Friday, 12 April 2013

Restrictive practices

Cowed by some ostentatious offence-taking by some Very Important People, backed up by a furious chorus of incoherent snorts and bellows from the likes of the Daily Mail, the BBC has caved in and refused to play more than five seconds of Ding Dong the Witch is Dead on Sunday's chart show. This is, apparently, 'a “compromise” which will prevent the song, which is heading towards the number one slot ... being adopted as a posthumous protest by opponents of Lady Thatcher.'

The handling of taste and decency was weird enough (a thing's either too offensive to broadcast or it isn't - you can no more split the difference by playing five seconds of the tune than you can be "just a little bit" pregnant), but after being lectured by the Mail not to gloat or be offensively disrespectful about people who can't hit back, I had to re-paint the dial on my irony meter, which now goes up to eleven.

I'm getting this surreal thought that Paul Dacre has travelled back in time, to be reincarnated as a print union shop steward from the pre-Murdoch era, furiously steaming in to assert his rights in some touchy demarcation dispute:
Oi! What do you think you're doing? You can't just come in here, kicking people when they're down, upsetting grieving families and picking on somebody who's in no position to fight back. I'm the official representative of the Federated Union of Flamers, Trolls and Clickbait Manufacturers, and as you should know, taunting grieving families and causing gratuitous offence to anybody we feel like picking on, is our job and nobody else's. Now go and hop it, before I call a strike ballot.
More than a quarter of a century after Wapping, and our gutter press is still operating a closed shop policy towards causing offence. These sort of Spanish practices should have the old girl spinning in her urn.