Jerry Springer - The Aftermath

 by Martin Belam, 9 January 2005

I didn't watch Jerry Springer - The Opera last night, although apparently 1.7 million people did, as I was round at someone else's house, but I've enjoyed picking through the bones of the media coverage today.

There has been a hard-edged intolerance to some of the protest. According to this story in The Independent the BBC has even been forced to take legal action against Christian Voice:

A BBC spokesman said: "We can confirm that lawyers acting for the BBC requested that the site was removed to prevent the publication of the private addresses and phone numbers of our staff".

It is always disappointing to see politicians wading in to the debate on the side of the intolerant. Despite being from the party that claims to stand for light-touch regulation and small government, Michael Ancram was quoted as saying:

You can choose to go to the theatre ... Public service television, I believe, has another duty and that is to exercise a degree of caution which is not there for the theatre to exercise.

I guess it depends on what your definition of public service broadcasting is - whether you consider it to be a better public service to bring a critically acclaimed piece of London theatre to the whole nation, or a better public service to be cautious and avoid broadcasting anything that might give offence to anyone. Ever.

The Points of View message board has continued to thrive with debate - but it has also seen some pretty unseemly skirmishes as well, with ignorance and intolerance well represented on both sides of the debate:

I thought it was a bit rich for them to show a depiction of Jerry Springer, a Jew, telling a depiction of Jesus Christ to "grow up and put some clothes on".

from one poster seemingly unacquainted with the religious upbringing of Jesus of Nazareth himself. Or the slightly-less-than-well-informed poster who complained that:

Question: why was it that a program was cancelled by the bbc because it was an insult to one religion, yet when our religion was insulted they allowed it ????

following it up later in the thread with:

The other program was due to be screened a few months back about a Sheik religion, the local Sheiks protested and got the program cancelled.

There has also been the odd surreal critique of the show itself:

Superb production...? I would be more entertained walking down my local east end high street and the people would be better dressed and singing in tune.

Mmmm, not that I've noticed that in Walthamstow by the way.

It is always difficult to keep on top of a message board community when it gets flooded on one topic like this, especially when such a high proportion of posters are first-timers to an established community. Some of whom have been disappointed with the way we have handled it:

where are the mods? this is obviously multple threads on the same thing, nearly all started with the same opinion. Are you lot still on holiday? Sort it out!!!

and some people have blamed the DNA software we use itself:

I am becoming cross-eyed trying to keep up with different threads on one subject.
This Jerry Springer thing hsa proved how stupid the system is.
ALL comments on the 'coming of Jerry Springer' should automatically have been included under the original message.
Now we are 'post Jerry Springer' is it too much to ask people to keep to one thread instead of srarting new ones?
Can't the BBC deal with this?

Mind you, they sometimes blame the software for all manner of ills:

In other news - I've noticed that I'm making a horrendous amount of typos on this message board - I blame the BBC.

We don't wade in and delete multiple threads on a topic, because obviously the point of Points of View is to provide a place where all licence fee payers can discuss the BBC's TV, Radio and digital service, not just the first couple who get there to post on a topic. We also don't take some of the more radical measures preferred by some users - I'd like to see the reaction in the press if the BBC adopted the policy advocated here:

The slew of recent idiots posting the same cut-and-paste rubbish we've had a dozen times already "This was blasphemy, I am offended, you wouldn't do the same with Muslims, what about that Sikh thing recently" should be deleted. Or, preferably, tracked down and killed with dogs.

Perhaps I should leave the last word to one of the board regulars whose response on logging in to the board on Sunday was:

Christ on a cross is this still going on?

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