A FEW days ago, a vacancy arose at the BBC’s ‘urban contemporary’ music platform, Radio 1Xtra. The station struggles for an audience amongst white, middle-aged conservatives; sadly, it has missed the opportunity to be more diverse and inclusive by rejecting the job application from my alter-ego, DJ Tweedy.
With hindsight, perhaps it was inadvisable to point out, very politely, that the correct spelling is ‘Extra’. It seems the station boss did not appreciate my proposal to re-brand, therefore it will be someone else who fills the gap left by David Whitely, a black broadcaster who dropped his embarrassingly Caucasian surname in favour of DJ Sideman, a moniker more befitting a presenter on Radio 1 Extra.
Sorry, that’s Radio 1Xtra, as they intend to keep calling it. The misspelt station is a man down because last week DJ Sideman quit the Beeb in protest, aggrieved that in late July BBC News correspondent Fiona Lamdin had broadcast an uncensored racial slur.
Reporting on what police are treating as a racially aggravated attack, Lamdin warned viewers they were about to hear ‘highly offensive language’ shouted by the alleged assailants: ‘As the men ran away they hurled racist abuse, calling him “n****r”.’
That utterance by the BBC’s white reporter resulted in more than 18,600 complaints to the corporation.
Purely as a point of interest, that is far fewer than formally objected six weeks earlier, after Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis took her personalised pop at Dominic Cummings.
In a written response to the complaints about Lamdin’s report, the BBC’s principal defence was that it had acted with the approval of the victim, a musician so far named only as K-Dogg, and his family: ‘They asked us specifically to show the photos of this man’s injuries and were also determined that we should report the racist language, in full … notwithstanding the family’s wishes, we independently considered whether the use of the word was editorially justified given the context.’
Evidently Sideman is of the opinion that he, rather than the black victim and his family, speaks for people of colour, having declared: ‘The action and the defence of the action feels like a slap in the face of our community.’
The DJ then announced his departure from the BBC on Instagram, as you do. His valedictory video included: ‘I just don’t feel comfortable being aligned with the organisation’ and ‘The BBC sanctioning the N-word being said on national television by a white person is something I can’t rock with.’
The key part of which is ‘said by a white person’.
The N-word is amongst the ugliest of insults; nonetheless, from Sideman’s adieu one might infer that he was triggered not by hearing the forbidden word, nor by the passive context in which it was reported, but because the correspondent who said it on air was pale-faced. That certainly appears to have been the main bone of contention amongst what Sideman calls his ‘community’.
A similarly supportive sentiment was expressed by a black BBC reporter who complained that previously he had been unable to quote n****r in a dispatch from America.
The corollary of this viewpoint is that news reports involving racial discrimination or abuse would be brought to us only by reporters or broadcasters of the same ethnicity as the victim or affected group.
From the above tweet, Larry Madowo evidently believes it is appropriate for him to use the uncensored N-word; but would its utterance be equally acceptable from, say, Afua Hirsch, who is of mixed race, yet supported Sideman by referring to the black man as ‘my brother’?
Identity politics is poisonous enough without introducing editorial segregation based upon racial purity.
Director-General Tony Hall has now overruled the BBC’s earlier justification and issued a mea culpa, but heaven only knows what nonsense will result from his nebulous promise: ‘We will now be strengthening our guidance on offensive language across our output.’
One can only laugh at BBC bosses. They obsess over internal Diversity and Inclusion, persistently impose the corporation’s metropolitan mores on the rest of the country, yet continue to upset the minority groups to whom they constantly pander.