Saturday 14 February 2015


Just watching the BBC News Channel. They are leading with the terrorist attack on the free speech seminar in Copenhagen. 

Neither the BBC presenter nor the reporter (Rob Broomby) are speculating as to who might have carried out the attack. They are saying it's about "intimidation" and "intolerance" though.  

The BBC are being very clear about one thing though: that the likely target of the attack, Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, is controversial. The word "controversial" was used about him four times within the space of three minutes. 


  1. Another day, another terrorist attack by cartoon-haters.

    It's to be hoped that people who find Road Runner irritating won't attack Looney Tunes or Merrie Melodies. And if they do that they'll buy their dynamite from ACME.

    It would be good to see some of these cartoon-haters plunging down the Grand Canyon followed by an anvil.

  2. Yes, they are seriously p'ing me off with that use of "controversial". It's the wrong frame of reference.

    Call him a pro-free speech cartoonist, call him a libertarian cartoonist...but he's not controversial as far as I and I suspect the majaority of people in this country are concerned.

    Also, why call it a "blasphemy" seminar. It was a seminar about the limits of free speech.

  3. The implication of the BBC News item is that the "controversial cartoonist somehow brought it on himself. Never heard of Hogarth being described as "controversial". I suppose there would be some tautology involved in such a description for satire though in its modern usage of the word, as demonstrated by the BBC, its purpose is to dog whistle an alert for the PC appeasers. The BBC is going to explain why they are “controversial". In all these news approaches a particular narrative technique is used. The behaviour of the victims is explained and discussions are focused around that behaviour - what they did. This steps over into an implication that there is some binary here: should they or should they not publish. The attackers become flat characters to be explained but only in terms of social biography on the trope of disadvantage which makes them sociologically determined. Now, you then have a free reckless cartoonist and a behavioural automaton. The problem is that this sociological profile cannot explain because it is based on a sociological profile that millions share. So its purpose is to be in place of what does distinguish that attacker - what he says he is doing it for, his religion. The focus of the BBC facing attacks on freedom of expression should NEVER be a discussion of constitutional liberties, i.e., should they publish or not. The terrorist will consider it progress if the media discussion are on his ground which they were on the BBC: the free expressions. Risky as it is to say, I would suggest that this is a variation of (I think) Russell's point about have you stopped beating your mother. The discussion should always be on what we should do to stop the attackers, never the cartoons and those "controversial" cartoonist.

  4. I agree Laska.

    The discussion should also focus on what the Koran says about unbelievers .


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