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Only in America…

Only in America could a man challenge the idea that everyone is free to carry a handgun and be castigated for it.

Bob Costas, a famed US sports presenter, was speaking following the tragic case of KC Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher who shot and killed his girlfriend then himself before the Chiefs’ game on Saturday.

Now, do I believe that we need more comprehensive and more sensible gun control legislation? Yes I do. That doesn’t mean repeal the second amendment. That doesn’t mean a prohibition on someone having a gun to protect their home and their family. It means sensible and more comprehensive gun control legislation. But even if you had that, you would still have the problem of what Jason Whitlock wrote about, and what I agree with. And that is a gun culture in this country.

Jason Whitlock, referred to, had previously said:

Our current gun culture simply ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy.

I’m not sure that it should be controversial to state that gun control should be “more sensible”. If he said that it should be less sensible, that’s stupid, but more sensible? What’s the problem? The problem is enshrined into US law. The 2nd amendment to the constitution of the United States includes the following:

the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Patriots, republicans, people who like the status quo and idiots are all agreed that guns should be free to be carried around.

Sensible folk will agree with this from Bob Costas, instead:

Give me one example of an athlete – I know it’s happened in society – but give me one example of a professional athlete who by virtue of his having a gun, took a dangerous situation and turned it around for the better. I can’t think of a single one. But sadly, I can think of dozens where by virtue of having a gun, a professional athlete wound up in a tragic situation.

The ready, easy availability of guns makes mayhem easier. If somebody points out that the country has a problem with nutrition and obesity, that doesn’t mean they’re going to ban fast food. But they are making you aware of some of the dangers and hoping to moderate peoples’ behavior. And if nothing else, even if some people disagree with me or misinterpret what I said, if it started a conversation then I think that’s a good thing.

Paul Gambaccini, Jimmy Savile and BBC Radio 5 Live

Paul Gambaccini

This morning Paul Gambaccini, a man who has been employed by the BBC since 1973 (on and off) made a pair of severe accusations regarding Jimmy Savile. I’m not sure what the laws on libel are or of pushing on false information so I won’t repeat the allegations here, but it was truly shocking and a quick search on popular social networks will tell you what they are, I’m sure.

To give a quick outline without getting myself into trouble, the allegations surrounded illegal sexual practices attributed to Savile beyond anything he’d been publicly accused of thus far and police corruption. 5 Live Breakfast, the show in question, is available here and the interview took place in the last half an hour, though I’m not sure if it’s included in the stream.

I think it’s understandable for a lone blogger to be a little unsure when it comes to publishing information like this but for The Guardian, a renowned purveyor of media news, not to report on it at all, I find a little strange.

Ok, it’s a busy day for news what with George Entwistle attending his hearing today but I don’t think I’ve ever heard such absolute and shocking accusations on the radio before (or in any other media, come to think of it). Nicky Campbell was clearly taken aback by what he’d heard, which is unusual for him.

There will be more to come from this, I can guarantee it. Although there was a bit of chat on Twitter, there wasn’t a lot which surprised me. I was half expecting to read comment and reaction almost immediately but… nothing.

I’m wondering it’s a legal thing or if it’s another example of the media lying on a story (another thing Gambaccini said was happening), despite the fact that it has already been broadcast, live, on a show that, in the last quarter of 2011, had listening figures of 2,512,000.

Will the BBC tear itself apart?

Paul Gambaccini has been very vocal since the story broke and was the first person I heard in any media to say that he knew about Savile’s antics, for what of a better word. He seems, to me at least, to feel incredibly guilty about the whole thing and wants to make a point of exposing anything he may know that hasn’t already emerged.

My biggest fear is that the BBC may tear itself to pieces over all this. Ok, if bosses at the BBC knew what Savile was up to at that time, they should be called to account. It seems at first glance to be all old news but, in light of the pulled Newsnight exposé, these things run to the present day. If the knowledge was as widespread as Gambaccini says it is, heads will roll. If it turns out that what Savile did was not isolated and was, in fact, commonplace in the culture of the BBC, I predict it will not survive in its current guise.

The BBC is an incredibly important thing to me, personally. I use their services each and every day without fail. I cannot think of another company (except Google/Android for my phone), corporation or media outlet I use with such regularity. I listen to their radio stations, I watch their television output, I read their website.

It’s good that the BBC themselves are, slowly, taking control of the situation with the Pollard Inquiry and that they’ve appointed an external chairperson is to their credit. They’ve had one hard-hitting current affairs show investigating another on the same channel – this is unique worldwide, surely?

Let’s just hope that the worst case scenario is not the reality. For everyone’s sake.

Don’t be a dick and stay out of prison

Matthew Woods, a Facebook user, has been jailed for publishing offensive jokes. This is the most recent in a long line of jailings for saying things on social networks.

It seems that people are split along traditional lines on this one. The right-wing, Daily Mail lot are outraged. They believe that people who do such a thing should be jailed to teach them a lesson. The left-wing, Guardian lot are saying that this is the end of free speech.

Being a soft-arse leftie myself, I think that free speech should be protected but things aren’t as simple as that. If you offend people in a public forum, which Facebook is, you run the risk of the right-wing lot getting together with their flaming staffs and pitchforks, turning up outside your house and causing you trouble. This is clearly a concern for the police and, as they say, prevention is better than the cure. Matthew Woods was arrested for his own safety. Quite why they felt the need to jail him as well comes across as a little strange.

I do not think that free speech should be curtailed. The trick is to not be a dick, I think. Simple as that. However, people are people and will be dicks, regularly.

Not easy is it?

I think Victoria Coren put it best:

It’s easy for us peaceable western liberals to make a fuss when a likeable musician or poet is censored in a faraway country. But when it’s a revolting moron being offensive in our own country, the point is still the same: you can’t start sending people to prison for saying something you don’t like.