The Independent: Welcome to the World of ‘Mad Mel’

The Independent’s diarist, Matthew Norman, today reflects on the controversial comments made by Melanie Phillips about Arabs:

“What desperate moments for all among us who revere Melanie Phillips and the rigorous self-restraint she brings to her work. In the coming days, the Metropolitan Police must decide whether to prosecute her over a classically thoughtful posting on her Spectator-hosted blog.

“No one could argue with Melanie’s outrage at the brutal murder of a family of West Bank settlers. What roused Muslim lobby group Engage to write to the Press Complaints Commission and Trevor Phillips, as well as the law, was her wontedly subtle extrapolation from the specific to the general… the extension of one horrendous crime to “the moral depravity of the Arabs”; one reference to Arabs as “savages”; and another to “the moral depravity of the Arabs”.

“Some will wonder about the public reaction were a parodist to rework this piece by substituting “Arabs” with “Jews”, and perhaps they have a point. Even so, we ask the Met to show clemency. Clearly an investigation is required, recalling the hate-crime inquiry into Mr Tony Blair once referring to “the f***ing Welsh”. But I hope the police conclude that our prisons are already adequately clogged with those who need treatment rather than punishment. The last spectre that Mad Mel supporters such as I would welcome is the weekly internal-cavity search on visiting day at HMP Holloway.

“* Whether the BBC will now retain MM on Radio 4’s The Moral Maze may depend on whether its commitment to positive discrimination outweighs its concern about the excitement of hatred for minorities. One for Mark Thompson to ponder there, though the director-general shouldn’t hang around. Thommo is believed to be seeking alternative employment, and according to one executive was recently “spotted in swanky offices on the US west coast”.”

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10 Responses to The Independent: Welcome to the World of ‘Mad Mel’

  1. Reuben Moore says:

    Well what is a “savage” anyway? One definition could well be one who practices or tolerates: Polygamy, forced marriage, honor killing, pedophilia, treating women like livestock, waging jihad, submission of non-believers, stoning of adulterers and homosexuals, and death to apostates. These concepts are indeed savage.

    • James Coleman says:

      Reuben, have you been reading the Old Testament again? You know you’re too young for that.

      • Reuben Moore says:

        Sure James, there are cringe-worthy passages in the Old Testament. Today, they are mostly ignored, and certainly not condoned by the mainstream. The question is not what was written over a thousand years ago. The question is what do people do with that text today?

        But I do appreciate your sarcasm.

  2. marco says:

    You are right Inyat there is no question there is a double standard operating here. If a major well established columnist had used the same disgusting and racist language to describe the jewish people as melanie phillips did against the arabs after the israeli attack on gaza it would have been the end of his or her career regardless of any legal consequences. That fool Fraser Nelson wouldn`t be prattling on about freedom of speech and would have fired her. Look at what happened to Helen Thomas in the US.

  3. 'Uthmān says:

    I’ve read through some of the comments to previous posts. I don’t see why it’s so difficult for Melanie Philips’ supporters to understand that it was wrong for her to refer collectively to Arabs as being savages and morally depraved. Some of the responses such as “what else would you call people who do x, y, z” are so illogical and ill-conceived that they barely merit a response.

    Off topic: Inayat, I don’t know if you’ve seen the following video from an EDL protest, but if not, you HAVE to watch it. It’s just hilarious!:

  4. Yakoub says:

    Another definition of ‘savage’ might be the systematic ethnic cleansing of a nation of 800,000 people, the subsequent imprisonment of the remnants of that nation behind a gigantic wall such that the people are reduced to malnourished despair, the brutal assault on anyone seeking to bring them humanitarian aid, and the racist demonization of the same people along with associated groups and supporters.

  5. Scott Young says:

    I really don’t think you should be making a big issue out of this. One of values that should be universal across the human race is the ability to speak freely. Acting freely may be another matter, but denying the right to speak freely, as it appears you are attempting to do here should not be allowed.

    Furthermore, by kicking up a big fuss about this you further extend the perception of Islam as being a highly intolerant and overly sensitive religion. I assume you want to dispel this perception, and so in this case, it would seem to be better to let things be.

    Once again, I want to reiterate my belief on freedom of speech. While I may not agree with what is written or said, I would certainly fight for the right to say it or write it.

  6. Scott Young says:

    Just to clarify, I am not saying I agree with what was written, and it is certainly with in your rights to explain why the author is wrong. But complaining to the police is not the way to go.

  7. Scott Young: All civilised societies impose certain restrictions on freedom of speech. In the UK, this includes laws which prohibit incitement to racial hatred. The police will have to decide whether Mel P’s racist remarks about Arabs contravened our laws. Mel P herself has shown herself to be in favour of these laws and applauded the prosecution of David Irving for what she said was incitement of racial hatred against Jews. She should be judged by the same standard as all of us. As I have already said, I have no doubt that had someone made the same remarks that she did but directed them against Jews instead then they would be promptly charged and prosecuted for hate speech.

  8. 'Uthmān says:

    Melanie Philips talks about the recent furore concerning her comments about Arabs, with some passing remarks about Inayat Bunglawala in her latest piece in the Jewish Chronicle:

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