Showing posts with label james delingpole. Show all posts
Showing posts with label james delingpole. Show all posts

Monday, 26 September 2011

The 'BBC drops BC/AD' lie continues to spread

Yesterday, the Mail on Sunday's front page story claimed that the BBC had 'dropped' the abbreviations BC/AD and ordered that BCE/CE be used instead. The former had been 'replaced' and 'jettisoned', it said. The BBC had 'turned its back on the year of our Lord'.

There was much in the article that proved this wasn't true. The examples where both had been used. The quote from a BBC presenter saying he'd continue using BC/AD. And, most importantly, the relegated-to-the-end-in-the-hope-no-one-sees-it quote from a BBC spokesman which stated:

'The BBC has not issued editorial guidance on the date systems. Both AD and BC, and CE and BCE are widely accepted date systems and the decision on which term to use lies with individual production and editorial teams.'

In case there was any doubt, the BBC also told the Guardian's Reality Check:

Whilst the BBC uses BC and AD like most people as standard terminology it is also possible for individuals to use different terminology if they wish to, particularly as it is now commonly used in historical research.

So BC/AD is used as 'standard' but the BBC allows people to use BCE/CE, based on personal preference.

Knowing that is the case, why did the Mail on Sunday decide to run its 'BC/AD dropped' story? And why have other newspapers and columnists continue to repeat the 'ban' lie as if it is true?

On Sunday, the Telegraph's website churned out a quick news story that repeated the claims despite also including (at the end, of course) the BBC's quote denying them.

In the Mail's RightMinds section, James Delingpole said of the BBC:

No longer will its website refer to those bigoted, Christian-centric concepts AD (as in Anno Domini – the Year of Our Lord) and BC (Before Christ)...All reference to Christ has been expunged.

This depite the BBC's denial - which he doesn't mention - and despite the fact there are many references to BC and AD on the BBC's website.

Either Delingpole knew this, and wrote that the terms had been 'expunged' anyway, or he didn't check, and wrote it without knowing for sure. It's very poor practice either way. And that's not a first for Delingpole - he also repeated the £32-loaf-of-bread nonsense a day after that first appeared, despite it being completely wrong.

On Sunday evening, RightMinds ran another column on the subject, this time from Reverend Dr Peter Mullen, who once 'joked' about tattooing homosexuals with health warnings. It begins:

No one should be surprised that the BBC has stopped using the abbreviations all us have always known: BC for Before Christ and AD for Anno Domini - the years of our Lord.

Since they haven't, it's not the best start. And it doesn't get any better:

Because the BBC is the very vanguard of the secularizing tendency which has declared itself as wanting to obliterate Christianity from public life and the public discussion of important moral and political affairs.

This hatred of our Christian heritage...

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

Mullen's rant was published at 6.27pm on Sunday night - less than an hour after BBC1 broadcast 30-minutes of hymns and tradition in Songs of Praise: 50 Amazing Years. Earlier in the day, BBC Radio 4 had broadcast Sunday Worship. Every weekday the same station broadcasts Prayer for the Day, Thought for the Day and the Daily Service. Is this the BBC's 'undoubted loathing of our Christian heritage'?

Moreover, thirty-five minutes into Sunday's episode of Antiques Roadshow expert John Axford used both BC and AD. This was two hours after Mullen had told everyone the BBC had 'stopped using' the abbreviations.

It was somewhat inevitable that Melanie Phillips would also mention it in her column in Monday's Daily Mail. She said the BBC:

has decided that the terms AD and BC (Anno Domini, or the Year of Our Lord, and Before Christ) must be replaced by the terms Common Era and Before Common Era.

Either she hadn't read the BBC's statement - or even, as a journalist, spoken to the BBC for clarification on the matter - or she decided it was worth ignoring.

She says:

One of the most sinister aspects of political correctness is the way in which its edicts purport to be in the interests of minority groups.

This is despite the fact that, very often, they are not promulgated at the behest of minorities at all, but by members of the majority who want to destroy their own culture and who use minorities to camouflage their true intentions.

The latest manifestation stars once again that all-time world champion of political correctness, the BBC.

