Tuesday 31 March 2009

Sun not so outraged at naughty stuff on the net

Remember how The Sun was warning yesterday that kids are apparently finding porn so easy to access and how porn was becoming normalised? Well, at least it hasn't got to the stage where a youngster could pick up a daily newspaper and find pictures of, and interviews with, pornstars.

Oh wait.

Mail watches porn, just to check it doesn't like it

The Star goes into great deal about the film that Jacqui Smith's husband was apparently watching while she was away. It was Raw Meats 3:

A source in the adult movie industry said: “Raw Meats would be amateur girls rather than models and erotic stars. Customers get a kick out of the girl-next-door quality. That’s what Raw Meats is all about.”

The ad, sorry, story, includes a screen-shot of a couple doing their thing, and a pic of Raw Meats 3 with the Televison X logo clearly visible.

Television X is owned by Portland Enterprises. Portland Enterprise and the Star and Express, are owned by Northern and Shell. Northern and Shell is owned by Richard Desmond.

In other Jacqui Smith related porn news, the Daily Mail runs an article by Olivia Lichtenstein in which our intrepid 'reporter' spends a day watching 'several subscription channels' - just so she can tell everyone how 'tawdry' they are. Funnily enough, most people would know that a programme titled 'Teen Fetish Slags' will be tawdry without having to watch it.

But Lichtenstein soldiers on, going into quite unecessary detail:

a man orders two 'take-away bimbos' over the telephone. They arrive, a specifically requested unmatched pair, one blonde, the other brunette, and under his gaze fondle and undress each other like automatons, mouthing filthy words of encouragement and pleading with him to join in. He does.

See what they're doing here? Telling you every juicy detail , just so they can show how 'tawdry' it is. It's a win-win - they can appear appalled while indulging in cheap titillation.

It goes into astonishing detail about the channels, the films, the subscription rates, and includes screenshots of a three women in bed in the bras with two of them kissing, a woman in a shower and the arses of two women in thongs.

But now the - ahem - 'serious' bit. You know, just so it doesn't seem like the Mail have paid someone to watch porn (imagine if Jonathan Ross had been paid to do that...). So:

After two hours of watching these channels, my conclusion was that these 'films' are degrading, exploitative, overlaid with terrible music and, once the shock has worn off, unutterably dull.

Yes, I totally believe that poor innocent Olivia was shocked. But then a few paragraphs later she says:

The problem with pornography, of course, is that those same degrading acts will soon not be degrading enough. The user has constantly to raise the stakes in order to derive the same thrill. It's no wonder that this kind of porn has been compared to crack cocaine. Pornography is addictive and, as with any addiction, the user's need steadily increases and demands ever more shocking, titillating and fetishistic stimuli.

So porn is both unutterably dull and as addictive as cocaine? Is that even possible? No, of course not, but it gives the Mail the opportunity to claim its little bit of the moral high ground, even after all the prurient detail it has just revealed. She goes on:

this mindless filth tarnishes the way in which men perceive women...women remain sex objects whose principle purpose is the sexual gratification of men

The Mail is appalled at the idea of women being treated like sex objects? So on the day before this article, why did it use this pic of Kelly Brook?
No prizes for answering that.

Mail's unsettling interest in a child

There's something not quite right about the Daily Mail calling a 14 year old girl 'stunning'.

Recommended read

Uponnothing has done a brilliant 'audit' on the 2008 columns of Richard Littlejohn, by reading every one of them and showing how pathetically thin and repetitive they all are. And Littlejohn gets £800,00 a year for this crap?

Monday 30 March 2009

Sun outrage at naughty stuff on the net

Today's Sun contains a story about the 'Pornification of our kids' - a survey that teens believe they should look and act like porn stars as kids find rude stuff on the internet.

The Sun decides to illustrate this story with a photo of a woman wearing black lingerie. Hmm. Even more inappropriate, the pic is cropped at the neck, thus giving the article a nice line in objectifying women.

The Sun homepage also contains a screen shot from the Adult Channel website, a 'meet all the entrants of Miss Scotland' pic fest and 'stories' which involve photos heavily focussed down the tops of Paris Hilton and Heather Mills.

The story has a totally unconvincing line in feigning shock, not least when reporting:

A girl of 14 says: “Guys are often into pornography because the girls have big boobs or they’re skinny or very pretty. You sort of feel you have to look like that to be attractive.”

Anyone remember when a girl who didn't have big boobs and wasn't pretty and wasn't skinny appeared on Page 3? No, me neither.

Extremist literature...

Thanks to Anton at Enemies of Reason for highlighting Sunny Hundal's article on a partial climbdown by Policy Exchange on their Hijacking of British Islam report, which they have removed from their website.

(Reminder that that report's author has form for anti-Islam 'research' which makes the press)

Saturday 28 March 2009

Mail fury as BBC gives acting job to black actor

The Mail has got itself into another BBC (non-) controversy tizzy, with a 'how dare they story?' about the new series of Robin Hood.

Yes, really. They are absolutely appalled that the (very fine) actor David Harewood has been cast as Friar Tuck. Because Friar Tuck has always been fat and hopeless, and this incarnation has him as a martial arts expert.

But mainly they are appalled because David Harewood is black. Or, as one of the commentators has quite unbelievably called him, a 'negro' (thanks Alan, El Paso, Texas).

And casting a black actor appears to symbolic of a 'cancer of Leftist political correctness' and 'typical BBC nonsense' according to just two of the many very angry comments.

The whole story seems to be taking a piece of fictional Saturday night family entertainment far too seriously. They claim the casting has 'sparked fury among professors who believe the portrayal is historically inaccurate'. Fury? Well they quote one professor from Exeter Uni, but she doesn't sound angry at all, just pointing out a black friar would have been very unlikely.

But since when has Robin Hood (the series) meant to be realistic. It's Robin Hood, after all.

Friday 27 March 2009

News you won't read in the UK papers (yet!)

Hear that? It's the court-ordered silence around the reporting of the case of the 'youngest dad in Britain'. As anyone looking at Google News will know, there have been significant developments about this case today. But I'm not enough of an expert to know what can and can't be said here...

But it does seem ridiculous when American, Australian, Indian papers can report it and they can be easily found online. How does a court order work in the internet age? Because it doesn't seem to at all. (It seems the Mirror did print this story, but have removed it from their website, although it still can be found in a Google search!)

As I mentioned on this blog before, the story didn't feel right from the start and The Sun were ridiculously stupid for running the story in the first place without proper fact-checking. They have been complicit in exploiting this child and that is totally unforgivable. But they've got the most popular website of any newspaper now, so I bet they don't give a toss.

And as for the PCC investigation - what is that going to come up with? Another slap on the wrists for The Sun. Well, that'll learn 'em.

It will be good to look at all those columnists who threw up their hands in horror at the original story and highlight how ridiculous they all sound now.

And of course Max Clifford was involved. I know he is deemed beyond criticism these days because of his work with St Jade of Goody. But serious questions need to be asked about how the newspapers bow and scrape to his every whim.

