MP slams BBC for vilifying Olympic athlete Louis Smith

MP slams BBC for vilifying Olympic athlete Louis Smith December 18, 2016

Conservative MP Charles Walker has accused the BBC of placing itself ‘firmly at the head of the mob’ who attacked Louis Smith for lampooning Islam.
Walker also said the Government was “nowhere to be seen” when it should have been defending free expression.
He added that the Government’s silence over the hounding and death threats against Louis Smith:

Heralds, de facto, the reintroduction of an unwritten blasphemy law, enforced by threat and thuggery.

He said the episode:

Shamed our nation and its laws. In our liberal and open society, freedom of worship marches hand in hand with the freedom to lampoon religion. Quite simply, that is the deal.

Walker said after The Sun released a video of Smith making fun Islamic prayers:

Sensationalist reporting of his actions in some sections of the media resulted in the gymnast’s receiving multiple death threats.

And he pointed out:

The BBC has a rich heritage of aiming both excoriating and gentle humour in the direction of Christianity over the past 40 years. We have had Dave Allen, Monty Python and the Vicar of Dibley, and I particularly remember Not the Nine O’Clock News, in the early 1980s, taking the Church of England to task for its views on homosexuality.
So, given its proud tradition of tackling religious sensibilities, one could be forgiven for thinking that the BBC would inject some common sense and balance into the reporting of Louis Smith’s actions. Not a bit of it: instead of trying to insert itself between Louis Smith and the mob, the corporation placed itself firmly at the head of the mob.

Louis Smith
He drew attention to a Radio 5 Live interview where the presenter said Smith had been “very, very offensive” and “shameful”.
Walker said that, by treating mockery of religion as “shameful” the presenter:

Placed a question mark over the motives and legacy of some of the UK’s greatest deceased and living comedians. Louis Smith is never going to be the world’s greatest comedian, but we – and the BBC – should be blind to that fact, because the law applies as much to gymnasts as it does to joke-tellers.

He wrote to the BBC challenging why no condemnation of the death threats was made during the interview, despite the presenter finding time to condemn Smith. He said that the “inquisitorial tone of the interview” heightened the “already significant threat to his well-being and safety.”
In response the BBC said that the interview helped Smith, because it meant he could “appease” “people who might be angry with him.”
Walker insisted:

The only person who is deserving of an apology is Louis Smith himself. He is owed an apology from the Muslim Council of Britain for its ridiculous overplaying of Muslim sensitivities towards their faith.

The MBC said that Smith’s apology:

Fell well short of addressing the hurt caused against Muslims.

This, said Walker, was:

Uncharitable nonsense from an organisation that strives to be taken seriously.

Walker also said that British Gymnastics should apologise to Smith for its “cowardly decision” to suspend him. A petition calling for British Gymnastics to lift Smith’s ban has only managed to attract 5,117 signatures,
The National Secular Society welcomed Walker’s comments, particularly his criticism of the Government to be proactive in defending freedom of expression.
Campaigns director Stephen Evans said:

The sensationalising of this private video by the media, and particularly The Sun, only contributed to a climate of censorship brought on by the unreasonable and reactionary views of some religious extremists. Too few spoke out for Louis Smith’s right to freedom of expression, and the Prime Minister gave a troubling and weak answer when asked about the case at Prime Minister’s Questions last month.

When Walker asked the Prime Minister about Louis Smith in November, Theresa May said that there “is a balance we need to find” and that Smith, despite being threatened with death, had:

A responsibility to recognise the importance of tolerance of others.

In early December Walker asked the Home Secretary why she had failed to give voice to the importance of defending free expression “during the manhunt and vilification of the gymnast Louis Smith.”

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  • AgentCormac

    At last, someone having the guts to stand up and tell it how it is.

  • Bill Bonk

    Hear Hear …. but why has this taken so long. This was a shameful event. Shameful not because of the muslim “hurt” but because of the total suspension of the fundamental democratic right of FREE SPEECH. Muslims are conspiring to close down FREE SPEECH and their efforts must be robustly countered. The man, an Olympic Medalist,received death threats. DEATH THREATS for taking the piss out of something that is crying out to be roundly ridiculed. I say ridicule and contempt is nothing compared to the muslim equivalent of violence.
    Kuffars “Take the Piss” out of things that deserve mockery.
    Muslims unleash Mindless Violence.

