Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Discrimination is alive and well.

Makes you proud to be British doesn't it?

Parents are complaining because the BBC has hired Cerrie Burnell as a new presenter to front CBeebies shows. Her crime - she was born without one of her arms, and therefore is 'scary' to children.

This is disgusting, and I am glad that the BBC are choosing to ignore the poison pen letters that a few 'parents' (and I use the term loosely - this sort of attitude seriously implies a lack of parenting ability) have been motivated to write. Frankly it is disgusting that we should still be encountering such pathetic attitudes in 2009, but sadly there is always a remnant of rubbish which can be scraped from the bottom of the barrel.

As someone who is soon to become a parent for the first time, I am delighted that the BBC are continuing to produce high quality childrens' programmes, and are ensuring that they hire the best presenters for the job, regardless of any identifying features. This wasn't a stunt on the BBC's behalf (they stand by the fact she was hired on ability) but has reflected well on them, especially given their recent appalling run of news. I hope that the parents who felt motivated to spill their bile about Cerrie stop and consider the example they are giving their children rather than poisoning them with their own prejudices.


Scottish Unionist said...

This article says that BBC message boards were "brimming with support for the employment of a person with a disability, and the way this educated children about diversity", but I take your point about parenting ability. One of my kids did ask about Cerrie's arm, but it wasn't exactly difficult to provide reassurance that it's just something different about her body, not to worry because it doesn't hurt, that she makes up for it with her other arm, etc.

Not a Village in Westminster said...

I think part of the point is that it is always a loud mouthed minority who spoil it for the rest of us - it is of course reassuring to see the support that other parents have expressed, and I'm not quite ready to forfeit my passport quite yet! ;)

However, your example with your own child is the demonstration of how useful the situation can be. I'm sure that you have a great relations with your kids anyway, but her presence on the TV (alongside the fact that she seems to be a popular presenter in her own right) gave an opportunity to discuss an important issue within a suitable context - surely a beneficial parenting event.

Ideas of Civilisation said...


Couldn't agree more - I was simply stunned to read this article earlier.

Had it not been for the fact I'd read it just before I'd have checked the date (for April 1).

How anyone can possibly contend that seeing a disabled person on TV may give children nightmares is beyond me.

My only hope is given the anonymous nature of online posting that in fact these people aren't parents at all.

Stuart Winton said...

I certainly wouldn't be surprised if the BBC *did* select the presenter primarily to make a point, but that doesn't necessarily make it a bad thing, although in the PC context generally I think the BBC et al do go way over the top sometimes.

I suspect that the parents who complained are a very unrepresentative minority, or perhaps even just schoolkids or similar doing a bit of trolling.