Tuesday, September 27, 2011



I don't mean to say "I told you so", but,

I told you so.


The improbably named Jame Delingpole, writing in the Daily Mail, has explained, and stop me if you've heard this before, that Political Correctness and the BBC are part of a plot by cultural Marxists to destroy civilisation.

Just to be quite clear: this is not something which I am wittily reading into his article. I am not doing one of those clever "deconstruction" things where you take what some one says and show that if you took it to its logical conclusion, it would lead to an absurd place. I'm not exaggerating. I am reporting what this man actually said. HOW THE BBC FELL FOR A MARXIST PLOT TO DESTROY CIVILISATION FROM WITHIN. There was a photograph of Herbert Marcuse and everything.

There are days of the week, I don't mind admitting, where I feel a little like Dave Sim. Why are we still having this conversation, I feel like saying. I have told you what is going on. Are you not hearing me? Political Correctness doesn't mean going out of your way, maybe too far out of your way, to avoid offending the other guy. It never did. It is, and always was, a paranoid fantasy about a Marxist Plot to destroy civilisation, invented by an right wing academic called William Lind and sold to the British press and thus to the British political parties by one-man pressure groups with names like the Campaign Against Political Correctness.

"Gee Andrew, that sure is interesting," you say. "But my sys. admin really did ask us to stop referring to the computers as "master" and "slave" units, which I thought was going a bit far. And heteronormative is a pretty unwieldy word. "

No. No, no. That isn't the point. That isn't what we are talking about.

It might be that it's bad manners to ask a Muslim or a Jew "What is you Christian name"? It might on the other hand be that Muslims and the Jews should bloody well get over themselves and stop worrying about that kind of thing. It might be that Christmas is a mostly Christian festival and it might be that it isn't. If it is, it might be that it's okay to celebrate religious festivals in the public sphere and it might be that it's not. There are probably sensible arguments in favour of slippering serial killers and sending children who talk in the dinner queue to the electric chair. It might even be that "nigger" isn't a very offensive word and never was and even if it is it could be that the whole idea of "offence" is not something which the law can or should deal with. There are two sides to every question, apart from the one about whether Jack Kirby created the Silver Surfer. (If you don't think that there are two sides to every question then you are probably a fundamentalist or a bigot or a twit, and I mean that in a very caring way.)

But those aren't the questions that I'm asking. The question that I'm asking is "has the BBC fallen victim for a Marxist plot to destroy civilisation from within" and the answer is of course it bloody well hasn't.

It turns out that now the BBC has banned presenters from using the designation "BC" and "AD" when talking about dates again. This is another example of the sort of thing we could probably have a sensible discussion about, but aren't going to. It would seem to me that "AD" and "BC" are commonly used in colloquial English, and that we are going to carry on having comic books called "2000AD" and bad movies called "Six Million Years BC" for as long as we say "he was inching up the road" rather than ""he was 2.5 centimetreing along the road" and "and that's worth a few bob" rather than "that's worth between 5 and 15 pence" and "pull the chain" rather than "depress the little button thing on top of the cistern." Americans still have "dime stores" even though you can't actually by anything for 5c cents. On the other hand, we are likely to carry on, in more formal, technical settings like history text books, to say "C.E" and "B.C.E" has we have been for the last fifty or sixty years, because it is, in fact, a little odd to say that Mohammed was born 570 A.D because that's not the dating system that Moslims use. It would be very confusing to say that "Jesus was born 5 years before the birth of Christ" and completely barking mad to say that a particular dinosaur thrived in the year 64,997,989 BC. But it would be a little pedantic to say that the Battle of Bosworth field happened in 1485 C.E because Henry Tudor and Richard of York both called the year 1485 AD.

