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FREE SPEECH - "golliwog"

Carol Thatcher faces BBC ban over 'golliwog' remark
Leigh Holmwood guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 3 February 2009 12.50 GMT

Carol Thatcher faces being banned from the BBC after she referred to a tennis player as a "golliwog".

Thatcher, the daughter of former prime minister Lady Thatcher, made the remark in a private conversation in the green room of The One Show after the broadcast of the BBC1 programme on Thursday night.

Sources have said that Thatcher will not be used again on the show, where she is a roving reporter, until she formally apologises to those who were offended by the remark.

According to insiders, Thatcher – who won ITV1 reality series I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! in 2005 – was chatting with The One Show host Adrian Chiles and guest Jo Brand about the Australian Open when she described an unnamed player as a "golliwog".

Show insiders said Chiles was "outraged" by the comment and he and Brand challenged Thatcher about it.

The pair also complained to show executives – as did production staff who later heard about the incident – and it is understood that Thatcher was approached the following day by the show's executive producer.

Thatcher's spokeswoman had not responded to a request for comment before publication, but was quoted in The Times today as saying the word was an "off-the-cuff remark made in jest" and that she had apologised to the show's producer.

Sources said Thatcher had also written to the show's executive producer to apologise and that the BBC was currently considering its decision.

However, insiders said this may not be enough.

"Her apology seems to be that it was just a joke, but the BBC feels it is not acceptable under any circumstances to call someone a golliwog," the source said.

"Unless you don't think that is an acceptable joke, how can you be sorry? Until she apologises to the people who were offended her future is in question. There are people working on the show who don't feel they can work with her. Adrian was outraged by what he heard."

A BBC spokesman said there were "no confirmed plans to work with Carol on The One Show at the present time".

He added: "The BBC considers any language of a racist nature wholly unacceptable. We have raised the issue with the individual concerned and are discussing it as a matter of urgency."
Vote: Should Carol Thatcher have been dropped by the BBC for using the word "golliwog"?

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Members Comments

Wildgoose 5-Feb-2009 21:57
It's probably worth pointing out that apparently the "Golliwog" tennis player was that Anglophobic Scot Andy Murray.

This of course will be the reason why the tennis player's identity wasn't revealed - in order to deliberately imply that Carrol Thatcher was referring to a black player.
scamp126 5-Feb-2009 15:35
How long before a latter day Matthew Hopkins appears with the self-appointed title of Race-finder General instead of Witch-finder General? His spirit is certainly abroad and has taken up residence in the hallowed halls of the BBC.

It is now the case that the words you utter are enough to convict you - not just where, not just when, not dependent on context - but the words alone can prove you guilty of that most heinous of modern crimes – Racism.

The latest villain to be brought to arbitrary justice is Carol Thatcher. It appears that in a closed room, apparently amongst friends and colleagues, she referred to a tennis player as a ‘golliwog’. Not a nice thing to say, perhaps, but not used in a vicious or derogatory fashion. But, it had been used, and in the age of Correctness must needs be exposed and expunged. Had she referred to the man as a curly-headed twerp, she would have been greeted with a sideways glance and a comment such as “I bet you wouldn’t say that to his face”. However one of the ‘no-no’ words had been uttered and a price had to be paid, an exorcism performed.

I have heard many people today say that they know and respect Carol Thatcher and she is in no way a racist - but – she should not have said it, is wrong and must apologise. I now need someone to clarify the rules of racism to me. Nowhere in does dictionary definition include a list of words which are inherently racist and henceforward forbidden. The dictionary refers to beliefs, superiority, doctrines, hatred and the like. These definitions I understand and agree with. I also abhor them all. However, if I call someone ‘a twit’ I am not being racist – but – if I call someone ‘a religious twit’ and refuse to employ them because of it, that is a different matter. And that is the point.

We are now in the field of analysis and detailed debate, of comparative examples and strained logic. All because of a word used impulsively and without malice, but offending a group of people to whom it was not applied but who considered themselves the arbiters of good taste.

I hear the baying of hounds, the return of the McCarthy Witch Hunts, the re-opening of the Salem Witch Trials and Matthew Hopkins chuckling at the door.
Hally40 4-Feb-2009 17:13
peejos and andromeda make very potent points with which I agree. Had Carol Thatcher been anything other than white would she have been subjected to this arrant nonsense?
Anselm 4-Feb-2009 16:5
Carol Thatcher calling a tennis player a "golliwog" in private is nowhere near as bad as Brand and Ross' outburst.

Unfortunately this is just a new example of PC madness. It's not racism, it's a kid's toy, skin colour is a fact of life, mentioning it isn't racism. You can be as immoral as you like on TV, use as many swear words it seems - but as soon as something that breaches PC doctrine is said, even in private as opposed to on air, then heads must roll.

You could call a white child a "milkybar kid" - no one would bat an eyelid, and the kid probably wouldn't care. In the same way 90%+ of black people don't care about being called a golliwog. Just mentioning that someone looks like something isn't racist, and suspending them smacks free speech and freedom of thought in the face.

Why was it ever brought into the public eye? Why intervene in something said privately?

The BBC is pathetic.
ROBERTHBROWN 4-Feb-2009 15:58
How daft can this country be when it's considered offensive to use the word 'GOLLIWOG' and to end up losing your job over it.

Madness ... As children my brother had a golliwog teddy that he took to bed with him. He couldn't sleep without it.

This political correct society needs to stop being so stupid. YES ! STUPID ... O'Dear how long will it be before we can't use the word 'stupid' and get the sack because it's considered offensive.
There's words that we can all find offensive but does that mean we can not use them in fear of losing our jobs & livelyhood ...

Sheer Nonsense. Grow up please.

Walk away if it offends you.
peejos 4-Feb-2009 14:37
All the time I am subjected on television by incessant use of the 'F' word which I find insulting, yet there is no redress. If that is regarded as depicting real life then where are 'bu.ger'and 'c.nt' equay part of modern phraseology?

Surely the only person who could feel insulted is the object of the comment; not some one who is hypersensitive to every nuance of possible obloquy. At the best Chiles should have had it out with Miss Thatcher and left it at that, not tell tales out of school.
evansthespy 4-Feb-2009 12:48
It OK to call certain people 'racists',nazis,fascists, 'knuckle draggers' etc but you need to choose your friends very carefully these days to avoid upsetting those with delicate racial sensibilities
evansthespy 4-Feb-2009 12:47
It's interesting that so much offence is caused by using a name given to a child's toy whereas bad language and violence recieves very little adverse comment. It makes me wonder who the real racists are ...thos who are so quick to take offence I would say, and those who like to posture their righteous indignation.
Andromeda 4-Feb-2009 12:14
So, Carol Thatcher calling a tennis player a "golliwog" is more offensive than Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross leaving obscene messages on the answering machine of Andrew Sachs to the effect that Russell Brand has had carnal knowledge of his granddaughter, Georgina Bailie.

Why didn't Ross and Brand just leave an obscene message on the answering machine of Georgina Bailie, the Satanic Slut and burlesque dancer? This may be due to the operating fear that the feminists in charge at the BBC would have their balls for breakfast.

And so they picked on her grandfather.

So, in British society, it is considered more socially-acceptable to leave obscene messages for a grandfather of a slag and slapper than it is to call a slag and slapper a slag and slapper?

And calling someone "golliwog" is worse than either of the above?

These are the perverted and distorted "values" the BBC are now propagating.

There is no need to ask yourself if the world has gone mad. It went mad as long ago as 1972, when the first of the series of thought-crime anti-discrimination Acts were passed. The chickens have now come home to roost.
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