Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Racism, both real and imagined at the BBC

Having no interest in motor cars means that Top Gear is never on our TV set unless we channel surf through it. The missus dislikes Jeremy Clarkson in any case and will only just tolerate his occasional appearances on Have I Got News For You which is a household favourite. So when his remarks about a "slope on the bridge" were broadcast our awareness was only raised by the complaint that the remark was racist.

Now I have to admit that this expression is not one I was familiar with and would not have noticed even if I had watched the programme. However one person, actress Somi Goma did and her complaint was upheld. The Daily Mirror reports:

Her complaint was last week backed by Ofcom which ruled the BBC was in breach of its code.

Somi claims Clarkson’s remark was scripted and not just “banter”. The jibe came on the Burma Special when the Top Gear team were challenged to build a bridge over Thailand’s River Kwai.

At the end, Clarkson surveys his work, saying: “That is a proud moment, but there’s a slope on it” as an Asian man walks over the bridge......

Ofcom ruled: “Jeremy Clarkson deliberately employed the offensive word to refer to the Asian person crossing the bridge as well as the camber of the bridge.”

Such remarks are unacceptable and Somi was justified in raising her complaint.

However another BBC programme has come under fire, that hotbed of political discussion, Gardeners Question Time on Radio 4.  The Times reports that the programme is a "seething cesspit of racial hatred". The reasoning (if you can call it that) is:

Dr Pitcher believes it is saturated with racist language and that conversation about "native" and "non-native" plants is nationalist

Race Equality Firsts chief executive, told The Times that the accusation was absurd.

"We deal with a vast amount of overt and covert racism to know when a racist slur, comment or terminology is being used and the words "native" and non-native" species or soil in the context of gardening are not racist terms"

Dr Pitcher thinks such terms are employed to find ways of of talking about "White identity" through gardening so as not to appear to be racist.

Alex Raites of Stand Against Racism and Equality said: There is enough racism in the world without looking for it in places where it doesn't exist.


The University of Westminster (called a Polytechnic when I went there) is a fine place of learning. His Departmental head should take Dr Pitcher aside and tell him to get a grip on reality.

Such nonsense undermines the real struggle against the all too real racism that exists in the world.

Anyway my veggies are green.....

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