BBC petition for the release of Alan Johnson

I am not a great fan of online petitions, or online viral campaigns. But the BBC have launched a petition for the release of one of their journalists in Israel/Palestine, Alan Johnson. Llittle is known Just last October, Irish journalist Rory Carroll was kidnapped (and thankfully quickly released) in Sadr City, Baghdad. There are numerous cases of bloggers being arrested here, here and here. If you want to post the petition button on your blog, you can get the code here.

  • Added to mine
    Cheers Mick 🙂

  • Yokel

    This somewhat gets on my goat. Not so much the BBC petition in itself but the wider context in which it is set.

    The NUJ, who I am sure many members of the Beeb and many jorunos who will support this petition are members of, recently voted to boycott Israeli goods in protest at the Lebanon conflict last summer. So much for impartiality in jorunalism. Grand useless gesture stuff.

    Will there be such an equivalent plan in protest over the kidnapping of one of their own for Palestsinian goods?

    Fuck no, no chance. Best they can do is propose a boycoot of giving the Palsteinian government media coverage for a few days.

  • Genuine Snapshot

    This isn’t going to be popular, so here goes: Alan Johnson ought not to be singled out in this way. First of all, it’s utterly pointless, a neat tribute in fact to the over-hyped quality of much that happens online: Palestinian terrorists are not going to be moved by those pixels up there on the left hand corner of the screen, any more than eg Provos would be by an image urging them not to plant bombs in, for example, shopping malls. Much more importantly though – and this cuts directly to the BBC’s inability to report itself with any sense of proportion – have any of you reading any idea of how many people are being ‘held hostage’ or, more prosaically, have been ‘merely’ kidnapped (for ransome, or vendetta, or to take them off the political scene momentarily, or because, if that’s the way your politics go, the IDF have detained/seized them) in Palestine and Israel? Anyone? Here’s a hint: it’s more than one. You can’t name any of the others (though you could with a bit of basic googling, so there’s a hat tip to the internet) because the world’s largest, most powerful broadcaster isn’t mounting a global campaign to tell you their names.

    So why then does being an employee of the Corporation elevate Mr Johnson thus? Natural human sentiment, intermingling with corporate responsibility, and even, no doubt, a pinch of managerial guilt cum ‘there but for the Grace of God’ self-inflatation as to the dangers facing journalists. But while that may well be the truth of why this campaign is being mounted, it’s not the official rhetoric used to justify it. That’s, of course, that Johnston is a ‘journalist’, and therefore, barely if at all disguised, a More Important Person (to you, to me, to the people he reports on, to the people who hear his reports) than any of the other people unwillingly detained at the moment in Israel and Palestine. Is this true? Is it ‘more important’ in either a practical sense, let alone a moral one, that a journalist has being taken hostage/kidnapped than, say, you, or your Palestinian or Israeli equivalent? If so, why, or even, how? And of course it isn’t. What’s wrong here, and what’s always wrong here, both practically and morally, is that a man is being detained by other men against his will for no good reason. It does not matter a jot that this one happens to be a journalist, as where, were we to concede that lunacy, would we be left then? If you concede that journalists are somehow ‘more important’ than other people, we’d be in the absurd position that kidnapping/hostage taking, though bad, is less bad as long as it’s not done to journalists.

    I haven’t littered this post with pro forma expressions of sympathy for Mr Johnston and his family, not because I don’t have any (it really should be taken as read that any fuctioning moral being does), but because I’ve some basic degree of self-awareness: he’s never going to read this thread, and it doesn’t matter a damn who does. But please understand this, all the well menaing folk tempted to heed the Corporation’s call: just because the BBC tells you that something is not merely important, but more important than other things doesn’t make it so.

  • I’ve put the petition button on my blog, for probably a short time, as a small gesture of support for Johnson family. If 1000’s of websites and blogs have the petition button for Alan Johnson displayed and don’t show any form of support for terrorism it’s bound to influence the terrorists that have kidnapped him, slightly.If the families or employers of other people that are being held as well want to publicise their plight in a similar fashion I’d no doubt add another petition button to my blog.

  • Yokel

    Snapshot

    He just happens to work for the Beeb thus is fortunate enough that they have an ability to lend more vocal, visible and influential support, at least in a publicity sense if not in actually getting a result.

    Thats just how it goes sometimes, though I get the point.