Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Ding Dong Thatcher row - Why freedom of expression trumps taste

Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Visit to Northern Ireland.  Director of the Belfast Tool and Gauge Company, Mr David Woods (left) discusses the workings of engineering components with Margaret Thatcher and department foreman Mr Robert McCullough at the factory.   6/3/1981
BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE
Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Visit to Northern Ireland. Director of the Belfast Tool and Gauge Company, Mr David Woods (left) discusses the workings of engineering components with Margaret Thatcher and department foreman Mr Robert McCullough at the factory. 6/3/1981 BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE
Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Visit to Northern Ireland. Mrs Thatcher talks to Siobhan O'Hars (left) and Katherine O'Hare during her visit to Rathmore Grammar School, Finaghy.  19/6/1978
BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE
Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Visit to Northern Ireland. Mrs Thatcher talks to Siobhan O'Hars (left) and Katherine O'Hare during her visit to Rathmore Grammar School, Finaghy. 19/6/1978 BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE
A protester wears a mask depicting former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher during a party to mark her death in central London's Trafalgar square, Saturday, April 13, 2013
A protester wears a mask depicting former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher during a party to mark her death in central London's Trafalgar square, Saturday, April 13, 2013

The BBC's rather comic 'compromise' in playing seven seconds of a 58-second protest song is itself an ironic reminder of Margaret Thatcher's term in office.

For all the rhetoric about her as champion of liberty, it was Thatcher's censorship that necessitated the 'compromise' on the BBC of actors performing a voiceover for the words of Sinn Fein.

Tony Hall's defence on grounds of taste and respect would carry weight in the context of a family calling for a private mourning.

Instead, the funeral has been planned as a public event. The campaign song is populist dissent.

Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead may seem a clumsy protest, but if we consider freedom of expression as important, it is so regardless of whether the mode is distasteful, disrespectful, or banal.

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