In the last 30 seconds or so, I’ve had a quick check of the ‘blog stats’ for those several recent postings that have concerned themselves with the BBC’s increasingly naked pro-Tory bias: in case you’re wondering, I can reveal that the most-read posting at this particular moment is the third in the sequence labelled ‘Tory! Tory! Tory!‘ — with a grand total of 33,322 views.
(Oops! There have now been a few more! Revised current total: 33,327 views…)
(Oh, wait: now it’s 33,334 views…)
With such an immense number of eyeballs staring at such a huge number of screens, it’s probably inevitable that some of the messages I’ve received in response are both insulting and vapid — all the more so when one remembers that what is under discussion is a behemoth like the BBC: an organisation whose size, history and ostensible function lend it something of a familial and even parental quality in many people’s minds — and thus make ‘Auntie'(!) a psychologically potent force within their own personal psychic struggle. Several of these somewhat disappointing messages I have saved up so I can respond to them in a single posting; one of them I want to address here.
It was sent by someone whose identity was concealed, but who very plainly didn’t like the posting that appeared as ‘Out. Of. Control.‘ — you remember, the one that was mostly a screenshot of a new BBC pamphlet which revealed that, as of May 2017, the Corporation reserves the right to grass you up to your employer if it finds you engaging in certain behaviours. Here’s the most
printable relevant part of the message I received:
“… and by the way its [sic] you that’s Out Of Control, obsessed with the BBC. Why shouldn’t the BBC tell a boss that their employee is using a work computer or internet to post illegal or libellous material[?]”
In reply to this reply, I want to make several points that require a good deal of detailed discussion; but here is a quick one to start us off…
Note that what we see in that bit of message is the extraordinary spectacle of someone riding into battle in order to defend a reduction in their own liberty. No, I’ve no idea at all why some people are so constituted that there’s hardly any sort of authoritarian crack-down, any kind of elite power-grab that they won’t attempt to justify to themselves and to others. I’m perfectly aware, of course, that a dog that never moves away from the peg isn’t particularly concerned about the length of the chain; but not even the most pitifully obedient mutt will behave as if the chain’s losing a few more of its links represents some kind of blow struck for freedom and good sense.
But are we really talking about a reduction in freedom, a shortening of the chain? Yes, we are. Let’s see why — by looking at my original graphic more closely…
See the words ‘objectionable content‘ and ‘disruptive behaviour‘? The problem with such terms is not only that they refer to things that are entirely in the eye of the beholder, but also that they possess an inherently inflationary quality: where what is sought is increase in power and control — and the BBC certainly isn’t interested in the opposite! — ‘magnification of offence’ is an endlessly maintained tendency, with the inevitable result being that more and more types of content and behaviour are deemed more and more objectionable and disruptive…
This issue is one that could hardly be more relevant in the case of an Establishment-serving institution like the BBC: since its unceasing promulgation of propaganda narratives that serve elite power and wealth means that every single BBC news broadcast and web-page will inevitably be pretending that some fictions are facts, and that some facts are non-existent, a perennial need to suppress contradictory information and conflicting interpretations will mean that any tool at all that can be used to silence non-approved voices will be used for that precise purpose.
Nor is it even the case that issues of mere, sheer ‘factuality’ will be at the centre of this process. For, as has been made abundantly clear elsewhere in the power-serving media (not least in the famously outrageous behaviour of The Guardian‘s comment moderators), the principal ‘justification’ given for intervention and control will be a supposed need to shield the public from ‘hate-speech’ and ‘language that violates community standards’.
As far as this kind of justification is concerned, it has always seemed to me to be exceedingly unfair to demand that those whose views and facts — and even lives — are marginalised out of ‘mainstream’ sight should nevertheless be required to address the marginalising mechanisms of state-corporate media in terms free from all trace of what would be an entirely understandable rage. The absolute contempt that I myself feel for, say, Jeremy Bowen and Lyse Doucet — two of the BBC’s highest-ranking journalist-impersonators — makes it impossible for me even to imagine addressing them in a way that wouldn’t violate a ‘community standard’ or two: consider what must be the scale of the difficulty facing someone who actually has a first-hand, personal understanding of the Palestinian or Syrian suffering that these two servants of Western state power misrepresent so disgracefully.
