For decades the late Mrs Whitehouse was the self-appointed moral watchdog of Britain. She saw television as the vanguard of the so-called permissive society of the Sixties, bringing violence, sex and bad language into the living rooms of
The puritanical campaigner warned of the de-sensitising effect of showing violence and gratuitous sex, saying it would create a more violent and sexualised society.
But Dame Joan was part of the 1960s generation who thought the old guard were foolish prudes.
Now, however, writing in Radio Times, the presenter said: The liberal mood back in the 60s was that sex was pleasurable and wholesome and shouldn't be seen as dirty and wicked. The Pill allowed women to make choices for themselves. Of course,
that meant the risk of making the wrong choice. But we all hoped girls would grow to handle the new freedoms wisely.
Then everything came to be about money: so now sex is about money, too. Why else sexualise the clothes of little girls, run TV channels of naked wives, have sex magazines edging out the serious stuff on newsagents shelves? It's money that's
corrupted us and women are being used and are even collaborating. Liberal: Joan Bakewell pictured in the Sixties
I never thought I would hear myself say as much, but I'm with Mrs Whitehouse on this one.
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Comment: Was Mary Whitehouse right all along?
7th June 2010. See article
by William Rees-Mogg
One belief that I would share, both with Whitehouse and with Ms Bakewell, is that the media
have a unique role in shaping the culture of society. Many fear that our culture is falling apart. They look at our society and see a series of social epidemics. Some of these, such as 24-hour drinking, have been the result of legislation, but
many seem to have been self-generating, under the influence of media that do not recognise the social responsibilities of power.
These epidemics of violence, drugs, divorce, abortion, porn and debt have made Britain a less secure and less stable society, harder to live in, less attractive and much harder for the lives of children.
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Comment: Epidemics of Bollox
8th June 2010 from David
So rees-Mogg blames our troubles on epidemics of violence, drugs, divorce, abortion, porn and debt
One of these things is not like the others. Porn, that is, which is obviously fictional - you tend not to bump into threesomes on the average high street.
Abortion's not like the rest either, and certainly isn't a factor on society.
Violence, drugs, divorce and debt. Ah. There we go. You'll probably find that two of those tend to follow on from the other two, neither of which are caused by porn, action movies, or swearing on TV...
Comment: In Defence of Mary Whitehouse
10th June 2010. See article
by Mary Kenny
Mary Whitehouse has often been represented as prejudiced,
intolerant and homophobic. Yet her attitudes were rather archaic than malicious. She believed, like Sir John Reith in the 1920s and 1930s, that it was the duty of the BBC to edify the nation, rather than to roll back the boundaries of
decency. Similarly, she attacked the Royal National Theatre for producing a play like The Romans in Britain , which included a scene of anal rape, which Sir Peter Hall rather pompously said was necessary to symbolise the penetration of
Britain by Imperial Rome.
She claimed repeatedly that she was not hostile to homosexuals; she was unable, however, to accept that they were morally equivalent to heterosexuals. Equally, she protested against premarital intercourse and the sexual
exploitation of children. In public entertainment she crusaded against violence, rape, full-frontal nudity, coarse language, and smoking and drinking.
Mrs Whitehouse did indeed protest too much; she saw slights against decency in everything, and especially took personally insults against Jesus Christ. Some of her complaints were just silly: she criticised a Beatles song in
the Magical Mystery Tour because it contained the line You've been a naughty girl, you let your knickers down . She deprecated the innuendo in the sitcom It Ain't Half Hot Mum : and thought Top of the Pops anti-authority
. She disliked Cathy Come Home because she thought it Left-wing propaganda, which she thought all part of the BBC's agenda.
Yet despite her over-statement and misjudged targets Mary Whitehouse was a significant figure. Some of her battles were justified, even prophetic.
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