Live interactive debate on topical issues such as Gaddafi's death, problem families and offensive comedians. Susanna Reid is joined by Sir Ian Blair, Nick Ferrari and Claire Fox.
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Gaddafi, the king of kings who died like a rat. After the horror
inflicted on the people of Lockerbie and the people of Libya,
This programme contains language which some people may find
Good morning and welcome to Sunday Morning Live. Libya starts a new
life after the death of Gaddafi. He terrorised his own people and
exported terror against ours. But was killing him the right thing to
The Government wants to blitz problem families. It will help them
get out of bed and get their kids to school. Is this the kind of
nanny state we should applaud? Ricky Gervais put himself in hot
water with jokes he denies were aimed at disabled people. But isn't
it a comedian's job to offend? My guests this week all have a very
personal stake in our debates. Sir Ian Blair was Britain's top cop and
sent officers to Libya to investigate PC Yvonne Fletcher's
murder. And Jean Charles de Menezes was killed while he was in command.
In a strange case of art imitating life, shock jock Nick Ferrari did a
turn in Ricky Gervais' comedy Extras'.
Claire Fox is director of the Institute of Ideas, but as a former
mental health social worker, she knows about the problems of problem
families. And we want to hear what you think.
Call in now to challenge our guests on Skype. Or give your views on
Gaddafi is dead and justice has been done. That's the verdict from
some families of the Lockerbie bombing victims. One said, "I hope
he's in hell with Hitler". Was Gaddafi's death a fitting payback
for his crimes? Or itself a crime? This video contains graphic images
Many felt uncomfortable watching the last moments of the bleeding,
beaten, dying dictators surrounded by an angry mob. The United Nations
may launch an inquiry into whether he was executed in cold blood. Many
felt we would not allow an animal to die in such a fashion. But
others felt Gaddafi had behaved worse than an animal and that he
deserved his end. To some it seems fitting that someone who lived by
the sword died by it, it seemed like justice. But was it just
revenge? His regime at tortured and murdered thousands of its people
and he is seen as responsible for the death of PC Yvonne Fletcher and
the Lockerbie bombing. Not all relatives of Gaddafi's victims
wanted his immediate death, some wanted him to stand trial so they
could find more answers. Though many were left disappointed with
the trial of Saddam Hussein. Some felt it was just a show trial and
his judicial hanging in cold blood little better than a lynch-mob.
Even some Americans felt uneasy when Osama Bin Laden, the architect
of 9/11, was, without trial, of 9/11, was, without trial,
of 9/11, was, without trial, effectively executed. But if
Gaddafi had been put on trial, he would have remained a rallying call
in a country trying to rebuild itself. Many remain opposed to the
death penalty whatever the crime. Others argue that when leaders like
Gaddafi spent 40 years committing appalling crimes against humanity,
they deserve only a bloody and violent end.
Nick Ferrari, did he deserve to die? The self-imposed lion of the
desert died like a rat in a cellar. Libya and the world will be a
better place. That is our text vote For full terms and conditions,
please visit the website. We will show you how you voted at the end
of the programme. Do you agree? There is no doubt there will have
been a huge amount of satisfaction from people in Libya that he has
gone. It is interesting watching the way everybody panicked at the
way it happened. The whole focus of this war was get Gaddafi. I think
what will happen now is we will not be sure what this war was about. It
might reveal far more now that he has gone. In some ways you can see
the Western allies have would have liked to have carried this on for a
long time. The Libyan people themselves got Gaddafi, as you say.
Sir Ian Blair, Lord Ian Blair, you send officers to Libya to
investigate the death of Yvonne Fletcher. Did you feel this is
justice? This shooting is I think almost inevitable. This is a war,
people died in circumstances like that. In an ideal world, he would
have been arrested and put on trial. This is not an ideal world. And I
think we now move to a new stage in Libya. I think the most difficult
thing about this... Arrested and put on trial with what penalty?
have to say, I do not think it would have been appropriate to put
him on trial in the international criminal court in The Hague. I
think it would have been Libyan justice because this is a matter
for the Libyan people. It is genocide against the Libyan people.
I am quite certain they would have executed him at the end of it.
