Offence Trumps Reality, Again

From Drama over Casualty plot as BBC bans terror script in today’s Guardian:

The BBC has abandoned plans to screen a fictional terrorist attack by Muslim suicide bombers in the primetime drama Casualty after internal clashes over whether the highly sensitive subject matter would cause offence.

BBC drama executives were keen to push the storyline and may even have started filming, a source close to the production told The Observer. But they were overruled by the corporation’s editorial guidelines department, which ordered that the episode be changed so that the Muslim characters were replaced by animal rights extremists

Well, what a good idea. The BBC should be doing everything it can to shield religious people from potential offence – even if that means shielding them (and, as a corollary, the rest of us) from reality. The decision, of course, is a pathetically snivelling one, but it’s also flatly insulting for two reasons: Firstly, it’s insufferably patronising towards the large section of moderate British Muslims who acknowledge that Islamic terrorism both exists and is an undeniable part of the current zeitgeist. Secondly, it serves to scapegoat animal right activists as the indiscriminate bombers of public transport. However, these are small concessions to make if they go some way to appeasing rage boy and his ilk, I suppose.

Update:

According to this article in the Guardian, it turns out that the decision to replace the Islamic terrorists with animal right activists was actually made by the writer. So, my apologies to the BBC!

[T]he series editor of BBC1’s Casualty, commenting on newspaper reports that the editorial policy unit had insisted that two Islamist terrorists in a script were changed to animal rights activists, insisted that the switch had been made by the writer, who apparently feared inviting a reaction from extremists.

I’ve learned my lesson, so I won’t try to speculate over whether “inviting a reaction” were the Guardian’s words or those of the writer, but they’re rather depressing either way.

Thanks to Matthew in the comments section for the update.

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5 Responses to “Offence Trumps Reality, Again”


  1. 1 salahudin August 20, 2007 at 9:36 pm

    it’s not about shielding religious people… it’s about shielding innocent muslims from islamophobia

  2. 3 Deb August 22, 2007 at 11:03 pm

    I have been thinking about this post and trying to figure out if there is anything we can do about it. Flood the BBC with letters? It is probably still a reasonable idea, and I have no others.

    Will Potter at Green Is The New Red blogged about this today, and I think he makes a good point that we need to have in mind with regards to “terrorism” being thrown around as a label.

    If saluhudin is right, and it is about shielding innocent muslims from islamophobia, then why does shielding of any innocent person need to come at the expense of another group of people?

    AR people are, after all, innocent as well, and are being targeted by the government. (and I don’t think that is limited to the u.s., though my perspective does come from the u.s.)

    Anyway, thought you might be interested in reading from the perspective of someone (will potter) who has been following the “green scare” for a few years now.

    http://www.greenisthenewred.com/blog/2007/08/22/bbc-arab-terrorist/

  3. 4 Ed August 24, 2007 at 2:16 am

    Hi Deb,

    Sending angry letters might be our only recourse! I’m less than hopeful that it’ll have any appreciable effect though.

    Thanks for the link, by the way. I hadn’t heard of that blog and it certainly looks both interesting and highly relevant. I have scribbled a few more things down about this issue which could serve as something of a continuation of what both you and Mr. Potter touch upon; I’ll post them soon if they decide to take shape.

  4. 5 Matthew September 1, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    From Mark Lawson’s column in Thursday’s Guardian:

    “And the series editor of BBC1’s Casualty, commenting on newspaper reports that the editorial policy unit had insisted that two Islamist terrorists in a script were changed to animal rights activists, insisted that the switch had been made by the writer, who apparently feared inviting a reaction from extremists.”

    http://media.guardian.co.uk/site/story/0,,2158755,00.html

    Bad call by the writer, I feel, but it doesn’t look like it was the result of a BBC policy.


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