Saturday, 14 March 2009

Setting Yourself Up For An Epic Fail…

Chris Eakin had been discussing on air a story about a chimp at a zoo in Sweden which collects stones to throw at visitors.

He then asked: 'Can you see any likeness?' before handing back to 53-year-old Mr Alagiah, who is of Tamil descent.
Something Eakin had clearly forgotten, and so therefore included Alagiah in the usual banter between presenters, something he might have done to any colleague, say, perhaps one with sticky-out ears, or hairy arms.

And isn’t that what we should be aiming for? That race is no bar and is forgotten, as we all treat people equally, and tease them or banter with them as we would any other colleagues?

Sadly, that used to be the plan, before the race baiters and professionally aggrieved got involved:
The newsreader looked surprised by the remark before he tried to laugh off the attempted joke which followed a review of the newspapers at the end of a ten o'clock bulletin on the BBC News channel.

But Mr Eakin's quip - just over a month after Carol Thatcher was axed from a BBC show after referring offair to a black tennis player as a 'golliwog' - was criticised by a race equality spokesman and by the head of a media pressure group.
In other words, by people whose job demands that they have an opinion on this, irrespective of what Eakins meant, or how Alagiah might have felt…
John Beyer, director of Mediawatch UK, said: 'I think this clearly points to the fact that people have to be careful what they say’.
No, it doesn’t. And no, they do not.
TUC race equality officer Wilf Sullivan added: 'Even if it was a light-hearted piece this is supposed to be a serious news programme. Because there is this anti-political correctness thing going on at the moment people seem to have got the idea they can say or do anything.

'If he was doing it in a way to refer to George then it would be a bit out of order.'
People should be able to say ‘anything’ (provided it does not fall within the ‘inciting violence’ category or break broadcasting guidelines).

And this is rightly not considered a gripping issue across the nation – yet. Though I’m sure if the likes of Wilf and John get their way, it’ll be the new ‘Gollygate’:
The BBC said it had received only one complaint about the comment which aired at 10.25pm on Monday.
You might think it odd that they haven’t received three, mightn’t you?

That’s because the likes of Wilf and John don’t write letters to the BBC, it wouldn’t get them what they crave – publicity and a chance to advance their cause, that of being paid to police language on behalf of everyone else.
Mr Eakin said: 'This was a light-hearted comment with absolutely no other intended overtones and I know that George did not interpret it as anything other than that.

'George and I are old friends and I would be horrified if anyone has interpreted this in any other way and I regret if I have unintentionally caused any offence.'
Nicely done, Mr Eakin. You could have left off the ‘regret if I have unintentionally caused offence’ bit and pointed out that you are not responsible for people purposely misinterpreting your words, though.

But you are ill-served by your ‘old friend’:
Mr Alagiah said: 'Chris Eakin has spoken to me privately and I have accepted his apology.

'He fell into one of those pitfalls of live TV - the banter that goes horribly wrong. I think it was unfortunate and inappropriate and I can see why it may have troubled some people watching the programme.'
Why did you accept his apology, George? What did he have to apologise for?

And why do you concern yourself with the people who claim to be ‘troubled’ by the remark? Surely you are not so dumb as to think their feigned outrage is genuine?

But then, George is toeing the company line, rather than supporting his ‘old friend’:
A BBC spokesman said: 'It was an inappropriate remark that shouldn't have been made. We have accepted the explanation given by Chris and he has reassured us that it will not happen again.

'We are very clear presenters should not make remarks that could be misinterpreted and BBC News apologises for any offence that may have been caused.'
Congratulations, BBC News. You’ve now placed yourself squarely in the hands of the hostage takers.

How, in the name of God, are presenters supposed to ensure that they ‘do not make remarks that could be misinterpreted’ when there are people out there whose sole job and reason to get up in the morning is to misinterpret things for publicity and political gain…?

This subject has been touched on recently across the pond over political commentator Rush Limburgh’s comments over Obama, sparking an all-out blogger’s war, and uberblogger Jeff Goldstein at ‘protein wisdom’ has been leading the charge to take possession of the intent of a statement back from those who would gleefully misinterpret it for their own ends, and place it firmly in the hands of the person who made it in the first place.

In this post he accurately sums up the situation:
“Because make no mistake: the current view of how speech and interpretation works necessarily results in meaning being nothing more than a function of power.”
Wilf and John have been allowed to wield that power, abetted by the media and the likes of George Alagiah, who go along with the ‘offence’ line without heed to the damage they cause.

Chris Eakin needs to pick better ‘friends’ in future…

7 comments:

Angry Exile said...

What the fuck does the TUC need a race equality officer for? To pronounce on things that have got fuck all to do with the TUC? That helps industrial relations and ordinary members how? Just another professional offence taker if you ask me.

Dr Melvin T Gray said...

Subtle enough to amuse the chimp, the unfortunate omission in repartee was resemblance of the former's IQ with that of racist ex cop. Great fodder for the stable of BBC guardians.

Rob said...

"What the fuck does the TUC need a race equality officer for?"

More bows in their quiver of victimhood. Or perhaps guilt for those days when trade unions and trade unionists were brutally racist to non-whites.

NickM said...

I know. It's balls.

Geordies used to lambast former Sunderland manager Peter Reid for looking like a monkey. The racist horror of it!

Except Peter Reid is white.

He really does look like a monkey though.

ranter said...

I too was 'disappointed' to read George's reply, but I guess I will have to 'manage' that myself. The trouble I fear is that had he laughed it off he could have been accused of encouraging not very nice behaviour to the 'Big Eared' community e.g 'Dumbo' and 'FA Cup head' - people can be so cruel. NickM beat me to it as there really are some people who do look like monkeys, low foreheads, monobrowed and overly hirsute and they aren't 'black' - I used to work with a chap who was universally referred to as 'chimp boy' - although not to his face....I think, although I'm sure he knew his nickname - another 'community I guess? Modern life is such a minefiled isn't it, theank the lord we have peopl actively helping us from not stepping on them!

Oldrightie said...

The C4 news reader last night had a pile of stones by his side!

Queen Kong said...

There are some horrible hairless apes with no climbing ability who superficially resemble chimps and I, for one, am fed up with being likened to them.

That David Attenborough is bit of allright, though. He can come and film with me any time he likes. Lovely dreamy eyes.