Time passes, things get worse

It has been nearly two years since I last blogged and yet the post I want to sit down and write is essentially an update to that last post – which was, in itself, merely an evolution of earlier blogposts. All of those blogposts were discussing why I – and many others – blogged about dishonest newspapers and the narratives they sell so successfully to the public.

I know that blogging against established, monied, powerful and sadly extremely mainstream cultural institutions is, in many ways, pointless. Even when this blog had a fairly decent readership, it was almost always preaching to the converted and despite some very limited mainstream coverage of a couple of issues, it had no real impact.

I didn’t expect it to, but what I did try to do as much as possible was make the argument that whilst this blog – and the many like it – had no real importance, their exploration of how our press distorts reality does matter – and I am writing this now, because now I think we’re all really waking up to that fact.

One of my key frustrations when writing this blog was the argument that I would lead a happier, healthier and more productive life if I just stopped reading such media outlets. There is certainly some truth in that, my personal happiness has been greatly improved by not reading the Daily Mail or Mail Online, but that is missing the point. My counter-argument was always that this ‘ignorance-is-bliss’ approach would only be successful in the long run if the Daily Mail et al couldn’t have any other impact on my life.

But they do.

My analogy was always that you don’t have to smoke a cigarette to inhale the toxic fumes, but merely share the same atmosphere as a smoker and you’d get those fumes second-hand – passively, but just as deadly. This is true of media narratives, I don’t have to read newspapers to be profoundly impacted by the poisonous lies they craft. Those narratives shape our politics, distort our referendums and support the hatred and bigotry that we all encounter in our lives – either as victims or witnesses.

Perhaps if we had a political class prepared to base policy on sound evidence and not the editorials of our always outraged, reactive and regressive newspapers, we would not now be facing Brexit. Perhaps if newspapers had not spent decades deriding the European Union with lie after lie, or blaming it for problems firmly made in the UK and only fixable by our own government people might have voted differently.

But here we are, two years on, and the only thing that has changed is that newspapers are now more confidently racist, more openly hateful and more smilingly contemptuous of the public. The UK is a darker place, socially, politically and culturally than it has been for a very long time. We can no longer pretend that it is enough to simply not pick up a newspaper and we’ll be OK. That doesn’t work when those who are happy to believe the narratives are the majority and they have changed our society so dramatically.

The only real option left is to fight against the idea that we now live in a post-factual society, where opinion is all that matters and we’re sick of experts, figures and the truth.

The only real question is how?

Dishonest journalism matters

I know I don’t blog much these days and I rarely read the Daily Mail, but I used to do both of these things. A lot. During this period I experienced a lot of eye-rolling if I attempted to talk to people about what the Mail (or other terrible newspapers) had written, and why it was a lie and what it was trying to do. Most people just didn’t care or they implied that they did care, but that in the great scheme of things it didn’t really matter because most people take what they read with a pinch of salt anyway.

This is the great paradox of a lot of people in Britain, and perhaps worldwide: we often profess to not trust journalists or newspapers, yet we seem to be entirely convinced by the media narratives that they create. We don’t trust newspapers, but we do blame all of our woes on the welfare state, benefit scroungers and immigrants. We don’t trust newspapers, but we do believe that obscene inequality is only right and natural and that the immensely wealthy are innately better people than us and they not only deserve to be that wealthy, but they have also earned the right to dodge as much tax as they can as well.

We don’t trust newspapers, but we’re pretty sure that climate change is a scam dreamed up by hippies and governments to tax us more. We don’t trust newspapers, but we do know that having human rights is definitely a bad thing. We don’t trust newspapers, but we do know that Christianity is under attack by the PC brigade and that they’re banning Christmas because it ‘offends Muslims’.

For a people distrustful of the mainstream media, we sure do take on board a lot of their narratives. This brings me to this year’s Christmas card sent out by the BNP. Naturally, the card unsubtly wishes the receiver a ‘white Christmas’. Equally as expected, the BNP have edited the stock photo of the girl on the front – changing her eyes from hazel (brown) to blue (Aryan). Also par for the course is a short and cheery Enoch Powell quotation on the back (“It’s never too late to save your country!”), who is introduced as ‘The legendary Enoch Powell’.

I can live with all of those things, after all, what else would you expect to get from the BNP? What annoys me – in my position of being the world’s foremost expert on the Winterval myth – is that they only go and bloody repeat it! Under the banner ‘Protecting our Christmas’ they warn the reader:

Our Christian values underpin our British Identity. It’s why they’re under attack, not just from Islamification, but also from the Politically Correct authorities who put immigrants before us, the British people.

