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BBC apologises for ‘Should gays be executed?’ debate

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  1. Simon Murphy 17 Dec 2009, 4:37pm

    So the BBC still does not accept that a debate about whether mass murder of a minority population is unacceptable? The proposed new law in Uganda is of COURSE a suitable subject for debate; but to invite and publish the most vicious incitement to hatred is an epic failure on the part of the BBC and a murderous breach of impartiality. They are heaping offence on offence by refusing to acknowledge how wrong this debate was and how awfully the fallout has been handled. I think we can safely say without a shadow of a doubt that the BBC is institutionally homophobic. Why should I as a gay man pay a TV license fee to an organisation which considers my life as a suitable subject for debate. Shame on you BBC.

    “The programme was a legitimate and responsible attempt to support a challenging discussion”
    No it was not – as the premise of the question asked suggested that there may be a legitimate case to execute gay people for the ‘crime’ of being gay. It’s been asked before but it needs to be asked again. When is the BBC going to hold a Have Your Say debate on its Arabic service called “Should Jews face execution?’ Would such a debate be a legitimate and responsible attempt to support a challenging discussion? If not then why the homophobic double standard?

  2. Simon Murphy 17 Dec 2009, 4:43pm

    And in better news – today Andrew Cowles complained to the PCC about the Daily Mail article on Stephen Gately’s death.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/dec/17/stephen-gately-pcc-jan-moir

  3. So the Jonathan Ross Show will be dropping the 4 Poof’s on tomorrows show?

    I don’t think so, they will be on the show and Ross will probably make some homophobic comment about what’s been happening in the press?

  4. Nick Weeks 17 Dec 2009, 5:39pm

    Call that an apology? It shows no understanding at all of what was so offensive about the original item, nor the cack-handed way in which an allegedly pre-moderated forum allowed grossly homophobic (and quite possible illegal as inciting to violence) posts, only to retro-mod them out of existence when people started to put formal complaints in to the BBC

  5. I agree a debate about what’s going on in Uganda is something that should be discussed, but the BBC mishandled this so badly, and they still do not get the level of offence that’s been caused.

    Had this been a fub up along the lines of “Should all Jews be Executed,” then I have no doubts someone would lose their job. They just don’t see it as being on the same level of offence.

  6. should all christians be eaten by lions;
    should women be stoned for adultery;
    should be the BBC be challenged in court for inciting homphobia.
    should i stop paying a tv licence.

    what a bunch of tossers at the bbc.
    B.raindead B.igot C.orperation more like. They are so busy sucking up to their celebrities they have lost touch with reality.

  7. Around a 100,000 homosexual people went to the concentration camps in Nazi Germany, some of of them went to the gas chamber thought to be around 10,000.

    It is not a legitimate debate looking at the editors blog one poster AlbiMangles was subject to homophobia at work as a direct response to the have your say debate.

    AlbiMangles said: “Thanks to the BBC’s inappropriate use of the title of its debate “Should homosexuals face execution?”

    I faced my office debating my right to exist because of my sexuality and was subjected to homophobia as a direct result of the have your say debate.

    Tomorrow I will hand in my notice as I cannot work in a environment where I am not considered worthy to exist.

    I have reported the BBC to my local police LGBT officer as I feel the BBC have committed the offence of insightment to homophobic hatred.”

    This semi apology is on consolation to this licence fee payer who is now unemployed.

    I would expect a full apology on newsnight and the recognition the debate is only legitimate when framed in the right way.

  8. This ‘apology’ was overshadowed by them still trying to justify this gross error in judgement. They have effectively said, ‘sorry if we offended you BUT…’ There should be no ifs or buts. It was a half hearted apology through gritted teeth. And let’s not forget this was issued AFTER refusing outright to apologise in the first place! I’m still so angry about this. I actually used the BBC news site daily until this. I won’t be doing so again. All over the internet the BBC’s ‘debate’ has open the floodgates for every bigoted idiot out there who now thinks it’s their democratic right to incite homophobic hatred and decide whether or not we deserve to live! Homophobic hate crimes are rising in the UK as it is and now the BBC are challenging decency by making it ‘alright’ to say people should be murdered as long as it provokes ‘debate’. They just do not get the magnitude of what they’ve done.

