Peter Rhodes on mass killings, a very silly sign and complaints of improper conduct at the BBC

You might not be surprised when two traditionally macho organisations such as the Metropolitan Police or London Fire Brigade are condemned for institutional sexism, misogyny and racism. But the BBC? Pass the smelling salts, darling.

Photo: Clara Molden/PA Wire
Photo: Clara Molden/PA Wire

Three former employees of the Beeb have urged Nazir Afzal, the former chief crown prosecutor for the North West who is fresh from shining a light into dark places at the fire brigade, to investigate their complaints of discrimination within Broadcasting House.

Complaints? How can this be? The Beeb is a national treasure and our national repository of progressive, enlightened group-think with a heady dash of gender-fluidity, preferred pronouns and LGBTQETCETC awareness. So let us prepare to face a brutal fact: if the micro-managed and painfully, squeaky-clean BBC can be found guilty of institutionalised sexism, racism or any other ism, then we can safely assume that every other corporation, company, council, board, or group of trustees anywhere in the UK must also be guilty of such things. Indeed, depending on how low they set the bar, we are probably all guilty. This is terrible news for our great nation but, as is so often the case, marvellous news for the lawyers.

In the opening of Simon Schama's History of Now (BBC2), the great historian referred solemnly to events “in the course of my long life.” Schama is 77. These days that's barely out of middle-age. I've no idea when life begins to feel long. I'm a few years behind Schama and sometimes it feels terrifyingly short.

After last week's mass shooting in a Virginia store, state governor Glenn Youngkin declares: “Heinous acts of violence have no place in our communities.” Oh, yes they do. So far this year there have been more than 600 mass shootings (defined as four or more dead) in the States. Random slaughter with guns has a huge place in US society. It's just that Americans tend to look the other way.

For six long and very silly weeks, a sign at Moorland Prison in Yorkshire described the inmates as “residents.” After a quiet word from Whitehall, it has now been taken down. That proud prisoner Norman Stanley Fletcher can again sleep peacefully in his grave.

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