Christmas is being stealthily and ruthlessly dismantled and replaced. We’ve all heard of Winterval, it’s the Politically Correct replacement of our traditional Christmas – an engineered replacement complete with polar bears, penguins, and snowflakes to eradicate our traditional nativity scenes, with baby Jesus, Joseph, Mary, and the Three Wise Kings all to be airbrushed out.

Firstly, it does seem ironic that the xenophobic BNP miss the traditional ‘British’ Christmas – the celebration of a virgin birth in Jerusalem, which is a bit, well, foreign, is it not? Secondly, could it not be argued that we’re increasingly a less Christian country because people are finding it hard to believe that a white couple, with Western names, gave birth in the Middle East to a baby conceived as a result of angelic intervention? It might be less the result of ‘Politically Correct authorities’ and more a case of ‘it is quite clearly bollocks, and I object my child being subjected to it’.

Secondly, the idea that Neo-Nazi skinheads marching drunkenly through a city centre are motivated by the marginalisation of baby Jesus seems somewhat incongruous. After all, if they were good Christians they’d surely either turn the other cheek, forgive them or love thy new neighbours. I don’t think Jesus’ teachings would quite gel with the BNP worldview.

And finally, I love the idea that Christmas is being ‘stealthily’ replaced. Presumably, it’s stealthy in the sense that you cannot perceive it happening… because it is not happening. Those stealthy PC authorities, they might be putting up Christmas trees and sending out cards, but they’re ‘ruthlessly dismantling’ Christmas behind the scenes.

Which brings me, in a rambling, verbose way (I am out of practise), to my main point: when newspapers lie to pursue a media narrative it does matter, it does have consequences. Here we are, 16 years after the Winterval myth was initially spread by tabloid and broadsheet alike and it is still acting as an enabler for extremist right-wing views. As I demonstrated in my ebook, the longevity and popularity of the Winterval myth was largely because of its power as the seed from which other myths of Christian marginalisation could grow. Increasingly it formed the cornerstone of a rampant media narrative that authorities – out of fear – were actively pandering to the sensitivities of Muslims.

It is easy to ignore the direct output of the Daily Mail – and all newspapers which pursue a similar worldview and agenda – but it is impossible to ignore the consequences. When the upcoming election is dominated by the ‘problem’ of immigration or the ‘reality’ of austerity and continued cuts to the welfare state, remember: this is because a lot of people buy into these media narratives. Politicians spend huge amounts of time and energy responding to the media agenda, irrespective of whether that agenda has any basis in reality or whether it best represents the interests of the majority.

We will never have be able to improve our society for as long as our media is owned by vested interests. They have sold us the lie that there is no alternative to inequality, injustice and unfairness – and, like Winterval, enough of us have fallen for it to make their lie, our truth.

You can buy my ebook from Amazon or Kobo.

Winterval: still continuing to fool lazy journalists

I had a message from a Twitter user a couple of days ago that Winterval had been trotted out again by yet another lazy journalist, this time Mary Kenny in a column for the Belfast Mercury. In her column she recounts how:

A few years ago, Birmingham city council sought to replace ‘Christmas’ with ‘Winterval’, alleging that it was “offensive” to Muslims and other non-Christians that a holiday based on ‘Christ’s Mass’ should be on the calendar.

Like so many later repetitions the Muslims are to blame, scaring Birmingham council with the very thought that such a holiday should even be on the calendar!

Of course, as I’ve repeated here and elsewhere many times: Birmingham council did no such thing, and the events they did hold (of which Christmas – called Christmas – was the focal point) were a marketing ploy to drive business into the city centre and had absolutely nothing to do with the religious sensitivities of anyone. Winterval took place in 1997 and 1998, as a media myth it has been debunked again and again, yet here we are, 17 years later still having it repeated by people paid to write for a living.

Now seems a good a time as any to plug my e-book on the subject, available via Amazon and Kobo for a very small price. In a year in which the press avoided regulation (again) it makes for pretty painful reading about how journalists are happy to repeatedly lie to push their media narratives – and how these media narratives become more extreme over time.

The reports of Angry Mob’s demise have been greatly exaggerated…

As you may or may not have noticed Angry Mob has been defunct for a little while now. This was due to me using a very old custom blog template that I made myself based on an old WordPress blank template which was being attacked and the site had to be shut down, wiped clean and now has to be made anew.

I have backed-up (hopefully successfully) the content of the old website, which will be restored when I get the new template finished.

I may even grace the restored blog with the occasional post. I don’t look at the Daily Mail much these days, but it still festers away in the background and hasn’t got any better in my absence.

Anyway, for the occasional visitor who might come across this website: rejoice, for it will return.

I am still available on Twitter.