  9. “.. Ross will probably make some homophobic comment about what’s been happening in the press?”

    Jonathan Ross is just a thoughtless homophobe, as are those 4 colluding gay men with their piano.

    No word yet from Stephen Fry or the other BBC ‘top talent’ – pity

  10. Peter Horrocks is only apologising that other people have taken offence not for offending its not an apology.

    If the government want to save money let them start with BBC World Service as its apparently not fit for purpose.

  11. Mr Murphy seems to think that, in and of itself, a motion of the form “Should X be executed?” (call a statement of this form “X”), where X denotes some particular group, implies the following claims:
    (A): It is possible that X should be executed
    (B): It is morally acceptable to debate “Should X be executed”
    Strictly speaking, X does not imply either (A) or (B). For example, suppose I propose a motion: “Should cannabis users be executed”. This is compatible with my thinking it unacceptable that cannabis users should be executed, and with thinking that lots of people agree. Furthermore, a debate can be sanctioned by someone who thinks there is a justification for the debate, but not a MORAL justification. In this way, someone might deny (B), but argue that the debate is nevertheless justified. Likewise, thinking the debate has justification might not be equivalent to thinking the debate is acceptable. I think the debate is unnacceptable, but I think that people are justified in having any debate. My feelings of unnacceptability are simply that- feelings.

    We must also be clear that, strictly speaking, X does not entail:
    (C): Incitement to hatred

    Even were X to imply (A), A does not imply incitement to hatred. I might think that Tony Blair should be executed, by the standards of the Nuremberg Laws. That doesn’t imply I am inciting violence or hatred against tony blair.

  12. Mr Murphy seems to think that, in and of itself, a motion of the form “Should X be executed?” (call a statement of this form “X”), where X denotes some particular group, implies the following claims:
    (A): It is possible that X should be executed
    (B): It is morally acceptable to debate “Should X be executed”
    Strictly speaking, X does not imply either (A) or (B). For example, suppose I propose a motion: “Should cannabis users be executed”. This is compatible with my thinking it unacceptable that cannabis users should be executed, and with thinking that lots of people agree. Furthermore, a debate can be sanctioned by someone who thinks there is a justification for the debate, but not a MORAL justification. In this way, someone might deny (B), but argue that the debate is nevertheless justified. Likewise, thinking the debate has justification might not be equivalent to thinking the debate is acceptable. I think the debate is unnacceptable, but I think that people are justified in having any debate. My feelings of unnacceptability are simply that- feelings.

    We must also be clear that, strictly speaking, X does not entail:
    (C): Incitement to hatred

    Even were X to imply (A), A does not imply incitement to hatred. I might think that Tony Blair and George Bush should be executed, by the standards of the Nuremberg Laws. That doesn’t imply I am inciting violence or hatred against tony blair and George Bush.

  13. I want to respond to some things Mr Murphy says about me. He thinks I am dodging the question of whether debate of the holocaust is acceptable. In fact, on one post I explicitly say that I think that, legally speaking, debate of anything is licit, if not morally acceptable. He also quibbles with my talk of ‘natural’ in the context of scientists saying that homosexuality is natural. What I meant to say, is that their judgement that it is ‘natural’ is a moral judgement, insofar as the judgement that something is ‘natural’ is seen as a good thing. For that would constitute a moral claim, and therefore, not a scientific claim. The sense in which ‘natural’ means, ‘occurs in nature’ is of course perfectly acceptable.

  14. An apology that is qualified by ‘but’ isn’t an apology. it’s an excuse. and there is no excuse. The question ought to have been ‘should Uganda be shunned by all right thinking people of the world’.

  15. Simon Murphy 17 Dec 2009, 7:16pm

    You’re splitting hairs Luke.

