Saturday, November 10, 2012

The News

If you've sought out the grumbler deliberately, you're not after a dry, learned discourse. This posting is as close as it gets to that in these parts, though.  But stick with me, the tasteless and barely acceptable vulgarity you love so dearly is in here, somewhere...

For the past few weeks the news in the UK has been dominated by the campaigning, antics, badmouthing and general shenanigans associated with the election of the president of the world.  Well, given the coverage, you'd think this was the world presidency we're talking about, except, of course, you only get a vote if you're a citizen of the USofA. In some ways I'm surprised its not actually billed as the World Presidency - after all the fact that not many people outside the USA take part in it hasn't prevented baseball's biggest competition being called the World Series, has it? Precedent is clearly set.

Mind you, it's not so long ago that the majority of the population was disenfranchised even here, in the United Kingdom;  a country which might not be the cradle of democracy, but was probably one of it's first "big boy" beds...  A mere couple of centuries ago if you wanted to vote here you needed to own land and, more importantly, a willy. Perhaps I should say "be physically attached to a willy" since Mrs Grumbler seems to think, by virtue of a marriage licence, that she "owns" one.

So, given the awesome global power wielded by POTUS, as I've seen the office called, I suppose this slight lack of empowerment I'm feeling would be familiar to any Victorian woman - though much stronger in their case.  It's perhaps fitting, then, that ladies were apparently instrumental in returning Mr Obama to the Oval Office, preferring him over an alternative who's been painted in some instances as a misogynist.

Anyway, its done and dusted now and barring the occasional aftershock the news in the UK is returning to the subject that preoccupied it beforehand - the unpleasant business of Jimmy Saville's alleged abuses and the disastrous handling of the same by the BBC.  First they 'buried' the story - and endured a great deal of criticism for that, and now they've apparently overcompensated with the result that an ex-senior politician, and a very rich one at that, is mightily pissed off with them and threatening to take them to the cleaners.

Clearly, someone ought to be answerable for such shabby reporting, but I'm not sure that the target of their revelations should be "entitled" (oh how I despise that word) to much more than a very public, very grovelling and very protracted apology in a best attempt to wash away the stain on his character.  When you fling shit at someone, some of it sticks - even if they are completely innocent of any accusation. This fellow, though, is richer than creosote.  Which, according to the UK's superbly un-egalitarian defamation laws means that he can afford to sue their arses off.

That's right.  To win a libel case in the UK you've got to be rich - or hugely dedicated and prepared to lose everything in pursuit of justice.  The same is true of defending yourself against a suit when an unscrupulous party takes umbrage at statements you make that fail to paint them in the best light.  (Take a look at Simon Singh vs the Chiropractors for a good example)

Back to the unfairly fingered politician. I'm sorely conflicted about whether or not this guy (note, I'm not using his name, just in case) ought to sue or not.

On the pro-side, no one should have to stand by while an uninformed, stupid or malicious twat throws any kind of unfounded allegation at them. The originators of such life damaging lies ought to be ritually disembowelled with a spoon.  A wooden one. With splinters in.  Failing that, they should be made to pay - a very great deal.

On the anti-side, this guy doesn't need any more money.  And who loses if the BBC is forced to pay damages?  Anyone with a TV in the United Kingdom, is the answer to that, since the BBC is a publicly funded organisation which receives most of its money from the TV Licence - a concept many American friends might find really quite strange. Maybe there might be even more losers - after all, the BBC's output is watched or listened to in many countries across the world.

On balance, I think a grovelling apology and complete retraction of any accusations ought to do.

To bring this rant to a close in the manner that you would expect of me, I'll state that the BBC needs to be a bit more careful about what things it says, and how it says those things.  Consider this week's "Any Questions" on BBC radio 4, where the business of the maligned politician was discussed at length.  All of the folk on the panel repeated the phrase "We are determined to get to the bottom of this."  Think about it guys.  It was this alleged determination to get to things' bottoms which started the abuse saga in the first place.