It seems that the Mic Righteous controversy, in which the BBC censored the words ‘Free Palestine’ from his freestyle on 1Xtra radio, has opened a can of worms the BBC cannot ignore for much longer. Just one day after they released an official response to the hundreds of complaints over the drowning out of the term ‘Free Palestine’, a further case of censorship has emerged. On the very same radio segment, ‘Fire in the Booth’ with DJ Charlie Sloth, just a couple of months after the Mic Righteous freestyle, rapper Bigz made a guest appearance. Over a commercial hip-hop beat, he rhymes:
“Come on Joe, who you know as hard as this? Bringing more fire than the -”
And then silence. The term he used at the end of the line, ‘Gaza Strip’, has been censored out. Not a political statement, not a humanitarian statement, but the name of a geographical piece of land. A simple description of a place that does exist. The BBC’s seeming submission to the Zionist lobby has taken precedence over common sense. The BBC seem intent on completely eradicating any recognition of Palestine’s right to exist from their radio broadcasts, but their actions have had the opposite effect.
In a strong show of solidarity with the Palestinian cause, the BBC 1Xtra Facebook and Twitter have been flooded with page upon page of comments protesting against the blatant censorship. Every single time the radio station make any ‘status update’ online now, even if it’s content is completely unrelated, the floodgates are opened. ‘Free Palestine!’ ‘Don’t Censor Palestine!’ Some comments are demanding the BBC re-broadcast the Mic Righteous freestyle, this time un-edited. Many are demanding to hear Lowkey’s popular single ‘Long Live Palestine’ on radio; despite once reaching number one in the iTunes hip-hop chart, the song was consistently ignored by BBC radio.
In response to the outcry over the Mic Righteous censorship, the BBC have said “All BBC programmes have a responsibility to be impartial when dealing with controversial subjects and an edit was made to the artist’s freestyle to ensure that impartiality was maintained.” Not only does the brevity of the statement seem slightly insulting, considering a lengthy response to complaints that an episode of ‘Family Guy’ was aired slightly later than usual, but also, in the case of the Bigz censorship, the explanation holds no water.
On the very same show, DJ Charlie Sloth played a Bigz track entitled ‘I Just Want The Paper’. In the song he raps:
“Chilling on a beach… Tel Aviv”
Guess what, the words ‘Tel Aviv’ are not censored out. If you were to propagate the ridiculous argument that you are censoring out the words ‘Gaza Strip’ in the name of impartiality, then why would the words ‘Tel Aviv’ not recieve the same treatment. However, to target Charlie Sloth, the host of the show, would be to completely miss the point. Ironically, most BBC hip-hop DJ’s will never face the wrath of the political censors, because they have already fallen into line. Charlie Sloth is paying a service to hip-hop music, and to hip-hop culture, by stretching the boundaries of ‘acceptable dissent’.
Censoring out political messages or even, it seems, geographical locations, does not lie with a radio DJ, it goes right to the top. Mark Thompson, Director-General of the BBC, has a lot to answer for.
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