But then she adds:

It so happens, however, that along with many other Jewish people I sometimes use CE and BCE since the terms BC and AD are not appropriate to me.

Do as she says, not as she does. If the abbreviations are not 'appropriate' to her, why should they be 'appropriate' to everyone who works at the BBC? Phillips also refers to the BBC's 'edict' on this matter but the 'edict' is, as the BBC has made clear, 'use whichever terms you want'.

She then points to some examples of BCE/CE being used - not ones she has found through any research, but ones highlighted by the Mail on Sunday:

the terms CE and BCE are now increasingly finding their way onto news bulletins and on programmes such as University Challenge or Melvyn Bragg’s Radio Four show In Our Time.

Thursday's edition of In Our Time is already being trailed on the BBC website:

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Etruscan civilisation.

Around 800 BC a sophisticated civilisation began to emerge in the area of Italy now known as Tuscany.

Phillips wider argument is that language is being 'hijacked' and so:

debate becomes impossible...words...have come to mean the precise opposite of what they really do mean.

But what about the BBC's words? How can a debate be possible on this topic when the Mail on Sunday, Delingpole, Mullen and Phillips refuse to take on board what the BBC has said and what it actually does? How does:

Whilst the BBC uses BC and AD like most people as standard terminology it is also possible for individuals to use different terminology if they wish to

become, to Phillips:

AD and BC...must be replaced by the terms Common Era and Before Common Era.

Words have indeed come to mean the precise opposite.

(Moreover, Phillips uses her column to claim 'Christmas has been renamed in various places 'Winterval'' despite the fact it hasn't been renamed Winterval in any place.)

And Phillips wasn't the only one in today's papers taking the same line. In the Telegraph, Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: now turns out that some BBC committee or hierarch has decided that this nativity – notional or otherwise – can no longer be referred to by our state-funded broadcaster...

You know what, I just don't think this is good enough. This decision by the BBC is not only puerile and absurd. It is also deeply anti-democratic...

Johnson appears to believe in the myth of some centrally-issued edict that is banning the use of BC/AD at the BBC. But what he's actually calling 'deeply anti-democratic' is a position that says 'individuals can do what they wish'. Indeed, Martin Robbins argues that it is the Mail's view - 'It's not enough that the BBC allows staff to use AD, they must use it, always' - that is the more problematic.

As well as the columns by Johnson and Phillips, there have been further 'news' articles in today's papers. The Express' headline - 'Atheist' BBC drops year of Our Lord' - was very similar to the Mail on Sunday's. The article stated:

Bosses advised staff to replace Anno Domini – the Year Of Our Lord – and Before Christ with terms Common Era and Before Common Era.

The Mail and Telegraph both quoted BBC presenters who maintain they will be sticking to BC/AD yet both papers still refer to a 'diktat' and 'guidance' that the terms are 'barred'. The Mail's article puts the BBC's denial earlier in the story than the Mail on Sunday managed, yet it still carries the headline: Andrew Marr says he will ignore BBC diktat to stop use of BC and AD.

At the time of writing, there are 900 comments on Johnson's article, over 100 on Phillips' and over 1,500 on the original Mail on Sunday story. The vast majority are attacking the BBC for some 'edict' that they haven't, actually, issued. The story has been repeated on countless blogs, websites and forums and been linked to by outraged people on Twitter.

The BBC's position - BC/AD is standard, but people can use whichever they want - has generally been forgotten or ignored.

To quote Phillips again:

The result of this hijacking of the language is that debate becomes impossible because words like...truth and many more have come to mean the precise opposite of what they really do mean.

(Hat-tips to Mark Burnley, Jem Stone and Martin Robbins)

Sunday, 25 September 2011

BC and AD not 'jettisoned' by BBC

Last Sunday, Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens wrote:

The BBC’s Chief Commissar for Political Correctness (whom I imagine as a tall, stern young woman in cruel glasses issuing edicts from an austere office) was hard at work again last week.

On University Challenge, Jeremy Paxman referred to a date as being Common Era, rather than AD. This nasty formulation is designed to write Christianity out of our culture.