Two fingers to Express scaremongering

More immigration stories to frighten the narrow-minded in today's papers. It's on the front of the Express and also in the Mail.

One immediate question is - if that is how many have 'poured in', how many of that same group have left? None of the reports bother to say.

Another is a little tidbit mentioned in the Telegraph - that Poles make up the third biggest group of immigrants living in Britain, behind Indians and the Irish. Yet how come we never hear about all the Irish immigrants living here (this relates to a point I made in the surname story a few days ago).

And finally - why do you think the Express has chosen to illustrate today's story with this pic:
They even use a caption that reads: 'Mass immigration is increasing hostility'. Just so you know whose fault it is.

Mail - still hating homosexuals

In what world does a comment like this:

There is no place for sexism, racism or homophobia in this century

get an approval rating of -409?

In the world of the Mail website comments section, of course.

The story is that Peter and Hazelmary Bull, owners of The Chymorvah Hotel in Marazion refused to allow a gay couple (in a civil partnership) to stay in the double room they had booked because they only allow married, heterosexuals to stay in double rooms. This despite the fact they had accepted the booking in the first place and the couple had arrived.

They have now

lodged a county court claim for up to £5,000 in damages alleging 'direct discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation'.

The hotel website says:

'Here at Chymorvah you will be met by a friendly welcome'.

It fails to add 'but only if you're on of us'.

The Mail story claims the hotel's website also says:

'We have few rules but please note that out of a deep regard for marriage we prefer to let double accommodation to heterosexual married couples only'.

Although the implication is there, the use of 'prefer' doesn't actually clearly ban gay couples.

In any case, this has now been changed to:

Here at Chymorvah we have few rules, but please note that as Christians we have a deep regard for marriage (being the union of one man to one woman for life to the exclusion of all others). Therefore, although we extend to all a warm welcome to our home, our double bedded accommodation is not available to unmarried couples – Thank you.

The comment from Mrs Bull is worth noting:

I have had people clearly involved in affairs and under-age people who have tried to book in here for sex, and I have refused them the same as I refused these gentlemen because I won’t be a party to anything which is an affront to my faith under my roof.

Note the seeming equivalence of under-age sex with a gay couple in a civil partnership.

The last word must go to commentator BWJ, who says:

In my view there is too much pandering to this so-called equality lark.

That gets a +546 rating.


Wednesday 25 March 2009

Why the silence?

From this week's Private Eye, a story on why nobody in the media reported on a previous Eye story about the non-dom status of Mail owner Lord Rothermere. Here's the follow-up:

THE Eye’s revelation that Britain’s most powerful newspaper owner, Daily Mail and General Trust chairman Lord “Non Dom” Rothermere, saves a fortune by owning his newspaper group through tax havens like Bermuda, has met with deafening silence.

The fairly significant news that a press baron whose papers take a none too indulgent line on foreigners feels a principal allegiance to another country (and France of all places) has merited not a single mention in the press. This is the omerta effect of what the Mail’s most famous editor Sir David English called the “proprietors club”. All agree not to report on the others for fear of mutual destruction.

More alarming, however, is the cover-up at HM Revenue & Customs, where boss Dave Hartnett put pressure on inspectors to drop an investigation into the bizarre arrangement under which English-born Rothermere is considered to be domiciled abroad while lording it over a neo-Palladian castle set in 220 acres of Wiltshire countryside. Hartnett’s intervention countermanded the judgement of investigators, a high-level strategy board and government lawyers that there was an overwhelming case to overturn the viscount’s non-dom status.

Insiders report that a furious Hartnett has instigated an inquiry into how the episode was leaked – but, strangely, no inquiry into how and why he gave the press baron the sweetheart treatment in the first place!

The media leads the pack

Sir Fred Goodwin ranks as one of the most unpopular man in Britain at the moment, as well one of its worst businessmen, having taken RBS to the brink of failure and requiring £33bn of public funds. He then walked away with a £700,000-a-year pension.

But however much of a useless banker you may think he is, vandalising his home isn't the answer - especially when his two school-aged children could have been inside (although it seems the family have been living abroad).

Cast your mind back a couple of weeks to the protests in Luton by Muslims at a soldier's homecoming parade. One of the demonstrators had his home and car attacked and vandalised within days.

So, two men turned into public hate figures by the media, and both have their homes attacked. Do you think at any point, anyone in Fleet Street will have thought - maybe we go too far sometimes?

Danger of poisonous substances (the Express, not mercury)

As if to prove the point made about the Express yesterday, the Science Media Centre has complained about a health scare front page story from 14 March: Dangers of low energy lightbulbs.

One of the main complaints is that it claimed there is mercury powder in low energy lightbulbs (CFLs) - indeed, it said so in the sub-head ('They contain poisonous mercury powder'). Not so - CFLs contain mercury as vapour.

What do the Express say? Surprise, surprise, they stand by their story. Never mind the clear factual error in 18pt font on the front page.

The story goes on to outline Government warnings on dealing with broken CFLs - news which is all very interesting, but also 14 months old.

The DEFRA guidelines state: Energy efficient light bulbs are not a danger to the public...the very small amount [of mercury] contained in an energy efficient bulb is unlikely to cause harm even if the lamp should be broken.

And as this article states, this use of mercury has been used in flourescent strip lighting (in kitchens, for example) for years without any of the apparent fuss the CFLs have attracted. But like the groundless 'phone masts cause cancer' stories, expect this one to run and run.

Tuesday 24 March 2009

PCC shows its teeth; they're broken

News from the Select Committee hearings that the Express Newspapers could be kicked out of the Press Complaints Commission illustrates both how weak the PCC is, and how seriously Richard Desmond takes newspaper publishing.

According to the Press Gazette, Tim Bowdler of PressBof said that, if the PCC decided to stop adjudicating complaints about Express Newspapers, those titles would face additional costs as complainants would have no choice but to go to the courts.

So the PCC not adjudicating complaints against the Express and the Star is meant to be a punishment? I can't work that out - the last thing most complainants want to do is go through a lengthy, costly court battle, especially if the dispute is a relatively minor one, so they probably won't complain at all. Which will result in the Express getting away with even worse journalism than it already manages.

When is an asylum seeker not an asylum seeker?

At some point in the last few hours (just gone 6pm on 24 March) the headline on this story on the Mail website has changed from 'Asylum seeker jailed for life for stabbing policeman to death' to NHS blunders left cannabis-crazed schizophrenic free to stab policeman to death.

It appears Tennyson Obih did seek asylum in the UK in 2000 and was granted indefinite leave to remain. Therefore, he's not an asylum seeker. Glad to see the Mail did work this out, even if it did take a while.

Not as many foreigners as they'd hoped

The Mail has listed the 99 most common surnames in Britain - and put all the foreign ones in bold caps for easy, racist reference.

Despite their insistence Singh and Ahmed are 'catching up fast', they have actually highlighted only 12 names out of 99 as 'foreign' - the highest being 34th most common, the second highest 66th.

