Reading the right-wing bloggers on the Kilroy-Silk affair (Sorry I can’t really be bothered to link to them all this time) and I am a little confused.
Repeatedly the example of Tom Paulin’s comment about shooting Israeli settlers is produced as a reason why the BBC should not take any action against Kilroy Silk.
Now, aside from the highly relevant fact that Paulin isn’t a BBC staff member or a presenter of a show and is merely an occassional guest, I am puzzled by this line of argument.
Because if Paulin’s comments were beyond the pale (and they were) and the BBC are being criticised for continuing to use him as a pundit (and they are) then presumably these conservative commenters believe that the BBC should have done something about Paulin – like for example stop using him on Newsnight.
But in the case of Kilroy Silk the same people who wanted Paulin to suffer consequences are demanding business as usual and no negative consequences for his beyond the pale comments.
If you are arguing, as many are, in favour of absolute freedom of speech and the right to offend without any possibility of consequences following from your words, then I’m afraid you then have to defend Paulin’s right to be on the BBC as much as you are backing Kilroy.
Otherwise you are guilty of as much hypocrisy as you claim the BBC are showing.
On the other hand you could quite simply condemn Kilroy-Silk’s pub bore article with no ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’.
But it seems that some on the right find it just as hard to clearly condemn ignorant generalisations about Arabs as the anti-war movement found it tough to simply say ‘Iraq is better off without Saddam’.
But I suppose if you believe, as Melanie Phillips does, that there is a “terrifying drift in Britain towards dhimmification which she defines as “the status of infidels under Islam who are permitted to live in Muslim jurusdictions but only with restrictions as second-class citizens” then Kilroy’s comments seem pretty mild anyway.