I am unused to being in the position of finding it necessary to defend Jerry Springer and yet here I am poised on the verge of writing an entry to do just that.

To tell those not in this country, or perhaps some that are but are not like me inexorably tuned to Radio 4, Jerry Springer -The Opera is due to be shown soon on BBC1. This has galvanised the religious right and the PC lobby to complain in numbers that it is blasphemous and uses an objectionable level of expletive language. Apparently over 20,000 complaints have been lodged and this is deemed to show that the BBC are out of step with the public. Well, that summation is on shaky ground to start with since the public have not yet seen the show, this means these complaints have been logged by a series of polarised interested groups such as religious ones and reactionary self-appointed quangos like Mediawatch

One of the arguments, not without a degree of validity is that if the show had any blaspheming that caused offence to muslims then it would not be allowed, and to add to that context is the fact that a play in Birmingham which was deemed to cause offence to the Sikh community was recently closed. There are two facets to this point though.

Firstly Christianity is the incumbent religion and will always therefore take more stick than those seen to be part of a minority community, moreover this is a mainstream production and as such the creators are likely to know a great deal more about Christianity and therefore there will be a certain level of understanding, this will be the case for the audience as well, were there to be blasphemy against another religion it is highly unlikely that most of the audience would understand any such reference and so any capital sought from the reference would be lost.

The second thing to bear in mind is that the reason it is true that there is a great deal more hypersensitivity towards minority groups is as a result of crass political correctness. Political correctness does not actually practise understanding or tolerance it simply papers over the cracks in a krypto-Victorian “we don’t talk about that here” sort of way. Let me give an example if I use the word nigger in a sentence is it offensive? Many people would say yes it is and yet it is the inference and heritage of the word that is in fact often offensive. I do not consider myself a racist on any level and yet this would make no difference. However if somebody else referred to it as ‘the N word’ it is deemed a useable commodity of referral. That, to my mind is simply daft and serves only to perpetuate the harmful connotation of such a word. Many black youths refer to themselves as nigger and I would contend that this has taken the sting out of it as a term of racial abuse far more than any political correctness. Likewise the Pakistani community, certainly the ex-pat part of it that I have come into contact with here and abroad refer to themselves as ‘Paki’ and yet within the white community this is deemed an unacceptable term of abuse. Does the fact that the British National Party are not able to use such words for fear of indictment under the incitement to racial or religious hatred legislation make the organisation or its members any less racist?

I think it goes without saying that the freedom of expression argument may have limits but equally if as a society you restrict it, you will always be subject to the accusation that you have something to fear from the substance of such an argument. It is far better to attempt to rebut an argument with logic than to brush it under the carpet as being offensive and thereby not worth consideration. A good example of this is that in this country during the 1970s and 80s members of the Irish republic party Sínn Feín were allowed on the British television only with their voice spoken by an actor. The actors chosen were invariably of Northern Irish descent and the whole excercise seemed quite ludicrous. It made most of us who were young at the time think that if Jerry Adams the leader was that silver-tongued to have frightened the Thatcher government into masking his voice then maybe he was worth listening to, I am summising that this was not the effect the government were looking for!

In conclusion, Britain remains, albeit sometimes a fuzzy distinction, a secular society and allegedly a free one. The BBC is a public service broadcaster and is beholden to appeal to diverse multicultural groups. So forgive me if I as an aetheist am not somewhat compelled now to watch Jerry Springer – The Opera as being one of the rare programs designed for my group of heathens destined for eternal fire and damnation in the depths of hell! I might even go off afterwards and have a swear and blame it on the influence of the evil goggle box!

Song Of The Day – Super Furry Animals – Hello Sunshine

Original Comments:

Mark Ellott made this comment,
Great minds think alike, it seems I’ve just blogged on this issue, too.
Visit me @ http://longrider.blog-city.com

[Redbaron responds – It had to be said Mark, and you managed it a great deal more succinctly than I did!]

comment added :: 7th January 2005, 20:43 GMT+01
MrDan made this comment,
I’m far more likely to watch the program since the PC lobby have caused such a stink.

Visit me @ http://alien.blog-city.com

comment added :: 8th January 2005, 02:18 GMT+01
Pimme made this comment,
I just can’t imagine an opera about that show!
Visit me @ http://pimme.blog-city.com

comment added :: 8th January 2005, 02:42 GMT+01
Mandy made this comment,
(Here with Rachel. ‘palmys….’)
I’ve seen a few shows of Jerry Springer. Used to think it was amusing. When he brought members of the KKK out on last Martin Luther King Day, I refused to ever watch another episode.

-Rach and Mandy

Visit me @ http://mspacman.blog-city.com

comment added :: 8th January 2005, 03:12 GMT+01
A visitor made this comment,
hey twin, i agree – the more we avoid a word, the more volatile it becomes. and that paki thing is so true; i’ve seen a lot of (white) britishers get really shocked when i refer to myself as paki, because to them it’s something completely derogatory, whereas to me, it’s just a convenient, lazy, short form of pakistani and doesn’t have any connotations.
sarah [sarah.a@gmail.com]

comment added :: 9th January 2005, 14:06 GMT+01
The Skunx made this comment,
I view Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Harry Krishnas and Christians with near equal distain, however I do find that the Eastern religions are more crackers that good old Christianity.
I have seen the opera live on stage and I shall be watching on Saturday night even if it will mean I am cast down to eternal damnation.

Don’t like it?
Don’t watch it!

Simple as that.


Visit me @ http://1mansview.blog-city.com

[Redbaron responds – Then again Skunx I guess our passage downwards for the afterlife is already booked and paid for!]

comment added :: 9th January 2005, 19:16 GMT+01
The Skunx made this comment,
I just realised that I wrote this in the past tense, of course I meant to say that I DID watch it on Saturday night.

Visit me @ http://1mansview.blog-city.com

comment added :: 9th January 2005, 19:20 GMT+01
Parrot made this comment,
It would be nice to be able to talk about any issue and be perfectly understood. That way if you don’t mean any offense, none would be taken.
But if that were the case I think Jerry Springer would be out of business.

What I find funny is that the people protesting don’t realize that they’re actually generating media coverage for the show and convincing people who wouldn’t have cared otherwise to go and see it.

Hmmmm… maybe this whole thing was orchestrated by Jerry Springer in the first place! 😉

Visit me @ http://parrot.blog-city.com

[Redbaron responds – There is sometimes a certain curiousness about people’s semantic differences and I think whilst we are all brought up with different surroundings and experiences there will always be things that affect our lives individually and shape the way we talk and the vocab we use to do so. What is important is to try to understand other people’s ways of communicating as equally valid. It is not just foreign tongues where there is a chasm between us, after all as George Bernard Shaw said “England and America are 2 countries separated by a common language”]

comment added :: 11th January 2005, 00:58 GMT+01
Cancergiggles made this comment,
Guess what – I didn’t watch it because I didn’t think I would enjoy it. That was bloody easy wasn’t it?
Please forward to all botherers of God.
[Redbaron responds – Oh Cass you’re far too logical for the Talbots of Jesus but I will pass the message on nonetheless! I didn’t think I’d enjoy it but because of all the hoo-ha I decided I ought to dip in to check and I found it surprisingly entertaining and quite satirical, hence the complainants rather shot themselves in the foot illustrating Parrot’s point perfectly (now doesn’t that sound Mary Poppinsesque?!)]

comment added :: 11th January 2005, 11:57 GMT+01