Is there anyone we shouldn’t talk to?

We’ve asked it before, and you’re talking about it again as we broadcast our Taleban show. Who, if anyone, should be banned from the programme ?

36 Responses to “Is there anyone we shouldn’t talk to?”

  1. 1 Brett
    November 13, 2008 at 19:29

    Sure, make your show bland, generic, and un-informative. Limit who you talk to because some people may get a little upset. A news story is a news story, do you not take it because people might get upset? It is your duty as a news organization to bring together thoughts and issues around the world. Congrats for not being a censored and bland organization by turning down this opportunity to allow listeners to have their questions answered.
    Those who have a problem with it, the radio dial is most likely within reach, turn it counter-clockwise or press the ‘down’ button if its digital.

  2. 2 Lakshmi
    November 13, 2008 at 19:32

    Absolutely not — you should NOT ban anyone on your program. Journalism itself is the act of discussing ALL points of view, regardless of anyone’s beliefs on morality of the views. Indeed, if you did NOT interview the Taleban and others, you would not be doing your duty as impartial journalists.

    -Lakshmi from Illinois, United States

  3. 3 Brett
    November 13, 2008 at 19:33

    Furthermore, look, user generated questions and answeres have been aired all day on World Service NEWS. Tell me that these are irrelevant or not important questions and answers.

  4. 4 Ross in Portland
    November 13, 2008 at 19:44

    I have to thank you for your interview with the Taliban representative. I happen to think that he is lying through his teeth, trying to put a false, more positive face out to the world, but this is what WHYS’s format is for: allowing the people of the world to hear differing opinions and ideas, regardless of their popularity.

  5. 5 Robert
    November 13, 2008 at 19:45

    No group should ever be banned from your show. Individuals who ignore others and are rude to guest yes, but a group as a whole should not be censored. What I like about your show is the ability to listen to opinions other than my own. It forces me to think and to truly look at myself closely to understand why I hold those views and if they are correct.

  6. 6 Grayson
    November 13, 2008 at 19:55

    I think that we should listen to all sides but it seemed that no group should come to power with little to no declaration of its intent. But thank you for the interview

  7. 7 Steve
    November 13, 2008 at 19:57

    So when’s the show on how to drug women so you can rape them if no topic is off limits?

    It’s funny, you can’t say the “F” word, but you can have a terrorist on the show.

  8. 8 Jennifer
    November 13, 2008 at 19:59

    Yes, but I am not running the show so it’s not my call! I think that topics such as talking to the Taliban are right up the ally of the majority of your listeners. 🙂 I thought it was interesting to consider at first the thought of speaking to the Taliban to see what they are all about. However, then I thought about if it were me trying to ask questions myself; what might happen to me. It made me less than enthused to know that this program was furthering that agenda in any way. Some people can discern truth from lies but some people might not see evasiveness or even critically analyze what a spokesperson says. That says nothing of misinterpretation.

    Often this show is homogeneous with far more liberal minded people than horrible conservatives. In my opinion, that makes it bland, uninformative, and not running with the correct facts at some times. One such instance was the discussion on sex education which stated that Sarah Palin endorsed abstinence only sex education. That wasn’t true! 😉 😀 There is censorship and often it’s the few stuffshirts who are silenced because they aren’t going in the same direction as everyone else. I’ve learned that bias occurs from all around-the tippy top and even below.

  9. 9 Alastair Johns
    November 13, 2008 at 20:07

    Communication of information (however it’s spun) from ALL sides is essential for resolution of any conflict (and the functioning of any real democracy or that matter)

    The BBC at it’s best!

    Alastair Johns
    San Francisco, CA

  10. November 13, 2008 at 20:11

    No! BBC you are journalist and show reports news and should always be open to speaking with everyone. However, despite my disapprove of this conversation, I acknowledge they need to be had. Next time, however, you should definitely not handle them with “kid gloves”. The taliban terrorize women and viciously beat people to death and blow themselves up, they can handle “tough” questions.

    Many of us were not going to be happy about discussions with the Taliban, because it was personal and it was like punching us in the gut.