Would that have been justified? That is a matter of personal
opinion. I personally do not like the death penalty, I never have,
but there is an issue here of Western imposed values on what is
an emerging free country. The real difficulty is that this represents
the weakness of the National Transitional Council, unable to
stop this happening. We are now seeing Libya moving to what it --
might be hopeful phase, but also might not be a hopeful face. In
terms of his death, it was absolutely inevitable. Let's speak
to somebody from Libya. An activist joins us this morning. I understand
your background isn't Libyan, but you have been an activist there in
Tripoli. What was the response of people there when Gaddafi was
killed? It was a response of pure and utter joy and relief. I have
never ever seen joy like this. In my entire life. Every single person,
I felt like, was in the street. People were jumping with joy.
People relieved, women, men, children, just wanting to cheer,
wanting to hold each other, wanting to laugh out loud, wanting to find
each other. It was a scene I will never forget. There are concerns in
the West about the manner of his death. That this was not due
process. Of those concerns in any way shared by those people over
there, celebrating? Yes, of course. In the end, we share the same
concerns as everyone else. We want a true justice system in Libya,
which we haven't had for the last 42 years. Was his death justified?
That is not for me to decide, I don't know the circumstances. I
don't know what was happening exactly. We may never find out. But
what I do know is that people are relieved. A lot of people were
worried that if he would go to trial, he would turn himself into a
martyr, 10 himself... Become like another propaganda, another show in
the Gaddafi saga. We didn't want that, we didn't want him to become
glorified again in front of international media. Was his death
justified to the people who have died and suffered? I don't think
anything would be enough for the families who have suffered, for the
children who have become disabled and for the 2000 women that are
still missing in Tripoli. No justice will be enough for them.
His death is only a sigh of relief that the head of this nation has
been chopped off, the poison will not stream into our lives again and
now we can put that behind us and start rebuilding our nation.
can hear the relief, the celebration, but also the concern.
It is quite an interesting question, is this an assault on due process?
I absolutely get nervous about the law... To me this was a bloody
civil war the West should never have been involved in. I have had
enough of this. You would have just watched Gaddafi kill tens of
thousands of his own? I am absolutely of the opinion that the
West going into Libya... We would have just stood and watched him
murder. Yes. However... Now, Mr Ferrari,... Call me Nick. We have a
situation where everybody is situation -- where everybody is
squeamish. The Western elite is squeamish after they have
intervened in a bloody civil war. Thousands of people have been
killed in this process. Thousands and thousands throughout the whole
thing. Why did we do it? Some kind of PR exercise? OK, very briefly, I
am delighted he's dead. I am concerned about the manner of his
death, but I'm delighted he's dead. He has probably killed 30,000 of
his own people, he has also been responsible for PC Yvonne Fletcher,
Lockerbie and funding the IRA. What is the point of putting this man on
trial? People are now bleating about some kind of UN lead inquiry.
They couldn't find weapons of mass destruction. If you think they can
find the man who fired the bullet in Libya I would be amazed. Putting
him in a glass box in The Hague would just be farcical. He would
make out they wanted him back like Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. It is
good he is gone. Let's speak to somebody who has a personal stake,
Brian Flynn. Your brother was on board Pan Am flight one 03, which
was blown up over Lockerbie. That's 103. Did you share that sense of
justice when you find out Gaddafi had been killed? I am upset you
didn't let Nick keep going. I agreed with everything he said. It
is very easy, and Americans have been accused by many in Britain of
fostering some kind of culture of vengeance and I think it is
something personally I have dealt with through the years. When
Gaddafi first died, my reaction was a little bit of excitement and I
don't think that is appropriate. Not in a normal situation. But the
reason I was excited, and other families, was because it was tied
to the liberation of the Libyan people. It would have been the easy
for us to say, oh well, this is just classic American phi for an I
A, death penalty, we believe that the freeing of the Libyan people
was a key part of what made this such a significant event. It is
interesting that you see it from that perspective. When your brother
died in the Lockerbie bomber him, what did you want to happen to
Colonel Gaddafi immediately afterwards? -- Lockerbie bombing.
have been focused on and believe that I have been true to this idea
that I remember my mother saying, and screaming, my son will not die
in vain. My reaction was that I would do everything I could to
bring justice to this. Not revenge. As a Christian, you could go Old
Testament and say I for an eye, tooth for a tooth. You could also
say something about Luke's Gospel, which is that if a man since and
then asks for forgiveness, you forgive him. If a man's sins and
asks for no forgiveness and is unrepentant, you have to rebuke him.
