Wednesday, 13 July 2005

They aren't terrorists, they're just misunderstood.

What many of us mean by the above and what the BBC mean by it differs considerably. The BBC take the above exhortation as in invitation to airbrush history.

The Times reports that

on Thursday night, as the weblog Harry’s Place has observed, the BBC website ran an article headlined “Bus man may have seen terrorist”. By the next morning the headline appeared as “Passenger believes he saw bomber”. Another page on the site referred to “the worst terrorist atrocity Britain has seen”. By Friday lunchtime these words became “the worst peacetime bomb attacks Britain has seen”.

And this wasn’t an accident. Editors were following Section 11 of the BBC’s editorial guidelines which read: “The word ‘terrorist’ itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding. We should try to avoid the term.”

The Telegraph reports that an un-named BBC spokesman said in response to these airbrushing accusations last night: "The word terrorist is not banned from the BBC." Bollocks, says the rest of us.


  1. I don't know what's worse: The BBC semantically cleansing its own news coverage, or the bald-faced *terminological inexactitude" (to paraphrase Winston Churchill) when caught out. Yes, there's a ban on the T-word at the Ministry of Truth - so why not at least try to honestly defend the indefensible?

  2. I think that in itself is bollocks. The word 'terrorist' doesn't really mean anything accurate - whereas 'bomber' does. Why can't we call a spade a spade, rather than having to us the over-emotive terminology of the Bush administration - in itself a form of political correctness.

  3. Anonymous -

    I've no interest in playing semantic ping pong with you, but IMO "terrorism" and "terrorist" was a perfectly accurate description of the London bombings and its perpretrators.

    Anyway, the BBC can describe these people as "misunderstood freedom fighters" if it likes. But please don't insult my intelligence by banning words, retrospectively editing it from you websites, then deny anything of the kind has happened.

    I notice the BBC doesn't have a ban on words like "lies" and "liar", yet. So I can say: "Could the BBC stop lying about its editorial policies?"

  4. Someone who uses terror to advance their goals is a terrorist. Let's not play games with words it is unbecoming.


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