The death of Margaret Thatcher has spawned a popular protest, in the form of a re-release of a record from The Wizard of Oz – “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead”. The BBC decided that it would not ban playing it, but would only play a 5 second excerpt as it was deemed potentially offensive. Days later the same BBC decided to broadcast, in full, a Panorama film made clandestinely in North Korea, under cover of a London School of Economics study trip – at a time when the North Koreans are hyper-sensitive about outside pressure and have their finger on the nuclear trigger.
That’s double standards, isn’t it? The BBC doesn’t want to cause offence by broadcasting a record that, in the context of MT’s death, might be tasteless, but cites “an overwheming public interest case” in support of showing the Panorama film at this time; I would sugggest it smacks more of an overwhelming journalistic case. From the North Korean end of the telescope it can’t be seen as anything else but an example of western duplicity and spying, at least that’s what they’ll say. And, would they be wrong? All through the ‘cold war’ the west routinely ‘spied’ on communist bloc countries by infiltrating tourist or educational study groups. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some of the footage (and notes) not broadcast ended up with MI6 or the CIA and maybe was part sponsored by the security services in the first place. The LSE was, at best, naive if it didn’t consider that possibility.
Whatever the truth of that, it is monumentally stupid, and self-serving, of the BBC to poke a caged, dangerous, and angry animal with a sharp stick when it could just wait for things to calm down.