But that isn't the question. The question is why are we even talking about this. Because the BBC have not, in fact, banned the terms A.D or B.C. They just haven't. This isn't one of those cases where you can say "oh they kind of sort of have" or "Andrew has an opinion that the terms A.D and B.C don't appear on BBC websites any more, but other people think they don't. This is one of those interesting disagreements, and I guess BBC-AD believers and BBC-AD denialists will just have to agree to differ." Go to the page. Have a look. It hasn't happened, in the same way that Birmingham City Council haven't just banned Christmas again and never did. Hitler Diaries; Protocols of the Elders of Zion; Piltdown Man; Holy Blood and Holy Grail; Stan Lee created the Silver Surfer. Not differences of opinion. Lies. Lies, lies, lies, lies, lies. Lies.

Cleverer, or at any rate calmer, people than me have already pointed out that what the Daily Mail is objecting to is that people on the BBC are permitted to use the secular designation if they want to (Jeremy Paxman tends to; Andrew Marr tends not to) and that what the extreme right is saying is that they shouldn't be allowed to. The terms C.E and B.C.E should be banned and the terms B.C and A.D mandated, on ideological grounds. The Daily Mail is in fact doing precisely what it's fictitious political correctness brigade would be doing if it really existed, which it doesn't -- it just doesn't -- banning words banning words which it doesn't like.

BUT THAT ISN'T THE POINT. The point is that they are talking about an IMAGINARY ban which they made up out of their own head in order to promote their EQUALLY IMAGINARY story about how COMMIES are trying to DESTROY CIVILISATION.

And isn't it only fair that we should be a bit more considerate to the sensitivities of other races, religions and creeds? No, it's an act of cultural suicide. Most of us may not realise this but the ideological Left certainly does, for it has long been part of its grand plan to destroy Western civilisation from within. The plan's prime instigator was the influential German Marxist thinker ('the father of the New Left') Herbert Marcuse. A Jewish academic who fled Germany for the US in the Thirties, he became the darling of the Sixties and Seventies 'radical chic' set. He deliberately set out to dismantle every last pillar of society – tradition, hierarchy, order – and key to victory, he argued, would be a Leftist takeover of the language....

My old sparring partner from the Yorkshire Evening Post the "rev" Peter Mullen is a more straightforward

To be honest, I don't think the BBC's undoubted loathing of our Christian heritage is the main issue. They just loath anything that smacks of tradition and value and Englishness, of all that most of us were brought up to respect. Like Stalin or Pol Pot, the BBC would like to abolish all reverence for the past and for the institutions created by that illustrious past, and to make policy from year zero - a desolate, heartless, rootless public realm dominated by the banal celeb culture, pop music and the banal display of depravity which fills the air wave....

Just how many history shows has the BBC put out over the last twelve months, you pathetic little arsehole?

The made up fact about the new dating system is only one of large number of made up facts which the Common Sense Brigade have made up this week. Melannie Phillips assured us that (sit down, please) that "Christmas has been renamed in various places Winterval". It is, I suppose, just possible that Liz Jones really believes that there is no recession because a waiter wouldn't give he the seat she wanted in posh restaurant and lose fitting trousers caused the riots. You can be stupid without being dishonest. But it is not possible that Mel really believes in Winterval. She is circulating a lie which she knows to be a lie. she must be be.

We have also had this kind of thing:

Yet Britain’s response [to the pacific economies] is to adopt the faddish fixation with man-made global warming, for which no shred of reputable scientific evidence exists, and thus to sacrifice prosperity on the altar of New Left green ideology along with Old Left class war.

I said above that there were two points of view about every question. But when there is complete unanimity among experts (about highly technical and specialist subjects) you do have to say "the is complete unanimity among experts about this highly technical and specialist subject" which is very close to saying "this is true". But not if you are part of the Common Sense Brigade. If you are part of the Common Sense Brigade you make up a story in which all the real scientists agree with you but the MARXISTS are suppressing the real truth. (Mr Delingpole's article assuring us that homeopathy works and the scientists who keep explaining why it can't are a bit like witch-finders is worth hooting with derision at, as well.)