That is the case for both Gaddafi and al-Megrahi. We are talking
about notions of justice here and whether you think... If Gaddafi had
been put on trial and cross- examined about what happened at
Lockerbie and answered some of the questions that perhaps you still
have about what happened, do you think there is a sense you might
have got more justice out of that or do you feel satisfied now that
We would have got more out of it, in the sense of, who was behind it?
This was not then working alone. There were many other people
involved, who are still at large. That process may have revealed that.
This is the story of the Libyan people, it is for them to write it.
I think vengeance is appropriate for the Libyan people. If they want
to meet out justice. I agree with this part of what Nick said, to go
through the United Nations court would have driven us all mad, but
the West want that. What gives a more or justification is the idea
that Colonel Gaddafi was the evil guy. He was. It is refreshing to
hear somebody say, met the Libyan people deal with it. I would have
wanted them to deal with it rather than it being a grandstanding thing
for the West, to say, we are a bit -- liberating the people.
Practically, I do not think that the death of Gaddafi changes
anything. I do not think that Gaddafi would have testified in
court about what happened. The answers to what happened will peak
in files -- will be in files. The trial would have given him the
opportunity to become Father Christmas. All of this stuff about
how Saddam Hussein was put on trial did not help the Iraqi people. I am
with Nick, he is dead, now it is time for the Libyans to move on,
and to uncover the truth about Yvonne Fletcher. One person who
wants to know the truth is John Merry, he was with Yvonne Fletcher
when she was killed outside the Libyan embassy. Do you hold Colonel
Gaddafi responsible for his -- for her death? Yes, there is no doubt
about it. The order came from Gaddafi himself, he was the head of
state. His agents were at the embassy. He gave the order, no
doubt about it. When you found out he had been killed, is that an eye
for an eye? He did not deserve to die in that way. He should have
been placed in front of a court. He has taken a lot of the answers I
have been seeking with him. If he had stood trial, we could have
asked him questions. He may not have answered them, but we would
have had the opportunity to ask him. I was in Libya not so very long ago.
I returned with a lot of information. I sped to the NTC, --
I spoke to the NTC, and the information I received was very
good. Better than the Met Police. I want a lot of answers. I will keep
fighting until somebody is in court to answer for Yvonne Fletcher's
death. People might be surprised to hear you say that he did not
deserve to die. Considering what you have been through and what you
know the family of Yvonne Fletcher have been through. Why do you feel
that? It is part of the due process of law. If he stood trial in Libya,
he probably would have been given the death penalty. I have no or
gimmick with that. -- no argument. The NTC, will pay deal with people
-- will they deal with people in the same way? That is an
interesting question. If this is how they deliver justice... It was
not as if they had some kind of tribunal or hearing. It would
appear that, in a mode of extreme ecstasy and panic, he was executed,
and the manner of his execution, yes, we can see that. You mean that
you agree that you do not think he deserved to die in the way that he
did? He deserved to die, but as a human being, you have to say, that
is quite concerning. But he killed 30,000 of his own people, he was
getting ready to kill many more. It might have been better to take into
a court house. It would have been slightly better. But if we were
here in 1945, would we say, is it right that Hitler is gone? We would
be celebrating. It is the same with Osama Bin Laden, I was delighted.
There is a danger of turning Gaddafi into a lot more than he was.
To compare him to Hitler, it will it advises people. These were a
nasty little tinpot dictators. that to the brother of the
Lockerbie victim, to the policeman standing next to Yvonne Fletcher...
Let me make the point. I am not saying he was a good guy, but to
compare him to Hitler, that flatters him. We have tinpot
dictators, and you can turn them into icons of the full -- evil.
There is more to the rebuilding of Libya than this. One person says, I
shed no tears, but I feel this is not how democracy should begin.
Another person says, we needed the truth on Lockerbie, and we have
been robbed of this. Another person says, wide to the bleeding hearts
need their investigation? Did he deal in due process? He needed to
be terminated so Libya could move on. If you think Gaddafi deserved
it, or not, text in. You have 20 minutes before the poll closes.