And just in case anyone might be so charmingly naive as to think that ‘public feedback’ will be read and considered far more carefully if it is couched in respectful, forelock-tugging terms free from anger and profanity, let me share with you one of the best-kept secrets in all of state-corporate media. As the unfailingly polite folks over at Media Lens discovered quite a few years ago, it doesn’t matter in the slightest how gentle is the language in which you phrase your ‘Comment’, or how respectfully civilised are the terms in which you address that Important BBC Journalist: no-one will ever be interested in hearing from you. (Do you really think that, now that such people as the atrocious Laura Kuenssberg and the appalling Nick Robinson have kicked and elbowed (and grovelled, and fawned…) their way to these elevated media positions, they want to be dealing with a load of back-talk from dirt like you? Do you? Do you really…?)
What is more, it really should not fall to me to reveal that the oh-so-sensitive, ultra-liberal BBC is, in fact, one of the nation’s major purveyors of ‘hate speech’ — only, our state broadcaster takes care never to preach hate against anyone who isn’t currently obstructing the Western neo-imperial project or/and being lined up for a dose of Western or Western-sponsored military violence. A yob who whips up hatred against an immigrant family to the point that every neighbour feels quiet satisfaction when the house finally has its windows smashed will go to jail, and deservedly so. But a BBC whose endless repetition of counter-factual talking-points and evidence-free accusations has the UK population nodding smugly as hi-tech missiles are fired into crowded cities gets away scot-free every time…
Not that foreign leaders and far-away countries are the only targets of the BBC’s manipulative hate-speech: a major part of the operation is the purely domestic ‘sneer and smear’ campaign designed to keep UK politics on the kind of neoliberal course that concentrated private wealth desires. And thus it is that — as I type these very paragraphs! — a message crosses my screen telling me that, just a few hours ago, the nauseating BBC trusty Mark Mardell spoke about the twice-elected leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition in the following terms:
One cynic told me: “Expectations are so low, if Corbyn turns up and doesn’t soil himself, it’s a success…” (iPlayer recording here: jump to 35’19”)
I take it — perhaps unwisely! — that I need not enlarge upon the utter illegitimacy of this kind of material within the ostensibly ‘serious’ and ‘objective’ pseudo-journalistic context of Radio 4’s The World This Weekend. I will, however, remind every reader that there would be no possibility whatsoever of such a crack — destructive, insulting, untraceably anonymous — ever being broadcast in connection with, say, the Foreign Secretary who, only the other day, blathered witlessly about alcohol exports while in a Sikh temple, or the Prime Minister who, during an appearance in Wales, managed to talk about the need for Britain to ‘lead the world in preventing tourism [sic]’ — and then, three days later, speaking at Clay Cross in Derbyshire, revealed that she didn’t even know the name of the town she was visiting…
Which brings me to the bit where that BBC document warns you about the way it may ‘inform relevant third parties such as your employer‘ about what you have said and done online. My power-serving correspondent happily assumed that such an action would be justified by some supposed need to tell an employer that their computer facilities were being used to libel someone; but if that’s a realistic assumption, where is the list of all the companies that have been hammered in court because a known and named individual on their staff posted illegal or defamatory material from an in-house email or internet account…? To punish an innocent company in such circumstances would make literally as much sense as prosecuting the Royal Mail because someone who wrote an actionably threatening or defamatory letter had stuck a stamp on the envelope. Or, to put it another way, never in the history of law-enforcement has there been a post-sentencing meeting at which someone in the triumphant legal team said ‘You know, the one thing that went wrong was that no-one told the guy’s employers before he was arrested and charged…’ For the fact is that, if someone’s actions appear to be ‘in breach of applicable laws’ in some way that justifies an investigation by law-enforcement agencies, it is up to the police and the courts to decide who needs to be informed, not some media organisation, however pompous, bloated, dishonest and eager to serve as an arm of state power.
No, the reason that the BBC wants you to know that it might contact your employer (or your school — or perhaps even your mother) about what it calls ‘your behaviour’ is that it wants to make you think twice about being a nuisance — and, once you’ve thought twice, to think a few more times in addition: your prescribed role, dear UK reader, is to pay your licence-fee, and then to shut the hell up until such time as you are next required to pay your licence-fee. Nothing else is required of you — certainly nothing that involves using a BBC-controlled forum to communicate something that opposes one or other of the Grand Propaganda Narratives that the BBC exists to serve. It’s as simple as that: an attempt to reduce dissent and criticism by ramping up fear and insecurity.
Which, if you think about it, is the precise purpose of the BBC’s ever-increasing interest in collecting and storing ‘your personal information’ — two separate references to which are found in those two sentences shown in my graphic.
Time was when the BBC simply turned its programmes into electromagnetic radiation and sent them out into the ether; nowadays, when it turns them into streaming online media services, it warns you that you will soon be required to ‘register’ and ‘sign in’ if you are to be allowed to access them…
The reason for all this? It’s so they ‘can make the BBC more relevant and personal to you’.
Like hell it is!
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