Winterval: Still alive and kicking

Remember the dim and distant days of November 2011 when the Daily Mail published a correction to a Melanie Phillips article in which they finally acknowledged that Winterval had never renamed Christmas:

We stated in an article on 26 September that Christmas has been renamed in various places Winterval. Winterval was the collective name for a season of public events, both religious and secular, which took place in Birmingham in 1997 and 1998. We are happy to make clear that Winterval did not rename or replace Christmas.

As I wrote recently in my E-Book about Winterval (which this blog post will repeatedly plug) this correction from the Daily Mail did more to kill the myth than any debunking had managed before, and apart from the occasional mention the myth had pretty much died.

However, the Daily Mail has – 3 days ago – published another article on the myth: ‘She may as well have wished us Happy Winterval!’ MP who sent out Happy Holidays card faces backlash for ‘marginalising’ Christmas’. The article suggests – in one of the Mail Online’s various bullet-point sub-headings – that such a card ‘Draws comparisons to the 1990s Winterval furore in Birmingham’. The Mail also makes room for the following handy reminder to readers:

winterval

This little box is crammed full of lies. Winterval was never about ‘reflect[ing] the diverse nature of the city’s population’, nor did the council ever say anything about making the city a more welcoming place for ethnic groups. These are lies, I have read every single piece of news coverage, in both local and national newspapers, since 1997 on this subject and I have never, ever seen anything that could possibly justify these assertions. I know this will not come as a shock, but the Daily Mail is making this up, they are lying to their readers.

As for the then Bishop of Birmingham’s comments, they were made a year after the initial Winterval celebrations in 1997 (of which he seems to have been completely oblivious) and they were reported by a newspaper that up until that point had not criticised Winterval at all – indeed, newspaper reports after the 1997 event talked about what a success it had been and how Winterval 1998 was going to be bigger and better.

If you care about the state of journalism, or you want others to realise just how happy newspapers are to make stuff up to incite hatred towards target groups, then please buy and read my E-book on the Winterval myth. It will – I think – open the eyes of any reader as to how one little myth can fuel a media narrative (atheists / Muslims / PC brigade are banning Christmas) for over 15 years, and how in each passing year the original myth becomes more and more embellished to suit the political needs of the newspaper at the time.

In other news, Ann Widdecombe recently crammed as many media myths into a few hundred words as I’ve ever seen, including Winterval and a Dr Chris Allen has completely ripped-off all of my research into Winterval in a blog post in which he basically rejigs my writing on the topic – adding nothing new.

The only way anyone can make me feel better is to buy my E-book:

winterval-book

Winterval E-Book published

I’ve spent the last few weeks fully updating, proofreading and finalising my first E-book and am pleased to announce that it has now been published via Amazon. I hope to publish the book with Kobo store in the next couple of days.

It should make a nice digital stocking filler for anyone interested in a good tale of bad journalism. Should it go well I hope to publish a few more books on the media next year.

Thanks, and Merry Christmas.

Due prominence

The Leveson inquiry examining the culture, practices and ethics of the press concluded with a printed report on the 29th November 2012. It recommended that the press – having failed to effectively regulate itself, despite being given more than one chance to do so – be regulated by a truly independent regulator with some form of statutory underpinning. What this meant in simple terms: because the press so clearly cannot be trusted to a, behave appropriately and b, punish any misdemeanors through the PCC, some formal system is needed to ensure that appropriate sanctions would actually be applied.

The press took this as the ‘end of press freedom’ and has been fighting against any form of regulation (again) ever since. What is interesting, though, is that whilst this fight has been ongoing the press has still been completely ignoring the PCC code of practice – which, as I have commented before, is actually not bad. What the PCC code of practice (both the shortened quick bullet points, and the longer, more detailed examination of how a modern press should behave) demonstrates is that newspaper editors understand the kind of behaviour that a decent, moral press would engage in, and what is unacceptable. It clearly isn’t ignorance of what a good press should be that is holding editors back, it is rather that they understand that they can completely ignore such a code as there are no sanctions for doing so.

Think of the PCC code of practice as being exactly the same as the New Year’s Resolutions you might set yourself: sure, you understand that eating healthy is a good thing to do and you could even right a perfectly logical rationale in support of it; this doesn’t mean you have any intention of sticking to the resolution and nor is there any external reason why you should. Most New Year’s Resolutions end in abject failure; just like the PCC and press self-regulation.

In terms of the Leveson report and the ongoing press struggle against any form of regulation you’d think it would be in the interests of the press to abide, strictly by the code to demonstrate to everyone that they are capable of self-regulation without statutory underpinning.

Yet they haven’t changed their practices at all.

One of the clearest examples is the PCC code of practice stating that:

A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and – where appropriate – an apology published.

