Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

Banal, biased BBC

From Mr Jonathan Miller

Sir: Stephen Glover writes (Media studies, 30 December) that 'all decent people should support the BBC' before going on to be surprised that it is treating the Tories badly. Consider me indecent.

The BBC is not accountable to those who pay for it, but to Labour ministers. Its governors are not selected by viewers and listeners but by the government (NB the latest recruit, Gavyn Davies, friend of Gordon Brown). The BBC is not independent but entirely dependent on the government, which permits it to collect a hypothecated tax on viewers and listeners. People go to prison for not paying.

In such circumstances the BBC will always be sympathetic to any government that promises to keep the money coming and hostile to any opposition that threatens or even questions its privileged status.

Glover says the corporation still produces some outstanding programmes, but mainly it is a torrent of banal drivel and tendentious, sanitised news.

The BBC is not a public broadcaster but a government broadcaster. I do not believe that I am alone in resenting having to pay for this.

Jonathan Miller Alfold, Surrey

From Mr C.R. Cheeseman

Sir: The situation is far worse than depicted by Stephen Glover. The flagship current affairs programmes of the BBC (Naughtie excepted) are not as routinely anti-Tory as practically all of their 'comedy' output is. Here you find truly institutional anti-Toryism. Only Jeremy Clarkson is different from the rest of the fellow-travelling herd.

C.R. Cheeseman Malvern, Worcestershire

Growing up too quickly

From Mr John Prust

Sir: The rap music phenomenon ('Your children are rap victims', 30 December) is an illustration of the proverb, 'Clergymen's sons always turn out badly.'

Tim Westwood is a clergyman's son, in fact. The white, middle-class teenage rap listeners are clergymen's sons in spirit: brought up to be mature before their time, subjected to endless propaganda on drugs and sex and gender roles, and, fatally, living with grown-ups who act like their friends.

Once children were to be 'seen and not heard', boys were expected to be 'boys', it was realised that 'wanton kittens make sober cats' and that 'young saints' become 'old devils'. Boys lived in a boys' world when young and joined the adult world when ready. Now, they live in an adult world when young and, when they reach 13 or so and grow restless, they have nowhere (nowhere civilised) to go.

John Prust Reading, Berkshire

The value of life

From the Ambassador of the Netherlands

Sir: Your leading article of 2 December concerning the Bill on euthanasia passed by the second chamber (lower house) of the Netherlands parliament on 28 November 2000 makes assumptions which are not only untrue but also highly misleading.

Contrary to what is stated, the legal framework for euthanasia serves to safeguard the interest and integrity of individual and physician alike. Transparency, clarity of purpose and the means to control the process are the guiding principles of the law, as is the free will of patient and physician to enter into an arrangement or not.

Under the rules as they stand at present, termination of life on request is a criminal offence, but no prosecution is brought against the physician concerned if certain criteria of due care have been observed. However, the public prosecution service may decide there is a case for criminal proceedings.

The new statutory rules, Section 293 (2) of the criminal code, stipulate that the physician must:

1. Be convinced that the patient has made a voluntary and carefully considered request.

2. Be convinced that the patient was facing unremitting and unbearable suffering.

3. Have informed the patient concerning the latter's situation and prospects.

4. Have reached the firm conclusion with the patient that there was no reasonable alternative solution to the patient's situation. …

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