The Aged P

…just toasting and ruminating….

05 December
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Time To Call On John Milton As The Freedom Of The Press From Political Control Is In Great Danger

Three of the most vocal supporters of the Leveson proposals to impose statutory control of the press are actors Hugh Grant & Steve Coogan and former motor racing supremo Max Mosley – each of whom has an axe to grind about press reports of some of their more lively activities. Fighting alongside them are two Labour MPs, Tom Watson and Chris Bryant whose names figured large in the MPs expenses scandal.

Perhaps it was to these five individuals that Sara Payne, whose daughter was raped and murdered by a paedophile in 2000, was referring when she recently stated her opposition to the Leveson proposals despite having been a victim of press intrusion herself

It is important that celebrities and MPs, whose own moral shortcomings may have been exposed by the Press, are not allowed to hijack this vital overhaul.

Time, I think, to recall the words of John Milton who in 1644 penned the magnificent and majestic Areopagitica, still the most impressive defence of a press free from government censorship and licensing ever written

Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously, by licensing and prohibiting, to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?

Truth and understanding are not such wares as to be monopolized and traded in by tickets and statutes and standards. We must not think to make a staple commodity of all the knowledge in the land, to mark and license it like our broadcloth and our woolpacks

Or maybe we should just echo Wordsworth’s famous plea

MILTON! thou shouldst be living at this hour:
England hath need of thee

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01 December
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The Best Solution For Charlotte Church & All Her Celebrity Mates – And Me As Well….Just Keep Them Out Of The Media Completely!!!!!

I am not alone – at least one other person is not particularly impressed by Charlotte Church’s complaints about the media.

During BBC Question Time last night this lady, just an ordinary member of the audience, had the temerity to interrupt Charlotte in full flow

Last night an unnamed audience member aimed a barbed comment at her and said that celebrities who court the press should not be surprised if they are targeted.
‘The man in the street I accept shouldn’t be persecuted, but some celebrities go out for notoriety and press and some of them ask for what they get,’ the woman in yellow said.

Chalotte was shocked SHOCKED that she should be accused of “courting” the press. Twitter was alight with supporters who rushed to the defence of the newest feminist icon. CC waxed angrily about her family to the lady and when she tried to reply David Dimbleby shut her up and moved swiftly on.

Actually I tend to agree with the “unnamed audience member”. Like many celebrities Church has never hesitated to use the media to boost her own career and her public conduct has sometimes been dramatic. I take her point about impact on her family but the very nature of modern celebrity shines a spotlight on the immediate circle and there are always temptations for family and friends to dine out on the link, especially if there is some sort of grievance.

Maybe it’s time to reconfigure this whole concept of “celebrity” for it has taken over our media – look at the TV chat shows and the papers. Editors and producers no longer have to think hard about content – the PR hacks provide them with off the shelf fillers for peanuts…manna from heaven when the bosses are slashing costs. Get rid of the real journalism because that is time consuming and expensive – just get celebrity X on screen or on page to puff their latest film/book/album/show while the host/interviewer pretends to be totally fascinated.

So here’s a suggestion that will kill two birds with one stone – get the intrusive media off celebrity backs and clear my tv screen/paper of meaningless moronic pap at the same time. Just show the singers/actors/players doing what they are supposed to do – AND NO MORE!!!! Get rid of the chat shows and gossip pages, and use the money saved to bring back some good old fashioned journalism…

…and if you don’t have enough material to fill the schedule bring back the potters wheel, a damn sight more interesting than hearing some washed up hasbeen trying to kick start their fading famefest by yattering on about their latest project.

Job done.

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29 November
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Phone Hacking And The Police Under The Labour Government – A Question Still Unanswered?

As Alistair Thompson points out the biggest mystery behind the phone hacking scandal that spawned the Leveson Inquiry is why the police and the Blair/Brown Labour government turned a blind eye to this illegal activity. Yet this is a question still largely unanswered by the Leveson Report – and, of course, ignored by Ed Milliband, Ed Balls and Tom Watson who were very close to the levers of power in those Blair/Brown years.

Could it be that from 1996 to 2010 Rupert Murdoch supported the Labour party?

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17 June
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The Leveson Inquiry into Infinity…and Beyond..and stuff…

Lord Leveson, the big legal cheese heading up the Inquiry into media behaviour and, it appears everything else in infinity and beyond, had his bewigged fronds bruised by the audacity of a member of a government duly elected by a majority of British voters who said

the Leveson Inquiry had created a ‘chilling atmosphere’ towards freedom of expression and any attempt to tighten regulation of newspapers could result in ‘a cure worse than the original disease’.

It is alleged that the noble lord was deeply aggrieved by such abusive language and perhaps he almost considered referring the matter to his unelected mates at the European Court of Human Rights. But, instead, he took the UK Establishment route. The unelected judge complained to an unelected civil servant, no less a figure than Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary and Britain’s pen pusher supreme.

Memos obviously went back and forth. Quiet words were probably whispered into certain ears. Attempts to unruffle feathers were made. No doubt the golden mantra of avoiding a “fuss” could be heard in the corridors of power. So when Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education, the minister who had so rattled the Levesonian cage, was summoned to give evidence to the Inquiry himself it was expected that, still smarting from rapped knuckles, he would, like Henry II in 1174, crawl on his knees in penance across the room, clothed in sackcloth and covered with ashes.

Instead the noble judge was shocked to find Mr. Gove not only defiant but openly aggressive in his attitude towards the Inquiry in general and His Levesonianship in particular.

Mr. Gove, the Education Secretary, gave an impassioned defence of the right to offend people as he gave evidence to the hearing on media ethics. Mr. Gove clashed with the judge several times, as he warned against knee-jerk decisions to put new restrictions on newspapers and broadcasters. “The cry, ‘Something must be done’ often leads to people doing something which isn’t always wise,”

Moreover he actually had the nerve to rebuke His Legal Lordship

The judge said he was concerned that the Education Secretary was prepared to put up with “unacceptable, albeit not necessarily criminal” behaviour from journalists because of the right to freedom of speech.
Mr. Gove said some cases of press misbehaviour were “deplorable” but argued that these could be punished under existing laws, such as defamation. “Freedom of speech doesn’t mean anything unless some people are going to be offended some of the time,” the minister said. Defending the “rough-edged” trade of journalism, the minister said it “twas ever thus” that reporters are unpopular. “Politicians and journalists have always tended to be held in relatively low regard,” he said

Politicians and journalists have always tended to be held in relatively low regard
He might easily have added lawyers and judges…….

Mick Hume at Spiked sums up this farce in his usual straight from the hip style

We are faced with an almost medieval spectacle of a judge and his top lawyer acting as priestly men of wisdom, apparently drawing their authority from some higher power, to interrogate and pass judgement on elected politicians and other public figures from the mortal world. That might have seemed strange and worrying enough. Stranger and more worrying still, however, is that so many rational and liberal-minded figures have chosen not merely to kowtow to the unreasonable power of the inquisition, but to cheer on the inquisitors

Cameron’s attempt to hit this hacking affair into the long grass by setting up the Inquiry has been a signal failure. Instead of allowing the courts to decide if actual laws had been broken by examining evidence he merely provided an additional trough into which well heeled lawyers and celebrity weasels can plunge their snouts.

Full marks. then, to Mr Gove for pricking the Levesonian balloon. However, even more satisfying, it seems clear that the general public have already filed this as a circus of relevance only to the Westminster village. With the Eurozone imploding and the UK economy at ground zero the noble lord and his underlings are prancing around the sawdust to a rapidly dwindling audience.

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