The government says problem families are costing taxpayers a
small fortune, so it wants to give them their own government helper to
stop them causing havoc in society. A good idea? Rewarding the
feckless? This week, committee secretary Eric
Pickles revealed that problem families who make-up less than 1%
of the population cost the taxpayer a whopping �8 billion. These
families cost so much because they take up so many different resources,
from Social Services to the police. The government wants to
deliberately target them. Each family could get a dedicated helper.
They could help them get out of bed, send their children to school and
make sure they attend alcohol and drug rehabilitation. Is that
sensible? Is that the nanny state gone too far? If families cost the
state so much, do they deserve to get personalised help? The scheme
targets families who are not employed, live in poor housing, RL,
or simply pull. The government hopes this will prevent the
families going off the rails and cost less in the long run. Is it
patronising to force held on families simply because they are
poor and often on benefits? Harboured any of us like it if a
government official came into the privacy of our homes to tell us how
we should be living? With spending billions on giving problem families
their own dedicated helper be the final push they need to get out of
poverty, or will a helping hand discourage people from helping
themselves? If you have got a webcam, you can
make your point on Skype. Is this a good idea? It is a bit strange. The
previous government had a thing called Total place, which was
putting exactly this piece of work into action. Not a single dedicated
person, but putting the police, the health service, the social services,
wrapping them round the most difficult families. Exactly the
same is being proposed about gangs. Getting in their early and sorting
out the children who are at risk of becoming a gang members. The idea
of a single dedicated person coming into the house is a very strange
idea. I am all for concentrating on the most difficult people... If one
person goes in and it saves all of those other agencies... Did you
think somebody will go into those houses and Tom Mapp? I do not
believe it is possible. I believe we need to concentrate on those
families. It is sometimes called the Boston method, somebody
involved in a gang is confronted by the police and the prosecutors and
people from housing and education and given a straight forward choice.
In other state in a life of crime - - you are either state in a life of
crime or you go straight. That works. But going in by yourself
seems to be a gimmick. I think Eric Pickles has gone nuts to keep the
food theme going! Way of going to reward the reckless and feckless,
whose life is in crime and crime, by giving them a servant, who will
not on their door? It will save us billions of pounds? I do not
normally use this analysis, but if we are so worried, we should think
about the money we are spending in Afghanistan, which is double this
ludicrous experiment. Think about the money that bailed out the
bankers. Put them in jail. You are a former social worker dealing with
people with mental health issues. Mental health is one of the
identifiers for these families in crisis. There is a number of things.
This has been brought on on a delusion that the government can
sort everything out by interfering, which is ludicrous. I also think it
is promised on the now orthodoxy of early intervention, everybody will
now say, what happens before the age of three will determine
everything what happens afterwards. It is based on poor science. It is
nonsense. It is over deterministic. Then, this gives a green light to
the government, because if you say, what happens before the age of
three means that you have to intervene, they can then say, every
parent needs to be undermined. Parents' authority is being
undermined by this idea that the Government tells you what to do. It
is true that if you say that depict the state was that all parents are
responsible, but I do not trust how they have identified these families.
We will talk to somebody who has identified them. Is it true, few of
the man that came up with the figure of 120,000 problem families?
Yes, from the research we did for the government. We were focusing on
poverty. We were focusing on families that had five or more they
have his problems, being poor, ill health, living in poor quality
housing. It is focused on the problems they have, rather than the
problems they are causing. The media have twisted things slightly.
That is a common accusation! It is a tiny proportion of families, but
you say they are not causing problems. Presumably you mean
criminally. Financially, some people might think it is causing a
problem. Yes, in terms of anti- social behaviour, the families that
we identified, and the 10% of them had children that have been in
trouble with police. The focus is not on anti-social behaviour. But
yes, if they have got five or more problems, we are talking about
disadvantaged families. Can I just ask, you have done the research on
the existence of these malted problem families, I take it you
have not come up with the idea of sending a person in to get them up
in the morning? No, we just do the research. I am not quite sure what
getting them up in the morning has to do with it. Nor are my! That is
what Eric Pickles wants to do! We have got a fine piece of academic
research that somebody is taking a simple solution on to, and that is
not part of your job a tour? That is right. The research revealed
there are significant families that have lots of issues going on, which
makes it hard for them to live their lives and raise their
children. They need somebody to help them negotiate with a
There are very specific problems here. If somebody has a mental
health problem, you needed -- decent mental health services. If
you have a poor person, you could say the problem is just money.