  • Bill Bonk

    And its not just the BBC either? Did any officials or public figures … you know those with a voice … stand up for free speech. I didn’t hear them. The silence was deafening.

  • Broga

    “Theresa May said that there “is a balance we need to find” . That means keep your mouth shut and don’t say anything that might offend Muslims. Free speech isn’t just disappearing. It has disappeared.

  • Bill Bonk

    And the muslim cake baker woman is allowed to say in the media that she is the target of RACISM because someone did not want to sit next to her on public transport. Well revulsion towards islam is not racism. Its a healthy and natural reaction against a dogma that encourages its thugs to take the law into their own hands.
    Should we claim that the islamic death threats against Mr Smith were racist because he considers islam to be worthy of ridicule and mockery? I think not, but that is the exact equivalent of what the cake baking woman said on the BBC. I think her name is Nadia and I think she made the claim on Desert Island Discs.

  • Bill Bonk

    The balance is to relentlessly and noisily and publically ridicule and mock all religions. Islam is especially deserving.
    Remember Charlie Hebdo. Everyone who kept their mouth shut over the Louis Smith affair spat on the grave of Stephane Charbonnier et al.

  • John

    This all started long ago with the moral cowardice of the British Establishment when the Ayatollah Khomeini made death threats against Salman Rushdie for publishing his book “The Satanic Verses”.
    Right then, the UK Government should have told Khomeini and the Iranians to piss off back to their medieval mindset and to stay away from the UK.
    My understanding is that the fatwah issued against Rushdie has since been revoked but he still needs constant protection as Islamist loonies are always present, regardless.
    Why have none of the individuals who threatened Louis Smith been found, prosecuted and fined and/or jailed?
    More moral cowardice in the UK even now and today!

  • Broga

    @John: The grotesque misjudgement of the UK government has, for many years,been to assume that by treating some demanding minorities generously these minorities will be satisfied and cooperative. What has happened, and is happening, is that the whatever is given will only lead to more being demanded.
    The demands are insatiable. They will not stop. They will insist on what they see as their rights. While they are aggressive and active the rest of us are quiet, tolerant, passive and uninterested. We are too busy following our millionaire footballers, voting for Sports Personality of the Year or whatever and watching and becoming absorbed in junk TV.
    When we wake up it will be too late. And our MPs are proving ineffective in looking after our interests but highly effective in looking after their own.

  • Herbert

    Broga … Spot on.

  • Herbert

    John … Spot on too.

  • AgentCormac

    @Bill Bonk
    Sorry, but there really is a vast difference between indiscriminate racism (ie refusing to sit next to a woman because she is wearing muslim garb) and denouncing specific individuals for inciting hatred agains our culture, our values and our democracy. And as for referring to Nadiya Hussain as ‘the muslim cake baker woman’ – how, exactly, do you think that that is helpful?

  • tonye

    Cheers, I could not have put it better.

  • 1859

    @ Broga: ‘….or whatever and watching and becoming absorbed in junk TV.’
    I’ve just tried to watch the first episode of ‘The Crown’ and it almost made me wretch at the sycophantic, fawning nostalgia for a bunch of privileged parasites at the very top of the British class system. But can I find anywhere, anyone applying rational criticism of this gushing junk? No. Everyone seems to be crooning senselessly over all this nostalgic shite – they have forgotten what life was really like for 90% of working people in this time. The English have truly become a backward-looking people who cannot let go of the phoney glorification of the their history.
    This sort of circus TV of glitz, glamour, nostalgia and belief in the glorious British past, is utterly shaming for a country that was once renowned for the intellectual daring of its broadcasting media.

  • Goodbye, Britain. You did it to yourself. The culture that gave the world the Magna Carta fell on its own sword to avoid being called bigots by people who are never appeased and who will exhibit their own bigotry at every opportunity.

