After the teapot tape saga first broke Laws called the Herald on Sunday journalists "mad" and said that if he had a gun he would shoot them. He also asked why no one else had done so yet. And he followed this up by saying they should be poisoned.
One of the four members of the BSA dissented and said that what Laws said was acceptable. There must be a very high threshold for incitements to commit violent acts against a specific and identified group of individuals to be acceptable. When Laws said:
"...[I have] no idea why somebody just hasn't taken a shotgun there and cleaned out the entire news room."
"This is the reason why, if you see a rabid journalist, you shoot them straight away, and then the infection doesn't spread.
it's more than the use of violent metaphors or analogies. It's a direct call to arms.
A principle of justice is that the response should be proportional to the events causing the response. Calling for journalists to be shot dead is totally out of proportion to the fuss over the teapot tapes. If anything the journalists in question were insufficiently bold and should have incurred more of Laws' wrath by publishing. However the BSA's response is also out of proportion to the magnitude of the breach of broadcasting standards. The chosen punishment is the proverbial wet bus ticket, but without the water. And without the bus ticket. Their course of action, in this case, raises some serious questions about the suitability of the members of the authority.
Iron Maiden - Iron Maiden, 1981
UPDATE - Yay, Brian Rudman agrees with me. He says:
"The Broadcasting Standards Authority made an ass of itself this week, slapping Mr Laws with a wet bus ticket for breaching radio's "good taste and decency" standards..."