The Marxists. Herbert Marcuse. The Frankfurt Group. Stalin. Poll Pott. End of civilization.

I told you so.



  1. Cleverer, or at any rate calmer, people than me have already pointed out that what the Daily Mail is objecting to is that people on the BBC are permitted to use the secular designation if they want to (Jeremy Paxman tends to; Andrew Marr tends not to)

    On the other hand, I don't think you can claim that the BBC doesn't have a bias: for instance, 'In an interview for the seminar, the writer Mark Ravenhill said that he and many connected with broadcast drama regarded most of the audience as not liberal enough. TV drama was a means to foster in them "a more enlightened attitude towards gay people, disabled people, or whatever.[...]"'
    (From the BBC Trust report on impartiality, http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/review_report_research/impartiality_21century/report.pdf p. 52). Jeremy Paxman and Andrew Marr may favour different acronyms, but I don't think they'd vary very far from the social liberal consensus (and neither would any other BBC presenter with the possible exception of Andrew Neil).

  2. Well, I'm suggesting that 'the point' might be slightly wider than simply whether one BBC editor has decided to standardise on a particular brace of acronyms.

    That could be the same as 'missing', I suppose.

  3. I refer you to Andrew's post, above:

    The point is that they are talking about an IMAGINARY ban which they made up out of their own head in order to promote their EQUALLY IMAGINARY story about how COMMIES are trying to DESTROY CIVILISATION.

  4. Yes, that is the particular tree that Mr Rilstone is focussing on.

  5. Do you, then, think that Andrew is wrong and the Daily Mail story is not "made up out of their own head"? And, if so, do you have evidence that would support this claim?

  6. On the specific issue of whether the Mail reported this charge accurately, then Mr Rilstone is quite correct: they didn't. (It's not entirely the case that all 'people on the BBC are permitted to use the secular designation if they want to': while certainly nobody's going to tell star presenters what they may or may not say, some bits of it, like the Religion section of the website, have editorial policies about which is to be used by which their contributors must abide; and I can imagine the same might be true of a particular programme, for example, to avoid captions randomly switching between the two systems. But that's part of the point of editing, to ensure consistency, and it's certainly not blanket BBC policy).

  7. I just don't know why I bother sometimes.

    "All British newspapers, except one, say that the flu bug is caused by and extraterrestrial death ray on the moon, and politicians of all three parties are starting to pay lip service to the ideas that we need tin hats to keep us save from the extraterrestrial death rays, and until we all get together and say 'There are no extraterrestrial death rays' we won't be able to have a sensible discussion about the health service."

    "On the other hand, I did have a sore throat last week."

    I do. not. know. why. I. bother.

    Several occurrence of the word "fucking" we're deleted from the above because my mother sometimes reads this column.

  8. No, now Mr Rilstone is missing the point.

    The essence of the claim made by the newspapers is that the BBC promotes social liberalism (and that social liberalism will destroy society). As evidence for the first part they offer this made-up AD/CE story (as evidence for the second part they offer the 'Marxist plot' theory).

    The difference between this and the lunar death ray story is that while there is no evidence for lunar death rays other than the made-up stories, there is evidence that the BBC promotes social liberalism other than made-up stories (such as the BBC Trust's own report).

    So if, by the lunar death ray analogy, what you mean is that lots of newspapers say that the BBC has a bias towards promoting social liberalism, and politicians have started to pay lip service to the idea that BBC is promoting social liberalism, and so we should all get together and say 'the BBC doesn't promote social liberalism' then you can't do that because, well, it does.

    (If, on the other hand, you are attacking the second part of the claim, and saying that social liberalism will not, in fact, destroy society, then surely your essay should not be on disproving that the BBC has decreed the use of secular terms, but on claiming that even if it had it would not lead to the collapse of civilisation.)