  • Herbert

    Yes … British contemporary culture … Competitive cake baking with inane mindless radio dj lcd trashbabble commentary, over ponced up peacocks strictly strutting about, fawning over talentless worthless celebrities, ultra in your face wannabe tycoons, watching overblown nobodies watching tv, britains got millions of sycophantic wasters prepared to fawn in front of slack jawed jumped up self absorbed “judges” .. This is how the British spend time now. Shocking and moronic. Fucking tragic.
    Only one thing worth watching . HIGNFY.

  • Herbert

    Islamists all across the country have put the uk on castors and are turning it to face Mecca. Meanwhile the kuffars watch mind rotting glitter covered shit on tv.
    And our soldiers get tried and banged up for breach of Geneva convention whilst lawless shitehawk islamofacist goons rush about the place shooting, stabbing, suicide bombing, murdering at will.

  • Herbert

    And most humans think their god is on their side, watching over them, and giving them divine authority to kill those who praise the wrong god and kill those who don’t comply with what they think god wants. The same species that put a man on the moon, who can engineer amazing stuff like mobile phones, who can eradicate disease, who can contemplate quantum mechanics and einsteinian space time….. My head hurts….

  • barriejohn

    It’s not all doom and gloom!
    More young people are tuning in to Sir David Attenborough’s BBC One natural history programme Planet Earth II than ITV’s X Factor, viewing figures show.
    In total, The X Factor Results show is watched by around 7 million people per week, while Planet Earth II attracts more than 12 million.

  • Bill Bonk

    And more BBC religious bullshit here … did you know that the pope has undiminished zeal for change?
    Well its true because his zeal is unchanged because he never had much zeal for change in the very first place. The notion that he was going to overturn centuries of catholic dogma is a lie of the first order. The RCC want you to think he is hammering change but he is not. Nor does he intend to. On who’s watch was the poison dwarf agnes trasformed into a saint? And I for one was delighted that she was because anyone who knows the facts about the miraculous cure understands that doctors cured the peasant Indian Monica of tuberculosis. Twas not a miracle but a hoax. But such is the modus operandum of the rcc. One big money making criminal organisation. And the BBC wallows in its praise for it. Shameful.

  • barriejohn

    This was sheer TV heaven as well – informative and balanced – though I am still not sure what to make of Disney. Did he ruthlessly dumb-down and destroy American culture, or was he merely a genius at producing harmless, escapist entertainment?

  • Bill Bonk

    AgentCormac. Being disgusted by islam … and feeling threatened by it … IS NOT RACISM. IT IS NOT RACISM but muslims promote that very notion to promote their agenda. GET IT? Religion is not a RACE.
    And Nadia made the claim that she is the victim of RACISM when actually its her religion that repelled the person on the bus. Nadia seems to be an intelligent woman … so she actually knows what racism is but she chose to ignore the facts and played the RACISM Card. If she had been honest and said that her islamic attire leads some people to react negatively then I could respect that assertion. But no she played the RACIST VICTIM CARD. She was dishonest and calculatingly so.

  • barriejohn

    Bill Bonk: I read that the other day and cringed! David Willey seems to have been badly affected by his many years at Rome. I don’t know what his religious affiliations are, but his reporting is far from balanced – more in the Caroline Wyatt mould, though she now has MS, so has been given a studio-based role.
    PS SOME of the antipathy shown towards apparently Muslim people is obviously racist. How can anyone know that a woman wearing a hijab is Muslim? It’s a cultural thing with many women of Middle Eastern descent, and signifies nothing about their beliefs!

  • Bill Bonk

    BJ … like others maybe you missed my point. Or maybe not. Hard to say.
    Being repelled by a person wearing the regalia of a religion as dangerous as islam IS NOT RACISM.
    And claiming that negativity towards a muslim is RACISM is a false assertion and is a deliberate lie when expressed by a apparently intelligent person.
    I revile all religions but islam is the one that threatens global peace and therefore I rail against it especially when its followers plead that they are the victims of racism.

  • Stephen Mynett

    It is not that long ago that Christian women were expected to cover their heads in a lot, possibly all, churches. Some still do.
    There was an awful incident a while back where a women who was being treated for skin cancer was taking her taking her grandchildren out in Brighton and she was, as her doctors suggested, wearing a headscarf as protection from the sun. Needless to say some passing twerp started screaming abuse at her. Idiots like this are the ones who should be criticised, not those who have genuine concerns about aspects of religion, such as Sharia courts where a women’s testimony is practically worthless.

