Sunday, 31 October 2010

Royal Mail hasn't banned religion

Minority Thought has posted on the latest nonsense about Christmas and Christianity being under attack which has appeared in the Sunday Express:

The headline is, as Minority Thought points out, 'absurd' but it is just the latest example of the word 'ban' being thrown around completely incorrectly.

It doesn't take much to work out that Royal Mail has little power to actually 'ban religion'. The story doesn't actually say this, claiming instead that religious images have been 'banned' from this year's Christmas stamps:

Church leaders are furious with Royal Mail bosses who ditched Christian images on Christmas stamps in favour of children’s favourites Wallace and Gromit.

Last night, the Archbishop of Canterbury was being asked to take action, just two days before the stamps go on sale.

But as the very next paragraph of David Paul's article makes clear:

The plasticine stars of The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit will appear on seven different stamps but those wanting a religious theme have only one choice, the image of the Madonna and Child that has been on sale for the past three years.

Ah. So religious images haven't been 'banned' or 'ditched' from this year's stamps? No:

A Royal Mail spokeswoman said: “We have distributed tens of millions of the Madonna and Child stamps to go on sale alongside the Wallace and Gromit stamps.”

How the Express turns 'distributing tens of millions' of something into a 'ban' is something the PCC may want to look at.

Even the Daily Mail, which has been angry about secular Christmas stamps in the past, weren't complaining when they reported on the Wallace and Gromit stamps in September:

The animated inventor, whose gadgets never quite work according to plan, and his long-suffering dog, will be delivering their brand of humour from the envelopes of millions of Christmas cards...

But stamps featuring the Madonna and child are also on sale.

And what of the Express' claim that 'church leaders are furious'? Well, as usual, they use the word 'fury' when the shouldn't. And the article only quotes one person who isn't happy - a 'team rector' from a small village in Wiltshire (population: 1,213). So not leaders, plural.

The Express also claims:

Critics claim the switch to Wallace and a cynical bid by Royal Mail bosses to boost profits and ignores the true meaning of Christmas.

It doesn't say who these 'critics' are. But the Express knows - because this fuss about stamps seems to come up every year - that the Royal Mail have alternated between themes for several years:

Royal Mail’s policy for Christmas stamps is to alternate non-secular and secular themes. The 2009 stamps showed the nativity as depicted in stained glass windows from the Pre-Raphaelite era and in 2010 a secular theme is featured.

To provide choice for customers, the popular 1st and 2nd Class Madonna and Child stamps, first issued in 2007, will also be available.

Indeed, in 2008 the main stamps carried a pantomime theme but as the Royal Mail explained at the time:

Customers will be able to purchase stamps depicting two classic, iconic paintings - the Madonna of Humility by Lippo di Dalmasio and Madonna and Child by William Dyce. The Madonna of Humility features on the 1st Class stamp and Madonna and Child on the 2nd Class.

So the Express have produced a totally misleading headline and made claims about a 'ban' which is clearly shown to be false later in the article. They also over-state the amount, and the strength, of the criticism.

But one person leaving a comment on the Express website hasn't understood any of that:


  1. I'm never sure whether you cheer me up with these things, or make me just a little bit depressed. We can still never get over the fact that people buy this rag, and of those that do, I'm sure some believe the tosh. Never mind - thanks as always for posting.

  2. Not long until the first 'Local council BANS Christmas' story, that's when the holiday season really starts!

  3. Ignoring the wholly fanciful use of "bans religion", I'm still trying to work out what kind of parallel universe Express readers inhabit in which a clay man with a Yorkshire accent and his dog are symbols of creeping Islamism, and presumably simultaneously shock troops of an "atheist hate mob".

    The fact that some of these commenters are able to operate items run by electricity is worrying.

  4. "Critics claim the switch to made up racist a cynical bid by The Express bosses to boost profits and ignores the true meaning of journalism."

  5. "Even the Daily Mail, which has been angry about secular Christmas stamps in the past, weren't complaining when they reported on the Wallace and Gromit stamps in September:"

    They'll have changed their minds by next month. Wait and see.

    I'm just wondering whether Winterval will make its usual appearance along with last years new entry in the outrage stakes - Cameron's Christmas cards that said 'Seasons Greetings'.

  6. Thanks for helping to peel away the thin veneer of lies that are used to twist and distort these 'shock' stories. Especially by simply examining the information that is already contained within the writer's own words. It's elegant criticism.

    I really wish that people would pay more attention to this sort of thing and perhaps, one day, there might be some more rigourous upholding of standards, by a regulator taking some meaningful action.

  7. "a cynical bid by Royal Mail bosses to boost profits" - are they suggesting that the Royal Mail is cynically selling Wallace and Gromit stamps because, er, customers prefer them? And how long has the Dail Mail believed that boosting profits was a bad thing? Bloody Communists.

  8. "Critics claim the switch to Wallace and a cynical bid by Royal Mail bosses to boost profits and ignores the true meaning of Christmas."

    Critics (right-minded people) claim (know) the Daily Express has a cynical agenda to boost profits with sensationalist stories which ignore the truth.

  9. That Express website comment is hilarious in it's stupidity - the Royal Mail has pandered to Muslims by... not putting Islamic images on its stamps?

  10. I think there must be, at the Express's HQ, a cold, dark office, where a sub-editor sits, hunched and squinting in the sputtering candle-light, scratching away with a quill pen, occasionally muttering to himself, "Bah! Humbug!"

  11. OK, that's embarrassing. I'm signed into the wrong account. Hello, this is rewboss.

  12. Compare and contrast the Express' own article from September when the designs were announced:

  13. This story is posted every other year, why? Because the Royal Mail alternates between a main religious stamp and a secular stamp every year. Express readers are too pig ignorant to realise this thus they can print it, OVER AND OVER AGAIN. *sigh*.

  14. I think The Express et al publish these kind of stories partly because they will attract the kind of bigotted online comment exemplified by the imbecile known as "Here We Go Again".

    Why doesn't The Excretepress just bring Nick Griffin in as a sub-editor and stop pretending they are anything but right-wing scum?

  15. I banned the Express and the Mail from my house a long time ago. But my ban is real as is my "fury" whenever I look at them, their crappy stories, made up lies, stories relating to their nasty owners and editors.

  16. This is really scraping the barrel. I have stamps from about 1988 with Aladdin on: obviously some Stalinist plot by Royal Mail to impose Chinese law and Arab culture on me as a child.

  17. The Daily Express is, of course, keen on the true meaning of Christmas: you know, compassion for the outcast and foreigner and so on.


  18. @nickpheas

    That's a good link, and amusing / depressing for the comments as well. The top one saying:

    "I think it's a wonderful way to celebrate yet another great British achievement, which all too often get buried underneath piles of multi-culti nonsense"

    Basically, you cannot win.

  19. Miserable Po-Faced Right-Wing Loonies Ban Humour4 November 2010 at 13:27

    Clearly there's something sinister that we haven't been told about Wallace and Gromit. Who'd have guessed they're part of a Muslim conspiracy?


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