One of those occasions where keeping quiet might have been more judicious …

Censorship BBCThe Official Chart number two is ‘Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead’ but the BBC played but only seven seconds of the music because, according to Radio One controller Ben Cooper, the BBC “has a duty to inform and educate the young audience”. Once again the BBC shows itself to be patronising and oversteps its duty by not playing a record at the top of the Chart 40. The Director-General of the BBC, Tony Hall is now fully involved in the decision-making process, with the acting director of radio, Graham Ellis, and Ben Cooper, the Radio 1 controller. Imagine that the BBC cut to ribbons material that they considered offensive and then added a patronising explanation.  Just think what we might end up with. We would have got this from Chuck Berry: When I was a little bitty boy, My Grandmother bought me a cute little toy, Silver bells hanging on a string, She said it was my (music ends)  –  BBC Announcer: “As this record has been manipulated into the charts by people who have a disrespectful objective, we feel we shouldn’t play any more of the music. Sorry.”

John Whittingdale, a Tory MP and chairman of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, said on the news: “This is an attempt to manipulate the charts by people trying to make a political point. Most people will find that offensive and deeply insensitive.” I am sure people find many songs offensive and, indeed, the BBC play many of those songs, but it is not up to the BBC to censor or redact songs that they play, unless of course the language is profane or indecent. The fact that the charts have been used for protest songs since the early 1960’s seem to have escaped the half-witted Whittingdale, who appears entirely unsuitable to serve on a culture and media committee on our behalf in Westminster. Has he never listened to Bob Dylan’s 1963 song ‘The Times They Are A Changing’?

Redacting this song to a 5 second extract has actually backfired on those who sought to censor it. What is guaranteed is that this song will be remembered as the song that made it to number two in the charts the week that Thatcher died and that it was cut to ribbons by the BBC because of pressure by Thatcher-adulating Conservatives.  It might have been better to keep quiet as the resulting publicity and censorship has served only to publicise the matter more than its detractors would have wished. Well done Mr. Whittingdale.

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