Dealing with sectarian stereotypes…

WHILE problems with sectarian posts are not something Slugger can claim to have avoided, the BBC’s Talk Back messageboard was forced into a U-turn yesterday after a commenter complained about a thread entitled ‘Breeding like rabbits’. Initially, the complainant was told the title “did not contravene house rules”, but the Beeb later changed its mind and the thread was removed. Is it ever possible to discuss sectarian stereotypes on the internet in an acceptable-to-all manner? Or is it a topic to just avoid? How do we do on Slugger – too slack or cracking down too hard?From the Irish News:

THE BBC was forced to apologise yesterday for the use of an ‘offensive term’ about Catholics posted on one of its websites.

The corporation also deleted the offending title of the thread – ‘Breeding like rabbits’ – from the messageboard for Radio Ulster’s Talk Back programme.

The thread was a discussion about the size of Catholic families.

One contributor to the site, who uses the alias ‘Quiteciaran’, said the term was “clearly objectionable” and promoted contempt for Catholics by projecting an image of them as “feckless and irresponsible” animals.

“The heading would, rightly, not be tolerated for five seconds if posted about Jews, black people, or Muslims. Why should Catholics be any different?” he said.

“I found this to be very offensive to me, my parents, and the rest of my family.”

After posting a complaint, ‘Quiteciaran’ was emailed by the BBC and told that the title did not contravene house rules and that it would be left on the site.

“House rules stated that messages which caused offence, or were deemed to be racist would be removed but this wasn’t,” said Quiteciaran last night.

“The BBC should follow their own guidelines.”

When contacted by The Irish News, a BBC spokesman said: “Message boards depend on user-generated content which means comments are published immediately.

“The BBC takes these comments very seriously, however, so we have now taken this thread off the site.”