The National Secular Society shares the form letter it got in response to its open letter to Channel 4 about its wretched decision to paste a black egg over Mo when it reported on the childish fuss over Maajid Nawaz and Jesus & Mo.
The letter, from Steve Reynolds of Channel 4 Viewer Enquiries, reads:
As we are sure you can appreciate, this is a very sensitive subject for many viewers. Channel 4 News editorial staff gave great consideration to the issues involved and believe that they reached a fair and balanced judgement, weighing up the potential for offence to some viewers by showing the depiction of the Prophet Mohammed and the necessity of showing the cartoon in full.
But I don’t appreciate. I don’t think the “sensitivity” is legitimate, just as I don’t think the potential “hurt sentiments” of people in Bangladesh who might possibly maybe perhaps not like Taslima Nasrin’s tv serial were legitimate. By creasing their brows over the “potential for offence to some viewers” they gave in to emotional blackmail and encouraged more of it in the future, while also cutting the ground out from under Maajid Nawaz. I think that’s pathetic.
Whilst we acknowledge your views, we believe that on balance this was the correct decision and as a rule, where we consider the likelihood of significant offence to our audience, we will attempt to mitigate against that. As to not pixelating the image of Jesus, it was not felt that the same level of offence was likely to be provoked as the image is commonly depicted in cartoon form.
Aaaaaaaaaand there’s your problem right there.
Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, commented: “The claim that showing the entire illustration was ‘not integral to the story’ is ludicrous. It was the story. The truth is that Channel 4, like so many others, is intimidated and afraid of the reaction from violent extremists. Such extremists have got this country in a fearful stranglehold that is gradually destroying our commitment to freedom of speech. We may have abolished the blasphemy law, but who needs it when the same effect can be achieved by terrorising people?”
Mr Sanderson said that Channel 4 should be ashamed of itself for capitulating in this way to supposed ‘sensitivities’ that it does not respect in any other context. “Channel 4 does not hesitate to create controversy and offence in its other output, indeed it prides itself on doing so.”
Meanwhile, the Muslim Association of Britain is now attempting to work this controversy up into a similar level as the Danish cartoon controversy by issuing a condemnation of the cartoon.
Well of course they are. Look at all the encouragement they’re getting from the great and the good in UK media. Why wouldn’t they try to work the controversy up? It’s all good from their point of view.