There's a danger that you are designating them as problem
families. They have multiple problems so sending in a person who
deals with one problem, you are not dealing with the more trouble
problem issue. This multiple problem, they are poor. What are we
meant to do about it? In terms of poor, there is a lot of poverty
around. Give them more money? SEN somebody around with yet more money
for these people? A means of getting more money. Those who are
unemployed, give them more money? No, get them work. What does that
practically mean? A means to get into work? Education, training,
work programmes. If you have health problems that will stop you...
is different. I want to introduce somebody else who has direct
experience of this and that is David Derbyshire. We have sound
issues in the studio! He is from Action for children. Presumably you
are listening to this debate as well and I presume the digger to
come in and explain exactly how help is given to these families.
You run projects where you do intervene. Good morning. Yes,
indeed we do, up and down the country. I suppose the thing is
about the key worker, what Eric Pickles was talking about, they are
not there to wake up the family, for a link-up with other
professionals and enable families tax as if facilities they need. --
families to access facilities. It needs a lot of persistence. It will
involved contact four or five times a week with a family by that key
worker and that key worker is laying out for the family what the
choices are. By the time they are in contact with one of the services,
the choice is often the children entering care or young people being
criminalised all the parents being criminalised. Or they can take
steps which in almost all the cases the families want to take in order
to make things better for themselves. At the beginning of the
debate, Nick Ferrari characterised the key worker as a personal Jeeves
who gets you ready to go out. Everyone would like somebody to
motivate them and help them out. But why do these families
particularly need somebody like that? They need someone... Workers
will not normally go and get them out of bed, what they may do is not
on the door to make sure the parents themselves are able to take
the child to school. School attendance is often an issue. They
will do that for a limited period so that parents build up confidence
about doing that. The reason families are in that position is
often because parents have had difficult backgrounds and histories.
There is often some form of mental illness. David, I can hear
exasperation in the studio. With the exception of people with mental
or physical problems, we have all had challenges his life -- in life.
There is something called individual responsibility where
unless you have mental health issues, you have to tough it out.
Get up in the morning and say I am going to get the kids to school.
What about all of these families who do it every single morning?
While we rewarding the ones who are not doing that and ignoring the
ones who do do it? I Want To ask you, you are saying this is an
antidote to criminalising family's? Are you not in danger of utterly
patronising them and in tantalising them. I can't imagine anything more
demoralising than having... Saying to families you are not up to it
unless you have a professional to help you. I don't think that is the
experience of people. You know it is. They feel as though they are
constantly being told they can't cope unless an expert, someone
like? E B mack, comes around and helps them. Do we make them
dependent on new? No, families will say they have benefited from the
relationship with a professional who was able to build on their
strengths as a poster telling them what they couldn't do. What they
would generally say was that before the interventions, they had
experience of being told off by authorities and had negative
experiences. These interventions gave them something in which they
can engage properly. You are talking about a system that clearly
exists and has existed for some time, is that right?
intervention programme have existed for a little time. Not for that
long. Are we talking a year, two years? More than that. What I don't
understand is what is Eric Pickles announcing? What you are describing
is what he is announcing. I don't understand why we are doing
something different. It sounds like we are doing the same thing that
you're doing. It may well be effective in some way, but there is
nothing new here. No. The announcement was an indication that
authorities should take up... want to put the question to the
TaxPayers' Alliance. The Robert Oxley joins us. Is this a good use
of money? Good morning. What we have to look at is can we afford to
continue to allow these 120,000 problem families to continue
costing the economy �8 billion a year. We saw from the riots the
damage and destruction a small number it can cause. Clare mack his
anger on the panel about the fact we already spend a lot of money if
on these families. They are already making certain other people's lives
a misery, while we spending more money on them? But we can't leave
certain families who are causing disruption... This measure is not
about spending more money, it is about saving money. First of all,
in terms of evidence, the guy who came up with 120,000 families has
already told us only 10% have problems with crime and anti-social
behaviour. Suddenly they all have. I understand what Eric Pickles has
done is if -- say it if you look at these families, there are agencies
all over them. Social services, health services, local government.