    If not, then I have indeed missed the point of your analogy. So what do you think we should get together and say about the BBC?

  9. Re - It is not possible that Melanie Phillips really believe in Winterval.

    It appears that every time anyone has written "Birmingham banned Christmas and replaced it with Winterval" they did not really mean that Birmingham had "banned" "Christmas" and "replaced" it with "Winterval". That would have been silly. Every time anyone has said "Birmingham banned Christmas and repalced it with Winterval" they knew, and expected their readers to know, that there were still Santas, Chrismtas trees, carols, baby Jesii, angels, and all the other paraphenalia of Christmas just like there was every year. What was meant, apparently, was that when people say "Christmas" they mean "the period between August and February when you can buy mince pies in the shops". The normal designation for "Remembrance Sunday - Guy Fawkes Night - Diwali - Christmas - New Year" is, apparently, "Christmas". So when Birmingham branded the council events as "Winterval", it is literally true that they " replaced "Christmas" with "Winterval"." (They swapped the words round in a particular context.)

    This doesn't help with Mel blatan lie that "Christmas" has been "replaced" in "various places" with Winterval, but I expect that tomorrow she will claim that the "various places" were Birmingham Town Hall, Birmingham Public Library and Birmingham Shopping Mall.












    C: A NAXI







    i was very fond of my gollywog and would by an dvd of the black and white minstrel show if one came out

  11. It's not news that the Daily Mail makes stuff up, of course, but this recent case of a fabricated quote strikes me as particularly opportunistic and hurtful:


  12. With the greatest respect, the whole question of 'Marxist plots' is gloriously irrelevant. Social liberalism either is a dangerous idea that will inevitably lead to the collapse of civilisation, or it isn't. Whether it is an idea planted by secret Marxists or a home-grown idea that was inevitable since the Enlightenment has nothing to do with the questions:

    a. Does the BBC promote it? and
    b. Is it dangerous?

    So. If I admit that social liberalism isn't a Marxist plot, will you admit that the BBC does promote it, and we'll say nothing about the question of whether it will cause the collapse of civilisation?

  13. The difference between this and the lunar death ray story is that while there is no evidence for lunar death rays other than the made-up stories, there is evidence that the BBC promotes social liberalism other than made-up stories (such as the BBC Trust's own report).

    If there were clear, obvious and trustworthy photos of the lunar death ray, if there were eye witnesses who saw great beams of sparkly red light firing down from the moon, if there was a big report compiled by NASA entitled "Evidence for the lunar death ray."...

    Then why would you run a newspaper article about the Lunar Death Ray which posited the existence of the Lunar Death Ray where you just made shit up that 5 minutes of research would tell you was false?

    The point doesn't seem (let's not tell Mr Rilstone what his point is in his own blog) to be the BBC's bias. The point seems to be the lack of integrity and honesty in one of the bestselling newspapers in the country.

    Making sneery comments about wood and trees in response to this suggests confusion. But then, I've not read this BBC Trust report. Does it catch the BBC in outright lies?

  14. (I say 'admit' that social liberalism isn;t a Marxist plot, though of course I have never claimed or thought it was.)

  15. I think the trouble I have is the segue from 'the Mail columnists have been lying and been making stuff up to prove the BBC has a secularist agenda' (proven and true) to 'so therefore can we stop claiming the BBC has a secularist agenda?'

    Even a lying newspaper can have the right date on twice a day. Or something.


  17. (With regards to 'Winterval', I get the impression that the real objection people like Philips have isn't so much that it 'diminished' or 'replaced' Christmas, but rather that it 'promoted' other festivals and put them on the same level -- so if you have 'Christmas part of the Council's Winterval celebrations' and 'Diwali part of the Council's Winterval celebrations' then you are on some level drawing an equivalence between Christmas and Diwali, putting them on the same level of importance. But that is of course not how they have expressed it.)


    Yup. The Mail are definitely doing that.