  11. 11 adam in portland
    November 13, 2008 at 20:12

    I’d like to ban people who waste time self agrandizing and preaching but outside of that no specific individuals should be prohibited from using this forum/show as long as they are polite. Thanks for all the hard work that went into the first WHYS Taliban interaction. No easy trick I’m sure.

    adam in portland

  12. 12 Gudmundur (Iceland)
    November 13, 2008 at 20:35

    Nobody should be banned from the show because of their agenda or views – not even evil.
    I recently watched Shaking hands with the devil: Samantha Power on TED.com
    It’s really interesting and is very relevant to this discussion, as she tells the story of Sergio Vieira de Mello a UN diploma whose job it was to talk to evil and try and bring safety to the people living with evil in their land.

    Her message is essentially that you should always enter the room to debate with evil, not forgetting your morals but also not try to make empty threats against evil.

  13. November 13, 2008 at 20:37

    Is there anyone we shouldn’t talk to?

    Sarah Palin!!

  14. November 13, 2008 at 20:59

    No one should be banned from talking on WHYS, that is the purpose of the show. To engage everyone from all walks of life concerning today’s issues.

  15. 15 Steve in Canada
    November 13, 2008 at 21:48

    Hi there,

    This debate piqued my interest because it ties directly into a project I’m working on at University.

    I am a student in London, Ontario, Canada working on a project for a Master of Arts in Journalism program at the University of Western Ontario.

    The subject is on citizen journalism. Who are they and why do they do it?

    Are their citizen journalism lives/online lives different than their regular lives?

    What is the motivation?

    Why is it important to tell their stories?

    This debate on who should be allowed to speak, ask questions, be in the news in general seems to be exactly what we’re looking at.

    If you would like to contribute, or know someone I should contact, please email me at sbull6@uwo.ca

  16. 16 hotoffthepress
    November 13, 2008 at 22:26

    Why do you ask the question? As first described in this post — http://bobmccarty.com/2008/10/31/bbc-radio-offers-chance-to-talk-to-the-taliban/ , my contribution to this discussion with the Taliban was “moderated” (i.e., “deleted”) within minutes of it being posted. Not politically correct, I suppose. I do, however, hold a journalism degree and have worked in the field for years. Do you chaps at the BBC have journalism degrees or social worker certificates?

  17. November 13, 2008 at 23:37

    No! If you start limiting your selection of guests, where does it stop? At the risk of offending many people I suppose there must be a consideration to determine if the person(s) interviewed are obnoxious – and there I have already ammended my original “No!” I suppose some discretion is important, I would be offended by: say a child rapist, a MAFIA member, a Rebublican . . . Heh Heh
    John – Oregon

  18. November 13, 2008 at 23:58

    I start a ‘Be Friends’ action.
    Sounds complicated, but it’s quite simple really.
    Better than Peace.

    Sometimes friends may not get on, sometimes they argue, sometimes they are not brothers or sisters and sometimes not the same colour.

    Sometimes ‘peace’ is not involved; peace and quiet from a friend?! Sometimes! But a friend is a friend.

    So, there you go. It’s a topic:

    Why not all be friends?

    Very simple.
    Could end all wars if it caught on.

    You don’t rip off your friends, as for killing them… well not really.

    This ‘peace’ stuff seems not only unattainable, but undesirable. Who wants peace when you can have friends. And maybe noisy ones!

    Sounds like fun to me.

    So the question is:
    Why can we not be friends?


  19. 19 Evan
    November 14, 2008 at 00:08

    The idea that anyone should be banned from publicly expressing their point of view is contradictory to the idea of freedom. While obviously, the Taleban spokesman was not at all forthcoming about the Taleban’s goals beyond regaining power, there is no reason why they shouldn’t have an opportunity to tell us.

    And I must reiterate the importance of realizing that the Taleban IS NOT Al Queada. They did NOT perpetrate the 9/11 attack, but there is little doubt that Al Queda was operating in Taleban controlled territory with the Taleban’s knowledge, and THAT is why we, as a nation, felt justified in our invasion of Afghanistan.

  20. 20 selena in Canada
    November 14, 2008 at 00:32

    If we truly wish to make the world a better place, we must talk to everyone.

