The Curious Case of BBC Censorship

A two part programme about the civil unrest that took place last summer in the UK entitled, “The Riots: In their Own Words,” scheduled to run on BBC 2, has been banned from viewing. The judge who made the ruling, the court in which he was presiding over, and the name of the actual case, all cannot be named under British law. It has been reported, strangely enough, that the judge in the case did not even view the documentary in question.

Just to give you some background, rioting broke out last summer in several cities and towns across England (approximately between the 6th and 10th of August). The rioting was initially sparked by the police killing of a Tottenham man, under what many felt were suspicious circumstances, named Mark Duggan

Commenting on the riots, UK Prime Minister David Cameron (in prepared remarks) said he believed that the violence and looting were caused, in part, by the “irresponsibility and selfishness” that had led some people to behave as if their “choices have no consequences.” Furthermore, “some of the worst aspects of human nature have been tolerated, indulged — sometimes even incentivised — by a state and its agencies.” Prime Minister Cameron soulfully wonders if, “we have the determination to confront the slow-motion moral collapse that has taken place in parts of our country?”

Just to be clear, remember that Prime Minister Cameron is talking about the rioters and not about the bankers who engineered the worst global financial collapse in almost 80 years, a collapse which destroyed trillions of dollars of people’s wealth and left millions unemployed, many perhaps permanently.

It would appear that in polite company one is only to speak of the mayhem and destruction caused by the masses and not that caused by financial elites. Which is ultimately more damaging to a society, I will leave for you to ponder.

This brings me to a question. If we are witnessing the “moral collapse” of the UK, and by extension, that of the civilized world, what better way to rectify it than by showing a documentary highlighting the “irresponsible and selfishness” of those individuals who are taking part in it? 

Wouldn’t we all be much better off as a society if we could see for ourselves what these people did, and perhaps, understand what drove them to it? We are not looking to condone these activities, only better comprehend them. 

There was speculation that the programme was banned so as not to unfairly influence the defendants in a related murder trial that was going on at roughly the same time. But this now appears unlikely since the 8 suspects were all recently acquitted.

So why the ban?

I do not accept, promote or condone violence as an acceptable means of bringing about social change. But there is a phenomenon that I have observed in many Western democracies and the dictatorships aligned with those democracies. Whenever violent protests arise, the people taking part are usually labelled criminals or terrorists and the full repressive force of the State is brought to bare upon them. We need only look at events in Greece, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UK, and the Occupy Wall Street Movement in the US for examples (with, in all fairness, the vast proportion of violence being done by the State and not the protesters).

But oddly enough, when violent protests break out in an “unfriendly” dictatorship (i.e. Libya or Syria) these people are given covert or overt military support, equipment and financing, and are usually labelled “Freedom Fighters.”

This strikes me as hypocritical. Violence on, against, or between peoples should be wrong in every case. Whether it's "us" or "them" shouldn't make a difference.

I would love to know what is in that BBC2 documentary that the Government banned in the UK. Wouldn’t you?







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