Indeed, if you add up all the people with those 12 surnames, the total comes to 545,946. And yet there are 545,707 Smith's alone - hardly 'catching up fast'.

What's curious also is that from 90-99 the names are: Kaur, Ryan, Quinn, Shah, Gallagher, Byrne, Akhtar, Doherty, Miah, Bibi. Five Irish names, five not. Last time I checked, Ireland was overseas and a foreign country. But the Irish names aren't highlighted.

Just to prove the enlightened lot who read the Mail, the comments include: 'I am well and truly sick about this'. 'Are we supposed to be pleased about this?' and 'I actually find this news really depressing'. Depressing? Yes, I'd say so...

How dare the BBC report on Jade, that's our job

The Daily Mail is taking great pleasure in reporting BBC facing viewer backlash over coverage of Jade Goody's death. Yes the BBC coverage was totally excessive - as it has been almost everywhere else - but can the Mail really complain? It was lead story on their website Sunday, half their front page Monday and if you search 'jade goody' on the Mail site, you'll find 10 articles from the last two days alone.

On a related issue, hearty congratulations to the Independent. On Monday, they put a picture on their front page of a successful young woman in her late 20s who had talent, class and had achieved something worth celebrating. So why did none of the other papers take much interest in the Cricket World Cup winning England team?

Express Dunblane apology

Bloggerheads has the story on the Express' apology over their barrel-scraping front page on Dunblane.

How urban myths are created

The story of the Polish deli owner accused of refusing to serve English customers just didn't ring true - either in the Mail, Mirror or Telegraph.

In fact, the story claims one 17 year old girl was thrown out, so 'customers' is inaccurate before you even start. But the story never explains why. We hear from the girl and her mum, who make it sound as if she was just trying to buy a drink. Now what kind of shop owner would throw out a customer who just wanted a drink. Was it maybe she was looking at alcoholic drinks? Maybe there was another reason she was thrown out...

In any case, Michail Bak's Polish deli is in Goole, a town at the last census of 17,600 people. As it's in Yorkshire it's fair to assume a very high proportion of these are English (and Yorkshire folk at that!) So where would be the sense in turning away English customers?

Mr Bak is quoted saying: 'I don't turn anyone away from my shop' but is not allowed to explain what might have happened. I wonder why. Any journalist could have sat outside his shop for a short period and seen who was served and who wasn't, in order to check this out. But that might have inconveniently uncovered some truths...

Sunday 22 March 2009

Mail accuses Ross; conveniently forgets own past

The Daily Mail has found an excuse to run one of its favourite phrases: 'New Jonathan Ross row' this time as 'BBC bars Mike Tyson from show'.

Apparently BBC bosses 'vetoed' an appearance by 'convicted rapist' Tyson leaving Ross at the 'centre of a new controversy'. The truth comes out in the second paragraph of the story:

Executives at Ross’s production company, Hot Sauce, were interested in a proposed interview but BBC bosses dismissed the plan.

Right, so it sounds like it wasn't even Ross' idea, and in any case it was only 'interest' in a 'proposed' interview - quite different from the headline making it sound as if Tyson was already booked to appear when the BBC said no.

Up pops that rent-a-quote oik with nothing better to do - Philip Davies MP - to say, again: ‘This is the latest in a catalogue of errors of judgment made by Jonathan Ross. The BBC should have got rid of him when they had the chance.’

Since it clearly wasn't a judgement by Ross, it's another empty soundbite.

The Mail reporter Miles Goslett, piles in too, saying the episode is an 'embarrassment' and 'points to a lack of judgment'.

Really Miles? I would say a lack of judgement was not in wanting to interview Tyson, but in being 'charmed' by him and praising his 'wry good humour laced with wicked irony'. Who would say such thing? Jeff Powell. In the Mail.

Saturday 21 March 2009

Mail's D-Day campaign farce

The Independent has an interesting story today (We'll fight Brown on the beaches) that, sadly, doesn't have the courage of its convictions.

The story reads (abridged, but these are the important bits, with my bold):

Survivors of D-Day reacted angrily yesterday to what they claimed was a belated attempt to politicise and hijack a nine-month campaign to take British veterans to mark the 65th anniversary of the Normandy landings.

A public appeal for funds to take 500 ex-service personnel to the commemorations in France, launched in The Independent on 6 June last year, has been assured of success for weeks.
But Peter Hodge, secretary of the Normandy Veterans Association (NVA), said: "Ministers on the beaches is not really what we wanted or needed. We never complained about the Government not giving us money. We wanted this to be between the veterans and the British people. The public response to our appeal, first publicised in The Independent, has already been fantastic."
After reading The Independent's story about the appeal, the advertising executive Trevor Beattie took up the cause...[he] said: "Everyone who wants to support these magnificent men is very welcome. But it would have been courteous to recognise all that has already been done by Peter Hodge and myself and The Independent. Most of all I object to the clear attempt to hijack and politicise our campaign. This was never about attacking Labour or Gordon Brown. It was always about supporting our veterans in a practical way."
Mr Hodge wrote to every British newspaper last May asking them to highlight the plight of the veterans. In 2004, the Labour Government paid for veterans to travel to the 60th anniversary, and he said this was more than any previous government, Labour or Conservative, had done. The NVA accepted that the Government could not pay again, so it appealed directly to the public to help raise funds for a "last parade" of D-Day survivors in 2009.

The only national newspaper to respond to Mr Hodge's letter at the time was The Independent. "The truth is that it is rather too late to be raising funds now," Mr Hodge said yesterday. "We are talking about elderly people and that means you have to plan well in advance. Luckily, thanks to Mr Beattie and others, we already look like we will have all the money we need."

So there you have it. The NVA tried to kick start this campaign 9 months ago and the Indy was the only newspaper that bothered. All the money was then raised. But like Voldemort, who is the un-named evil who can not be named?

Step forward the Daily Mail. 'The Great Betrayal' it thundered on the front page on the 18 March edition, with the continuation: Ministers are treating the anniversary with disdain. The editorial said it was 'dishonouring the heroes of D-Day' and blamed 'petty-minded, mean-spirited ministers'.

On 20 March, the Mail led with the story again (The tide is turning). Suddenly, it became clear that Gordon Brown hadn't been invited by the French organisers, so the question of him going or not was rather moot. The PM's spokesman is quoted saying: 'If it were decided by the organisers that heads of government should be there, then the Prime Minister would be pleased to be there.'

The Mail claimed this was a 'u-turn' and marked a 'triumphant first day for the Daily Mail's D-Day campaign'.

They go on to claim 'the veterans themselves voiced their delight and thanks for the magnificent response to the Daily Mail's fund-raising appeal - and called a halt to further fund-raising. Generous readers donated £70,000 on the first day of our campaign'.

Now, let me repeat what Peter Hodge said in the Indy story: 'The truth is that it is rather too late to be raising funds now'.

So what is the Mail going to do with the £70,000 it has apparently raised, if the veterans said they have all the money they need?

