Friday, January 09, 2009

Thought For The Day

Wow! Somebody posted one of my poems on the BBC blog! Way down at comment 183. Comment 184 calls it "hardly poetry". (Actually, it is not one of my favorites at all--I always found it clunky and stilted--but objectively speaking, the writer of comment 184 is a jerk.)

More to the point, though... the question under debate is whether the BBC's "Thought For The Day", which currently is filled exclusively with religious voices (of various denominations, of course), should expand to include atheist Thought as well. The Beeb is opposed, currently:
Thought for the Day is a unique slot in which speakers from a wide range of religious faiths reflect on an issue of the day from their faith perspective. In the midst of the three hour Today programme devoted to overwhelmingly secular concerns - national and international news and features, searching interviews etc - the slot offers a brief, uninterrupted interlude of spiritual reflection. We believe that broadening the brief would detract from the distinctiveness of the slot.

Within Thought for the Day a careful balance is maintained of voices from different Christian denominations and other religions with significant membership in the UK. We are broadcasting to the general Radio 4 audience which regularly engages with the comments and ideas expressed by our contributors from the world's major faiths - whether they are believers or not.

Outside Thought for the Day the BBC's religious output contains both religious and non-religious voices in programmes such as Sunday, Beyond Belief, Moral Maze. In these programmes atheists, humanists and secularists are regularly heard, the religious world is scrutinised, its leaders and proponents are questioned.

Non-religious voices are also heard extensively across the general output in news, current affairs, documentaries, talks, science, history. These programmes approach the world from perspectives which are not religious. As, of course, do the other 2 hours 57 minutes of Today."
So... let's see if I have this straight. For 2 hours 57 minutes, anyone can talk; there is no requirement of belief or lack thereof. For three minutes, though, atheists are not allowed.

Excluding the atheists—sure, that’s ok—
So long as it’s only three minutes a day
Or judging your worth based on how much you weigh
So long as it’s only three minutes a day
Get out, if you’re black! Or you’re white! Or you’re gray!
So long as it’s only three minutes a day
And keep your mouth shut if you chance to be gay
So long as it’s only three minutes a day

Let’s bother the man with the ill-made toupee
So long as it’s only three minutes a day
And joke at the homeless, with no place to stay
So long as it’s only three minutes a day
Any group that we wish, we can not let them play
So long as it’s only three minutes a day
And look down our noses in utter dismay
So long as it’s only three minutes a day

It’s only three minutes; no need for dismay
If you choose to get huffy, and join in the fray
We’ll label you “angry” to keep you at bay
Dismissing your view as a public display
And repackaging it as some worn-out cliché
From a group with essentially nothing to say

And it’s fine if our freedom of speech goes away…
So long as it’s only three minutes a day

(and for the benefit of the writer of comment 184--Don't worry; I already agree with you, it's not poetry. I don't write poetry, I write verse. And it will not nourish your soul, for perhaps the same reason that it will not nourish the pixies in your garden.)


Bob O'Hara said...

I haven't listened to Today for years so I don't know if things have changed, but it wouldn't surprise me if they did have a humanist on at some point - Thought for the Day is generally non-denominational, so it's not impossible.

Incidentally, one of the presenters, John Humphreys, is an agnostic. He wrote a very good book called In God We Doubt.

Cuttlefish said...

Thanks for the info--I know nothing about the program other than what was at the link. I love listening to the Beeb, but I don't know that I have ever even heard the Though for the Day.

Rick said...

Your verse nourishes my sole--I print it out, then shred it up as fish food!

Mikayla Starstuff said...

They think the news, etc, counts for the secular view? Clearly these people have not considered the fact that many atheists have inspirational and spiritual (for lack of a better word) things to say. These people do not understand at all what it means to be an atheist or a non-believer, if they think you have to believe in religious dogma to be inspirational.

The Ridger, FCD said...

They clearly believe morality is the domain of the religious - though it doesn't seem to matter which religion. It's like Romney saying "Freedom requires religion just like religion requires freedom." (Of course, he's right: religion doesn't seem all that fond of freedom, really, but that's not what he meant.)

Melissa Gay Art said...

Cuttles, you rock! I am very glad you got picked up as a Thought for the Day and a wider audience got exposed to your verse! Not everyone is a stick in the mud like the Beeb, and many will agree with having an atheist/humanist perspective in TftD. I look forward to seeing if they choose more humanist thoughts in future.

By the way, I wrote a Keats-ripoff verse of my own in lieu of dancing around whining about Scienceblogs being down for the day. :)