Springer verdict – reactions

Quotes from the usual suspects, Beyer and Green, in today’s papers are surprisingly thin on the ground. Only The Sun
gives Green’s opinion (“It is corrupt”), completely ignoring the Mediawatch-UK press release:

scandalous… simply not good enough… sophistry… stupefying arrogance

The Guardian and The Scotsman quote actual sentences from it.

The Church of England’s reaction is given in The Scotsman:

Naturally we are disappointed at the Governors’ decision. Clearly, they took a long and serious look at this issue and were unable to reach a unanimous viewpoint.

This was a programme that gave rise to unprecedented levels of public concern and, as the Governors concede, caused significant offence to large numbers of people.

We await the adjudication by Ofcom on this case.

The Evangelical Alliance are quoted in The Independent as being “deeply disappointed” and they praise the “courage” of Sarkis,

We reflect the views not only of Christians, but also of many ordinary licence-fee payers who were offended … They will be bewildered by this decision

The Times and The Scotsman both cite a positive response from the National Secular Society spokesman Terry Sanderson:

The furore caused by Christian fundamentalists has been put into perspective by this decision.

The BBC decided to show Jerry Springer – The Opera not because it wanted to offend people but because it adjudged it to have artistic merit.

We congratulate the BBC, they have done exactly the right thing.

The Scotsman also quotes Lib Dem MP Evan Harris:

The Government needs to abolish the blasphemy law so that religious groups cannot attempt to blackmail broadcasters or the media with threats of prosecution when free speech demands that no subject – religious or otherwise – is protected from criticism or satire

But the secular/religious divide is not as clear-cut as it appears. The relatively sensible Rev Colin Morris has a well-argued article in The Guardian:

It would be curious if Christianity, having survived 2,000 years of martyrdom and mass persecution, were under threat from a barrage of swear words.

UPDATE: Bloggerheads has a useful roundup of events leading up to this point, with particular reference to the bogus claims made in the original anonymous email circular (8,000 swearwords, Roly Keating’s “pushing back the boundaries” non-quote) which started off this whole furore. Will we ever know who wrote it? Unlikely.
UPDATE: Chortle carries an amusingly enraged quote from Green which everyone else seems to have missed:

It’s a complete aberration [sic] of their responsibility. If the governors are supposed to be a watchdog and they can’t see why Jerry Springer – the Opera shouldn’t have been shown then they have no reason to exist.

17 Responses to “Springer verdict – reactions”

  1. Joe says:

    Note that the Daily Mail feels driven to lie about this one – they repeatedly bandy about the figure of “63,000 viewer complaints”; given that over 50,000 of the complaints were received before transmission, I don’t see how all those who complained can be classed as ‘viewers’. I’d be interested to know how many of those complaints came from within the UK, given how widely this story was circulated in the US evangelical community.

  2. Dr Christopher Shell says:

    They are ‘viewers’ in the sense that all tv owners are classified as ‘viewers’, ‘consumers’ etc.. That is, they are the potential public for whom the BBC serves up whatever it serves up. Both a prospective viewer/consumer and a person who chooses not to view/consume are still classified as viewers/consumers.

    I would also be interested in seeing a breakdown of complaints figures. Though a national poll would give a more accurate picture.

  3. Joe says:

    They’re viewers in precisely the same sense I’m an attendee of Kensington Temple. Does this give me the right to dictate what is preached at your church, Christopher?

  4. Christopher Shell says:

    Goodness knows, I havent attended there for ages.
    As I mentioned, people are ‘viewers’ by virtue of owning and watching a tv set. Being a ‘viewer’ is one thing; being a ‘viewer of JSTO’ is another.

    Of course, there are certain things that it could not be beneficial to anyone to broadcast/preach. In the case of such things, one wonders why anyone wants them broadcast/preached in the first place. What people are not admitting is that there is a demand, and that demand is from the same lower nature that has a demand for salacious stories in The News of the World.

    If we (or society) feed this lower nature it will become fatter and develop a larger appetite. It’s not going to die unless we starve it.

  5. tom p says:

    That’s an absolute nonsense and you know it.

    If you’re complaining about TV or BBC standards generally, then owning a TV set would be sufficient justification, but complaining about something you haven’t seen is not a viewer’s complaint. It’s like whingeing about the weather when you haven’t even opened your curtains.

  6. Christopher Shell says:

    Again, not true. You already agree with me that there are certain things that are not justifiable to show in any circumstances (e.g. certain illegal actions), and for which an accurate description alone would be sufficient to rule against their suitablity.

    All we are differing about is what those things are.

