Just a minor quibble.
I did several radio interviews last week and I noticed that I kept being introduced with the same words – later I discovered that they came, basically from this BBC news story by Claire Marshall.
The introduction on a series of BBC local radio stations often started by saying that animal rights activists were saying one thing and countryside groups were saying something different.
This is misleading, but is just the type of thing that shooters say, because those opposing driven grouse shooting or at least wanting change are not all animal rights activists (see Chris Packham saying so a week earlier at Rainham Marshes Hen Harrier Day). The term ‘animal rights activist’ does not apply to me – and I started the petition! I know a few animal rights activists who wouldn’t welcome me being counted in their number.
And countryside groups? The Caravan Club? The Ramblers? The RSPB?
What was done here, I’m not saying deliberately, was to define one side of the argument as a small group of agitators and the other side of the debate as a broad church of different interests. Whereas I think we can argue about whether it is the opposite way around.
I think the RSPB and Green Party, and the rest of us deserve to be called conservationists and/or environmentalists or something which encompasses our much broader concerns. Whereas the countryside groups are actually ‘killing things in the countryside groups’ in the main. It was wrong, and it gave a false impression of the truth.
I winced once or twice when I heard this but time on the radio is precious and you can’t spend all your time correcting the BBC’s errors, but when Radio Leeds described the Hebden Bridge protestors as animal rights activists (they did!) I did say ‘Hang on – these people are protesting against their homes and businesses being flooded because of unsustainable grouse moor management. That’s not an animal right issue’ (or something like that) and the presenter, who would just have been reading out the script, took it very well and we had an excellent chat about the issues after that.
Words are important as they frame the discussion and the thoughts we have. The BBC did a poor job of choosing the right words for this issue at the end of last week – they used the words favoured by the Countryside Alliance rather than the ones that would have been accurate.
We still have an e-petition that is open to animal rights activists to sign, and anyone else – there are over 108,000 of us – that’s pretty active!