Journalists are supposed to report news not to be the centre of the news themselves
Journalists are supposed to report news not to be the centre of the news themselves. It is a kernel of journalism that is continuously challenged in this age of instant news and multi- media technology.
Traditional barriers between the print and electronic media have been bridged by new technology to the point where it is becoming difficult to decide which of the media one sources oneâ€™s information.
Is it the newspaper, the radio, the television, satellite TV, the Internet or your mobile phone. The consequence of this remarkable revolution in communication technology is the continuing diversification by journalists and their ability to reach you from all kinds of sources.
You can see the same journalists on your TV screen, encounter them in your virtual chat room, listen to them on your radio or read them in your newspapers. So a news reporter on your local radio could metamorphose into an opinionated columnist in your local paper.
It is this kind of cross-breeding which has contributed to one of the most controversial debates about freedom of expression in Britain in recent times.
An ageing (even if his good looks tell a different story) popular chat show host, Robert Kilroy-Silk is at the centre of this debate all because multi-media technology and its complementary demand of multi-task journalism allows him to jump from his not very morning show on to the print media.
His show is popular among bored housewives, the unemployed who have to fill in their time and other dysfunctional people with time as no object. Otherwise who will be watching a show that comes on after 9.00am on a weekday?
But that constituency is a big one. Consequently, mediocre talents like Kilroy-Silk, a former right wing Labour MP deselected by Labour militants (God bless them) who found a new life as a chat show host, became stars overnight.
Instead of thanking their stars for flashing at the right time and the right place they delude themselves into thinking that they have become great public philosophers with a view on everything. He writes a regular column for the right wing Express Newspaper table in London.
In April last year as his contribution to the unjust war effort against Iraq he wrote a ranting monologue of loathsome views about â€˜loathsome Arabsâ€™ in which he lumped all Arabs together as â€˜suicide bombersâ€™, â€˜women oppressorsâ€™, â€˜limb amputatorsâ€™ and a people who have â€˜contributed nothingâ€™ apart â€˜from oilâ€™ to human civilisation! In the heated debates of the time the article was missed by those who would have protested.
But its republication last week in The Sunday Express has led to the current controversy. Kilroy-Silkâ€™s open prejudice and racist attitudes and opinions of Arabs was too much for many liberal-minded people in Britain and they called for his head on a platter.
The BBC considered a bastion of liberalism by conservative people in Britain (in Margaret Thatcherâ€™s days her loony minister and Chair of the Conservative party, Norman Thebit used to call the BBC, the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation) had no alternative but to suspend Kilroy-Silkâ€™s morning show pending investigation of his racist article.
Silkâ€™s supporters see the move as an infringement on his freedom of expression while his critics see it as logical and demand that suspension is not enough punishment.
The man should never have any show on the BBC, which is financed by public licence fees, again. Others also expect that he would be prosecuted under the various raft of anti-racism laws for inciting racial prejudice and promoting intolerance likely to lead to disturbance of public order.
Would there have been such uproar if Kilroy had written in an African newspaper? There is so much racist, prejudiced, insulting, ethnocentric, religiously biased and other sectarian views I our media that his ranting could not have been extra ordinary.
Many of our media and public figures will not pass the simplest of anti-racism test. And by no means is all the racism against black people by white people.
A lot of it is actually racist views of Africa by Africans, prejudice against other Africans and also African racism against non-Africans or non-Black Africans and others. Just read the pro-Mugabe media in Africa to get a taste of what I am saying. Would many be that complacent if the situation was reversed?
On the other side would those who are defending Kilroyâ€™s right to say all he said about Arabs have maintained the same position if Arab was substituted for Jews or Israelis?
It is this kind of group blaming and prejudiced power relations that led to genocide in Rwanda and we must root it out of our society.
Racism, ethnicity, religious and political intolerance are variations of the same virus. You cannot be one without been complicit in the others.
Racism can lead to terrible crime