It seems that over the weekend, the BBC forced a well-regarded 67-year-old DJ on Radio Devon to resign because he had been so careless as to play a 1932 recording of The Sun Has Got His Hat On. This contained a word that is now unmentionable. It is rude, offensive, and I would never use it; but this word has become so intensely haram that a miasma attaches to anyone using it, even inadvertently; and the prohibition is now enforced with a semi-religious fervour.
When Jeremy Clarkson used it – or rather mumbled it, in an out-take never intended for broadcast – the drama went on for days. A clerisy of self-appointed internet witch-doctors went completely loco – or perhaps boko is the word.
Clarkson apologised – entirely correctly. But that was not enough for the internet mob. Clarkson Haram! Clarkson Haram! The politicians piled in.
Harriet Harman called for him to be sacked. The new BBC head of television decided to grant Hattie her wish, and it seems that Clarkson’s job was only saved by the intervention of Tony Hall, the Director-General himself.
So when the BBC hierarchs heard about the latest goof, by a relatively unimportant DJ on Radio Devon, you can imagine that they were fit to be tied. It didn’t matter that he was a popular and veteran local broadcaster: they could see it all happening again. The tweets, the twitstorms, all that endless hashtag BBC racist nightmare.
So they forced him out. I suppose David Lowe was less valuable to the Corporation than Clarkson, which only makes it worse.
Their treatment of this man is utterly disgraceful. There is a film that has been broadcast several times on the BBC, by the name of Pulp Fiction, directed by Quentin Tarantino.
You may have seen it. It is very funny. Towards the end John Travolta accidentally shoots another character in the back of a car, so causing a mess. Travolta and his accomplice, played by Samuel L Jackson, are in a panic about their car, and the dead man in the back. So they take refuge at the house of a distant associate, played by Tarantino himself. They arrive at breakfast time, and try to persuade Tarantino, still in his dressing gown, to help them dispose of the corpse.
Tarantino takes violent exception to this, and in the course of the conversation he refers to the corpse several times by using the aforementioned unmentionable word. “Did you notice a sign in front of my house that says dead [unmentionable word] storage? Did you?” he asks Travolta and Jackson.
Now can someone tell me, in the name of all that is holy, why David Lowe of Radio Devon was made to resign for mistakenly playing an old recording of the Sun Has Got His Hat On – and yet the BBC schedulers see nothing wrong with broadcasting Pulp Fiction?
Don’t give me any of your tripe, you clever-clever BBC folk. Don’t tell me that it is somehow “ironic” or “artistic” in the mouth of Quentin Tarantino, and yet sinister on the turntable of a Radio Devon DJ.
If there were any logic or consistency in the world, the entire cadre of BBC schedulers would be asked to commit harakiri. They should all be sacked, from Tony Hall downwards – every man and woman in the place.
Their crime is far worse than the offence of David Lowe of Radio Devon. They did it KNOWINGLY. They put Pulp Fiction on air, in the full knowledge that the director of the movie – who is white – gives currency and legitimation, out of his own mouth, to a term that they forbid to their own presenters, even accidentally and off the air.
Will they go? I doubt it. Will they all be sacked? Not a chance. Will they be forced to apologise for repeatedly scheduling Pulp Fiction? Of course not. So where is the consistency, the fairness? Where does sanity lie?
The answer is that there is no answer. In our own modest way, we live in a Boko Haram world, where it all depends on the swirling rage of the internet mob, and where terrified bureaucrats and politicians are borne along on a torrent of confected outrage. There is no consistency in the outlook of the Nigerian maniacs: they use weapons produced by the very capitalist system they claim to deplore, for instance.
There is certainly no logic at the BBC. They should restore Mr Lowe to his job – if he will take it – and the entire BBC Board should go down to Devon to apologise in person, and at their own expense.