Saturday, 12 April 2014

Remembering Mary Whitehouse

Mediawatch reminds us that this year marks the 50th anniversary of Mary Whitehouse's campaign to Clean Up TV which was launched at Birmingham Town Hall in 1964. A year later, she founded the Viewers and Listeners Association which became Mediawatch in 2001.

The Spring 2014 Mediawatch Newsletter tells us of an anniversary tribute using social media:
Every other day this year we are tweeting a quote from Mary Whitehouse’s writing. It is ironic that much of what we know about her views has come to us filtered by the media itself. This is an opportunity to hear Mary Whitehouse in her own words taken from the books she wrote during her lifetime. I think many people will find it quite surprising.
Here are three ways to follow the initiative:
Here is a good quote from Mary:
No movement, except communism and fascism, has practised censorship more rigidly than those who bellow for the abolition of all controls.
She was herself banned from appearing on the BBC for four years. She claimed that for eleven years "hardly a week went by without a sniping reference to me." The Daily Telegraph obituary has a telling story of Sir Hugh Greene, who was the Director General of the BBC from 1960-1969.
There was, indeed, something pathological in Sir Hugh's attitude towards Mrs Whitehouse. He purchased a naked portrait of her, adorned with six breasts, by Lawrence Isherwood and (it was said) would amuse himself by throwing darts at this picture, squealing with pleasure as he made a hit.
I grew up seeing the constant vilification of Mary Whitehouse for daring to challenge the permissive standards of the 1960s and 1970s. The devotees of Flower Power and the Age of Aquarius could get quite nasty when someone looked like spoiling the party, even when the party was pretty squalid.

It is significant to recall now, that Mary Whitehouse particularly focussed on the protection of children. The BBC that she was calling to account was certainly worthy of such attention as we now know all too well. Mary was influential in the passage of the Protection of Children Act in 1978 which made child porn illegal, and she was also a key figure in preventing the Paedophile Information Exchange from becoming socially respectable. As we have recently been reminded, that was not such an unlikely prospect, given the support it received from libertarian advocates.

Do read the Mediawatch article, Mary Whitehouse: A Household Name
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