    If we are simply paying the usual lip service, I guess most organizations will continue to bow down to people who taunt and shout the loudest, no matter where they happen to be.

    Against all odds, the BBC shone a ray of hope today. This ray of hope was especially poignant because of the grace of the interviewer Frank Gardner.

  21. 21 roebert
    November 14, 2008 at 00:51

    No-one had the slightest problem with WHYS talking to the Chinese, who have kept up an horrendous oppression of the Tibetan people for 60 years now. The horror stories from Tibet are really worse than what we’ve seen in Afghanistan, especially if you go into the records. But everyone talks to the Chinese, buys their products, conducts big business with them, and begs to have them on air as often as they will condescend to grant an interview.

    But talk to the Taleban, and there’s all sorts of hell to pay, and a whole discussion on who should not be talked to.

    My advice: talk to no-one, and pretty soon everyone will be begging you to talk to anyone at all.

  22. 22 Ramesh
    November 14, 2008 at 02:28

    I, very much, appreciate the news item on BBC website about the taleban interview. The news item allayed my apprehensions that BBC would merely report what Talebans said there by giving them to propagate their views. But, to my surprise, BBC has made its own observations. This is something I really wanted to see when such controversial people use BBC to express their views.

  23. 23 VictorK
    November 14, 2008 at 08:55

    Roebert put it well.

    I’d like WHYS to be a little more aware of the occasional unconscious bias (I don’t think it’s worse than that) that affects who you have on the show.

    There are some subjects where the assumption seems to be that only one acceptable view exists and that the only room for debate is how best to give practical effect to that view. Your programme about diversity was a case in point: debating diversity from several viewpoints that differed only in their enthusiasm for the idea (including the guy who wanted it imposed on foreign countries through military force).

    There is also the danger that though certain views will be represented, it will be by people who are uninformed or who do not argue their position cogently. You have done this several times by putting on semi-hysterical and paranoid ranters as suitable exponents of the black point of view. I sometimes think (but this may be my bias) that you don’t always do justice to the non-liberal and conservative point of view in your selection of people to speak for these positions (a debate about illegal Hispanic immigration into the US that didn’t include someone from the Vdare journalists’ collective would make me wonder – if I know about Vdare then the BBC must too, surely?).

    @Hotofthepress: I followed your link to see the comment that you wailed about WHYS censoring. I think the technical term to explain WHYS’s deletion is that your post was ‘bonkers’. When I was a moderator, despite having little liking for Obama and not being a liberal by any stretch of the imagination, I wouldn’t have thought twice about removing such an extravagantly absurd comment as yours. Be serious.

  24. 24 Marcel from Belgium
    November 14, 2008 at 09:01

    It was unique to invite a Taliban spokesperson onto WHYS.
    There will be (very emotional) positive and negative responses, but anybody gets(and should get) a chance to speak on WHYS. That is what the program is all about, every day. That is what makes the show so special.

    I listen almost everyday. Every single day there are always a few people with opinions, ideas, believes that I don’t agree with. But everybody get the chance and that’s what makes the show so interesting and we can learn a lot more from that. I have called in several times and I was amazed how easy it is to get your opinion heard.
    Thank you BBC.

  25. November 14, 2008 at 10:10

    Taliban Checked Afghan Poppy Cultivation!
    TEHRAN – The Taliban spokesman said his group was not in control of all of Afghanistan but only 55%. Does Taliban have territorial ambitions?
    If Taliban is primarily a dedicated, faithful Muslim unit, it shouldn’t have territorial ambitions.
    Does it originate in Pakistan?
    What are the implications for Iran and Gulf littoral states if Taliban rule Afghanistan?
    What is to happen to 4.5 million Afghan refugees currently in Iran and Pakistan if Taliban conquer Afghanistan?

  26. November 14, 2008 at 10:15

    i believe as a human being,everyone has a democratic right to choose who to speak to.But if you feel like the person you are talking to may cause emotional injury to you then why talk to him or her?

  27. November 14, 2008 at 10:36

    Of course there shouldn’t be anyone “off limits”. Having somebody on your programme in no way implies support for their views–indeed I doubt the Taliban made any friends last night with their obvious lies and misdirection. However, even if the old advice of “know thy enemy” applies then I at least feel I know the Taliban better.

