Danny Baker’s ‘Royal baby chimp’ tweet was silly - sacking him was idiotic

PUBLISHED: 17:32 09 May 2019 | UPDATED: 09:21 10 May 2019

Danny Baker     Photo: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

Danny Baker Photo: Philip Toscano/PA Wire


Here we go again.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex with their baby son, who they have called Archie. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA WireThe Duke and Duchess of Sussex with their baby son, who they have called Archie. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

This time it's Danny Baker who finds himself sacrificed on the altar of over-zealous, right-on, self-righteous, political correctness (gone mad, of course).

Baker is an intelligent, eloquent, funny, thoughtful and hugely entertaining broadcaster, whose 5 Live show is superb. He has been a provocative and stimulating TV and radio presence for decades.

One tweet later and he is sacked by the BBC.

Not a nasty tweet, not a racist tweet, not a deliberately offensive tweet, not obscene, not cruel, not a problem…except to the hand-wringers.

Yes, tweeting an image of a couple holding hands with a chimpanzee dressed in clothes with the caption: "Royal Baby leaves hospital" was silly and careless. Baker should've known better - something that he realised as soon as someone pointed out the potential racist connotations.

Down came the tweet, out went a series of heartfelt and genuine apologies - and into action sprang the BBC thought police.

With spectacular hypocrisy, the same organisation that has failed to fully correct a disgraceful disparity in pay between some of its top male and female stars sacks one of its best broadcasters for carelessly tweeting something wrongly interpreted as racist, swiftly deleting it, and apologising repeatedly.

Everyone knows the tweet was not racist, was not intended to be racist and was instead meant to be a joke about the Royal baby's arrival being a circus.

Maybe that's why the clowns were sent in to deal with it.

Once the kangaroo court was convened, probably comprising three grey suits who are scared of their own shadows, the decision was never in doubt: sack him to appease the Gods of Intolerant Tolerance.

For this is not about tackling racism, it's about being holier-than-thou.

I think it undermines efforts to drive out discrimination, by creating an out-of-proportion reaction to something trivial. Then, when real, intended racism and discrimination occurs, there's nowhere left to go.

It's a bit "cry wolf!"

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On a simple level, this decision also sets a bad example.

Parents try to teach their children that when they do something wrong, they can be forgiven if they say "sorry" and try not to do it again.

In the adult world, we are increasingly being shown that, even when an "offence" is unintended, it is seen as unforgiveable and results in a prolonged witch hunt.

Baker is on the ducking stool this time, but he won't be the last victim of the not-really-hate campaign.

Maybe you don't care. Maybe you think that even unintentional non-racism that can be interpreted at a stretch as slightly racist (if you think about it for long enough) should feel the full force of the PC pack.

But if we want interesting, challenging, edgy broadcasters, we have to accept that it comes with the odd slip of the tongue or social media faux-pas.

The alternative is terrifying - a world where all radio sounds like Radio Two, with DJs being nice to everybody, staging jollity with their posse, reading out "I think you're great" letters from listeners, and playing middle-of-the-road songs.

Personally, I'd rather eat my feet than listen to Steve Wright's factoids, bookended by The Lighthouse Family and Coldplay.

Listeners, welcome to Radio Vanilla and Magnolia FM, brought to you by the Bland Broadcasting Corporation.

That's what we will end up with across the board - no thoughts provoked, no risks taken, no opinions given, no imagination, no creativity.

People will be so afraid of saying something that they'll say nothing.

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