  • barriejohn

    Bill Bonk: I don’t get it. I am not “repelled by a person wearing the regalia of a religion”, be it Islam or anything else, but clothing like hijabs and even burkhas do not necessarily signify the wearer’s religion. I most certainly would not refuse to sit next to a person wearing any such clothing – even nuns, priests , bishops or the Pope himself!

  • L.Long

    ALL DOGMA no matter how good they talk or how good they act, are nothing but evil at their core. They should all be ridiculed and made to look ridiculous.

  • Peter Sykes

    Spot on.
    I managed about 15 seconds.
    The BBC is now just the mouthpiece of the establishment. Though there are some excellent odd-ball stuff on R4.
    I’am a member of “Republic” but it feels like pissing into the wind!

  • Brummie

    With these “letterbox ladies” covered from head to toe, how does one know what race ,colour or even sex they are?

  • Daz

    “With these “letterbox ladies” covered from head to toe, how does one know what race ,colour or even sex they are?”

    Why do you need to?

  • H&S Consultant

    Bj … Are you ok? Your latest comment makes no sense. Who else but a Muslim would wear a burqa. And look at the news again today. All the mayhem, murders, shootings, marketplace truck incidents, beheadings are perpetrated by Muslims. It really is best to avoid people who could turn out to be intent on killing you. And a nun is unlikely to have a meat cleaver up her habit. The first rule of H&S – remove the hazard. And if that can’t be done then remove yourself from the hazardous zone.

  • Daz

    “All the mayhem, murders, shootings, marketplace truck incidents, beheadings are perpetrated by Muslims.”

    If we ignore all the mayhem, witch-burnings (yes, they still happen), lynchings, shootings, bombings and so on done by Christians and people of other religions, you’re absolutely right.
    [The thing about the term “freethinking” is, it contains the word “thinking.” A verb which seems to get chucked out the window and replaced by some form of verbal diarrhoea as soon as Muslims are mentioned.]

  • barriejohn

    Who else but a Muslim would wear a burqa?
    Maybe a woman raised or living in a Muslim community. You’re making a lot of assumptions about people based only upon their dress.

  • Daz

    … or she could be Jewish.

  • Cali Ron

    In America most shootings, mayhem, murder, etc, are actually done by Christians, not Muslims, but we are a gun and violence prone culture. I am not sure about Britain as these kinds of comments get used frequently online without any supporting evidence.
    For what it’s worth the average 1 out of 1.2 billion Muslims is also unlikely to have a meat clever under their clothing. Fear is a more powerful tool than a meat clever when dealing with the masses. It seems to be working on you.

  • Daz

    @Cali Ron

    “I am not sure about Britain”

    To the best of my knowledge, there has been no religiously motivated murder of a non-Muslim by a Muslim in the UK since Lee Rigby was killed in 2013. There have, however, been a few murders of Muslims by Muslims on such grounds.
    I can’t find figures for how many murders we have per year (The office for national statistics lists only homicides (500 to 600 per year), which is a collation of murder of adults, infanticide and manslaughter), but I’d suggest that one such murder in four years isn’t exactly grounds for getting paranoid about women in burqas. Especially given that the Muslim woman stands a much higher chance of being attacked by her fellow Muslims than do those here who profess to find her somehow intimidating.
    As to terrorism, we managed through three decades of IRA attacks without tarring all Irish people with one brush. People should get a sense of perspective.

  • H&S Consultant

    You’re a real hard nut Cali. But then you mercans are well used to mindless violence on the street thanks to your love of firearms. You walk fearlessly through the valley of death if you want … I’ll be a bit more circumspect and, as far as I can, avoid situations where I am exposed to the hazards of those that assume the godly right to dismissively kill whosoever they choose.

  • Daz

    @H&S Consultant
    The purpose of terrorism is to spread fear. Congratulations to you on becoming a terrorist puppet.
    The largest, by far, of the demographics you’re likely to be purposefully killed by in the UK is your friends and family. (52% of male victims are killed by someone they know, 68% of female.) Whereas we can count on one finger the number of non-Muslims killed by Muslims in the country during the last four years.
    If you truly wish to avoid a violent death, I’d suggest you avoid pubs, traffic and knowing people. Avoiding women in burqas won’t alter your chances by a tenth of a percent.

