fre spch nt so gr8

Despite yesterday’s 200 words, I have to confess I’m wary of text feedback on current affairs programmes.

Time was, news editors occasionally commissioned a vox pop to get a quick sampling of public opinion on an issue.

For a complex debate like the Lisbon treaty, with implications for economic policy, sovereignty, and neutrality, a vox pop gives a quick sampling of what the public think, which frames a debate between the opposing sides.

The vox pop shows which questions have to be asked. It doesn’t answer them.

Now, with instant email access, radio listeners can give their feedback immediately.

Radio producers are eager to exploit the technology, so that for instance a politician can be presented with a comment from a member of the public that might not have occurred to the interviewer.

And with SMS texting, you don’t even need a computer.

Naturally, at the end of the show, the presenter goes through the audience feedback.

The trouble is, u cnt sy mch w/txt.

In a ten or twenty minute interview, a lot of ground can be covered.

With an SMS, all you get is headline reaction.

My worry is that it just ends up cheapening the debate.

The Wearing Of The Green

Pat Kenny hosted a discussion on school uniforms and the hijab today.

The most interesting part of such discussions is often the feedback from listeners.

There were a few unusual opinions, to say the least.

There’s something odd about a country that lived the through penal laws getting hot under the collar about others who insist on religious expression.

More disturbing though is the ‘let them go back where they came from’ riposte in many of the emails to the programme.

But the most peculiar argument goes something like ‘crucifixes are banned in Saudi Arabia, so it’s fair play’.

Since when did we take lessons in public policy from theocratic dictatorships?

Several contributors noted with approval the French approach, which is to ban the hijab.

The trouble is, of course, the French ban all religious expression in their schools, which are strictly secular.

Not only that, they have done so since Napoleon set up the system two centuries ago.

In a country where the churches control 99% of primary schools, I can’t see that going down too well once the full consequences sink in.

As the old joke has it, if I was going there, I wouldn’t start from here.