Friday, 25 November 2011

Youtube, a dog in Richmond Park, and the name of the Lord

Youtube is a wonderful phenomenon, but it does seem to have a certain lack of accountability. Like blogging, one can post what one likes - and that leaves it open to the positive aspects of a freedom that empowers ordinary users and to the abuse that can also result from that freedom.

This video clip is an example: Fenton the Dog (Original). This video seems to have been reposted in a number of different versions by different people - so I do not know whether the claim of this version to be the original is true or not. This link will take you to the response page I got to a search on Youtube, and you will be able to see the numbers of views of various re-posts of the video. The BBC report on the incident is here, and, if you compare it to the video clip to which it refers, you will notice the editing.

But what I object to is the three-fold utterance of "Oh, Jesus Christ" - that is, a three-fold taking of the name of the Lord in vain. I think I would have objected to hearing it uttered if I had been there as the incident took place, though I might have had some understanding of the context and circumstances that would have mitigated my degree of offense.

But that a video of the incident is posted to Youtube, that it goes "viral", and no-one sees a problem with viewing and propagating it, removes any sense of mitigation. For those with a Christian conviction, this video is offensive. If the remarks had been racist or homophobic in nature, the outcry at their being posted would be quite deafening. Such remarks would have been clearly seen as discriminatory and, quite possibly, as promoting hatred. So why is this video not seen as offensive?

I think there are three guilty parties here. Firstly, and perhaps primarily, those who have posted (and re-posted) the video clip. They should remove it. Secondly, Youtube. They should not be willing to host a video clip that is offensive in this way, and should remove it. And they do not have a category under their "flag as inappropriate" option that allows for this situation - the nearest is "promotes hatred or violence". The third guilty party are all those who are watching the video and finding it amusing.

Perhaps we should all go over and start hitting the "I dislike" button as a way of making the point!

The BBC report deserves some credit for not reproducing the language that gives offense to those of Christian conviction. But it is interesting that the "story" for their report is the risk presented to the deer by dogs that might chase them in the park and not the civil rights of Christian believers!

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