    You say that a debate about whether gay people should be executed for the fact that they are gay is acceptable because of a freedom of speech arguement.

    In your post above you say that ‘debate’ whether the Holocaust was ‘justified’ should also be acceptable using the same criteria.

    However you are wilfully ignoring the fact that as a public service broadcaster would NEVER engage in such a debate.

    Are you seriously claiming you can’t see a double standard here.

    Are you gay Luke?

    I really don’t understand your agenda. You claim to be in favour of freedom of speech but you ignore the fact that no society in history has allowed absolute freedom of speech ; and you ignore the clear double standards being applied by the BBC.

    Freedom of speech is a qualified freedom – it is only allowed when that freedom does not impinge on the rights of other people – in this case – the right for gay people not to have to defend our right to exist on a publicly funded website.

  16. The BBC, Luke, is impartial. To be impartial, the journalist has to make sure the reader or audience gets a clear picture of evidence for both sides of the debate, and access to information about what the experts say on the matter.

    To be impartial means if the evidence is overwhelming, uninformed viewpoints do not need to be treated equally.

    The BBC presented no information about what the experts think. (links to the APA, the RCP etc; links to biological explanations for homosexuality; it has given LGBT people no chance to tell readers what it is like to be gay, no information about the consequences of liberal laws in Europe.

    So, the BBC throws a discussion to people who only have access to one side of the story. It is grossly irresponsible. Furthermore, the framing of the question means those who argue from the position that there is no issue, are seen to be on the fringe.

    In short, the BBC has decided the middle ground is that we are discussing what penalties we should impose on gay people. The framing of the question instructs the reader to bypass the discussion on whether homosexuality is immoral in the first place, whether the state should intervene at all in private relationships.

    No encouragement whatsoever for anti-gay fanatics to even consider their position or the evidence. Nothing but an encouragement to spew hatred. It’s a scandal.

  17. Mumbo Jumbo 17 Dec 2009, 9:08pm

    “But it’s important that this does not detract from what is a crucial debate for Africans…”

    So Mr Horrocks, you are now saying that for Africans the merits of genocide are still a matter for legitimate debate. This is to hold them to a lower standard of morality than Europeans.

    Congratulations.

    To your homophobia you can now add racism (patronising variety).

    Do yourself a favour and stop talking.

  18. Dr. Robin Guthrie 17 Dec 2009, 10:32pm

    “Should gay UK License payers” pay an enforced tax to an organisation which obviously thinks their existance is worthy of debate.

  19. Dr. Robin Guthrie 17 Dec 2009, 10:45pm

    “But it’s important that this does not detract from what is a crucial debate for Africans…”

    I say bugger them.

    The populous do not have a forum for debate, and the BBC was disingenuous to allude that one exists.

    The west buggerred up with all the God Crap, and now they are taking it literaly.

    Blame the past missionaries and their “GOOD BOOK”, spoiling these societies.

    All they have done is repeated the bull espoused to them
    without having controls.

  20. Dr Robin Guthrie
    “Should gay UK License payers” pay an enforced tax to an organisation which obviously thinks their existance is worthy of debate.

    Robin excellent . . . clarity, and to the point even though the point is distubing in its perversity.

  21. Watch BBC for a week and count the number of gay jibes and insults across many, many programs.

    Its well known the BBC is anti-gay as well as anti-Jewish, anti-American and anti-Israeli.

    That’s what happens when the commies run the beeb!

  22. Dr. Robin Guthrie 18 Dec 2009, 12:06am

    The BBC apology is nothing other than a self serving Job Keep
    syndrome.

    I learned by reading each and every newspaper globaly, most of which saw this BBC tripe as an affront to human dignity.

    No more BBC cash from me.

    Take me to court and I will show this BBC affront as to why I will no longer pay it.

    Given the laws that presently exist, I will win.

  23. Vo Dong Cung 18 Dec 2009, 12:30am

    Why don’t BBC run the debate “Should Benedict XVI step down” over hiding child abuse by their clergies ?

