Thursday, 26 June 2008

Confused Corporation

The Director-General of the 'Beeb' assures me that it was never their intention to portray his predecessor Sir Hugh Greene in an unflattering light in the "comedy drama" Filth. Rather, they aimed to present a picture of "a committed, forthright and principled broadcaster whose position on censorship was in stark contrast to that of Mrs Whitehouse".

However, "whilst the story was factually based, it also, inevitably, required a degree of dramatic licence", and the BBC recognise that "contrary to his portrayal in the drama, Sir Hugh did not use strong language, either in his professional life or amongst his family." But his family had seen a preview of Filth and regarded it with "amused tolerance and a generous acceptance of the spirit in which [it] was made" as a fiction based on real events. So that's alright, then.

The D-G solemnly concludes: "it was not the intent of the BBC to broadcast a film which did any disservice to Sir Hugh, nor took lightly the significance of his leadership of the BBC in one of the most important periods in the history of the Corporation".

To which my only possible reply is that whatever their intention, the film did do serious disservice to the memory of Sir Hugh Greene; and that my view is shared by several other people who, like myself, were involved in anti-censorship campaigning during the 1960s and had personal knowledge of, and contact with, both Greene and Mary Whitehouse.

I find the degree of confusion - and indeed, evasion - in the BBC's letter quite disturbing. If they had wanted to produce a "comedic film" about their arch-enemy Whitehouse and her feud with their then Director-General, they should have prefaced it with the explicit disclaimer that "nothing in this film is intended to bear any accurate relation to the facts". But they did not do so, and a host of viewers who knew nothing of the protagonists at first hand - as I did - were left with an utterly misleading impression of their actual characters and actions.

I'm almost tempted to start a "Clean Up the BBC" campaign!

Paranoia peddlers

The high priestesses of 'satanic child abuse' are at it again. According to this week's Private Eye [1213], a book [Forensic Aspects of Dissociative Identity Disorder], described as "essential reading for professionals in the field of child protection and adult psychotherapy", will soon be published containing articles by several leading proponents of this lurid and - so far as solid evidence is concerned - entirely mythical scenario.

Delusionary these medieval-minded witch-hunters may be; but during the past quarter-century, since the Californian-born cult surfaced in these islands, their inflammatory theorising has wreaked huge suffering upon many totally innocent families. An official government investigation by Professor Jean La Fontaine concluded in 1994 that the existence of satanic ritual abuse was a myth. But its devotees continue to peddle their hysterical tittle-tattle to anyone credulous enough to believe them. Unfortunately, some psychologists, psychotherapists, counsellors, social workers, and police persons do. Judges and juries have rightly proved to be more sceptical.

A close student of this and other child protection panics, including those involving several childrens' homes - most recently in Jersey - is Richard Webster, whose exhaustive analysis of the history of this modern moral panic here and elsewhere [see his blog, linked in my 'friendly places'] is - unlike the forthcoming tome - essential reading for those seeking an informed background to this weird phenomenon.

Why David Davis's campaign matters

Regardless of what you think about his politics generally, or his views on other topics, David Davis has clearly struck a national nervepoint in resigning from the Commons to fight a by-election on the issue of our fast-vanishing civil liberties.

The complacency with which mainstream politicians, and the British public in general, have up to now accepted the drastic and hitherto unthinkable reduction in our personal rights imposed upon us during the past decade on the pretext of 'fighting terror' is deeply depressing to someone who, like myself, has campaigned throughout their life for a free, tolerant and civilised society.

Ken Frost puts it better than I can in his latest 'Nanny Knows Best' post:

"The state and a compliant ignorant media are responsible for the level of paranoia in this country. We are building our own prison and hell on earth with our own hands, brick by brick, petty restriction by petty restriction."

It is time for everyone who values their own independence, privacy, and freedom to think as we choose and live without fear to unite against the creeping [and creepy] encroachments of the authoritarian-minded Nanny State.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Staggering naivety

After reading this, I blinked several times and double-checked that today isn't April 1st.

