Monday, 19 January 2009

Hunter: BBC is back on the attack

I thought the showing of the mildly Catholic-friendly Apparitions on the BBC was too good to be true. This week, the Beeb comes back with a vengeance, portraying pro-lifers in a detective drama series on prime time television as child abductors and murderers. The closing quote from a senior detective at the end of the programme is "thank God for abortion". Just minutes before the 10pm news, the naive TV viewer is subjected to a warped, sickening view of, in reality, the most peaceful people in the country.

The sinister thing about this programme is you don't know the perpetrators are "pro-lifers" until the end of the first (of two) episodes. On the face of it, Hunter just looks like your average police drama. Even in TV listings in papers and on the internet, the plot refers to the abductors as "extremists" and and the crime as a "shocking and highly sensitive" one. The ultimatum from the kidnappers is: "show the film of their cause on the national news bulletins, or the boys will be killed". The identity of the criminals is not spelt out from the outset. The listings entice the viewer in. But by the second programme, the plot becomes outrageous.

Two seven-year-old boys are abducted from different places and very different backgrounds, but are both from the same town. After initial investigations by the police, emails begin to arrive at their office and at various media organisations with images of the two boys looking unconscious - with the name SACRED written on their bodies. Then a package is delivered to the BBC in Birmingham by a chap on a scooter. It has the boys' clothing in it. Then, less than five minutes before the end of the first programme, another email in received from the "Sacred" group:

"We hold that all life is sacred," it says, before listing abortion statistics and providing a copy of the Abortion Act. "The law is neither being observed or policed. Therefore, to concentrate our minds we have therefore taken children from women who have previously had abortions and unless the attached film is shown on BBC TV at 1pm, 6pm and 10pm tonight, these boys' lives will be terminated. For what is the difference of lives of these children and those of their brothers and sisters before them?"

Then the officers listening to the email being read out by their boss DSI Iain Barclay are shown the video the group want broadcast. Many of them are uncomfortable and some can't even look at the screen. Up until this point, the kidnappers creep around making phonecalls to each other. There are disturbing scenes of one of them sedating the children on beds in a garage.

Sacred murders one of the boys after the 1 o'clock news by lethal injection. So pro-lifers now also like euthanasia, according to our public service broadcaster.

One of the main leads in catching the abductors is a memo of an organisational committee of events to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Abortion Act. The BBC's boundaries are blurred again, directly linking murderers to those kind of people that commemorated the loss of over six million lives in 2007.

The leader of the three perpetrators is a spina bifida sufferer, who makes the point in a police interview that nine out of ten unborn babies detected of having the condition are aborted. The injustice he feels for those aborted children leads this character to kidnap children and murder one of them. Not the story of the average disabled pro-life campaigner.

The portrayal of so-called anti-abortion campaigners stretches far beyond the three involved in the kidnappings. The general dislike and scorn towards pro-lifers is shown by several of the coppers, who seem to think they are barbaric nutters. At the end of the plot, DS Amy Foster, who has had three abortions, says to Barclay, "thank God for abortion".

My complaint to the BBC has several points to it. There is not a shred of evidence of any incident in real life where anti-abortionists have used abduction, murder and violence to attempt to further their cause. This is almost like making a programme depicting William Wilberforce's supporters using rape and murder to further their anti-slavery cause. Pro-lifers are leading a peaceful protest movement against what they see is a fundamental injustice. Granted there are a couple of nutters about who have sent nasty packages of pictures of aborted foetuses to people. But they are in the distinct minority.

The ironic thing is that the Beeb included in the plot the issue of showing pictures of abortion, the most commonly performed operation, on TV. It was part of an ultimated from a fictitious "anti-abortion" group and it didn't get broadcast. Yet, in 1997, the Pro-Life Alliance were entitled to a party election broadcast. But their film, including footage of an abortion taking place, was censored by the BBC because of "taste and decency". A party election broadcast in an apparently democratic country not allowed to be shown.

Calling to mind countless occasions when the issue of abortion has been covered astonishingly one sidedly in favour of pro-abortionists by the BBC on TV and radio, we can see a pattern emerging here. The Beeb doesn't like any threats to its liberal mindset, a world where everyone can do what they like because they have rights and choices. They, like the establishment, don't really like the pro-life movement. So, as well as censor their message, the BBC also likes to portray these campaigners as violent, malicious and horrific so that they are dismissed to the sidelines of debate.


LikelyLad said...

Hunter is drama.

Just as deeds that are beyond the pale make strong news stories (e.g. the Shannon Matthews case, to pluck a story from today's headlines), so a storyline constructed around the extremist activities of a few fanatics often makes compelling drama.

While we can be sure that the majority of pro-lifers are god-fearing, law-abiding, blogging stalwarts of society, we only have to turn our sociopath-o-scope to the USA to see that a small minority are indeed dangerous. These are the people who are prepared to bomb, shoot and kill to get their message across.