There is something so despicably cynical about the way the Mail has run this campaign. It chose to ignore the veterans' plea a year ago, and once the money had all been raised by other people, it cranks up a campaign knowing it will be able to claim success.

This isn't the first time the Mail has done this - it launched its anti-plastic bag crusade at the time Marks & Spencer had pre-announced it was going to charge for bags, then claimed the M&S move was in response to their campaign.

But this is a more important issue. They love to promote themselves as patriotic and they love a chance to bash the Government on an issue like this because it fits their anti-immigration agenda of Britain not being what it once was - they can claim the Goverment doesn't care about British history and doesn't care about people who fought for the country. It's the thread that runs through all their coverage of political correctness, Islam and immigration.

Mail misleads on story until last paragraph

Boy aged TWO is youngest Briton to be threatened with an Asbo after he is accused of verbally abusing adults, says the Mail, shaking its head at the latest evidence of the feral, out-of-control kids in broken Britain.

A boy aged two has become the youngest Briton ever to be threatened with an Asbo.

Lennon Poyser received the warning along with his sisters Olivia, five, and four-year-old Megan, after neighbours complained about their behaviour.

The three tiny tearaways have been accused of verbally abusing adult residents and damaging property.

A shocking story. But, er, not true. As the Mail itself confirms in the very last paragraph. Insp Dave Legg from Lincolnshire Police says:

'It has since been brought to our attention that the letter sent in error was received by a family with a child of two years of age, this was clearly not intended and we apologise for any distress this may have caused.'

So it was all mistake. The story appears to have been 'two year old mistakenly threatened with ASBO', but somewhere the 'mistakenly' was missed out and the family became the target.

The comments posted by the Mail readers are just as sloppy and appalling, as many clearly haven't bothered to read to the end of the story and just attacked the young mother. [EDIT - have noticed Jonathan at No Sleep til Brooklands has done a good job on this story and the comments]

Preacher of hate updates

All homosexuals should be stoned to death, says Muslim preacher of hate, writes the Mail in its latest update on the crap coming from Choudary and Bakri. The problem is, I find it very difficult to accept the Mail's outrage on this topic, when it willingly publishes such purveyors of homophobia as Littlejohn and Hitchens.

Meanwhile, the Express leads on Fanatics in new outrage. A typically uninspired headline for a totally uninspired story. Omar Bakri Mohammed had delivered an address to followers in Britain from his 'bolthole' in Lebannon. But what he is said to have said isn't as 'chilling' or 'highly incendiary' as the Express makes out.

Warning of a 'fresh terror attack' on Britain has been done by lots of people - police, politicians - but that isn't the same as calling for fresh terror attacks. The Express doesn't claim he did, but the story has been written to imply as much.

He also supported the Luton protestors. And that's about it. That allows the usual rent-a-quote Tories - Mercer, Davies - to be 'outraged' and for the Express to run a phone poll about trying hate preachers for treason. Wonder how that one will turn out...

Recommended read - Anton calls out the Mail

Anton at Enemies of Reason has written an excellent piece covering the Mail's publishing of the type of upskirt pic used to only appear in the Sport, and the terrible body fascism the Mail has become obsessed by (in this case, Gemma Arterton).

Thursday 19 March 2009

Why do they bother?

Hat-tip to Tabloid Lies for the latest hoax published with a straight face by The Sun. UFOs over London this time, seen in a photo taken by a builder who only noticed the FOUR UFOs days after the pic was actually taken.

The man behind the camera said: 'I didn't notice anything at the time because I was focusing on getting in all the sights.' Two things: how do you not notice four 'UFOs'? How come no-one else in the whole of London didn't seem to spot them?

Then just when you looked at the pic and thought - well they are clearly four ceiling lights reflected in some glass, The Sun tells us: Mr Burden, from Luton, Beds, said the lights are not any kind of reflection, claiming he took the picture outside with no office lights behind him.

Two things. One - bullshit. Two - if you were a builder on the 16th floor, why would you take the pic so the balcony rail could be seen so clearly? Wouldn't you go out and make sure that couldn't be seen? Or would you take the pic from behind glass and then flog it to The Sun for a bit of cash?

Fund someone at the Star who can type

I posted before about the Star's headlines which don't match the story they are attached to, but now they've done that again and added a ridiculous typo in.

Muslims nuts set up 'suicide bomb find' is clearly meant to be 'fund'.

The story itself is another one attacking Anjem Choudary, who I am sure is appalled at all the attention.

What it claims, however, is that in a tape recording made last year (so much for the new in news) he said:

You have money that can go towards the da’wah, you have money that can go towards the mujaheddin. One day you will not have that. Then you will regret the time when you said: ‘When I had that time, I did not invest it properly’.

Da'wah means 'the spread of Islam' according to the Star. So he's asking people to send money to help the spread of Islam. So in the twisted logic of the Star, which thinks all Muslims are suicide bombers, you get headlines like this. With or without the typo.

Will they stay or will they go?

Immigrants who came to Britain during boom years will stay despite recession, experts warn, booms the Mail. Note the use of the not-in-the-least-bit inflammatory 'warn'.

Immigrants who came to Britain during the boom years are unlikely to return home because of the recession, ministers were warned today. From 'will stay' to 'unlikely to return' in just the first line.

Higher unemployment levels will not make a big impact on the number of foreign nationals settled in this country, academics said. And now it's 'not make a big impact'.

The people behind this are an American thinktank called Migration Policy Institute. Go to their website and find the report in question and, surprise, it's not quite as clear cut as the Mail suggests. So here's some other quotes from the report which the Mail overlooked:

Migrants are unlikely to return home unless they believe their prospects there are substantially better. (page 2)

Economic growth in Eastern Europe in recent years has been robust, aided by European Union structural funds: in 2008 substantial declines in unemployment in Poland, for example, contrasted with deteriorating employment conditions in the United Kingdom. (p5)

Research on Polish migrants to the United Kingdom indicated that many only intended to spend a limited period of time, suggesting they may decide to cut this stay short if employment is not forthcoming. (p5)

Many highly skilled economic migrants...[are] more likely to return home if they lose their job. (p3)

Low skilled workers' relatively greater reliance on social networks to obtain jobs may have secondary effects as unemployment rises and immigrants are bale to pass on less information to co-ethnics about vacancies. (p4)

Nothing to do with us, OK?

So the PCC has said it won't launch a full investigation into that issue of OK! despite 60 complaints. What did you expect? They have said they might reverse that decision if a complaint comes from Jade's family, but don't hold your breath. Why? Because that would assume that the family had absolutely no input whatsoever in that issue in the first place. And I for one find that exceptionally hard to believe. Max Clifford and the family have flogged off daily reports and exclusives on Jade's condition, have broadcast all sorts of private moments on her TV show - do we really believe this was all done by OK! on their own initiative?

The Mail reports Clifford was interviewed on Radio 1 (a tough one, I'm sure) where he said the issue was offensive. 'No one has handled Jade Goody more sensitively in recent times than OK! magazine,' he said, without any apparent trace of irony.

Calais. Again.