    I and a lot of other Christians, Muslims etc etc would classify the content of JSTO in this way and so far do not believe we have received any coherent reason for changing our minds on this. The challenge remains open to provide a coherent reason.

  7. Bloggerheads says:

    Jerry Springer: sticking a fork in it

    Guardian – BBC rejects Springer complaints: BBC governors rejected a record 63,000 complaints from viewers over the decision to broadcast Jerry Springer – The Opera yesterday, prompting renewed criticism from offended Christian and “decency” campaign…

  8. Christopher Shell says:

    Doesnt he mean ‘abrogation of responsibility’ not ‘aberration’?

  9. Monitor says:

    He probably meant to say “abdication”. Maybe he did, and was misquoted. Nevertheless, malapropism duly sicced. Well spotted.

  10. tom p says:

    ‘Dr’ Shell, if you’re genuinely saying that anyone who owns a TV set (and thus presumably pays teh license fee) can complain about any facet of a mooted broadcast that they’ve heard lies about and are repeating these lies without thinking and that they should be taken seriously, then you’re plain wrong. Such people should only be either ignored or ridiculed.

    It’s like me complaining about sermons in a CofE church, since my tax quids go into funding the lifestyle of the head of the church and its bishops (who can claim attendance allowances at the house of lords).

  11. Christopher Shell says:

    No: not lies. If lies are ever repeated, then we can disregard the charge. Im talking about people repeating true information.
    I certainly agree with you that the C of E hierarchy is living too richly.

  12. tom p says:

    This musical, notorious for containing over 8000 expletives

    The show’s artistic director admits that it is a deliberate attack on “good taste”, and the BBC concedes that the intended broadcast “pushes back the boundaries of taste and decency”.

    No: not lies. If lies are ever repeated, then we can disregard the charge.

    The two claims above were both outright lies. The first could be called an exaggeration, but it is so extreme and ludicrous an exaggeration to make it more of an outright lie.
    The second contained made-up quotes, the second of which was probably from Stephen Green (see the Bloggerheads link in this piece to see why). This is a lie.

    As you, so rightly say, in the 3rd quote above, If lies are ever repeated then we can disregard the charge. People were fed lies to whip up a controversy to impose the views of mediawatch and other similar organisations onto the rest of the public. These were lies, plain and simple. You may feel that the end justified the means, but by your own admission, the charge can be dropped because it was built on a tissue of lies.

    If your so-called god is so weak that it can’t take a few digs then you should get a better one. nobody was harmed, but your ilk stirred up a controversy with lies to try to get the programme banned. that is what was so very wrong with what you and your lot did, and if you can’t see it, then doctorates must be getting easier to obtain these days than ever before

  13. tom p says:

    Reading it, I realise that I forgot to say that the above quotes were lifted from the e-mail that went round before the broadcast that started off saying something like ‘The Sikhs have cted so why can’t we’.

  14. Christopher Shell says:

    Of course – but why suppose that I would agree with every statement by (e.g.) CV?

    The 8000 figure is wildly untrue; not everyone who bandied it about was aware it was untrue; they were just repeating what they had been told. The true figure was about 200 was it? What is so clever about 200? Pre-c1967 there was no such swearing on tv. This proves that that is achievable. As Eric Sykes says, to be on tv is to be invited into ppl’s living rooms – including those who are flicking thro’ channels – with all that that entails in terms of politeness.
    One can move goalposts, but this represents an move of thousands of percent in the wrong direction (ie the uncivilised direction) within a single programme.

    My point was not that no lies have circulated (whether intentionally or not) but what people make of the true statements which have also circulated.

  15. tom p says:

    firstly, you’ve missed the point again. I was refuting your claims that the statments circulated to whip up a controversy were true. they were demonstrably not.

    secondly, now who’s using perjorative terms to thus colour the debate? eh?

  16. Christopher Shell says:

    Read my comment. You are speaking as though there are only two alternatives:
    (1) All statements were true;
    (2) All statements were false.
    I believe neither (1) not (2), nor should anyone believe them. I believe (3): some were true, adn some false. So my question is: we agree the false ones were false; what however do we make of the true ones? The falsity of the false ones has no relevance to the truth of the true ones, which is a separate question.

    Im sorry if I was using pejorative terms. I didnt think I was; but anyway I try not to. As opposed to gentle teasing and ribbing, whose cathartic power I strongly believe in.

  17. tom p says:

    The key claims were demonstrably false. It’s not as though there were other claims in there that would equally have provoked such a storm. The controversy was based on a tissue of lies which were created to whip up just such a storm