To bleep or not to bleep

Hey all,

As my friends and Twitter followers will know, I have a fair bit to blog about, and hope to do so very soon. But tonight, I felt compelled to tap out a quick post about censorship on TV.

After Doc Martin and the ten o’clock news, there was a show called ‘Exposure’ on ITV1, featuring a rule-breaking bailiff. It was really only background noise, as I was reading whilst waiting for a show to start on another channel, but one word in particular made my ears prick up, and my eyes meet the screen.

Before I say why, it seemed to me that this bailiff seemed to get a kick from wielding power over people who owed money, using intimidation, threats and humiliation to get what he wanted from them.

In his case, he was collecting unpaid Council Tax. Yes, it is unfair that the vast majority of people do pay it, and yet some decide the don’t want to and won’t. But others simply cannot pay, maybe because they have been made redundant, their business has collapsed, or they have found themselves seriously ill or injured, and are still wading through the bitter treacle and jumping flaming hoops – also known as the process of being allowed benefits.

The attitude of this man was aggressive from the outset, telling his “apprentice” – an undercover reporter – of ways to get clients on their “f*cking knees”, proud of his knowledge, and seemingly violent, methods.

“Fucking” was edited as above, where his low, conspiratorial voice necessitated subtitles, and the spoken word was bleeped out.

Fast forward a minute or two…

“There’s no toilets in garages any more because Pakis don’t like cleaning them.”

Neither the subtitled or spoken word was censored. I couldn’t believe that such an incredibly offensive word was there to be seen and heard. Not just once, bit repeatedly.

Yes, I understand that fuck is still an offensive word to many people, but the show was on past the “watershed”, even before which, fuck can be heard on TV shows and films.

The P word, like the N word, is offensive to a entire race and nation of people. Remembering a girl in my class at secondary school being made to cry by other girls singing a cruel song containing the word, I quickly switched off. Just as he decided to speak in a supposed Pakistani accent, and harass a man who didn’t even live at the address, stating “if this happened where you come from I’d be in ‘ere with a stick and you’d be up against that wall.”

I’m sure some people will have an issue with me saying P and N words, but they are not my words. I know people of my colour have, and do, use them to create hurt and humiliation. I haven’t censored funk because, largely, I find it inoffensive.

I believe censoring fuck only makes it seem more offensive than a word that has caused thousands of people emotional and mental pain, and I don’t believe that is true.

I’m sure ITV1 had a good reason for exposing this man, and others like him in his business, who constantly and flagrantly breaks out of the guidelines allotted to bailiffs. I hope it will shame those who are at the head of the industry into creating serious rules, and punishments for those who break them, particularly when violence and racial assault is involved.

But they should be ashamed of their censorship failings. The P word is not one we need to hear on TV, unless come from a Pakistani person, as with the N word coming from a black person. I believe they own those words know, reclaiming them from those who used them as weapons.

I wonder, readers, which words do you think should be censored? And what do you think about the censorship in Exposure (oh the irony!)?

Let me know!



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4 responses to “To bleep or not to bleep

  1. I had never heard the term Pakis before, but I think if there’s a group of people who aren’t allowed to say a word because it’s offensive (such as the P or N word) then nobody should be allowed to say it. Black people can’t call each other the N word and then tell everyone else they can’t. First of all, that takes the derogatory meaning out of the word, in my opinion. Second of all, it’s hypocrisy.

    I personally think people get to bent out of shape over words. Words are just that, words. They only hurt if you let them hurt. If you don’t like what someone has to say then don’t listen.

    • If you’d never heard the word ‘Paki’ before, you have no idea how offensive it is. As far as I know, Pakistani people do not call each other that word, so your accusation of hypocrisy is erroneous there.

      A lot of black people feel very strongly that others should not use the term ‘nigger’ amongst themselves. Some say it is hypocrisy, as you do, others say it is so offensive, it shouldn’t be said at all.

      However, as a white person, I am not part of a race or culture that has been horrifically abused in the past, and that still experiences awful racial prejudice today.

      I can understand black people wanting to ‘own’ – for want of a better word – ‘nigger’; as a disabled person, I call myself a cripple, which can be incredibly hurtful coming from some mouths. But disabled people are making an attempt to own it, to take the sting from the word.

      If you think being hurt by a word is a matter of choice, you have clearly never been bullied or abused.

      Often, abusive words are most painful when they are aimed at someone you care about, rather than yourself. Last night, I felt pain when he used that P word because I reminded me of my friend, in tears, as other kids in the class chanted it at her, and sang an abusive song which featured the word.

      To not feel hurt at that memory is to have no feelings at all. You can’t turn off hurt anymore than you can turn off happiness.

      • I didn’t accuse Pakistanis of hypocrisy. My sentence had the word “if” in it.

        And, yes, it is a choice whether you let words affect you or not. I’ve been bullied and called names when I was growing up. Who hasn’t? But I started to realize that what idiots like that think doesn’t matter to me. Why should I care what insensitive, disrespectful people like that think of me? I don’t, so I don’t let what they say affect me.

  2. I’m a Muslim and have quite a few Pakistani friends (or did a few years ago). Many (not all) use the term Paki quite freely amongst themselves, particularly the youth (much less with older people — I remember one of my friends saying, within his mother’s earshot, “I’m an English Paki, not a Paki Paki”, and his mother told him in Urdu not to go round saying that). It’s not equivalent to the N-word which many Black people (especially in this country) actually don’t use — it’s an American “gangsta” thing, and the racism it’s associated with is much more severe and goes back much further (slavery, lynchings, “Jim Crow” laws etc). I noticed a few years ago that the word “desi” was starting to appear a lot in English Asian literature, which may have been an attempt to change the habits of people who had taken to using the word Paki, particularly as “desi” has no history as an insult and “Paki” isn’t applicable to Asians who are not Pakistanis (many would, actually, be offended at being taken for a Pakistani).

    However, most white people do not use it amongst themselves except as a term of abuse, as with that bailiff. If the idea of the programme is to expose a racist and otherwise abusive bailiff, I don’t see the point of bleeping out offensive words of any sort. If they want to bleep, they should bleep repeated occurrences so that the programme doesn’t become a stream of F-words and racist epithets.

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