Another day, another Calais story. It is once again becoming a daily occurance so the anti-immigration papers can whip up a storm over all the foreigners coming to take British jobs.

It's too small to see in this pic, but all the faces in the job centre queue are white - helpfully, one of them even has a Union Jack top on. None of the faces in the Calais line are white.

What you can see is the sub-head, where 'Benefit Britain' has become a proper noun. But reporter Macer Hall doesn't seem to be able to make up his mind what the story is actually about. In the context of the unemployment figures, it suggests a scare about job stealing foreigners. But 'Benefit Britain' makes clear the Express thinks they are all coming here to get live on welfare. So they are simultaneously taking jobs (they shouldn't have) and benefits (they can't claim)? Do they even think about the drivel they write any more? Don't answer that...

Wednesday 18 March 2009

Recommended reads

Worth reading yesterday's Independent front page story Sent back by Britain. Executed in Darfur.

And the Guardian's UK accused over asylum seekers left to live on $1 a day from the day before.

These are the type of stories the anti-immigration papers always seem to forget to write about.

Quick thoughts on the language of pupils

A few early observations about the English is a second language for 1 in 7 pupils story that leads the Mail and appears in the Express and Sun too.

One: The increased figure has prompted Tory immigration spokesman Damian Green to demand an annual limit on immigration. Not true - Tory policy has been an annual limit on immigration since 2005, was adopted by David Cameron in 2006 and re-iterated by David Davis in 2007. Cameron repeated immigration needs to limited in February 2009.

Two: The reports seem to be willfully making the assumption that not speaking English as a first language means that these pupils (14% of the total) do not speak English at all. Again, not true. Just because English isn't their first language doesn't mean they are incapable of speaking and understanding it at all.

Three: the figures are made out to be all pupils in the headlines, but make clear are only about primary pupils in England in the stories. For secondary school kids, the number is 10% - lower, so not as prominent.

And read the account in the Mail from headteacher Tim Benson (scroll down). His only complaint is that Ofsted inspections don't always take account of these language barriers. He says: 'Children build up a basic vocabulary very quickly. Within two or three weeks they know enough English to get around and summon help.'

When the Yorkshire Post is reporting 5,000 racist incidents in schools in Yorkshire over the past two years, including 700 expulsions for racist behaviour, you may wonder how the tone of such stories helps.

[19 Feb edit: 5CC has done an article on this, pointing out that the figures are a year old and were reported on then too]

Tuesday 17 March 2009

The usual suspects attack Muslims

Trevor Kavanagh's latest blather in The Sun doesn't really read much different to the latest from Littlejohn. Or Gaunt. Or Melanie Phillips. Typical 'them-and-us', label all Muslims in Britain the same as the dozen Luton protestors, they're all up to no good aren't they, nudge nudge, wink wink.

Littlejohn's column had the headline: 'Put these Toytown Talibandits on the first flight home', which I guess means an Easyjet ride from Luton to Newcastle. He accuses one of the demonstrators, Jalal Ahmed, of plotting to blow up airplanes because he's a Luton airport baggage handler and suggests he should be sent to Guantanamo Bay ('the kind of 'supervised environment' most of us would like to see him in....would involve orange jumpsuits, armed guards, razor-wire and large dogs.')

He also points out 'the July 7 gang, who coincidentally boarded a train at Luton', just in case you hadn't worked out they were definitely all scheming terrorists, rather than anti-war protestors.

And he voices support for the parading troops to have killed them where they protested in Luton:

'The Royal Anglians would have been forgiven had they fixed bayonets and charged.'

As always with Littlejohn, he chucks in a bit of 'PC gone mad' for good measure, having a go at the police for arresting to white anti-protestor protestors but none of the Muslims. What he doesn't seem to grasp (or does, but chooses to ignore becasue it doesn't fit his agenda) is that however distasteful, the Muslim demonstrators had slogans such as 'Anglian soldiers: Butchers of Basra', 'Criminals murders and terrorists', 'British goverment, terrorist government' which, while inflammatory, are not illegal.

Says the BBC:

Bedfordshire Police said an 18-year-old man from Luton had been charged with racially aggravated harassment in connection with clashes during the parade and will appear before Luton Magistrates' Court next week. A second man, aged in his 40s, was issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice.

Does Littlejohn condemn the 'racially aggravated harrassment'? Of course not. They were just 'provoked beyond outrage'. So that's OK then.

Indeed, this:

'prove[s] the police's even-handedness. Another diversity box ticked for the annual report'.

How nice it must be to see the world in such a simplistic way.

Kavanagh's main point seems to be that while thousands turned out in mass rally's following the latest killings in Ireland, he doesn't think Muslims will turn out in the same way after the 'next Islamist outrage.' Ignoring the presumptiousness of that, he goes on:

'Yet, if they fail to join other British citizens in publicly expressing disgust, they risk being seen as silent sympathisers'.

Quite apart from the fact the two situations are in no way comparable and someone with even the slightest grasp of history would know that, his memory is short. There was plenty of condemnation of the 7/7 bombings from the Muslim community - even if he doesn't want to do proper journalistsic research, a quick Google would prove it.

Within a few minutes, it's easy to find Manchester's Muslim mayor leading a peace rally, this picture from the Trafalgar Square vigil and condemnations from the Islamic Human Rights Commission and the Muslim Council of Britain. So what is Kavanagh trying to prove? I think we all know. And he has a pop at Binyam Mohamed too, claiming he's lying about being tortured (evidence: he's a Muslim). 'Our boys' in the British Secret Service would never lie, he says, seemingly misunderstanding what spies actually do...

The Mail moved the Luton story on with its Fury as Islamic extremist who abused British troops is given 24-hour police protection, which reveals that protestor Yousaf Bashir was getting police protection after: Two downstairs windows and the glass in the front door were smashed, and the rear windows of two cars parked in the driveway were shattered. The Mail and its readers have no sympathy with a man having his home attacked - you can read a great dissection of the story at Angry Mob.

Richard Desmond - sick bastard

This is truly unbelievable. Just when you thought the Jade coverage couldn't get any more sick and twisted, who else but Richard Desmond proves it could.

This week's OK is an 'official tribute issue', 'in loving memory' of 'brave Jade', and containing her 'last wish'. All this while she is STILL ALIVE!

Is it a coincidence that the issue number is 666? That seems to sum up Desmond's deal with the devil (or is that Max Clifford?). He really should stick to his porn. The man is clearly completely devoid of any good taste or judgement, a vile cretin getting rich on a the back of a girl dying of cancer. How has it come to this?

Mail's latest miracle cure

In a story with a not entirely coherent headline, the Mail is reporting a study that mushrooms can cut the risk of breast cancer.

This is of course the latest in a long line of breast cancer stories that the Mail has printed recently.

Other tips: don't work nights, drink three cups of tea a day, have HRT, take a daily aspirin, take up salsa, don't drink wine every day, get lots of calcium and vitamin D, go outside, don't lead a stressful city life, don't put on weight, don't give birth over 30...in other words, exercise, eat healthily, don't drink too much alcohol and not getting too anxious at work are more conducive to a healthy life. Who'd have thunk it?