One week on, and his paper has decided this observation is worthy of the front page lead:

The article by Chris Hastings begins:

The BBC has been accused of 'absurd political correctness' after dropping the terms BC and AD in case they offend non-Christians.

The Corporation has replaced the familiar Anno Domini (the year of Our Lord) and Before Christ with the obscure terms Common Era and Before Common Era.

'Jettisoned'. 'Dropped'. 'Replaced'.

But skip to the statement from the BBC - inevitably relegated to the very last paragraph of the story - and we're told:

The BBC said last night: 'The BBC has not issued editorial guidance on the date systems. Both AD and BC, and CE and BCE are widely accepted date systems and the decision on which term to use lies with individual production and editorial teams.'

So the BBC uses both. Indeed, Hastings' article proves BC and AD haven't been 'jettisoned' when he points out:

The terms are not confined to religious output and have also been used in news bulletins. Some reports add to the confusion by switching between both terms in the same item.

He goes on to quote several people unhappy with the BBC, who seem to believe BC and AD have, indeed, been 'dropped' (probably because that's what Hastings told them when he asked for their reaction). But he also gets a quote from Today and Mastemind presenter John Humphrys who says:

"I will continue to use AD and BC because I don't see a problem."

Despite this Hastings believes his story is true and he knows what's behind it:

This is not the first time the BBC has caused controversy over its use of alien language to promote a politically correct, Europhile agenda.

It's not clear why CE and BCE are deemed 'alien' or 'Europhile'. It's not as if the terms are new - the Mail on Sunday includes a box which dates them back to the mid-nineteenth century. It also says they are becoming 'particularly common in the United States'.

In the article, Simon Schama says he's been 'familar' with BC and BCE 'since the Fifties'. And, as Hastings points out, it's not even as if the BBC has only just started using the terms - one example he highlights dates from March 2010:

Last year, Northern Ireland correspondent William Crawley referred to the construction of the Temple of Solomon in about 950 BCE.

So Hastings has the BBC quote denying the terms have been dropped. He has a prominent BBC presenter saying he's going to keep using the BC and AD. And he has his own evidence saying BBC journalists are 'switching between both terms'.

Yet Hastings still writes the article in this way, and the Mail on Sunday still splashes it all over the front page.

UPDATE: James Delingpole has a comment piece on this in the Mail's RightMinds section. He apparently sees this 'news' as evidence of a:

Marxist plot to destroy civilisation from within

He says:

No longer will its website refer to those bigoted, Christian-centric concepts AD (as in Anno Domini – the Year of Our Lord) and BC (Before Christ)...All reference to Christ has been expunged

If only the BBC website didn't prove him wrong.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

The '£32' loaf of bread

On 19 and 20 July, several newspapers thought they had a scoop on how much the NHS was spending on gluten-free food. In particular, they claimed that loaves of gluten-free bread which are available at the supermarket for £2.25 are being bought by the NHS for over £32.

'Prescriptions scandal: £32.37 a loaf' said a page 9 story in the Sun, which was accompanied by an editorial comment.

The Mirror went with 'Gluten free loaves costing NHS £32.27 a time', the Mail carried the headline 'Use your loaf! NHS officials pay £32 for gluten-free bread that costs £2.25 in the shops', while the Telegraph and WalesOnline ran the same claims under similar headlines.

The source for all this seems to have been a statement by Welsh Assembly member Darren Millar and it seems little fact-checking was done by journalists who repeated his claims.

The TaxPayers' Alliance were, inevitably, asked for their reaction and their spokesman Emma Boon said:

"It smacks of incompetence that the Welsh NHS is paying so much more than they are available for in the shops."

On 20 July, the Express gave James Delingpole space for an 886-word opinion piece in which he suggested this bread must be:

made of fairy-dust-sprinkled hypoallergenic wheat harvested by pixies at dawn, hand-ground by hedge-fund managers and then baked to perfection by Parisian masterchefs in ovens made of pure gold!

That the NHS was spending so much was, he said:

symptomatic of a system which is rotten to the core.