    Somebody last night used the example (repeatedly! 🙂 ) of having a paedophile on WHYS. Actually, didn’t you have a paedophile (or at least somebody advocating under-age sex) a few months ago? As I recall, his ability to rationalise his sexual preference was worrying and spine chilling. He certainly won no friends for paedophiles but his presence on the show made my views on the topic more informed.

    The Taliban show (which I started listening to even before my morning tea today!) was similar.

    Keep up the good–if controversial–work.

  28. 28 selena in Canada
    November 14, 2008 at 10:57


    You, as a person, can choose to whom you wish to speak.

    The BBC, as a public service, should present all sides.

    Otherwise, the BBC would be bowing down to the wishes of those who shouts the loudest or who wield the biggest stick. Is that freedom?

    If, you, as a person, do not wish to listen, you are free to choose not to listen. That is your freedom.

    But if I wish to listen, you should not have the power to prevent me from hearing, on public radio, the views of those you do not like.

    It is as simple as that, isn’t it? 🙂

  29. 29 Nelson Isibor
    November 14, 2008 at 14:03

    The BBC should be able to talk to any one plain and simple provided their contributions don’t contravene the contributors charter. Why all the fuss about this?

  30. 30 John in Salem
    November 14, 2008 at 14:46

    You should be free to have anyone you like on the show just as I should be free to listen to something else if I don’t like your choice.

  31. November 14, 2008 at 15:09

    I wouldn’t talk to Jesus. “Nut Job” that one. Did you know he boast that when somebody hits you, that you are just supposed to ignore it?! He said you should give YOUR hard earned money to a bum on the street corner. He is such a liberal hippie. Instead of “pre-emptively striking” he said we should treat people the way we want to be treated. Good luck keeping the terrorist from doing what terrorist do with that kind of attitude there buddy. His whole doctrine of tolerance, forgiveness, and love will only poison the minds of anybody who listens to him. Do not talk to the leader of Christianity what ever you do!!

  32. 32 DENNIS@OCC
    November 14, 2008 at 15:17

    Yes, there many people that we should not talk too!

  33. November 14, 2008 at 15:42

    Hi WHYSers!

    I cannot think of anyone who you should not talk to, at least not immediately. It it is a credible news story then by all means let us hear what they have to say. Ignorance and ignoring people is almost a form of censorship, in my view. All kinds of dangerous things can happen when people who are ignored decide to become even more subversive. Inclusivity is useful, I think, for the multi-perspectival news that Robert (?) Ganns talks about.

  34. 34 Shakhoor Rehman
    November 15, 2008 at 17:00

    I find this a very curious question. It was on the World Service that I first heard that the Coalition were talking to the Taliban in Afghanistan and Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Why should anyone be considered less important than the Coalition, Taliban or Al-Qaeda? The history of the world is full of examples of sworn enemies jabbering to each other in the shadows. This century is no different except that instead of everybody talking about those jabberings in private, today it is more public.

  35. 35 Sam
    November 17, 2008 at 11:56

    That is an interesting question. I think it depends. If your talk affects other people’s lives in negative way, you must avoid it. and If not, it would be fine. As far as Taliban idealogy is concerned, I think that since the majority of afghans if not all, do not like the Taliban and conceive them as terrorist fundemantalist organization, thus, you should avoid talking to them because through media, they can get more powerful and therefore can further continue killing and murdering the innocent civilians.

    Additionaly, as far as I know, there are some elements of the Taliban who are moderate and open minded and these folks are supportive of peace process and reconciliation in Afghanistan. If you talk to such kinds of people, it may be effective to bring peace and BBC may play a good role for this end. Finally, I think that people who cut the people’s heads off are not negotiable. They are evil minded and thus should be fought with.

    So, I think you should have a goal whom to talk and for what purpose!!!

  36. 36 Tilak Pokharel
    November 18, 2008 at 13:59

    You talk. But, my point is don’t allow some individuals or organisations, who have been deemed evil by the majority, to use you as a platform to advertise their propaganda.

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