In any case, even this mushroom story isn't exactly new - the link was reported nearly a year ago.

Monday 16 March 2009

Mail rape hypocrisy

Anton Vowl at Enemies of Reason makes an excellent point in his post on the 'new fury at BBC...' story.

More body fascism at the Mail

The Mail is picking on another young woman's weight, this time Britney Spears. She has given a 'gutsy display' of 'belly dancing' at her latest concert. The story accuses her of having 'unsightly bulge'.

A nasty piece of work (written by Richard Simpson) but all too familiar these days. But what is this? Has the Mail forgot what it wrote only eleven days ago? Today's story claims Britney's appearance last night was a stark contrast to the opening night of the tour when she showed off an enviably toned stomach.

That would be the 'enviably toned stomach' they called 'bulky'.

Express touts miracle cure, ignores bleedin' obvious

Breaking news - the Express has 'Found: the key to staying slim'. Eating properly and exercising regularly? Apparently not. It's all to do with an intestinal enzyme called MGAT2, which when blocked would apparently allow people to eat whatever crap they want and not put on weight. Which begs the question - won't filling your face with fatty foods still cause other health problems?

It's another of those 'miracle cure' stories based on some very preliminary research. Hardly worth a huge front page headline. And read towards the end of the story, a quote from Professor Steve O’Rahilly, a metabolism expert at Cambridge University: 'much more work needs to be done before we can be sure that drugs designed to block MGAT2 will be safe and effective in human obesity'.

So eating properly and doing exercise is still the best thing after all...

Sunday 15 March 2009

Wrong priorities on torture

Binyam Mohamed was back in the papers on 14 March 2009 - after a break for the Luton protests - following an interview with the BBC.

The Sun got its knickers in a twist over the interview in its 'Outrage at BBC torture claims' story, an outrage it singularly failed to muster following Mohamed's first post-release interview in the Mail on Sunday. (Why the Mail wanted an exclusive with someone it has so little sympathy for is another matter entirely.)

Back to the Sun however, and its tedious BBC-bashing. Even taken at face value (ie. ignoring the Mail interview) the story was 'outraged' at entirely the wrong thing. On the substance of Mohamed's claims of torture it has nothing to say. On the fact he gave a broadcast interview on the BBC where he made those claims again - well, that's outrageous, apparently.

Being tortured = fine. Talking about being tortured on the BBC = 'outrageous'.

Who else was outraged? According to The Sun, Gordon Brown was 'dismayed' by it. And to prove it, they have a quote from his spokesman: 'It’s for the BBC to justify the approach it takes to an interview.'

Which doesn't sound much like outrage or dismay.

Who else? Needless to say, David Davis MP. He said: 'I’m astonished the BBC was happy to give him time to slag off the country he wants to live in but aren’t interested to inquire what he was doing in Afghanistan'.

The very next line of the story reads: The BBC said Mohamed was challenged on various issues, including his reason for visiting Afghanistan.

Hands up who thinks David Davis gave a typically useless, kneejerk outburst without hearing the interview...

Jade-watch (sorry)

Trinity Mirror newspapers make a mockery of themselves and the whole Jade Goody feeding frenzy with this nonsense. An 'exclusive' on the Mirror site dated 14 March 2009:

'Can no longer speak'? So how come the next day, sister paper The People led with her, ummm, talking:

Worth reading - Terence Blacker's column on 'Saint' Max Clifford and a review of Clifford's autobiography.

NOTW: complains about immigrants, doesn't know what they are

In an article headlined Hide 'n' seekers, News of the World reporter Kevin Widdop displays typical tabloid ignorance about definitions of people in the immigration system.

The latest report on the situation in Calais (brace yourself, there's more to come) refers to the people there as 'illegal immigrants', 'illegals', 'asylum seekers' and 'refugees'. That's just about a full house.

The PCC's Guidance note on refugees and asylum seekers says journalists should 'take care to avoid misleading or distorted terminology'. Will the PCC give the NOTW a telling-off for the latest trangression? Don't hold your breath...

Hypocrite of the day

This quote was in an article about David Beckham:

'A shameless, unprincipled little tart who'll do anything for money and fame'.

It was written by, ahem, Piers Morgan.

Recommended reading

Anton at Enemies of Reason takes a look at racism in the Daily Mail. Special mention to the commentator who asked if the Newcastle-born Muslim protestor was 'here legally or illegally though?' How come posts like that get through the moderators, when comments I make - which disagree with the Mail line but are at least coherent, very rarely do?

The Sun - Tabloid Lies article on that paper's Satan's footprints spotted in Devon, the latest evidence of it bizarre obsession with ghosts, UFOs, killer sharks and other completely untrue nonsense.

Also, keep an eye on Bloggerheads for the latest on the Sunday Express/Dunblane story. Sterling work done over there by Tim Ireland.

Quick word about the Mail's 'expose' of Anjem 'Andy' Choudary (Swilling beer, smoking dope and leering at porn). If everything in the article as it seems (big if, but still...) it only goes to prove that Choudary is hardly someone to be taken seriously. Apart from spouting off on his own website (as if anyone but his small band of followers and tabloid journos looking for some inflammatory rhetoric read it) and the odd publicity stunt such as the Luton one, what has he actually done? But with Abu Hamza and Omar Bakri Muhammed out the way, the papers need their Muslim hate figure and he's only too willing to fit the bill.

Friday 13 March 2009

Star's history of bullshit headlines

On 12 March 2009, the Press Complaints Commission ruled that The Daily Star had breached the Editor's Code with a story implying Peaches Geldof was a hooker. The front page headline was: Peaches: Spend night with me for £5k (story removed but you get the idea).

The ruling reads that 'the newspaper made a number of non-specific claims about the complainant being paid for "her company" and for her "services"'. The continuation on page 5 was headlined "Hire Geldof babe or her pal for just £5k a night” and was accompanied by photographs of Ms Geldof at a lingerie shoot.

The implication of all that is pretty clear and the Daily Star and everyone who reads it, knows that.

The actual story was in fact that she was being paid £5000 to show up to parties, although she says that was money for DJ-ing.

The Star put its correction on page 2 ("We also apologise to Peaches for the implication in the headline that she provided services of a personal or sexual nature for the payment of a fee") but is that enough for a front page screamer story published in Sept 08, five and a half months before?

This is, however, just the latest in a long line of Star front page headlines which are not justified by the story.

Go back to 10 Feb 2008 and see the front page splash 'Del Boy is dead'. Again, the implication of the headline is clearly the death of David Jason. The actual story - John Sullivan isn't going to write any more Only Fools and Horses - is rather different, and although the headline is in that (rare) case accurate, it's not what you expect.

On 8 May 2008, it was at it again with Gazza dead and gone for good. This oddly worded headline would still leave anyone thinking Paul Gascoigne was dead. In fact, his daughter Bianca had wanted to get on the front page in her underwear (sorry, reveal her dad's tragic plight) and revealed: her stepdad will never again be the prankster who won the hearts of fans all over the world. The former England star is seriously ill with depression, and Bianca admits his family is powerless to help him. In other words: not dead.