But the very next day, the Express published a correction, buried on page 26:

In James Delingpole's piece ('Who would spend so much on a loaf?' July 20) he states that the NHS spent £984,185 on 47,684 loaves of gluten free bread. This should have read 47,684 'prescriptions' for gluten free bread. The figure of £20 per loaf is therefore inaccurate. The price of an individual loaf of gluten-free bread is £2.82.

The Atomic Spin blog, which wrote about these misleading stories at the time, explains:

Well, it looks like the story comes from this Welsh government data about prescriptions. Sure enough, if you look it says that the 27 prescriptions of a particular type of bread, Lifestyle Gluten-Free High-Fibre Brown, cost £32.27 each. But doctors aren’t prescribing one loaf of bread at a time.

The important column is the one marked “quantity”, which tells you how many grams of bread were prescribed. For Lifestyle Gluten-Free High-Fibre Brown, doctors prescribed a total of 123,600 grams. Divided between the 27 people, that’s 4,577 grams each, or about 11 loaves of bread per person. So that £32.27 figure is the cost of buying 11 loaves of bread, not 1, and as the Welsh government points out, it works out at around £2.82 per loaf. This is still slightly more than the cheapest online cost of the bread, so I assume there is still room to bring prescription costs down, but NHS Wales is certainly not spending more than £30 on a loaf of bread.

And this was exactly the point made by the Welsh Health Minister, in responding to the media coverage:

Reports in the press this morning suggesting that a loaf of gluten free bread costs the NHS £32 are incorrect.

The £32 figure appears to have been arrived at following a misinterpretation of NHS prescribing statistics - which show the total number of prescriptions dispensed, rather than the total number of loaves prescribed. This data is available on the Welsh Government website.

Welsh Health Minister Lesley Griffiths said:

"This claim is inaccurate. The actual cost for the single loaf of gluten-free bread in question is around £2.82, not the £ 32 claimed. The £32 cost quoted is for an average prescription on which several loaves are ordered at a time...

Loaf of bread

Over the last 12 months there were 27 prescriptions issued for the gluten free bread quoted as costing £32 per loaf. On the 27 prescriptions, the total amount of the bread prescribed was 123,600 grams. Each loaf is 400 grams. Therefore, 309 loaves were prescribed for £ 871.36 ie £2.82 per 400 gram loaf.

At time of writing, the Sun's original article appears to have been removed, without explanation, from its website, and while the Express has published its apology in the paper, this has not been put on its website, where Delingpole's original is still visible. All the other articles remain.

(Big hat-tips to Atomic Spin and Primly Stable)

UPDATE: The TaxPayers' Alliance's Emma Boon was asked by Atomic Spin if she wished to withdraw her claims, given the original figures were so far out. Here's her reply.

Friday, 21 August 2009

New York, Madrid, London, the burkini

Following the news that a French swimming pool had banned a woman wearing a 'burkini', Telegraph blogger James Delingpole wrote a column on his website, on his Telegraph page, and in the Express in opposition to the item of swimwear.

The level of rhetoric is quite extraordinary. He considers it as part of an:

aggressive prodding from an alien culture which seeks to destroy ours. Make no mistake, though, that’s exactly what the burkini represents.

And he goes on to compare the burkini to:

9/11, of home-grown suicide bombers on London buses, of the flower of British youth being blown up in Basra and Helmand.

He says Islamists are fighting a war on two fronts - one by 'poison or the sword' and the other by 'stealth' or 'honey' depending on which article you read.

So now you know - a head-to-toe swimming costume is as dangerous and important as 9/11 in the 'battle against the west'.

Rather than just being a swimming costume.

He refers to it as

spreading like a rash across Muslim communities

as if it is like a disease.

Left out of the Express version is this statement:

Why should we care if women want to dress up in burkinis? Well we shouldn’t. It’s a free country.

So eventhough it's part of a Islamist war against the West, we shouldn't care if people want to wear it? Hmmm.

He also says it represents an:

insidious community relations

although from a man who lists 'war' among 'his likes' that may sound a little strange.

It's hard to believe that burkinis are so widely used that they should be taken as seriously as Delingpole seems to do. But any anti-Islam rhetoric is lapped up by the Express and so we all get the 'benefit' of his views.

And as he claims on his Twitter page, he's

lovely and right about everything

And modest too.