Friday, March 24, 2006

More language infidelity

BBC headline today:

Wife "thrilled" at Kember release

Released? Why all the kudos to the British special forces, then?

I noted it the other day, but for an organization whose business is communication, the BBC has a strangely difficult time using words properly.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Good news...and a question

The BBC reports today that Norman Kember, the British national who was abducted in Iraq last November, has been rescued along with 2 Canadian colleagues who had also been abducted.
One British and two Canadian peace activists held hostage in Iraq have been
freed in an operation by multinational forces.
Excellent news.

But why is it that, when a good thing happens, "multi-national" forces are responsible, but when bad things happen, "US-led forces" are responsible?

UPDATE: The Guardian says that the rescue operation involved "British, Iraqi and other coalition forces." I wonder which "other" coalition forces they might be referring to.

UPDATE II: Reuters says that "U.S.-led forces freed three Christian peace activists held hostage in Iraq on Thursday..."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Begum loses; BBC still wrong

Sanity and reason, it seems, does still exist here in Britain.

A school which was told it unlawfully excluded a Muslim pupil for wearing a traditional gown has won its appeal at the House of Lords.

The Court of Appeal had said Denbigh High School had denied Shabina Begum the right to manifest her religion in refusing to allow her to wear a jilbab.

But in a unanimous ruling, judges at the House of Lords overturned that.

Unfortunately, given the degree to which Britain has already relinquished its sovereignty, the last word has not necessarily been heard.
[Miss Begum] would consult her lawyers about a potential appeal to the European courts, she said.
There is little reason to hope that such sanity and reason continues to survive in the halls of Brussels.

On another note regarding this story, it is clear that fidelity to language continues to be a problem for the BBC. Despite it’s portrayal to the contrary, Miss Begum was not excluded “for wearing a traditional jilbab”. She was, in fact, excluded for not wearing an approved school uniform…a uniform which in fact did include concessions to Muslim sensitivities.

Virtually every story on the BBC about this affair has portrayed it as an issue in which a school “refused to allow” the jilbab rather than, as was the case, an issue in which a student refused to wear the approved school uniform. In other words, the BBC characterizes the conflict as arising from the actions of the school, rather than from the actions of the girl, a characterization which is belied by the facts of the case. To be fair, the BBC has supplied the details of the case, thus allowing more attentive readers to ultimately draw the correct conlcusions. But still, it's introduction of the issue inevitably seems to place Begum in the role of victim, when in fact reality is quite the opposite.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

BBC wonders if Bush = terrorist

This morning on BBC radio’s Five Live Breakfast program (about 20 minutes in), presenter Nicky Campbell was interviewing the UK’s Secretary of State for International Development Hilary Benn about the situation in Iraq, and specifically with regard to an American military investigation into allegations that American soldiers deliberately targeted and killed some Iraqi civilians. After asking Benn if he thought American soldiers were “acquitting themselves well” in Iraq, Campbell attempted to elicit further comment with the following:
I spoke to John Reed yesterday and he continually referred to the insurgents as terrorists. But there are those who say that George Bush is as bad.
Well, yes there are, but that doesn’t mean that it is an opinion with enough merit to be aired on the BBC, much less a subject requiring comment from serious public figures. Unfortunately Benn responded politely, simply expressing his disagreement with the notion. What he should have done was treat both the claim and Campbell with the contempt they deserve.

While the BBC has an obligation to air a range of viewpoints, it has no such obligation to air all viewpoints. It is indicative of just how radical editorial opinion at the BBC is that, in its judgment, the idea that George Bush is the equivalent to terrorists is a respectable opinion worthy of serious discussion amongst serious people.

Monday, March 20, 2006

An angry middle eastern woman

A very interesting broadcast from Al Jazeera, via the excellent Middle East Media Research Institute.

UPDATE: I'm told the woman in the video is an Arab-American psychologist. I confess that I didn't check out her background, and made the apparently erroneous assumption. Apologies.

Iraq intelligence the BBC

The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes has been the only journalist that I am aware of who has consistently been on the case of the until-now classified intelligence documents recovered from Afghanistan and Iraq, specifically with regard to information that they hold connecting Saddam Hussein to international terrorism in general and in specific to Al Qaeda. He has been calling for the release of these documents for quite some time, and, having been joined by some allies in the congress, those documents have finally started to be released. Hayes has written two articles (here, and here) in the last few days detailing what some of the documents show. The are quite interesting.

Pretty big news, eh? Not, apparently, to the BBC, which has shown a complete lack of interest in either the on-giong release of these documents, or their contents. A search of the BBC's online articles returns not a single one about the Office of the Director of National Intelligence releasing the documents. Having embraced the conventional storyline that any such relationship between Saddam and Al Qaeda or Bin Laden existed strictly as a function of Bush administration deception it appears that they are reluctant to disrupt that comfortable point of view, and would prefer to ignore any evidence to the contrary.

The BBC is not alone in its failure to report this story. Neither The Guardian (surprise, surprise) nor The Times has mentioned anything about it. Those of you seeking a more informed picture of Iraq would be better off taking what you would otherwise pay for the "license fee" and subscribe to the likes of The Weekly Standard and Foreign Affairs, places that are doing some real reporting these days.