Often on the Shire Network News podcast, we’ll satirize extremist Islam by reading a new story and replacing the word “Muslim” with the word “Christian”. Upon hearing this, the listener (it is hoped) understands how really extreme extremist Muslims are because, for all the similar and worse treatment Christians are accustomed to, you never hear about mass groups of extremist Christians beheading someone who drew an unflattering cartoon of Jesus.
Indeed we have our Eric Robert Rudolphs, our lone gunmen outside abortion clinics, but the very fact that we know the first, middle and last names of these guys says there aren’t nearly as many of them as there are mobs of extremist Muslims killing teachers, killing anyone over cartoons, and burning churches.
But the BBC, not content to sticking to the “art imitating life” method of fiction, decided to try to paint a little non-existent moral equivalence on their TV canvas.
A recent episode of the series Bonekickers displayed a graphic scene depicting a moderate Muslim being beheaded by a supposed â€œextremist Christianâ€.
Itâ€™s being reported that BBC1 has received several telephone complaints from itâ€™s viewers over the episode and earlier this week the corporation stated they â€˜regretâ€™ viewers had found the scene â€˜inappropriateâ€™, but defended their decision to show it.
Viewers were apparently shocked when actor Paul Nichollswas was seen using a sword to hack off a moderate Muslimâ€™s head in an unprovoked attack.
Nichollswas plays a member of the fictional group called the White Wings Alliance. The fictitious group is far-Right evangelical group of Christians inspired by the Crusades.
Instead of being “ripped from the headlines”, as some TV episodes like to advertise, this seems to be the result of a late-night session of “Mad Libs”, mixing what’s really happening with nouns and adjectives describing Christians. “Give me an angelic adverb.”
The BBC, responding to criticism, insists that the story, in and of itself, is internally consistent, because…well…this sort of thing is believable.
We regret that some viewers felt the beheading scene was inappropriate. It appeared half way through episode one of Bonekickers, by which time the characterâ€™s ‘extreme fundamental beliefâ€™ had been revealed, providing the audience with a good build up to the scene in question.
This storyline looked at religious fundamentalism within a fictional Christian group, and one character in particular who took his beliefs to an extreme. His ignorance and misguided behaviour lead to the beheading of a peaceful Asian Muslim character in the drama. His actions are clearly condemned by leading Muslim and Christian clerics. The drama also has the balance of a Christian character that has a deep faith which she uses humbly and only for good.
In a media world where folks are falling all over themselves to not portray Muslims as the bad guys (as they did in the movie version of “The Sum of All Fears”, for example), the BBC goes out of its way to concoct a truly unbelievable scenario. Might some extreme group identifying itself with Christians someday behead somebody? It’s not out of the realm of possibility, but right now beheadings are pretty much a signature of extremist Islam. Even revealing a character’s “extreme fundamental beliefs” is not nearly enough to explain this, as there are plenty of extremist Christians, and yet no Muslims have lost their head over it.
Could this be an attempt at a “White Man’s Burden” role-reversal? In that movie, the societal elites are blacks, and whites live in the ghettos. The plot is an attempt to look at race relations from the other side of the social ladder, but the BBC doesn’t seem to have put that much thought into this, based on their response. The best they can come up with is a “speaking to both side” sort of moral equivalence.
The killing and the method used reflected the flawed beliefs that the character had. It does not attempt to condone or glamorise such a violent act in any way. The drama seeks to highlight the consequences of a misguided fundamentalist taking his beliefs to violent extremes.
One might draw the conclusion that this is a “White Man’s Burden” aimed at Muslims, trying to elicit a response from them to the action from a Christian, and then giving them pause to reflect on it. Of course, admitting that could get you thrown into a Human Rights Tribunal. No, this is most likely liberal writers tossing barbs at their favorite whipping boy, and ignoring current events (for fear of losing their heads).
(Hat tip: The Jawa Report.)
Doug Payton blogs at Considerettes.