As someone with a fairly extensive involvement in the early days of the counselling movement, I can only despair that what we set out so hopefully to do in the 1970s and '80s has ended up in such a hideously banal fashion. Although the eager manner in which such a starry-eyed Panglossian prescription is being lapped up by a wilting government desperate to remedy the multiplying ills of the sad society it has mis-spent the past decade in creating comes as no surprise. The acid comment of a GP that to imagine a few weeks of CBT [Cognitive Behaviour Therapy] is going to transform miserable people languishing in idleness and dependency into happy shiny productive workers is "embarrassing in its absurdity" is putting it mildly. As for the notion that it's a simple matter to recruit and train the requisite army of therapists, capable of inducing happiness to order, I am - for once - speechless.

Given the choice between Lord Layard and Professor Brainstawm, I plump for the latter every time!

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Grandiose George

President G.W. Bush tells today's 'Observer' that part of his historical legacy will be "the liberation of 50 million people from the clutches of barbaric regimes".

He doesn't reveal who or where all of those 50 lucky millions are, and he conveniently forgets to mention that the drastic curtailment of 300 million U.S. citizens' historic civil liberties since 2001 has been an accidental - or maybe intentional - by-product of his gung-ho foreign policy.

One's only response to such a preposterous claim has to be the Duke of Wellington's celebrated "If you believe that, you'll believe anything". The Iron Duke was wearily familiar with the bombastic boastings of inflated egos - he had to put up with that vaingloriously delusional monarch George IV describing, in vivid detail, how he had led one of the charges at the Battle of Waterloo, although he was in fact on the other side of the Channel at the time. As Dr Stephen Parissien puts it here, "that the decaying King should in his dotage begin to believe that he had played a key role at the Battle of Waterloo itself was, given his daily consumption of prodigious amounts of drugs and and of cherry brandy, a predictable progression."

Whatever the now teetotal Dubya does or doesn't consume, clearly he is as suffused with mentally addled vaingloriousness as was his royal namesake.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Who's utterly unfit?

David Davis's commendable decision to to resign his seat and fight a by-election on the crucial issue of our fast-vanishing civil liberties has been dismissed by Labour MP Denis MacShane as a "stunt" which shows that the Conservatives are "utterly unfit for government".

Mr MacShane obviously hasn't looked in a mirror lately.

Gordon's Victory Song

[To a well-known West Country tune}:

"Keith Vaz, Keith Vaz, lend me your grey hair,
All along, down along, out along lea,
And we’ll rustle up Anne Widdecombe fair,
With Greg Campbell, Nigel Dodds, Jeffrey Donaldson,
Bill McCrea, the Jolly Robinsons, Dave Simpson, Sammy Wilson,
And Old Gaffer Paisley and All,
Bless Old Gaffer Paisley and All."

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

From Mr Bean to Mr Has-Been?

So Gordon Brown has got his 42 days, but only thanks to the pristinely selfless and patriotic votes of the Ulster Democratic Unionists.

This humiliating "victory" may prove to have been won at too high a price. There's a well-known saying that one of the risks of asking for what you want is that you might get it. This could well turn out to be true not only of tonight's vote, but of Brown's entire long-coveted premiership.

If I were a Labour MP, I would be seething tonight whichever way I had voted.

What goes around, comes around.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

God-Botherer Extraordinary

"And so our dementia continues. In front of us this week was Blair with his increasingly maniacal eyes, poncing on about faith and God and religion, and I couldn't help reflecting on an excellent article by a colleague a few weeks ago who pointed out that God never seemed to give Blair advice. Like before April of 2003, couldn't He have just said, er, Tony, this Iraq invasion might not be a good idea.

"Indeed, Blair's relationship with God is itself very odd. And I rather suspect I know what happens. I think Blair tells God what he absolutely and completely knows to be right – and God approves his words. Because Blair, like a lot of devious politicians, plays God himself. For there are two Gods out there. The Blair God and the infinite being which blesses his every word, so obliging that He doesn't even tell Him to go to Gaza."

- ROBERT FISK, "The Independent", 7 June 2008

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Intellectual violence

"We're living in a society which, at this moment in time, is being controlled and dominated by people who have no respect for others."

An important article here.