    So, does the BBC actually have a secularist agenda (well, inasmuch as an organisation that large and chaotic can have an anything agenda)?

  19. "It is, and always was, a paranoid fantasy about a Marxist Plot to destroy civilisation, invented by an right wing academic called William Lind and sold to the British press and thus to the British political parties by one-man pressure groups with names like the Campaign Against Political Correctness."
    I didn't know that. I always kind of suspected it - not so specifically, of course - but recently Stewart Lee's bit made me wonder if I was too hard on the term by refusing to engage with it at all. Perhaps not!

  20. SK - We all appreciate that you'd rather talk about almost anything other than the Daily Mail's propensity for making things up in support of their readers' prejudices, but what you're doing now is the online equivalent of pointing in random directions while shouting "LOOK! OVER THERE! A BADGER!".

  21. The BBC Broadcast "Songs of Praise", I'm not sure that fits with a secualrist agenda...

  22. Yup. The Mail are definitely doing that.

    And that's definitely a bad thing, and they should be embarrassed/pilloried for it as a matter of import, even if it turns out they're right, right?

    Anyway I got two pages into the BBC Trust report you linked to. Whilst setting out the purpose and scope of the report, it said:
    The Report, commissioned by the Governors in conjunction with Management, is not a
    review of past practice...

    Doesn't this makes it inadmissible, or at the very least, not terribly compelling when taken as evidence of any kind of past or current bias?

    I'm not clear what exactly you mean by "social liberalism" in this case (presumably not the strawmen currently being thrown around about banning teh gay, or marxism). I'm also not clear how the BBC promotes it, or has a bias in favour of it. Perhaps you could clarify, possibly in your own blog to avoid further tangential discussion here?

  23. You speak such eloquent words of wisdom. So eloquent and wise, though not as punchy as, say, what the Silver Surfer might utter (I mean Kirby's Surfer, the Norrin Radd from back when an issue was 12c and thus only available in dime stores at a 2c discounted price -- definitely not Starlin's Surfer, who was far too cosmic and theological to grasp the pith of things as you do), saying something along the likes of ..."Delingpole, yet again you offer us invincible ignorance in the guise of understanding! Again you would destroy that which you cannot comprehend! From cradle to grave your journalistic rants are rooted in verbal violence and the power to be gained by an empty rhetoric of lies! Since power is your god — I'll show you power — such as you have never known! To me my board!"

  24. Well, I'd rather discuss the BBC than the Mail mainly because I don't read the Mail but I do watch the BBC.

  25. I'm sorry, whether or not the BBC has a secular agenda is not the point at all.

    People and newspapers have their perspectives, and it's legitimate to chose stories that support your paper's agenda and viewpoint.

    If you want to bang on about the BBC having a secular agenda, you run stories about genuine corporation wide events. You don't highlight an issue by making up examples of it, or distorting a real story to make it look like an example of the agenda you want to criticise.

    When we have serious examples of the agenda, if I agree with the agenda, I will argue in support of it. For example, I believe the producer quoted earlier (if done so accurately) is not biased, but focussed on the decent middle ground.

  26. And now we're all talking about the BBC and their possible agenda. Gosh! I wonder how that happened? Could it be that making up stories out of nothing at all can have some kind of shaping effect on public discourse? But why would anyone want to do that...?

  27. SK - if you'd rather discuss the BBC than the Mail, why are you posting comments on a blog post about the Mail?

  28. Well, yes, obviously it could. But we could have got onto the topic of the plausibility of a trip to Mars because we were discussing those mad people who think the moon landing was faked; that doesn't mean trips to Mars aren't worth talking about.

    I do love the idea that I'm somehow the shill of a newspaper I've never knowningly read.

  29. Phil: as noted above, what bothers me is the implied segue from 'the Mail are making all this up' to 'and so there is nothing to talk about here, move along'.

