reason the BBC is silent on this human rights story.

Sep 25, 2011

The Christians who hit hard and then thank God

Of the numerous articles, publications and pictures about the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand here are three of interest and inspiration to Christians.

1) Euan Murray, who plays for Scotland on his decision not to play on Sundays.

2) ‘Godzone': Rugby-themed Gospel produced by TSCF

A gospel of Luke, ‘interspersed within the book are a ten testimonies of high profile rugby players from around the world – Brad Thorn (current All Black), Deacon Manu (current Fiji Captain), Euan Murray (current Scotland player), Jason Robinson & Nick Farr-Jones (World Cup winners), Doris Taufateau (NZ Black Ferns World Cup winner), David Pocock & Sekope Kepu (current Australia players), Pierre Spies & Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira (current SA players)’.


3) A photo (courtesy of England’s Andy Gomarsall) of Fijian and Somoan players huddling together for prayer after their match.


Sep 11, 2011

How robots learned to argue from humans!

The art of conversation: How robots learned to talk to one another based on what they learned from us! Makes you think.


Thanks to Paul Harrison for the link.

Aug 18, 2011

The 52 stone woman killing herself for fame

An extraordinary story of a mother who is aiming to become the heaviest woman ever to live by deliberately risking her life and the welfare of her children. Fame at any price?

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