History Repeating

Last week I thought that I had traced the origin of the Mail’s recent obsession with BC and AD back to Peter Hitchens column on September 18th of this year. In this article, Hitchens wrote:

The BBC’s Chief Commissar for Political Correctness (whom I imagine as a tall, stern young woman in cruel glasses issuing edicts from an austere office) was hard at work again last week.

On University Challenge, Jeremy Paxman referred to a date as being Common Era, rather than AD. This nasty formulation is designed to write Christianity out of our culture. Given the allegedly ferocious Mr Paxman’s schoolgirlish, groupie-like treatment of various prominent atheists in recent interviews, maybe he favours this far-from-impartial view.

This morning I was considering writing a post listing all of the stories the Mail has published on this subject in the last two weeks. That’s a lot of articles so as research I searched the Mail web site for the phrase “BCE”. And I found this article by Peter Hitchens[1] from January 2006. In this article from over five years ago, Hitchens says:

Who told Jeremy Paxman that he had to use the expression ‘BCE’ (Before the Common Era) instead of ‘BC’ on University Challenge last Monday? And why does Mr Paxman go along with it? Is there a BBC committee that decides these things? Who sits on it and where does it get its authority? What exactly is wrong with ‘BC’ and ‘AD’? Who has ever complained about them, and why should anyone pay attention to them? In Muslim countries, this isn’t even 2006, but somewhere in the 15th Century, and in Israel the year is currently 5766.

Of course, it’s entirely possible that Hitchens was equally annoyed by exactly the same thing on the same programme five years ago as annoyed him last month. But you have to admit that it all looks a bit suspicious. At the very least it punches a huge hole in the Mail’s claims that the use of BCE and CE is a new initiative at the BBC.

I promise I’ll find something else to bang on about soon.

[1] It’s not obvious from the article page that it’s by Peter Hitchens, but it says that on the search results page.

One thought on “History Repeating

  1. You know what the most idiotic thing about this is? The people who I see using BCE/CE the most are theology and religious studies scholars.

    Here’s a nice story from the Evening Standard in 2002…

    “In what could be seen as their greatest victory to date, politically correct campaigners have succeeded in getting schools to scrap the Christian calendar.”

    Err, I consider the greatest victory to date of politically correct campaigners is to piss off people like Melanie Phillips and Peter Hitchens. And maybe also getting people to be a bit less racist.

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