You can't move but for a professional expert advising them
for up Eric Pickles has said, let's leave it to one person so it will
save money. That appeals to you because you are mean-spirited. But
in the end, would it not be better to query the whole premise of the
120,000 families in the first place? Robert? It is not about
being mean-spirited, it is about getting value for money. Yes,
experts have identified Ferag these families causing trouble. One
suggestion is these problem families are spending between
�250,000 and �330,000. We can't pretend people... OK. Children who
are not going to school and who are not growing up in a household...
Thank you. A couple of text messages.
This is disgusting, so many underprivileged families are trying
to move up in society, why did we help them improve? Instead we are
helping people who don't want help. Yet again, reward for not working.
Becky says, poorer families need support and guidance to stop the
cycle that children inherit and don't know how to escape from.
But Coming up on Sunday Morning Live:
Fuming at offensive comedians is nothing new. Monty Python's Life of
Brian caused apoplexy more than 30 years ago. From Frankie Boyle to
Sacha Baron Cohen and even Russell Brand, funny-men have had us
falling about and feeling uncomfortable in roughly equal
measure. Python Terry Jones said "There should be no taboos in
comedy". As long as it's funny, is he right? What do you think? You
can join in by webcam or you can make your views known by phone,
email or online. Remember, keep voting, too, in our
text poll. The question did Gaddafi Time to show you some of the key
moral moment of the week. Claire Fox, it is claimed an undercover
police officer gave evidence in court while still under cover.
Should he have broken his cover to see justice done? This is not --
this has not excited my moral juices as much as everybody else.
Probably he shouldn't have stayed under cover when he gave evidence
and I worry about the law being undermined. But although I am very
much of the left the act of this type, in case anyone had noticed,
what amuses me -- amuses me is people moaning about the cuts? If
you are seriously taking on the state, you can't expect them to pat
you on the back. I have no problem with the police going undercover, I
always assumed that was what they did. Did you assume you might be
working alongside some of them? course. If you are seriously
involved in politics, challenging the orthodoxies of the day, unless
the state are hopeless wimps, you will assume they are keeping their
eye on you. Whether it is morally a good thing or not... Then there is
a point about entrapment. One does get nervous about that. You don't
want to be in a situation whereby the police make things happen
because they are under cover, that is the big moral dilemma. I don't
want the rule of law to be undermined and I don't want the
state complete East buying one of the thing everyone does. Let's ask
an audience where? Presumably under your watch their were undercover
police officers. -- let's ask Lord Ian Blair. How widespread was the
infiltration into activist groups? I don't think I will announce how
widespread it is. Always worth asking! Were they spying on me!
Don't forget Jack Straw becoming Home Secretary and asking for his
MI5 file, which she got. It is a legitimate police tactic to go
undercover and some of the people I have met who have been undercover
officers involved in terrorism and organised crime are immensely brave
men and women. When we have had some of the riots recently, the
police were criticised for not having enough intelligence about
what the students were going to do, or the rioters. There are only two
ways of getting that intelligence, open source intelligence on the
internet and undercover activity. The issue that is worrying people
is not the existence of undercover officers, but the claims that an
officer would then remain undercover while in a court of law.
This is a very delicate one. As far as I remember, the rules are that
it depends on what level of penetration the officer is in.
Let's say it is a very long running undercover operation. What is the
criminal act involved? If there is some serious criminal act, that
officer would immediately have been withdrawn and his identity would
have been revealed. But if you were talking about something that will
end with a fine or conditional discharge, it is conceivable that
it is worth remaining under cover to continue the penetration. These
are very, very expensive and delicate operations. I think the
key issue, as in the shooting of suicide bombers, these things have
no place in public debate. We need a place like the King's Fund, where
policing tactics of this nature are made open to the public. This is
the methodology we use. Is this acceptable in a democratic society?
