Monday, April 15, 2013


Sickening as it is to see people celebrate the death of Margaret Thatcher, I was not one of those calling for a ban on the playing of Ding Dong The Witch is Dead. I'm pleased to see no ban was introduced. I say that, but it seems it depends on your definition if the word "ban".

The BBC had taken an editorial decision to play a short clip of the track today, with an explanation, rather than the whole thing. This decision was a compromise, allowing the chart placing of the track to be marked but recognising that the track is only there due to a campaign directing personal hatred at someone who has only just died, and is therefore distasteful by any normal person's standards.

It has not been banned. The government has not told anyone they can't play it. In a free country media organisations have the right to choose whether content they carry is suitable for their audience or not. As a public funded organisation, the BBC has to take a particularly sensitive view on the content of prime time programmes such as the top 40 chart show.

Arguably, the BBC's decision is the worst of all worlds. On the one hand they are not playing in full a track that is legitimately in the Top 40 (albeit it only as a result of social media driven manipulation of the charts). On the other hand they are drawing attention to the pathetic hate driven rationale behind the track charting when, if they'd just played it with no explanation, many listeners would just be bemused as to why it was there at all. I understand that, in the event, the DJ chose not to mention the title of the alternative, Thatcher fans backed "I'm In Love With Margaret Thatcher" when she played it. So, all in all not that balanced a decision after all.

But still, this is a free country and the BBC has every right to take whatever editorial decision they want. And people are free to criticise it. But some interpret the Beeb's editorial decision as an outright ban. The most ridiculous commentary I've read comes from, unsurprisingly, The Guardian and Nick Cohen. Where he equates the situation to censorship in Communist China.

It's a surprise as the left is not known for exaggerated and offensive comparisons is it?

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