Tag Archives: bbc

BBC Guidelines on Depicting Muhammad

BBC_GatesIn the wake of the appalling Islamist terror attacks (still currently unfolding at the time of writing) in France this week over apparent cartoon based satire of Muhammad – one deeply obscene question is doing the rounds yet again; ‘Should news channels show the cartoons in question?’.

The fact that this question is even asked, and indeed that most news channels will not show the cartoons integral to their reporting proves we’ve already lost our freedom of expression in this area.  It’s gone.

I was appalled to learn this week that depicting Islam’s prophet on the BBC is actually prohibited as per their own stated editorial guidelines:

“The prophet Mohammed must not be represented in any shape or form.”

Full of bluster, indignation & aspirations of petitioning – I was half way through a ranty blog post on the topic when the BBC pulled the guidelines in question from their website and announced they were making revisions:


They’ve spared you my unlettered ramblings at least, but I do wonder at which point was prohibiting depictions of Muhammad considered ‘in date’ or acceptable?  It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve reported on their refusal to promote freedom of expression over the ‘hurt feelings’ of the godly.

I await the revised guidelines with anticipation1. When will a mainstream news channel take a brave stance on this?  Or even an honest one?  Let’s no longer pretend we are concerned about upsetting the sensibilities of the religious – we’re scared we will be killed.  And for good reason.  Only when you admit the problem can you even hope to combat it.

As Ayaan Hirsi Ali has said, now is the time to ‘spread the risk’.

UPDATE: 09/01/15

The updated guidelines are in.  The relevant section reads:

Any content dealing with matters of religion and likely to cause offence to those with religious views and beliefs must be editorially justified as judged against generally accepted standards and must be referred to a senior editorial figure or, for independents, to the commissioning editor.

To me, this seems like a long-winded way of refusing to clarify the actual issue at hand whilst keeping the previous position alive – but unstated.  I can’t help but think this has simply been an exercise in reducing the BBC’s embarrassment at having their cowardice and self censorship exposed in plain black & white for all to see.  Let me know what you think in the comments.

You can listen to The Godless Spellchecker Podcast here, and support it by becoming a patron here.

Ep#36 – Andrew Copson – Humanism

Joining me on this week’s #GSPodcast is the Chief Executive of The British Humanist AssociationAndrew Copson (@AndrewCopson).  We talk over the bonfire night fireworks to chat humanism, faith schools, the ‘Trojan Horse Plot’, the BBC, The Sunday Assembly and Assisted Dying. Also, Star Wars or Star Trek?

Also available on iTunes and Stitcher.

Support the podcast at www.patreon.com/gspellchecker

#GSPodcast Theme by Dorian Silk & The MCH


Direct Mp3 Download

Are Students Required To Accept Islam Is A Religion Of Peace? The BBC Thinks So..

Religion of Peace

The BBC is not unaccustomed to criticism. Some of it is merited; some is simply due to their stature.  People love to take a swing at a giant once in a while. I hold no agenda to single out the BBC as frequently as I have this year; it’s just that they seem to be going out of their way to mock the gods of reason.

From the censorship of satire in response to a chorus of bleating from a humourless Christian minority, to refusal to re-think the increasingly outdated and less than inclusive format of its ‘Thought For The Day‘.

There was also that nasty business whereby a ‘journalist’ was able to assert something as utterly irresponsible as “men are raised to hate women” on the flagship BBC news programme, without so much as a follow-up question. Poor editorial indeed.

Throw in the BBC’s unquestioning promotion of Atheism Plus’ odious Block bot and we have an organisation that has truly earned itself a spell on my naughty step.

Imagine then, the look of unrefined exasperation on my face, as I completed a “Practice exam” on their High School revision service, GCSE Bitesize.  You could have driven a school bus into the gaping negative space created by the rapid expansion of my oral cavity.  I still have jaw ache.

For the uninitiated, GCSE’s are qualifications awarded to high school students (age 14-16) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The BBC’s ‘bitesize’ service aims to provide revision tools and practice exercises relevant to the current school curriculum. In this instance, the subject in question is Religious Studies, with a focus on Islam.

Upon taking the two minutes required to answer the questions in question, it soon became clear that the BBC, or the relevant educational bodies do not give a flying horse about objectivity where the ‘Religion Of Peace’ is concerned.

As you can see from the below, two questions in particular, or more specifically, what the exercise deems to be the correct response, caught my eye:

RelOfPeaceIslamEquality

If you’re unsure as to my gripe at this point, it may be best to return to your bubble.

Read more

1 2