Before you get all lathered up about the BBC allegedly promoting abortion, why not take another look at those episodes again?

Was there not obvious discomfort and revulsion expressed by those characters who viewed the film of the termination procedure?

Was there not a balanced, rational pro-life doctor interviewed during the police's efforts to build up intelligence on the abductors?

Was Hunter's female sidekick not portrayed as a hard-boiled, cynical career woman who, by implication, had chosen abortion because children would have restricted her career path?

The BBC's programme makers sought to hold a mirror up to society, and it seems to me that there was a fair degree of responsibility and balance in this treatment of a difficult and frequently avoided issue.

You are, by your own admission, a young Catholic. I am an older ex-Catholic from a cohort of children born in the pre-legalised abortion days. Like many of my contemporaries, I have grave misgivings about the current abortion laws but recognise that choice on abortion is a legitimate personal freedom in a secular society.

I know of few British Catholics (active or lapsed) who would support the Church's teaching on abortion and contraception to the letter. They have either allowed their consciences to accommodate their views or continue to question the Church's stance.

While you are welcome to your firmly-held views, using this drama as a stick with which to beat the BBC for supposedly attacking the pro-life movement as a whole does seem to me to be something of an over-reaction on your part.

Louise said...

Before you get all lathered up about the BBC allegedly promoting abortion, why not take another look at those episodes again?

Well, when we start seeing pro-choicers portrayed in "drama" in the same kind of sick way, I'll believe the Beeb has no agenda.

The *only* reason the pro-life civil rights movement hasn't won is because the mainstream media are pro-abortion. After all, the media is either owned by Capitalists or the state (ie a Marxist Socialist arrangement) and both Capitalism and Socialism require the labour of women in the workforce, so abortion is a necessity. Voila.

Love your blog title, Richard!

Fat Steve said...

You are wrong when you say no "pro-life" groups advocate violence! These are but two.

There are abortion providers murdered every year in the US.

True pro-lifers owe it to their cause and their Lord to root these violent people out of the cause and not to deny they exist.

You say:
"when we start seeing pro-choicers portrayed in "drama" in the same kind of sick way, I'll believe the Beeb has no agenda."

Hunter is the sequel to Five Days. The killer in Five Days was pro-choice.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that your blog post is extremely ignorant. Are you really a Catholic, or are you just pretending to be one to make Catholics look stupid?

PaulineG said...

I too have grave concerns about these programmes and have registered a complaint with the BBC. It seems clear to me that these programmes are a clear and targeted attack on the prolife movement in this country.

The plot is obviously compelling and gripping. But it would not have been less so had the organisation been entirely fictitious. Why portray a real organisation so clearly and unambiguously? And why, of all organisations must it be the one the raison d'etre of which is the protection of the innocent. It so implausible it makes no sense unless the intention was to mailgn it.


Yes, it is true that in the States there are people who are extremists and are prepared to do terrible and wholly unjustifiable things in the name of the prolife movement. But that does not justify the way the prolife movement was portrayed in Hunter.

Watch again if you can. You will see that the perpetrators are portrayed as key members of this identifiably real organisation (photographed with other key members at a strategy conference). I believe I am right in saying the only innocent member of this group portrayed is the doctor you describe as “balanced, rational and pro-life”. In fact, and this is one example of where the programme is so insidious, this doctor is, indeed, portrayed as balanced and rational but he is NOT pro-life! He makes it clear that he seeks only a reduction in the time limit. So balanced, rational and innocent of the crime = not absolutist! Do you see what is happening? Why do you suppose the writers portray the only innocent person this way, given that with such views he would, in fact, be most unlikely to be part of that strategy group anyway? Subliminal: The absolutists are the extremists.

Yes, the treatment of the issue of abortion was not unbalanced. But this is no defence against the way the movement was treated.

I, too, was born before the days of legalised abortion. I wholly endorse the Catholic Church’s teaching on abortion and contraception and I am grateful that we have excellent, young and committed Catholics such as Richard to whom the baton can confidently be passed. I am only sorry it is passing in such a sorry state.

Fat Steve,

“True pro-lifers owe it to their cause and their Lord to root these violent people out of the cause and not to deny they exist.”

How? All suggestions gratefully received.

Also please remember these victims of the crimes portrayed in Hunter were innocent children. Are you aware of any examples in the UK or elsewhere where innocent children have been killed in this cause? (And please do not infer from this that I condone any killing – I emphatically do not. I simply point out that the crimes portrayed are, to the best of my knowledge, not true to life in the sense you seem to be claiming.)

I did not see “Five Days” but have researched it as best I can. You say the killer was ‘pro-choice’. So are most people, apparently. So what? It only becomes relevant to this if the killing was portrayed as committed in pursuit of the ‘pro-choice’ cause by someone portrayed as a key member of an identifiable real ‘pro-choice’ organisation. Was it?