The dangers of branding conscientious parents ‘extremists’

Aug 3, 2019 by

from Christian Concern:

In the second part of two-part series, Carys Moseley comments on the implications of branding conscientious parents ‘extremists.’

Last week I criticised the Lead Commissioner for Countering Extremism, Sara Khan’s, response to parents protesting outside primary schools. In a BBC Panorama on ‘Sex Education: The LGBT debate in schools’, she attacked the parents protesting the new Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) guidelines, saying they were guilty of ‘extremism’.

The question arose as to how on earth we got here. How could government officials and BBC journalists sink so low? And why did no other journalists investigate the debate more critically? Now, I shall show how we got here and where we are headed unless those at the heart of Counter-Extremism are publicly called to account and the Counter-Extremism Strategy is rewritten.

How we got here: government muzzling of press freedom

Given that the parents have been branded as guilty of ‘extremism’ on a BBC documentary, we must turn to the Counter-Extremism Strategy to find how it deals with press freedom. Paragraph 96 is entitled ‘Not engaging with extremists,’ and states, “We must be careful to only give a platform to the right people.” This means that once government officials brand certain people with certain views as ‘extremists’, they can just censor them.

Paragraphs 98-99 talk about the role of broadcast media and say the government will ‘help’ broadcasters deal with ‘extremists.’ Given that the BBC is the main broadcaster in the UK, it is bound to be receiving lots of ‘help.’

It appears that there is a discrepancy between these two sections of the Strategy. On the one hand, ‘we’ (government and its partners) must not engage with ‘extremists.’ On the other, broadcasters may interview ‘extremists,’ but must counter them. This appears to be the Home Office’s way of avoiding accusations of media censorship.

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