  • Bill Bonk

    Daz, I don’t see why you are so offended that someone should have a sense of self preservation and who experiences revulsion to those who adhere to a dogma that is responsible for so much retardation, hate, violence, murder and mayhem. And how do you propose to deal with the threat of islamic terrorism? By rolling over and letting the silent majority of muslims, those who you never hear condemning the violence unleashed in the name of their god, take the piss behind your back. No matter how you try to smooth over it islam is an evil dogma. Just go look back at recent history at the catalogue muslim offences against humanity. Did you see what happened in Berlin yesterday? Just turning up at a Christmas Fayre is no way to push back at islam. I mean thats really scary for muslims. That you would dare to show up at a Christmas Fayre must have them cowering in fear. No he best way is to speak out loudly and honestly even at the risk of upsetting the hoardes of accomodationist kuffar apologists for islam

  • Daz

    “Daz, I don’t see why you are so offended that someone should have a sense of self preservation and who experiences revulsion to those who adhere to a dogma that is responsible for so much retardation, hate, violence, murder and mayhem.”

    The terrorists, of whatever religion, political cause or mixture of the two, repulse me. But not all conservatives are race-baiting fascists, not all communists are wannabe Stalinists, and not all religious people of any creed are fanatical religious fundamentalists, violent or otherwise. And to treat them as if they were is to be just as stupidly dogmatic as any fundy.

    “And how do you propose to deal with the threat of islamic terrorism?”

    I don’t know. The whole of the middle east is a religio-political mess, and there never will be an easy solution. Sorry. If you want easy answers to questions which any person with an ounce of sense can see are bloody complex, I suggest you convert to a religion.

    “By rolling over and letting the silent majority of muslims, those who you never hear condemning the violence unleashed in the name of their god, take the piss behind your back.”

    Are they not condemning it, or are you simply not paying attention when they do? Or maybe you do notice, but like far too many commenters seem to do, you merely use their liberalness as an excuse to call them hypocrites, in light of your own interpretation of what the True Meaning™ of their religion is?

    “No matter how you try to smooth over it islam is an evil dogma. Just go look back at recent history at the catalogue muslim offences against humanity.”

    Yeah and it’s awful. Just like the offences against humanity by other religions. Islamism is not uniquely evil.

    “Did you see what happened in Berlin yesterday? Just turning up at a Christmas Fayre is no way to push back at islam. I mean thats really scary for muslims. That you would dare to show up at a Christmas Fayre must have them cowering in fear.”

    Huh? I’m sorry. I didn’t realise that the Christmas fair was intended to be some kind of protest against islamism or any other religious stance.

    “hoardes of accomodationist kuffar apologists for islam”

    How can I put this politely? Fuck off and learn to think.

  • John

    The only way to stop these kinds of irrational threats is to challenge them – at all levels.
    Unfortunately, we have a political class that is itself riddled with religious extremism.
    May herself wears her religious beliefs openly.
    Even her critic – Morgan – is another religious nut.
    People like Pickles and Farron think it is great to promote their foolish beliefs to others too.
    There are also – regrettably – people among the ranks of Labour and some nationalist parties with similar beliefs.
    How can such people ever be able to challenge unrealistic religious beliefs when they themselves also hold them?
    All people like us can do is point out that their beliefs are wrong and that there are no gods or mythical beings.
    There is no god, yahweh or allah is the message we need to present to these religious fanatics, wherever they may be or may come from.
    Only then – over time – will their adherence to crazy beliefs and actions evaporate.

  • Cali Ron

    You can choose to live in fear, letting it drive your actions or you can choose to live in the real world and let your actions be dictated by the actual facts, like risk factors. I prefer to live my life to the fullest, rather than cower in fear, denying myself the life I want over an irrational fear. The risk of you or I of being killed or injured in a terrorists attack are minuscule in our respective countries compared to dozens of much more likely causes that we ignore or just live with every day. I never suggested not fighting terrorism of any type. I just don’t let the fear of it rule my life.