Wednesday, 9 September 2015

The Overton Window and so called extremism.

Phil Burton-Cartledge, the sociologist, makes the point that the BBC is incapable of any sort of rational analysis of unusual / odd / original / extremist views. That is, the BBC is biased towards the centre-ground: as Phil points out, rather than analyse the views of the far left or far right, the BBC does what Phil calls “hatchet jobs” on them.

What Phil’s article fails to mention, is that that phenomenon has been going on since the world began. That is, the Overton Window has existed ever since the world began. 

The Overton Window is a name given to the fact that in every society, only a very limited range of views are acceptable. And the reaction of respectable centre ground folk to anything outside that narrow range is to shout, scream, stamp their feet, arrest or insult anyone expressing unusual views and so on. Of course the screaming and stamping of feet, insults and so on are expressed in polite pseudo-sophisticated language in articles in respectable newspapers and similar arenas, but screaming and stamping of feet are what those articles boil down to.

A classic example is the hundreds of articles in the left of centre press that have appeared over the last five or ten years which label anyone wanting a significant reduction in immigration as “racist” or “xenophobe”. Those two insults / criticisms are fine of they’re substantiated. But they never are.

And wanting a reduction in immigration is not even right outside the Overton Window: it’s only outside the political left’s Overton Window. 

So in fairness to the BBC, they are nowhere near the first bunch people to suffer from the Overton Window syndrome.

If you’d suggested in Ancient Egypt that building pyramids was a waste of time, you’d have been strung up from the nearest lamp-post or the Egyptian equivalent of a lamp-post, whatever that was. And if you’d suggested in ancient Rome that there was something wrong with having lions eat Christians, you’d have been in big trouble.

Actually there WAS a priest who campaigned in ancient Rome against the “lions eating Christians” carry on: he had his head chopped off for his troubles.

1 comment:

  1. Doubtless the Overton Window is not a new development, but would've been far less applicable given language and cultural differences would've been far greater (within any given country) in the past.

    Are we sure about this throwing Christians to the lions though?

    Don't get me wrong though, I fully support such actions ;-)


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