    I must confess also to a slight annoyance that the Rilstone of old, who wrote interesting articles on a wide range of topics, seems to have been stolen and replaced by a replica who can only repeat the same attacks on the same target again and again, however deserving and mad that target may be, especially when it's a target I know little and care less about.

    I mean, what did he expect would happen -- that the Daily Mail would quail in the face of his logic and change its ways? The Mail is no more going to reform itself under Mr Rilstone's pressure than Mr Blair was going to admit that he had been wrong about everything in the face of an especially pithy Spooneristic phrase. Yet Mr Blair didn't occasion such repetitive rantings. Perhaps this year as a Christmas present Mr Rilstone might not write an article about Winterval (one wonders how large exactly he thinks the overlap between 'people who don't know the truth about Winterval' and 'people who would ever read one of his articles' is, because if it's a positive integer I'd be surprised).

    I might be in a more forgiving mood if we get the promised article on Dr Ward's thesis.

  30. I do love the idea that I'm somehow the shill of a newspaper I've never knowningly read.

    I'm not sure that anyone's said that, exactly. Though you do seem to be perpetually look-a-badgering in their interest.

    As to Andrew's shift of focus... This stuff happens. People have lives, and change. (Heck, I just plain keep not getting round to blogging, though I don't think that anybody much cares.) If it makes you sad, well, there are millions of blogs in the naked city. This is one of them, but you can always look at others.

  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

  32. I suppose that if you believed in something really strongly, think it utterly obvious that it is right, but somehow 80% of your fellow citizens/subjects don't agree with you, then it mut be really tempting on every level of consciousness to believe that it is the media's fault rather than the message's.

    I'm sure that it isn't just right-wingers who believe this. Believers in the various religions, supporters of the Palestinians, supporters of Israel, genuine communists may have all been tempted to exaggerate/wilfully misconstrue/tell 'illustrative stories' [i.e. lies] to show how the medium is warping their crystal-clear irrefutable messge.


  33. @SK

    The number of people who get to tell me what to write about is very small indeed. You can spot them, though, because they are the ones who send me cheques, free DVDs, tickets to shows and occassionally arange for me to meet childhood heroes and talk to them.

    The "promised" piece on Planet Narnia was to have appeared on pages 164 - 176 of my collected essays book, still tentatively entitled "Do Balrogs Have Wings, And Other Pressign Questions (And Other Pressing Questions)". It will also contain a previously unpublished piece on the Trilemma, a previously unpublished commentary on my "Is Tolkien Any Good" piece, a previously unpublished review of Doug Gresham's two books, and a previously unpublished, and indeed, currently unwritten review of the feeble Prince Caspian movie. Plus some obscure Rilstonia from the days of rec.arts.cs-lewis that you almost certainyl won't have seen before. It will probably sell for about £10 on Amazon. However, if you or some other rich patron would like to pay my normal freelance rates (say £50 per 1,000 words, £250) then I will happily post it here in advance. Or is the idea that you get to read my work for free AND tell me what to write? So of all the advantages of being a rich patron and none of the financial investment? Who the HELL do you think you are.

    I'm also looking at different models for putting Viewers Tale vol 3 out into the world. Some content here, and some value-added content that you have to pay for, perhaps. The Winnie the Pooh book, if it ever gets written, will almost certainly be a PDF like that Watchman thang. It was going to be a short review of David Benedictus, and then I realised that it had to be a long essay on Milne; then of course the new Disney straight to video thing came out, and it's all out of date. The Milne section (52 pages) is written; the Benedictus section is drafted; I haven't touched Disney yet, although the old cartoons are much better than I remembered. Do you think "Hums of Innocence and Experience" is a good title? Or would "The Word For World Is Forest" serve better.

    There's a 8 pages of mine on Billy Hartnell in the current Skiffynow , but you'll have to be six quid for that, so I guess you won't be interested. They've done a nice layout job (all black and white) I have to say.

    How dare you. How dare you.