Come December, and the mind-boggling fascination the Star has for reality TV, it had almost daily splashes about I'm A Celebrity.

18 Dec - Jungle sex in shower shock. Shocking indeed that some z-grade slebs had been having sex in the showers on a reality TV show.

Here's the first four lines of the story: The jungle stars are steaming up the camp with their X-rated shower exploits. And show bosses say the contestants – including Page 3 girl Nicola McLean – are set to turn I’m A Celebrity into a “sex fest”. Producers are enticing the stars to get wet ’n wild by pumping hot water into the showers instead of the usual cold. The move has already produced some naked scenes that were too hot to be screened.

Two things stand out about this. One, there hasn't been any sex or steamy exploits. Two, there is no sane person on earth who would think that a broadcaster with ratings-grabbing 'naked scenes' would decide not to show them.

22 Dec - Celebs naked jungle romp. Pretty much implies the same story as before. Here's the first few lines: JUNGLE celebs including hot Page 3 babe Nicola McLean were last night gearing up for an X-rated sex fest in the shower. One of them has already stunned campmates by going starkers for a steamy soapdown. I'M A CELEBRITY bosses have had to cut sizzling sex scenes from our screens because the horny stars cannot keep their hands off each other.

So there's that 'too steamy to show' bullshit again. Of course, by using that excuse, they can claim that practically anything has happened and hide behind that for why viewers will never actually see it. But of course, it hasn't happened. 'Gearing up for an X-rated sex fest' makes clear it hasn't happened. And as for 'going starkers for a steamy soapdown' - that's basically getting naked to wash in the shower. How shocking.

Guess what? The next day we had 'Jungle sex for Simon'. Now this isn't just random claims of general romping, this is a named person having had sex. This one must be true. Here goes:

THREESOME-LOVING singer Simon Webbe is heading for a jungle showdown with his angry pop star lover. We can reveal he took part in a steamy suds and splashing session with sexy WAGs CARLY ZUCKER and NICOLA MCLEAN. And the action was judged too hot for viewers and was binned by telly chiefs.

Now, I don't know in what universe 'suds and splashing session' equals sex, but that suggests there are some deeply repressed people at the Star. Once again the footage has been banned (what a surprise...) and another lurid headline revealed to be completely untrue.

The very next day the Star went for three cheap, titillating and false stories in a row. What a record. The story appears to have gone from the Star site, but after jungle romps and threesomes, lesbianism was the only way to go. Of course, no such 'lust' ever happened. And if it had, it would have been banned etc etc.

And on and on it went. And when it got bored of I'm A Celebrity it went on to Britney. The front page story Britney live sex show shock on 3 Dec 08 was eye-catching indeed. The first line: BRITNEY Spears put on a live TV sex show yesterday in a desperate bid to win back fans after her X Factor fiasco. OK, that sounds like it's backing up the headline. Let's read on. The troubled singer delivered her raunchiest ever performance dressed as a sexy ringmaster. Just about with you still, what else? She pulled out all the stops with a saucy set live on the top US breakfast show, Good Morning America, which you can watch above.

Umm, what? A live sex show on Good Morning America? Are you sure? Handily there's a link to the video of the performance, now embedded on the website story page. And what do you get? Frankly, an all too typical song (mime) and dance routine by a half dressed young female pop star. Well, that's certainly front page news, isn't it?

Now all this may seem rather frivolous, but the problem is, the Star keeps doing it and they keep getting away with it. And it's not just on their sleb stories.

Take 'Muslim plot to blow up Eastenders' (again, removed because of a complaint, but can be read here - site not recommended, but gives a good idea of how quickly a false story can become spread all over numerous vile blogs). A Muslim character on Eastenders was shown breaking his Ramadan fast, and this (apparently) led to complaints on a Muslim forum.

Several things to note. One, how the hell do you 'blow up' something that doesn't actually exist? Two, how the hell do anonymous posts on an unnamed blog become sources for a front page 'news' story? Three, how the hell do we know that these comments haven't been posted by Star journos looking for a Muslim-bashing story?

Four, read the comments. There is no 'threat' to 'blow up' anything. Even if you accept the comments as genuine, it's just loud mouths sounding off online, which anyone can do these days (yes, including me!). It seems there was a complaint to the PCC, and a correction published by the Star (On October 3 we reported that bloggers had threatened to “blow up EastEnders” after postman Masood Ahmed had broken his Ramadan fast. While the online posts included a threat of the “ultimate sacrifice”, we accept that they did not specifically contain a bomb threat) but that appears to have taken around 5 months to appear.

If the PCC had any balls at all, it would try and put a stop to this behaviour of misleading front page headlines. There's no point accusing the Star of 'sloppy journalism' (yeh, newsflash!) as the PCC do in the Peaches Geldof ruling, because that 'sloppiness' is entirely intentional to make these innuendos. You don't really expect anything better from the Desmond papers, and while they keep selling them to gullible passers-by, they'll just keep on doing it.

Sorry for the long post. Rant over!

Wednesday 11 March 2009

Blame the Muslims

There is something about this story - Gym club banned from holding classes at girls school after Muslim parents complain about boy members - that sounds very fishy. The story popped up in all the usual suspects - The Sun had it as Kids gym axed in Muslim fury and the Express said School gym forced to shut by Muslims.

The Shirley Gymnastics Club has been asked to move from the all girls Old Palace School in Croydon.

The Club Chairman Colin Parry touted it around all the papers that it was the fault of them Muslims. 'There is a group of Muslim parents with Muslim children at the school and they are the ones putting pressure on the headteacher', he says, because there are boys in the gym club and the parents didn't want them mixing with their girls.

A Tory Councillor, Dudley Mead, was called on for an informed quote. Unfortunately, all he could offer instead was: 'That's the Muslim belief isn't it? They are very protective of their female children.'

So what do the school say? Not too much, but in a statement said:

We were unable to accommodate the early starting time of the club as the school was still functioning. We had hoped that the club could be held at a later time but this was thought unworkable by the organisers. It has not been a decision taken lightly but we have to consider the needs of the school and the security of the site given the very young age of our juniors.

Yes. So nothing to do with 'Muslim fury' then? Well, maybe she wouldn't say that explicitly even if it were true.

But buried in the story is this:

In a bid to find a compromise, the school suggested the gym club start at 6.30pm, rather than 5pm, by which time school pupils would have left the site. But Mr Perry said this was unworkable as it would mean some sessions not ending until 9.30pm, too late for many of the club's members, some as young as five.

So the Club has not been 'kicked out', as The Sun says. Much less 'forced to close' as the Express claims. It has been asked to move to a later time, which it doesn't want to do. Mr Perry says they can't start later as a 9.30 finish would be too late for the five year old members. Which may beg the question - why the hell are five year olds doing 3 hour exercise sessions?

