Richard Dawkins’ programme The Root of All Evil? generated 23 complaints to Ofcom. The latest Ofcom bulletin is published today and it deals with these complaints (the relevant section starts on page 10).
In summary, the complainants considered that the programme:
- showed a negative portrayal of religious beliefs and called religious faith “a virus”, and that this was both offensive and harmful;
- contained inflammatory comments, slanderous remarks and atheist propaganda, which resulted in possible incitement to religious hatred;
- allowed an “ill-informed” presenter to treat religion with “ridicule and scorn”, and misrepresented religious views, which – along with disingenuous editing – offered no opportunity for debate. As there was no balancing programme on the same service, this resulted in an approach to the religious matters being explored that was not responsible;
- allowed the presenter to air bigoted, intolerant, biased and anti-religious views;
- attempted to promote religious (i.e. atheist) views by stealth;
- generally contravened Ofcom’s rules on due impartiality and due accuracy; and
- focused on the behaviour and beliefs of “religious extremists”, with little reference to moderate/mainstream religious belief and practice, and that therefore this was misleading;
(I particularly like the description of Richard Dawkins as “ill-informed”)
After considering the complaints carefully, Ofcom has decided that the programme was not in breach of its guidelines. This is, of course, a victory for rational thought over superstition.