Written By: - Date published: 2:59 pm, November 23rd, 2010 - 40 comments
Categories: broadcasting, democratic participation, Media, Politics, tv, uk politics - Tags: broadcasting, censure, George Galloway, the left
George Galloway has never been known for pulling his punches.
In 2005 he travelled to US Senate Committee hearings to answer charges that he had accepted bribes from Saddam Hussein in a food for oil scam. By simply speaking truth to power, he wiped the floor with them. (Part two here, if you’ve never viewed his testimony before, or if you are reminding yourself of some salient facts from recent history.)
By the time he appeared before the Senate Committee, he had already been expelled from the Labour Party (2003) for calling on British soldiers to not fight in Iraq.
In short, George Galloway doesn’t mince his words and is a man of conscience.
Now-a-days, he hosts a one hour phone in TV political programme broadcast from London. The show has been criticised by ofcom (the British broadcasting watchdog) for failing to be objective. ( You can link to web based links of the show ‘Comment’ here. )
Would the same criticism be levelled at broadcasts that failed to display an objective balance but that fell in line with ‘correct’ or orthodox political thinking? Or would similar criticism be levelled by the authorities at broadcasts displaying a rabid right wing bent?
I ask the question because the ofcom criticism of George Galloway’s TV slot reminded me of a piece I read the other day by Chris Hedges titled The Origin of America’s Intellectual Vacuum, based on an interview with Chandler Davies who was sent to prison for refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee in the late 50′s, was subsequently jailed, then blacklisted from academia and who has spent the rest of his life in exile in Canada.
Writing in 1959, Davis noted that “Repression does not target original thought. It targets already established heretical movements, which are not experimental but codified. If it succeeds very well in punishing heresies, it may in the next stage punish originality. And in the population, fear of uttering such a taboo word as communism may in the next stage become general paralysis of social thought.”
As we move forward 50 years it seems that he was correct.
Now when he says that; “Ideas which were on the agenda a hundred years ago and sixty years ago have dropped out of memory because they are too far from the new centre of discourse.” , we can see how that applies as much in NZ today as it does in the US or the UK or elsewhere.
That’s the broader context from which to view the criticism of Galloway. The criticism of Galloway is a dynamic that has precious little to do with objectivity and a whole lot to do with establishing and maintaining a skewed range of orthodoxy. An orthodoxy where the centre ground is occupied with right wing bias and the right wing balance to that new centre is rabid shock jocks while anything beyond a counterveiling soft, moderate and safe left is way outside the ballpark of acceptable discourse.