An Aesop’s Fable
Posted on June 26th, 2011

Dr Bandula Kothalawala London

Everyone seems to have contributed his or her two pennies’ worth to the debate on the C4 “documentary”.

Prime Minister David Cameron and FCO Minister Alistair Burt lost no time in expressing their shock and horror over the alleged atrocities and even issued an “ultimatum” based, apparently, on what they have heard about the contents of the C4 “documentary.” Perhaps, one should not be too harsh on the lack of judgement or discernment of the current incumbent at 10 Downing Street. After all, one of his predecessors did not hesitate to embark on a wild goose chase for weapons of mass destruction based on faked material and invaded a sovereign state causing the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent lives and massive destruction of infrastructure.  

Nevertheless, the two gentlemen concerned seem to suffer from a rare, albeit, not an entirely uncommon, form of selective reaction syndrome, the sufferers of which are only capable of reacting to what suits them best in a given situation. For instance, the duo had been discreetly silent on the horrific real images of innocent men, women and children slaughtered in recent NATO bombings in Libya or Afghanistan splashed across the globe. Neither the mismatch of dates nor the faulty synchronisation of sound and image in some of the footage has shaken their faith in the apparently faked material. They gleefully ignore the fact that a good part of the footage had already been peddled on the internet well before it was shown as new footage. Moreover, C4 seems to have gone hi-tech in a big way and appears to have mastered stem-cell technology. At least, one of the footages shown on C4 recently is longer than its own earlier version, suggesting successful ground-breaking video regeneration. That the dead appeared to move in one of the earlier footages cuts no ice with government ministers. As for the opposition, it needs little persuasion. Many have long been fed by sections of the Diaspora on the sops generously dipped in the prejudice against Sri Lanka and gradually grown partial to juicy LTTE libations. They are not, in the least, bashful about dancing to LTTE hackneyed tunes, parroting half-digested propaganda, chanting hymns in humble obeisance or wallowing in invectives against Sri Lanka.

That many journalists fake material when they cannot make it and rake in huge sums is no secret to anyone. It strains one’s credulity to suppose that British politicians are unaware of the unethical unorthodox and unscrupulous conduct of the media in Europe. On 16 June 2011, the BBC “”…” doyen of British broadcasting “”…” had to apologise to Primark for a programme on child labour shown on 23 June 2008 which contained doctored footage. It does appear that the BBC, on this occasion, had in its possession, sufficient evidence that the material was faked, although it went ahead with the programme. It took Primark nearly three years to get to the bottom of the matter and extract an apology from the venerable institution.

In July 2008, the much revered Corporation was fined £400,000 for deceiving its viewers by faking winners in no less than eight television and radio competitions. Ofcom – communications regulator in the UK- observed that “In some cases the production team had run competitions in the full knowledge that the audience stood no chance of winning. In other cases, programmes faced with technical problems made up the names of winners” (see Ofcom Milestones 2007-2008). Some journalists seem to have developed an uncanny and almost incurable penchant for faking news whenever and wherever they feel the need to do so. On 23 November 2010 at 13.00 (lunch time), TF1-a national TV station credited with some 24% of the market share in France “”…” stirred up quite a sensation in dishing out the scenes of a spectacular arrest of two individuals with a Kalashnikov hidden in the boot of a car during a raid ordered by the Interior Ministry in the streets of Marseille. Indeed, this was, by any standards, an amazing scoop, for the TV crew had actually arrived on the scene at least fifteen minutes after the event, but, had no qualms about reconstructing the entire episode and telecasting it as actual footage!  

In July 2008, Bear Grylls, a British adventurer in Born Survivor “”…” one of C4’s flagship programmes – apologised for misleading the viewers. He had spent time in a motel while claiming in his programme that he was stranded in the wild! On 4 February 1999, C4 had to admit that a programme purporting to expose the life of rent boys in Glasgow contained faked footage. C4 had strenuously denied allegations of fakery in September 1997 when in fact the programme contained scenes in which some members of its production team had acted as “clients”! C4 was fined £150,000 for using doctored images in the programme. In 1998, Carlton Communications was fined £2m for faked scenes in a documentary on Colombian drug cartels.

In July 2010, British Petroleum had to apologise for using Photoshop software to doctor the images from its command centre. In this instance, photos had been digitally inserted into some frames where there were none. One fine day in 1996, the workers of African origin at a Ford factory in Dagenham (UK) woke up to discover that they were after all of the Caucasian stock and in fact had white faces. Ford had re-touched some company photos depicting its workforce and turned dark-skinned workers into “whites” in an apparent effort to improve its corporate image. The “new pictures” were meant for a promotion campaign in Poland where, according to Ford, the original photographs “did not portray the ethnic mix.”

