Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Muslims - Trial by TV (courtesy Channel 4)

Channel 4's dedication to insensitive, cack-handed reporting took an obscene turn last night as Jon Snow hosted a programme discussing just how bad Muslims really were.

The specific topic for discussion was something 'reasonable' along the lines of 'Are Muslims a threat to free speech?' interspersed with less reasonable arguments that painted every follower of one faith into a corner.

You can see where this is going.

And yes, there were some genuinely good arguments put forward by good speakers, but the sad truth is, that Channel 4 showed more considered judgement over some Danish cartoons than over their decision to host an entire programme.

Using the term 'Muslims' manages to pack together 2.4 million people in this country, from all walks of life, of all races and from over a hundred different countries. To suppose, as Channel 4 did, that even modest-sized groups of people could hold a single overarching philosophy on the role of free speech, self-expression and censorship in the modern world is ludicrous.

There are less than two million Northern Irishmen in the world no one has had any luck getting two of them to agree on anything in the past three hundred years. Singling out an entire faith and it's adherents of all kinds is an act of crass simplification.

Channel 4 has a duty of public service, and that duty requires provoking debate on the important issues of our time. Doubtless, when the various luvvies and dahlings at C4's production office dreamt this one up they felt they were on to a winner - sadly they need to listen to the advice of the radical cleric featured on last night's show.

"Yes I can insult your mum, but as a responsible member of society I choose not to."

If the mouthpiece of an organisation so extreme they were nearly banned can come up with gems like this one, surely it can't be beyond the grasp of Jon Snow.

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