Sunday 20 September 2009

'Christians under attack' round-up

Two stories in the Mail on Sunday, one which first appeared in the Telegraph, implying that Christians are under siege.

The first is a slightly curious report about Aintree hotel couple Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang. The Mail claims they have been hauled before court after defending their beliefs in discussion with Muslim guest.

Note the use of the emotive 'hauled' to suggest something heavy handed and unnecessary. The first line also makes it clear whose side the Mail is on:

A Christian couple have been charged with a criminal offence after taking part in what they regarded as a reasonable discussion about religion with guests at their hotel.

The view of the Muslim guest is not given, and the Mail admits the facts are 'disputed'.

It goes further in the editorial, saying:

It is hard to comment on the detail of the case...since both prosecution and defence seem reluctant to speak about it.

But if it is so hard to comment and the facts are disputed, how does the Mail feel able to write a very a slanted article and biased editorial on the case?

The other story is - and stop me if you have heard it before - a Christian woman banned from wearing a necklace by workplace rules. The Mail (and indeed the Telegraph, twice, and the Times) have sniffed a Christian-being-persecuted-for-health-and-safety-and-political-correctness reasons and gone to town.

But here's how the Mail headline reads:

Christian nurse removed from frontline duty for wearing cross necklace

If it read 'Nurse removed from frontline duty for wearing necklace' would anyone be interested? No. But that is the story.

Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust Hospital have said all necklaces are banned:

our uniform and dress code policy does not allow our staff to wear necklaces, with or without anything attached to it...If a member of staff asked if they could wear a crucifix pinned on their uniform lapel this would not comply with the same policy for the same reasons but it would be acceptable to wear it if pinned inside their uniform lapel or pocket.

So nurse Shirley Chaplin can still wear her cross if she wants. They make that quite clear. There is no attempt to stop her wearing a symbol of her faith. Just not on a necklace.

But she throws out a few Mail-arousing quotes about 'discriminating against Christians' and a 'blatant piece of political correctness' and they rise to the bait exactly as expected.

But the Hospital have their rules, asked her to remove the necklace and have taken off frontline duty until she complies. In other circumstances you could see the Mail saying 'why can't she just abide by the rules?'

But because she's a Christian (middle aged, white, two children, married, from Devon) they see it as a sign of something bigger.

Back in the Telegraph, 'journalist and social commentator' Ed West misinterprets the story for his own agenda. He doesn't see a Muslim plot but an atheist one. But he engages in a very convenient bit of misunderstanding.

The Trust says about religious symbols:

Exceptions are made for requirements of faith, but a crucifix is not considered to fall under this category, they added.

West misleadingly retorts:

How can a crucifix, the most recognisable religious symbol and, dare I say it, brand logo of all time, not be recognised as a religious symbol?

Err, well who said it wasn't? Certainly not the Hospital Trust. The point they made was not whether a crucifix is a 'symbol' of faith but whether wearing one is a 'requirement of faith'. And they say it isn't.

Incidentally, West is features editor of the Catholic Herald and likes the new book by Christopher Caldwell (discussed here). He refers to Caldwell as:

a mild-mannered Financial Times journalist

instead of calling him:

a journalist and senior editor at The Weekly Standard

The Weekly Standard being a right-wing rag edited and founded by Sarah Palin's biggest supporter, Bill Kristol.

In the wake of Patrick Swayze's death, West also wrote about Red Dawn as

one of the best action movies of all time.

Rather than a ludicrous right-wing wank-fant. And he can't have seen many action movies either.

1 comment:

  1. Just wanted to flag up a Guardian piece that rests these exact 2 stories, oblivious to the fact that they have already been deconstructed by you.

    And that is just Too. Fucked. Up.

    The Graun have a right to be a bunch of idiots same as the next bunch of idiot journos, but rehashing tabloid lies? Give me a break. Also, the comments seem to be populated entirely with the scariest type of Daily Mail reader - the type that can spell.

    Anyway, link:


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