Recommended read - Mail/Migrationwatch figures

Fine analysis from Angry Mob and 5CC (with far more detail than I can manage!)

Recommended read - Enemies of reason

Great expose of the total rubbish that continues to spew forth from the Desmond papers - an article that oh-so-tastefully attacks the survivors of the shootings in Dunblane. The article has been removed from the Express' website but read the story here.

Littlejohn - hates gays more than Muslims

Anyone could write the cretinous columns produced by intellectual vacuum Richard Littlejohn. Come up with a stupid nickname for a politician, add in 'mind how you go' and 'couldn't make it up', drag in some half-true political correctness story, mock Guardian readers and watch your bank balance rocket (up to £800,000 a year, according to some reports)

This week, Littlejohn hates gays.

A London school has taken a cue from Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month to teach pupils about same sex relationships. Outrageous, right? Never mind that 65% of lesbian, gay and bisexual children experience homophobic bullying and so discussing homosexuality in school might be a good idea. He doesn't give a toss about that. Probably just PC, Guardianista propaganda.

Schools talking to their pupils about homosexuality is 'deranged social engineering', 'fatuous drivel' and 'cultural fascism'. His ignorance knows no bounds. He seems to think homosexuality is nuture not nature. He talks about 'parents who choose to tell their children about homosexuality,' as if children who are gay haven't worked out something for themselves already. And you can hear in lines such as 'peddle gay propaganda to children as young as five' some bizarre paranoia about kids being 'turned'.

He even says: 'And why a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender month, anyway? Why not a Foot Fetishists, Spankers, Sadists and Masochists History Month?' as if these two groups are on a par.

The point of his article however, is that some parents, including Muslim ones, have withdrawn their children from these lessons on religious grounds. Normally, that would be considered by Littlejohn to be a failure to integrate and a reason to bash Islam. Again.

He does have a go at the Muslim PC suing his force, just in case the slack-jawed fans thought he'd totally lost his mojo.

Worth reading from the archives: Littlejohn mentions homosexuality 104 times in 90 columns.

Freedom of speech for who?

Not much surprise about the fact that the Sun, Mail and Express all decided their front pages on 11 March 09 should be outrage at the demonstration by a 'hate filled mob' at a homecoming parade for British soldiers.

The protesters numbered between 12 and 20, depending on which paper you read, and were led by Anjem Choudary, shameless self-publicist and current favourite tabloid hate figure. Rather than ignore it, so as to not give them the oxygen of publicity, they splash it all over the the front and inside pages to stoke more anti-Muslim feeling. Not in the least predictable, Melanie Phillips has weighed in with another tiresome rant about the 'Islamist threat to this country'. Forgive me if I don't feel threatened by 20 loudmouths with placards in Luton.

The tone of the coverage has been filled with words such as 'vile abuse', 'repellent', 'turns our stomach' and 'sickening'.

The one question that needs to be asked by these papers is this - why are they happy to defend people's freedom of speech only for certain people?

Compare, for example, to the Mail's story two days earlier headlined Tory councillor faces race hate charges after telling meeting gypsies would 'stab you as soon as look at you'. It didn't get much coverage but the tone of that article is nothing like as appalled as with the Luton stories. Indeed, the Mail website comments section is full of people defending him with the 'freedom of speech' line.

And of course, the Mail was all too willing to defend Carol Thatcher over her golliwog remarks and Geert Wilders over his anti-Islam film as free speech issues.

So why do they not defend the right to this sad group of Muslims to excersise their right to free speech?

Monday 9 March 2009

Mail laughs at racism

The Mail (9 March 09) has once again made it seem that claims of racism are something to be mocked.

Muslim PC sues after workmates 'laughed at his beard' takes one of the less serious aspects of the allegations and makes a headline out of it, so people can say things such as: 'Here we go again!!!!' and 'Look out, there goes another half million quid in compensation,' among fifty-plus comments that all concentrate on the beard.

Yes as the story makes clear, the PC making the claim (Javid Iqbal) has also claimed he was called a 'fucking Paki' by colleagues and 'white officers openly discussed in front of him how they were 'better' than their ethnic-minority colleagues.'

So why isn't the headline 'Muslim PC sues after workmates call him 'fucking Paki''? Because that would make it seem like a serious story about anti-Muslim discrimination and racism. And in the Mail, that would never do.

Friday 6 March 2009

A full house

In a Robert Murat style mass-grovel, eight papers (Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mirror, the Sun, the London Paper and the Daily Express, plus Times Online and Metro Online) and Sky News have apologised and paid 'substantial' libel damages to a woman whose house wasn't trashed during a party at her house that wasn't organised via Facebook. Read the story here.

Talking of Murat, he has given a speech to the Oxford Union talking about his experiences of the media. It would be good the read the full speech but Michael White's report contains plenty of good detail.

Thursday 5 March 2009

Who is Michael Causer?

Remember Rhys Jones? The young Liverpool boy who was killed - shot in the back by Sean Mercer - after leaving a football practice session. His desperately sad story, received blanket coverage.

Remember Anthony Walker? The Liverpool teenager killed with an ice axe in a racist attack. His desperately sad story, received blanket coverage.

Now, do you remember Michael Causer? He was a Liverpool teenager battered to death while he slept. Chances are, you won't have heard of him. Go to the websites of the Mail, Express, Sun, Times and Telegraph and search for his name. Nothing will come up. In the spate of murders of teenagers that have had lots of media coverage in the last year or so, the death of Michael Causer was ignored. Why?

Because he was gay.

The background to the case can be read in an Independent story which revealed the accused was acquitted in Feb 09. You can also find stories in the Guardian about the case. But the other papers didn't think it was worth reporting.

Ben Summerskill of Stonewall is quoted in the Indy story as saying: “It is testament to the lack of seriousness with which these kinds of incidents are treated. They are simply not regarded as newsworthy. The BBC has reported every single murder of an adolescent in the past 18 months in this country as a national news story, but not this one.”

Why would Michael's death not be considered newsworthy? What is it about him that distinguishes him from the others?

He was gay.

It is hardly surprising giving the way these newspapers report gay issues - the Daily Star still thinks the word 'fruit' is acceptable (no direct link, but it was 23 May 2006, in front page headline) and thinks all gay men carry handbags.

When a story about using pink balls in cricket in The Sun gets the headline: 'Looks like it's gay-Lord's!' and the first line: 'CRICKETERS may look like they are batting for the other side — hitting PINK balls,' a story written by the almost certainly made up reporter James Clench.

When The Sun can write about Carmen Electra on 23 March 2007 which begins: 'Carmen Electra has been accused of sharing a lesbian love affair with rocker Joan Jett'. Accused? In what other relationship has the word accused appeared in that way?

Remember the 30 January 2007 front page, published at the height of the Celebrity Big Brother Shilpagate affair? (I know this is not meant to be mentioned because of the impending death of St Jade of Goody, but I'm going to anyway). Why was homosexuality left out?

You could say because it was a front page about racism, but then why was 'chav' included?

Then again, had they included it, they probably would have given the boy holding the sign a pink outfit and handbag...