Hating John Greyson
Film maker John Greyson was on the show this morning to talk about his arrest and detention in Egypt. He used a couple of phrases that I knew would ring alarm bells for a small portion of listeners but I decided to let it pass. Here's why.
First, for those who don't spend a lot of time sweating the Israeli Palestinian conflict you can be forgiven for not even noticing what he said. But I did hear from two people, one a condescending bore and the other a very considerate and regular listener who were worried that Greyson had been allowed to slip what they consider propaganda onto our airwaves. They objected to Greyson describing Gaza as "occupied" and for his referencing Israel’s military actions against the territory last year as a "war on Gaza". Those who support Israel will argue that Gaza isn't occupied it's merely surrounded and they will tell you Israel wasn't warring against Gaza it was defending itself from an onslaught of missiles.
I get the subtleties and if Greyson had been in my studio to debate the Israeli Palestinian conflict it might have been worth flagging. But he wasn't. He was there to talk about having been arrested and what it was like to spend six weeks in an Egyptian jail. Yes I could have disputed his phrasing but then we would have ended up in a debate about Israel which quite frankly, we don't do on my show because no-one needs to argue a 75 year old geopolitical minefield over breakfast or on the way to the office.
There are certain issues where people are going to be hypersensitive and there is no winning. If I talk about Sri Lanka's massacre of Tamils I get e-mails from people telling me what horrible terrorists the Tamils are. If I dare say "Polish death camp" I get angry e-mails complaining that there were no Polish death camps, only Nazi camps located in Poland. And yes, I still get angry e-mails from Turks if I mention the hundred year old Armenian massacre.
If it's any comfort to those who hate Greyson's politics I have also declined to engage guests on the show (including a weekly contributor) who routinely frame the issue from the complete other perspective. I don't think anyone listening to my show or any other has ever changed their mind on Isreal-Palestine based on the mere mention of a couple of phrases.
I mentioned during my conversation with Greyson (who taught me film direction for those who want full disclosure) that there are plenty of people who hate his guts and think he got what he deserved. All I can say is that either you're against arbitrary detention and in favor of free speech or you’re not.
I don't care what someone's politics are. I'm for freedom.