Sunday, 10 November 2013

Independent Thinking

Bearing in mind my well established political views some friends regularly express their surprise that my wife and I are daily readers of the Independent Newspaper and indeed have been regular purchasers since the original launch of the paper many years ago. Admittedly it has gone through some ups and downs so far as quality is concerned, and this week had the latest of it's regular make overs, but we have stuck to it and I like a paper that challenges some of my natural inclinations and gives reason for thought not only when reading but also subsequently. The nearest I got to cancelling our order was at the last general election when for the first time the editorial encouraged us to vote for a particular party. I would have thought that the editorial staff realised that by choosing their publication we had sufficient interest to evaluate the merits of the parties ourselves and that if we wanted such direction we would have bought the Mail or the Sun. However a couple of items this week demonstrate the papers ability to stimulate thought and debate. In one a renown correspondent was critical of the apparent expectation of the BBC and others for their staff to wear poppies. Infact the article went further than being critical of the policy but also argued against the whole principle of wearing a poppy. I have to say I would never expect or instruct a colleague to wear a poppy - it is a matter of personal choice - but I will continue to wear a poppy with pride in that not only does it represent an outward sign of support for all those who have risked or lost their lives for our common sake but also because I am sure that the money raised from poppy sales is important. In fact I have always thought that this is a good argument against the permanent and reusable poppy badges etc which have recently become popular and make sure that I buy a new poppy each year. In a very different article mention was made of a newly issued cd of glam rock greats which has erased Gary Glitter and his music from this otherwise complete record. The question is whether this is right or wrong and like me the author of the piece was in two minds. As a matter of historical accuracy this music was important to the development of the genre but does including it somehow excuse his subsequent behaviour. The decision not to show past editions of Top of the Pops hosted by Savile seems more obvious as it is almost like showing the scene of a crime. The article also posed the question of whether other artists and authors whose behaviour has been unacceptable should also be air brushed from the history of their art. By way of example the article by David Lister made reference to the serial rapist and novelist Arthur Koestler. On balance I think I favour including artistic work in these circumstances although not without significant doubts.

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