As I have repeatedly said in my previous contributions to Lankaweb, no fair-minded person will object to any investigation by Sri Lankan authorities to ascertain the facts and act on the findings. However, it is incumbent upon those who make accusations to provide credible evidence which could form the basis of a proper investigation. It is said that the alleged footage was originally made on mobile phones “”…” an assertion vigorously contested by some experts. According to the latest data from the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, there are over 17m mobile phones in use in Sri Lanka. Do Sri Lanka’s detractors expect the Government of Sri Lanka to scrutinize all mobile phone footages in the country? As far as I am aware, there are nearly 200,000 soldiers in the Sri Lankan Army. Do the critics expect the Government to investigate all of them? It is essential that C4 and others provide the original material with some reliable background information. The whole exercise would otherwise degenerate into indulgence in cheap gibes at Sri Lanka’s expense. It is certainly a lucrative pastime for some intellectually bankrupt British politicians and unscrupulous journalists. It reminds me of one of Aesop’s fables “”…” Wolf and the Lamb.

Once upon a time a wolf was lapping at a spring on a hillside. When he looked up, he saw a lamb downstream just beginning to drink water. “There’s my supper,” thought he, “if only I could find some excuse to seize it.” Then he shouted at the lamb, “How dare you muddle the water I am drinking?” “No, Sir,” said the lamb. “If the water is muddy up there, I cannot be the cause of it, for it runs down from you to me.”, argued the lamb. “Well, then,” said the wolf, “Why did you call me bad names this time last year?” “That cannot be true, Sir” said the lamb. “I am only six months old.” “I don’t care,” snarled the wolf, “If it was not you, it was your father;” and with that he pounced upon the poor little lamb and ate her up.

Dr Bandula Kothalawala

London

8 Responses to “An Aesop’s Fable”

  1. Sri Rohana Says:

    Bandula! It is high time Channel 4 and BBC to remind actually who had the most real killing field in entire world. British killing fields were in Europe, North America, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Can British count how many millions humans massacred by them from 15th century to 21st Century in their killing fields? Now those killer’s descendants behave like saints.
    By the name of slavery how many British killing fields were in Africa? By the name of explorations how many Navajo’s (North American) massacred by British. How many Aboriginals massacred in Australia by British criminals? How many Maoris massacred in New Zealand by British? We have seen many British killing fields in Europe during inter-European wars 1914-1918 and 1936-1945 including Dresden killing field.
    If Channel 4 filmed killing fields of British, they need at least 1000-2000 episodes to cover only African killing fields. They better have some more documentary films for Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq too.
    British brutality well documented and every one in this world know how brutal British are but BBC, Channel 4 or British political jokers David Cameron, Alistair Burt and Milliband think no body knows their history. Those jokers cannot hide that they are the cruelest nation ever since human civilization.

  2. Ben_silva Says:

    Excellent article.The main point in most of my articles has been not to end up as a lamb. History has shown that cunning, powerful nations will dominaate the weak. There is a need to learn and move forward. Law of nature is survival of the fittest. Unfortunately, some just shoot the messagenger, without even looking at the message.With globalisation, we may be vlnerable, if we do not understand the system.

  3. AnuD Says:

    Sri Rohana: It is no point of reminding them.

    See, How China beat them in their own game. Japan did the same thing. But, Japan did not have enough man power to hold on to that. USSR wanted to do that. They asked China’s help at that time China did not have.

    We don’t have any of those things. India is also careful because, they have openly said that they would use internal divisions to break india.

    In our case, the only we can beat them is if we are united. See, division caused during the last election was hugh.

    Not only us Burma like countries also have the same problem.

    Only country escaped is Saudi. That is also until they have oil.

  4. Lorenzo Says:

    AnuD,

    No. Even if we are united, they can still do it in many ways.

    1. Create trouble despite being united. United or not is not their concern.
    2. Create new divisions.

    SLs will NEVER be united. This is a fact. SL Tamils will be used by outsiders to create trouble and they cannot escape this. We have to appreciate this fact. We have to save SL within the context of divisions. How can we do that?

    Strengthen pro-SLs and weaken anti-SLs economically and politically.
    Make the north multi-ethnic. Then the anti-SL Tamil elements will have to give up or there is nothing the IC can achieve by following the separatism agenda.

  5. Lorenzo Says:

    Ben,

    You are right. Some of your statements were wrongly interpreted by some people. Had you not used a particular statement which targeted the Buddhist teacher badly, things would have been different.

