Saturday 18 May 2024

A Mild Dissociative Episode?

The BBC doesn't just need the law a bit, from time to time. It relies for its very existence on people obeying the law. If we were all free to refuse to pay the licence fee, but we could still watch and listen to BBC programmes, how long would the Corporation last? All those buildings, all those studios, would go cold and dark with no money to pay the fuel bills. All those 'news' programmes which mysteriously contain no news would have to come off the air.

All those regiments of employees, those legions of bureaucrats, would lose their salaries, cars and pensions. All the Left-wing people, who the BBC pays lavishly to impose their weird ideas on a powerless populace, would no longer get the huge fees they are used to. Because there would be no more money.

So you might think that the BBC would have some respect for the law, which keeps it in being. Don't be silly. Here's an example of their double standards: The throbbing heart of the BBC's effort to influence the national mind is BBC Radio 4, now more than ever dominated by the beliefs and desires of the radical Left. [The what? They just want the NHS privatised to them by people who dressed like Keir Starmer rather than by people who dressed like Jacob Rees-Mogg. See their reaction to the results of the 2017 General Election and of the recent Rochdale by-election.]

One of its programmes is called A Point Of View. You will not be surprised to learn that the points of view it permits are largely what the BBC would call 'Progressive', and expressed by members of the cultural, liberal elite. There have been occasional exceptions but, gosh, they were occasional.

OK, well, we are used to this. But the other day, on May 3, the Irish novelist Megan Nolan, inset right, was chosen as the week's 'leading writer', and granted access to the BBC's production skills, microphones and powerful transmitters. I confess I have yet to read any of Ms Nolan's books but I have taken a look at an article she wrote for The New York Times in 2018, published under the headline 'I didn't hate the English – until now'.

It is easy, having read this, to see why the BBC picked Ms Nolan for radio stardom. Anyway, she decided to share with Radio 4 listeners her experiences while taking a 'Weed Gummy' on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. Troubled by 'spiritual aridness', and wondering what to do to make life 'more pleasurable', she decided to ingest one of the marijuana-infused sweets she had brought from New York. As she describes it, it gave her a 'mild dissociative episode'. The drug 'did what all cannabis products do for me; at worst cause a brief but acute reckoning with the essential flimsiness of human life and of the immateriality of the notion we call time, and at best make me feel sort of funny in a not completely negative way'.

This seems to me to be a perfect example of the higher and lower bilge combined to make pure tripe. But that's not my problem with it. My problem with it is its jaunty, light-hearted, uncritical description, by a fashionable writer, of acting in way that would be criminal in this country. This is an abuse of the BBC licence fee and of its transmitters, and an act of breathtaking hypocrisy by people whose whole livelihoods depend on other people obeying the law.

Yes, I know that many local authorities in the USA, including New York and Washington DC, have foolishly scrapped their laws against possession of marijuana. But it is still (just) illegal under US Federal Law and still illegal in this country.

According to British law, marijuana possession carries a maximum prison sentence of five years, and an unlimited fine. Some fools (common, I suspect, in the BBC) think this law is wrong and unfair. But recent evidence now underlines the good sense of retaining this law. The correlation between marijuana use and incurable mental illness, especially among the young has, in recent years, become pretty much undeniable. There could not be a more stupid moment to relax or undermine this law.

Now, the Ofcom rules, under which the BBC is obliged by law to operate, state that: 'Material likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime… must not be included in television or radio services.'

Ofcom is quite clear about what it means by crime, saying: 'This may relate to any offence under law that is punishable by imprisonment or by a fine.' This clearly includes marijuana possession. As I always do in these cases, I have made a formal complaint to the BBC, which has so far been brushed off.

There is an expression in the USA, which I would like to see in wider use here. It is 'scofflaw', a person who relies on the law to protect him but scorns it when it does not suit him. It is not a compliment and scofflaws tend to come to a bad end.


  1. How you reacted to Rochdale is the acid test of whether you're remotely left-wing.

    1. And of whether you ever really did want the working class or the North back in politics.