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BBC rejects blasphemy complaint

by
21 March 2012

by a staff reporter

A PRIEST who is a fan of the BBC TV programme Top Gear, the Revd Graeme Anderson, has complained to Ofcom and the BBC about the use of language by the presenter, Jeremy Clarkson, during the show.

Mr Anderson, who is Vicar of St Mary’s, Radcliffe-on-Trent, complained about Mr Clark­son’s exclamations “God Almighty!” and “Jesus wept!”

“I know the Church and Chris­tians sometimes do things that might deserve to be ridiculed; but this was about Jesus Christ. . . I could not stand by while Jesus was belittled and cheapened.”

Mr Anderson accused the BBC of a double standard for being “re­spect­ful” towards other religions but not towards Christianity.

But the BBC rejected his com­plaint, telling him that some offensive words and phrases had become everyday language, and there was “no consen­sus about words that are acceptable”.

In a statement, the BBC said: “We’re aware that blasphemous language, including the casual or derogatory use of holy names or religious words, can be a source of particular offence to some members of the audience, but judgements about its use are difficult because they depend on tone and context.

“There is no consensus about words that are acceptable, when, and by whom, as different words cause different degrees of offence to different people. Some of the words and phrases that can cause offence have, whether we like it or not, become part of everyday language and it would be unrealistic for broadcasters to suggest they are not widely used in a range of contexts.

“We do however respect the fun­da­mental human right to exercise freedom of thought, conscience and religion, this includes an individ­ual’s freedom to worship, teach, prac­tise and observe. While we also have a duty to reflect society as it really is, we try to ensure our output is not used to denigrate the beliefs of others.”

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