    SL Buddhists are not Nalanda Buddhists. They know how to fight back. However, the campaign to exploit their compassion is in full gear. We should redicule these sympathy-seekers. Even Prabakaran appealed to Buddhists’ sympathy in his last ever manhole speech. This is a weakness which we MUST cover. SL’s response to Tamil, etc. communal demands should NEVER be governed by Buddhism. Buddhist teachings are too good to be wasted on these racists who intent on destroying Buddhism at any cost. But Buddhist stories provide ample examples how these clowns should be correctly handled.

    e.g. Chulla Paduma Jataka

    I’m no Buddhist. So excuse me if I say anything wrong here. In that story the person who later was born to become Buddha was an ordinary man. A thief and a woman fooled him and exploited him. But he showed no mercy to them beyond what he had to. He spared their lives but chased them away from his kingdom. Of course a Buddha would have treated them differently. But as ordinary laymen we should treat our enemies without undue mercy. There is no contradiction.

  6. Ben_silva Says:

    Lorenzo is right and his suggestions are good. I am a Buddhist and I follow the good things in Buddhism. Sikhs also had a passive belief system. But they learnt that being passive will not help and modified their religion. We need to evolve to survive. We have to be smart and not naive. We have to be economically strong otherwise we end up as second class citizens.
    In general, Buddhism has good concepts on morality, values, mindfulness, meditation, right action, right speech, right livelyhood etc, However Buddhism has shortcomings in dealing with nastiness in the real world, such as dealing with racists , invaders, and those with the power to kill.etc I respect Buddhism as a good Philosophy; We have to be aware that we live in a very competitive , dangerous, nasty world, with imperialists, invaders, terrorists etc, where only the fittest will survive. So being passive and timid won’t help or work. Ancient Indian Gurus wanted to find means of ending suffering. In the modern world, it is generally known that ‘No pain’ ‘No Gain’ When some one is promoting reduction of suffering , I would get concerned. If we attempt to eliminate pain, we may end up with no gain and end up as the poorest of the poor. To be successful one has to put in time and effort and perhaps prepared to under go pain. As for the truth, Christians believe that Bible is the truth, Muslims believe that the Kuran gives the truth, followers of Judaism believe that their scripts tell the truth etc. Followers of various religions believe that their religion tell the truth, just as the good Professors belief that Buddhist Philosophy is the truth. Some believers may be affected by the religion mind virus. To quote from Wikipedia: ref: href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viruses_of_the_Mind” t http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viruses_of_the_Mind “Dawkins suggests that religious belief in the “faith-sufferer” typically shows the following elements: It is impelled by some deep, inner conviction that something is true, or right, or virtuous: a conviction that doesn’t seem to owe anything to evidence or reason, but which, nevertheless, the believer feels as totally compelling and convincing. “ So when a religious believer talks of truth, I begin to question if that persons mind is affected by the religion mind virus. To me, the Prof. appear to be promoting religion and is not adapting to the changing world but still hanging on to 2500 old year theory, that even Indians do not follow any more.If we want to achive any thing and beat off competition, then we have to be prepared to fight our corner and perhaps suffer some inconvenience. We have our country now because our soldiers underwent pain and suffering. If our soldiers did not undergo pain and suffering, we would have lost our country. It does worry me if our academics start preaching us about reduction of suffering. Those Buddhists in India and in the silk route that followed the ‘reduction of suffering ‘ have been killed and; wiped out and I do not want to follow the same route. We need a fighting mentality and a fight back culture rather than ‘end suffering’ mentality, that will make us passive; Surely, we do not want to go back to a system that brought death and destruction to their followers as in Nalanda. After the Nalanda debacle, Buddhism never revived in India. The law of nature is ‘survival of the fittest’and if we find excuses, such as reduce suffering, not to fight our corner, we will not survive. I think academics should tell us how to survive in the modern world rather than preach religion, which well known scientists have indicated that is a thing of the past. Some survival tips are;1. Adapt and change to meet new situations and threats.2. Continuously improve 3. Learn from those who re successful Carry out SWOT analysis and risk analysis.5. Be prepared to overcome difficulties and undergo suffering.(Do not expect to have an easy ride, if you want to win ) 6.Be imaginative, innovative and have self belief. 7. Be aware of the external environment and be aware of threats.
    Some are affcted by the religion mind virus and we can see who they are, as they rely on belief, rather than reason. If these guys are in the majority, the future may be bleak. Fortunately, some can see the real world.

  7. Lorenzo Says:

    Ben,

    The Nalanda debacle happened in SL too! Can you believe it?

    Look at the hundreds of ancient Buddhist shrines now in ruins in the north and the east. What happened to these Buddhists? They are no more. The north and the east were traditional Sinhala Buddhist homelands. But due to invasions and lack of military power, they were wiped out by South Indians. It is time to reclaim them all.

  8. Ben_silva Says:

    Many useful contributions by Lorenzo. To my knowledge, our decline has been due to Soth Indian killing raids, destruction of the irrigation system by Tamils and Malaria. I have nothing against Sri Lankan Tamils who are intelligent, hard working and has contribted a lot to Sri Lanka.
    I hope others contribte to analyse or decline and learn lessons.
    All over the world ‘lambs ‘ have been killed.

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