When you were in charge, were undercover officers convicted of
crimes? I have not come across one serving a sentence. People might
have agreed that someone should stay and a cover when it is
something as serious as infiltrating the terrorist cell,
but wonder why someone would stay under cover when it was
investigating an environmental activist group, for instance.
is what I'm saying. We need a place where that is debated. At the
moment it is decided work -- with the police and the Crown
Prosecution Service and the Home Office. I think it should be a more
public debate. One thing I would say is that I think there is a
danger... We can't debate publicly on all of this, but one of the
things that amuses me is it seems to me that the police might be
wasting their time in four trading a lot of rather hopeless activist
groups. -- infiltrating. They don't know how many vicars are police
officers. To be serious... You are not making that allegation.
terms of the priorities, that is what I'm trying to say. It is quite
feasible that the state of over exaggerating... I think it was on
your watch, Lord Blair, the brilliance of the anti-terrorism
officers when they got into a plot. They substitute explosives for
kitty litter. I think it was on your watch. That is the amazing job
they do. Policing is not a perfect science. Last week a bloke went
down in Lithuania for 12 years, he possibly would have blown up London
You have been voting this morning. Did -- did Gaddafi deserve it? The
poll is now closed. We will bring to the resort at the end of the
programme. -- result.
Ricky Gervais got into trouble this week and apologised for what many
took to be the mocking of people with Down's syndrome. Should
comedians be smarter about where to draw the line? Satire and religion
can cause and or violence. Is it a comedian's job to break taboos?
Half-a-million people tuned in this week to laugh at the dramatisation
of this debate between Monty Python and religious leaders over whether
their Life Of Brian was blasphemous. 400 years ago, we would have been
burned for this. I am suggesting we have made an advance. The debate
still rages today. Nearly half the country say they are Christians.
More than 50,000 were outraged when did musical Jerez spring or the
opera felt free to ridicule Christ. Many Muslims were upset by cartoons
which mocked the Prophet Muhammad. Of the some topics which should be
taboo? This week, a heated public debate about Ricky Gervais,
tweeting the word mong. Many believed he was being offensive to
those with Down's syndrome. One mother was particularly hurt.
is absolutely endemic in our society, it is everywhere. We do
not need another comedian with a large fan-base suddenly deciding
that this is OK, that you can target disabled people, because
they cannot fight back. Ricky Gervais yesterday apologised. The
accepted that whatever he meant by the word, and many had taken
offence. Others, including some disabled people, say any special
treatment is patronising. Is it an essential part of comedy to say the
unsayable and to come from taboos? Of the sum things which are simply
never for me? -- never funny?
You can join in. You have secured a four by by the principle of free
speech, even when the mother of disabled children is in tears,
saying that this is not acceptable? We live in and society which says,
you cannot say that all the time. I would argue for the right to be
offensive. You could say that is me encouraging everybody to be nasty,
but the right to be offensive is essential. In comedy more than ever,
that has to be a taboo busting place. You can decide that you
think that the likes of Frankie Boyle or Ricky Gervais are not to
your taste, but the whole point of comedy is to shake-up manners and
challenge orthodoxies. What makes it funny is that you are being
derisory about somebody. If we say that we are to be quiet in case we
have then somebody, we will all be quite a lot of the time. We live in
a society where people pussyfoot around, it is like walking on
eggshells. You have worked with Ricky Gervais, and you also know
how powerful speeches. Ricky Gervais said, we are all terrified
of saying that the wrong thing. Part of his comedy is to confirm
that. In that interview, he also says that many people are offended
by things that... Some people are offended by mixed-race marriages.
The fact that it causes offence is ridiculous. Humour always has a
victim. The episode I was in with Ricky Gervais, he plays a character,
he is just becoming famous come at a child is misbehaving, he has
Down's syndrome, Ricky Gervais kicks off, he does not realise, he
gets in trouble. The laugh is on the Ricky Gervais character. The
Down's syndrome boy is ennobled. He has tried to make it off at the
victim of the Down's syndrome people. His argument is that the
word does not refer to disability any more. I could take you off-air
by saying other words. I would not dream of saying them. Responsible
people... He is a very bright fellow, but you have a
responsibility, and he lost it. started off with religion. God has
got his sense of humour. There is a lot of cheerfulness in the Bible.
Life Of Brian was on television last again. I find it difficult for
people to find the Life Of Brian offensive. It is an affectionate
take. But there are some words that should not be said. There are some
communities, their identity is so bound up in their particular
religious belief, this is not an attack on their religion, it is an
attack on their life. It produces the most difficult issues in terms
of free speech. Is it right to say something in speech which leads to
a riot on the streets? The speech does not lead to the riot, it is
the response to it. What we have done, we have given the green light
to a hecklers veto. Because we have given that such precedents, people
are frightened. The alternative is that we laugh at the weakest
members of society. They then become... You cannot want that.