  24. Hey I just found this link, a band doing a funny response to BBC on youtube. I was in stitches! LOL

  25. ‘Peter Horrocks apologised but added that it was a “legitimate and responsible attempt to support a challenging discussion”.’

    No, it wasn’t. He can’t be so thick as to not get it, can he? I honestly believe the BBC is homophobic. Their response to complaints is pathetic and patronising. They give the impression that LGBT people are second-class citizens. Until I see a debate entitled “Should black people be executed?” then I’ll continue to believe that the BBC are ignorant homophobes. That question is disgusting and offensive too, but I’m sure it’d bring out all the racists who’d like to ‘discuss’ it. Obviously, such a hideous thing shouldn’t EVER be up for discussion – and the same goes for the execution of homosexuals. It legitimises hate and makes it seem that killing people because of their race or sexuality is a perfectably reasonable thing to discuss. This gives the green light to hate and violence against those people.

    Wrong, wrong, wrong. This apology is pathetic.

  26. “However you are wilfully ignoring the fact that as a public service broadcaster would NEVER engage in such a debate.”

    Yes, the double standard is bad.

    As to my sexuality, yes, I’m a very happy 21 year old gay man, thanks!

    “Freedom of speech is a qualified freedom – it is only allowed when that freedom does not impinge on the rights of other people – in this case – the right for gay people not to have to defend our right to exist on a publicly funded website.”
    I concede that, like any right, the right to free speech must be limited. The question is, what principles restrict the right? There have been two main principles proposed in moral philosophy- Mill’s harm principle and Feinberg’s offense principle. Mill will not sanction limits to free speech simply because someone is harmed by the statements of others. Mill gives the example of a corn dealer, and suggests that it is acceptable to claim that corn dealers starve the poor in most circumstances. It is not acceptable to express the same view to an angry mob, ready to explode, that has gathered outside the house of the corn dealer. The difference between the two is that the latter is an expression “such as to constitute…a positive instigation to some mischievous act,” (1978, 53), namely, to place the rights, and possibly the life, of the corn dealer in danger. Mill distinguishes between legitimate and illegitimate harm, and it is only when speech causes a direct and clear violation of rights that it can be limited.
    By Mill’s principle, since discussion of the motion itself does not cause a direct and clear violation of rights, it should not be limited.
    Now, most liberal democracies today restrict freedom of speech more than Mill’s principle would permit. Often they adopt restrictions which seem to derive from Feinberg-esque thinking. Feinberg thought we also need an offense principle that can act as a guide to public censure. The basic idea is that the harm principle sets the bar too high and that we can legitimately prohibit some forms of expression because they are very offensive. Offending someone is less serious than harming someone, so the penalties imposed should be less severe than those for causing harm. This principle is difficult to apply because many people take offense as the result of an overly sensitive disposition, or worse, because of bigotry and unjustified prejudice. At other times some people can be deeply offended by statements that others find mildly amusing. The furore over the Danish cartoons brings this starkly to the fore. Feinberg suggests that a variety of factors need to be taken into account when deciding whether speech can be limited by the offense principle, which I won’t go into.
    But I personally think the offense principle is deeply flawed, as even a cursory consideration of it will confirm. ‘Offense’ is a highly subjective notion, and if not careful, the definition could end up banning freedom of speech because when offending bigots. Indeed, on an associated note, the offense principle, Feinberg argues, lies behind the penalties for sodomy that ranged from twenty years imprisonment to the death penalty in the USA. He reasoned that these are victimless crimes and hence the punishment has to have a basis in the supposed offensiveness of the behavior rather than the harm that is caused. So the offense principle can be a bludgeon to destroy important rights.
    As such, yes I am in favour of anything being debated, so long as it abides by Mill’s principle. Just to check that my interpretation of Mill’s principle is correct I spoke to my philosophy tutor and asked him whether Mill would allow the BBC debate. He confirmed my obvious expectation. And I think Mill would’ve been right.

