Wednesday, January 24, 2007

BBC gets judgemental

The oh so proper BBC frequently defends it's refusal to use the word "terrorist" in connection with those who carry out terror attacks by claiming that it does not want to be seen as judgemental.

However, it seems the BBC is less concerned about being considered judgemental when it comes to describe those people who salvage items from the wreck of the MSC Napoli as "scavengers".

I suppose that technically you could argue that what these people are doing is indeed scavenging, but you could make the same argument for the term "terrorist" which the Beeb steadfastly refuse to use.

There is no doubt either that the term "scavenge" does conjure up very negative images and is often used in a derogatory way. I'm not suggesting that is what the BBC are doing, but it does make me wonder why they are happy to use a word with such obvious negative connotations when they are usually so cautious about doing so.

Perhaps I'm being cynical, but maybe it's because the "scavengers" don't appear to be from any particular racial, ethnic or religious group which the Beeb are so keen to avoid offending - they just appear to be your average Brit.

I don't know what the rights and wrongs of what is happening at Branscombe Bay are. I've always believed that anything washed up on shore was fair game, but I really do not know the legal ins and outs of the situation. The BBC seems to confirm my opinion, though.
Under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, it is an offence for people to remove items from a wreck if they conceal or keep possession of cargo and refuse to surrender it.

I didn't see much effort by people to "conceal" what they were doing. They have to notify the Receiver of Wrecks within a certain time, but it's hard to see how you could tell whether they would do that or not just by watching them on the beach. What I do know is that the BBC appears to have abandoned it's belief in being non-judgemental - so perhaps we can look forward to seeing the word "terrorist" used next time some malevolent Muslim self-detonates in a bus.

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