What we are now doing, we are saying that words can damage people
more than anything else. I do not think they do. Words are not action.
Sticks and stones and all the rest of it. We have got confused. More
sinisterly, -- more seriously, if we say this, maybe this will offend
a whole community, we might be seen to be insensitive, and something
might happen. And intimidation goes on. That is a serious assault on a
society. We have guests ready to talk to us. Tell us about your
experience. You have a Down's syndrome child. Yes, my daughter.
We were at the Frankie Boyle kick some time ago, we did not take him
on in any way, we were just upset. Without going into great detail,
what was the nature of the joke? had quite a long piece on taking
the mickey out of people with Down's syndrome. Very different
from the Ricky Gervais piece this week. What was your response?
were disappointed that he was not funny. That is such a grown-up
response. The problem with him, he is not funny. Frankie Boyle has
said in the past he would like to be able to challenge society and
introduce progressive ideas through comedy. This is what he was failing
to do. He was reinforcing stereotypes. I would defend his
right to say whatever he wants, but I would also defend our right to
challenge some of those stereotypes. Have you got somebody on the webcam
with learning difficulties? No, we have contacted a comedian with a
disability, though, and we are hoping to speak to them later.
Should comedians make jokes about conditions like Down's syndrome,
about people with learning this of it -- learning difficulties?
Comedians should be able to make jokes about anything. Comedians are
not the people that make and the society, they are a result of the
society. As long as people with learning difficulties are excluded,
they will be the butt of jokes. Look back at Bernard Manning, it
was then acceptable to make jokes about race, and they have become
ostracised and irrelevant. That is a fair point, but when you come to
working out what is funny, Dietrich -- Dietrich is that you make people
laugh without causing offence. One of the poorest decisions the BBC
made was transmitting that opera. You did not play a single clip from
it, rightly. I do not see what is funny about putting Jesus Christ
anyone -- in a nappy, but I do not want to see anybody being killed
for putting the Prophet Mohammed in a cartoon. I thought the opera was
brilliant. What was funny about it? You can now have an argument about
what makes you laugh. I thought it was lampooning daytime television.
Once you get to a point where you allow the subjective decisions of
what people find taste for orphanage to dictate what we say in
public, what I find is interesting, I get nervous sometimes about the
fashion for Schalke jokes -- for shocking jokes. I think it is
infantile, and Frankie Boyle, he has gone out of his way to draw
attention to himself in a way that is not amusing. I want to talk to
Geoff. Somebody has raised the issue of whether you can be as
funny about Islam as you can about Christianity. Off course. The main
criteria is the intention. The Danish cartoon is a good example of
the intention being to cause offence, gratuitously, and not very
funny. Muslims were right to protest. Comedian should be able to
say whatever they want to say, as long as the intention is right. The
other day, I was heckled by a blind man. I said, has he gone yet?
have to be careful about intention. Unless you are going to start
reading minds, how well you know? The Cottee might have been in bad
taste, -- Cottee might have been in bad taste, but you do not know.
have to bring you the result of the text poll. We asked, did Gaddafi
deserve to die? 84% said yes. 16% said no. There is a majority
opinion who belief that it was justice. The one thing it was not
was justice. He died at the end of a brutal civil war, and for the
Libyan people, this is the right ending. It is like saying Osama Bin
Laden got justice. They get justice in the world that they inhabit.
got his just deserts. Yes, absolutely right. He chose to
murder in that way, so that is what comes. There is a small minority
who do not think that he deserved it, despite his crimes. We can all
have qualms about the way he died. I would want us to broaden it out
to have qualms about what is going on in Libya. What I am worried
about now is what happens in Libya. That is a big question to leave and
a debate on. I would like to thank all our guests. Lord Ian Blair,
Nick Ferrari and Claire Fox. Do not text or call again, because the
Live interactive debate on topical issues of the week, hosted by Susanna Reid. She is joined by Sir Ian Blair, Nick Ferrari and Claire Fox to argue about:
Did Gaddafi deserve to die?
Should the state help out problem families?
Do comedians have a right to offend?
Join in by webcam/twitter #bbcsml.