  27. For those who wish for the reference:
    Mill, J.S., 1978, On Liberty. Indianapolis:Hackett Publishing Press.
    “The BBC, Luke, is impartial. To be impartial, the journalist has to make sure the reader or audience gets a clear picture of evidence for both sides of the debate, and access to information about what the experts say on the matter.

    To be impartial means if the evidence is overwhelming, uninformed viewpoints do not need to be treated equally.”

    You say they presented no evidence from medical authorities as if that would be evidence in favour of opposition to the motion. It isn’t necessarily. Many evangelical christians belief that, whatever the genetic or biological basis for sexuality, it is still immoral, so the evidence you cite can be used by both sides of the argument.
    No matter how obvious the answer to a question might seem, framing the question does not mean that you are breaching impartial. I fail to see any breach of impartiality.
    Impartiality in debate does not involve giving information to the debaters, otherwise it would mandate giving information to people on question time or any questions, prior to those shows.
    “So, the BBC throws a discussion to people who only have access to one side of the story. It is grossly irresponsible…No encouragement whatsoever for anti-gay fanatics to even consider their position or the evidence. Nothing but an encouragement to spew hatred. It’s a scandal.”

    I agree, it is irresponsible, and I’m annoyed at it. But freedom of speech trumps any offence you or I might have. As far as I’m concerned, let hatred be spewed- but don’t stop it through preventing speech. Stop it through campaigning, stop it through funding, stop it through education, stop it through rallying, stop it through lobbying, stop it through boycotting (although I believe this is only appropriate in some cases), etc. But the day we stop it through muzzling is the day we cease to be a democracy, as I would define it.

  28. “What are YOU going to do to protect the ‘freedom of speech’ of people who want to murder jews or muslims or women or black people, seeing as you are such a fan of ‘freedom of speech’?

    Or do you think that ‘freedom of speech’ only applies to people who want to murder gay people?

    ***Note to Pink News – keep an eye on this Luke person. I have a suspicion that he is a troll.”

    These statements of Mr Murphy had me giggling a lot!
    As I have explained above, I believe speech should only be restricted when it causes a direct and clear violation of rights.
    Mr Murphy asks me what I intend to do to protect various odious people’s free speech rights. Not much. But that doesn’t mean I’m not in favour of their rights.
    As for his imputing of a double standard to me. No, nothing could be farther from the case, and I have already acknowledged the BBC’S double standard, which could be justified on Utilitarian grounds (although I personally would disagree with the justification).
    I found Mr Murphy’s statement to the effect, ‘look out for this Luke guy’ a little amusing, but also a little offensive. Perhaps, by the offense principle, his speech ought to be banned (lol)! For I have never been described as a troll before, and don’t know exactly what he might be trying to imply by such a description. If he thinks I’m some anti-gay weirdo, who’s in denial about their sexuality- far from it. As I said above, I’m 21, proud to be gay, and am having great fun in life. In fact, probably a great deal more fun in life than I imagine Mr Murphy does, but I suppose that’s idle speculation!

  29. I wonder if the BBC would hold a debate on whether jews should be gassed or black people hung from tree’s by the KKK?
    Thought not.

  30. Simon Murphy 19 Dec 2009, 4:57am

    Luke, I don’t study philosophy, and to be honest I almost fell asleep while reading your response (you’re obviously very intelligent, but perhaps a little too remote from everyday arguements).

    Put simply my view is that debating the merits of whether the execution of someone for the fact that they are gay, is disgusting. And that there can be no relativism about it. It is entirely wrong.

    Therefore the BBC made a huge mistake for which, they have refused to apologise properly.

  31. Should Peter Horrocks and his immediate family be drowned in a glass box live on television? I’m just trying to “support the discussion”.

  32. In response to Mr Horrocks, would he support a debate initiated by Al Jazera entitled:

    Should BBC journalists be executed?

    Journalism is, after all deeply offensive to many tyrants or would be tyrants, and journalism IS a lifestyle choice.

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