Audio 

Tolerating the intolerant in the moral maze

On BBC Radio’s Moral Maze this week, we tackled the issue behind the controversy in Birmingham where mainly Muslim parents have been picketing a primary school in protest at its policy of teaching children about gay families. The city council has now applied for a permanent ban on protests at the school gates. The parents have been accused of bigotry and intolerance towards gay people; the school has been accused of bigotry and intolerance towards people with traditional religious attitudes. The row illustrates a sharp dilemma for a liberal society:…

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Audio 

Anger in the moral maze

I appeared on the first of the new series of BBC Radio’s Moral Maze to discuss the morality of anger. With outrage and concern over over the language being used in today’s acrimonious political debates, we discussed whether anger can ever be of value or whether it invariably leads to bad consequences. It can be constructive if it’s harnessed to redress an injustice, but what if this objective is actually fuelled by the destructive desire for revenge? Is there a moral distinction between anger expressed in solidarity with the oppressed…

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Audio 

Antisemitism in the moral maze

On BBC Radio’s Moral Maze this week, we discussed antisemitism. With the Equality and Human Rights Commission now investigating the Labour party for racism over the hundreds of examples of antisemitism by its members and the party’s apparent refusal to deal with these properly, the programme asked the more fundamental questions. What exactly is antisemitism? Can it be differentiated from anti-Zionism? Is antisemitism just one of many forms of racism or is it a uniquely pernicious prejudice? I discussed this with my fellow-panellists Matthew Taylor, Mona Siddiqui and Tim Stanley.…

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fashion Audio 

The fashion of clothing in the moral maze

On BbC Radio’s Moral Maze this week, we discussed the morality of fashion. What, you didn’t know fashion was a moral issue? Tsk! According to designer-of-clothing-for-the-fabulously-rich Stella McCartney, we shouldn’t wash or dry-clean our clothes in order to protect the environment. Some performers at this year’s Glastonbury festival denounced “throwaway fashion” and are encouraging fans to buy their outfits second-hand (or “pre-cherished”). Is so-cheap-you-can-chuck-it clothing, or the sweatshop conditions in which some of it is produced, proof that capitalism is rotten to the last fibre? Or is this all literally…

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Audio 

Comedy and responsibility in the moral maze

In the wake of comedian Jo Brand’s joke about throwing battery acid over Nigel Farage, my fellow panellists and I discussed comedy on this week’s edition of BBC Radio’s Moral Maze. Should humour have any limits, and if so where should these be drawn? Some people worry that our society is now far too quick to take offence and to shut down any expression they don’t like. Giving offence, after all, never did anyone any harm. But are some expressions likely to cause actual harm to be done? Does humour…

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fashion Audio Britain 

Drugs and hypocrisy in the moral maze

On BBC Radio 4’s Moral Maze last night, we discussed hypocrisy in the wake of Michael Gove’s admission that he had used cocaine on a number of occasions some two decades ago. Since many leading politicians have admitted using illegal drugs at some stage in their lives, should they all be condemned? Isn’t this to set the bar of behaviour impossibly high? Or is it only right that any person in a position of authority who has shown a contempt for the law should suffer the consequences? And is hypocrisy…

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Audio 

In the Moral Maze with art and the transgressive artist

On BBC RAdio’s The Moral Maze this week, Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor, Anne McElvoy and I discussed art and the artist. Can their moral worth be separated? Our peg was “Leaving Neverland”, a two-part TV documentary which detailed child sex abuse claims against the singer Michael Jackson (whether Jackson’s music can be termed “art” is debatable, but anyway). The renewed allegations have prompted a debate about whether we should stop listening to his music. Some believe a boycott takes an important moral stand against the late singer’s alleged crimes. To…

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fashion Audio 

Decolonising the curriculum in the moral maze

A report commissioned by the Office for Students has recommended that universities should “decolonise” the curriculum to end the dominance of western values and beliefs, which “position anything non-European and not white as inferior.” The “decolonisers’” argument is that a “white” curriculum marginalises minority writers and alienates minority students, contributing to their low representation and attainment in higher education. Some university departments have been reassessing their reading lists accordingly. Critics warn, however, that this promotes tokenism, presenting the works of black or female thinkers as being of equal worth merely…

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fashion Audio 

The moral maze of the British constitution

BBC Radio’s Moral Maze, on which I am a regular panellist, started its new run last night with a discussion about the moral duty of MPs. With the Brexit crisis setting government against parliament and parliament against the people, we asked whether the principal duty of MPs was to their constituents or to their conscience, and whether sovereignty lay with parliament or the people. Is the British constitution currently working as it should, or are MPs trying to subvert it – and is it ever going to be the same…

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fashion Israel 

A climate of suspicion, or prudent defence against terror?

A climate of suspicion, or prudent defence against terror? MI5 is to declassify and share information on UK citizens suspected of having terrorist sympathies. “Key” biographical data on potentially hundreds of people will be given to neighbourhood police, councils and other public agencies such as the Probation Service and the Charity Commission. Is this only prudent in the interests of national security, or does it needlessly compromise privacy and freedom? I discussed this on BBC Radio’s Moral Maze this week with fellow-panellists Giles Fraser, Claire Fox and Tim Stanley. Our…

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