This, to my knowledge, has never happened – either before or after the Leveson report was published. The latest example is provided by the Sun:

I’m pretty sure that this story (having done the rounds on the Internet very effectively) wasn’t published in a tiny corner on page 2 (the page which is the least read in the newspaper format according to what I’ve read in the past).


The image was taken by Giles Goodall, you can follow him on Twitter if you’d like.


PS: Clicking on the Angry Mob TV videos earns me money, so feel free to have a click on them before you leave the site to help pay for web hosting.

Stop buying the Daily Mail: it is not out to help you

It’s been a while since I last posted anything on this blog, or indeed have written anything about anything. Yet every now and again the Daily Mail does something that stirs up Twitter and occasionally it makes me want to make some sort of comment, but I don’t get round to it or I feel as if everything has already been said. But as it has been such a long time since I blogged about just what a terrible newspaper the Daily Mail is, I thought it worth going over again.

The Daily Mail is a cowardly newspaper. Attacking Ed Miliband through his dead father is just the latest in the long line of comment published solely in an attempt to discredit someone (without ever wanting to actually debate the points made). The argument of the press that it exists as a check and balance to the rich and powerful has long been a sick joke (too often repeated by spineless politicians of all bland and samey flavours who are too scared to court the vitriol of the industry) and the state of our society today is evidence enough that they have not provided any kind of check to the power of big business or giddy politicians.

The Daily Mail is part of a press that is largely part of the system of control, the noisy attack dog of big business and politicians bent on giving the last remnants of the state over to private firms to run into the ground for the benefit of a few shareholders – who increasingly hoover up the wealth of the planet into the hands of a few thousands of people (money does not ‘trickle down’ in the form of capitalism the world has been forced to adopt, it steadily – and increasingly rapidly – flows up; evidenced by the fact that the rich keep getting richer and the rest of us squabble around for ever smaller bites of the capitalist apple).

The Daily Mail is not a newspaper, it never has been. It is a wonderfully successful vehicle to ensure that enough people largely fear and despise one another whilst not really noticing that the people around them are, in fact, just like them; only different in some inconsequential way. The Daily Mail is brilliantly evil because it doesn’t do this by carpet bombing the nation with free newspaper drops, it actually sells this hatred to a willing public. One of the things that society enjoys repeating is the sorry cycle of electing politicians who wear different colour ties, but enact policies that are largely the same. We boot out the Tories, only to then boot out Labour for being just as bad… just to return the Tories; who are terrible, so we vote in Labour and so on.

We exist in a permanent state of limbo in which politicians only focus on short-term populism which ultimately results in bad choices and long-term decline. Politicians only attempt to make changes that they can push through in their short time in office, each competing vainly to make the biggest impact during their time on stage – a stage which they are normally ill-equipped on which to stand (Michael Gove possibly being the worst of the current very sorry bunch). Thus politicians dabble in education, bringing in sweeping changes on nothing more than a whim and a misty-eyed view of their own schooling, reorganize the NHS, safe in the knowledge that the next incumbent will only serve to twist it into a different shape anyway.

Meanwhile the country drifts towards blackout because a long-term energy strategy is expensive, unpopular and doesn’t give the politician the chance to make a noticeable mark in the same way that blaming teachers for the state of education does (hint: teachers are not the reason why education is increasingly becoming the antithesis of the word). Part of our inability to take action, to understand the problems that we face, is the constant disinformation spread by the Daily Mail and it’s sorry cohort of newspapers determined to maintain the status quo and indeed tighten the grip of the rich around the throats of just about everyone (they allow us just enough breath to watch TV and buy more shit we don’t need to distract ourselves from the misery of existing in a world in which millions die of starvation, whilst millions shovel money into the hands of false saviours to try and halt their descent into morbid obesity).

We can’t get out of this cycle unless we organise ourselves and change politics to actually work for the majority. We need a long-term energy goal, we need worthwhile jobs and decent housing for all. I sometimes feel that we look back through history at the rigid class system and extremes in wealth and poverty as if those days are gone, when clearly little has changed. It’s not enough to point to Alan Sugar and argue that the class system is dead, its just that most people born on housing estates clearly aren’t working hard enough (although the media seems intent on trying to make this case).

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: we will not move forward as a society or planet if we keep buying newspapers, or indeed willingly believe most forms of media with which we are bombarded. These organisations are not looking out for us, they are there to silence us, to bully us into submission with the their power, or cower us into inaction because we fear the fellow citizens without which we are incapable of enacting change.

Buying most newspapers is an antisocial act, reading the Daily Mail and disseminating the hate within is akin to smoking and blowing smoke into the faces of the people around you. You can’t avoid the health hazards of smoking if people smoke around you, anymore than you can avoid the poison breathed by the readership of the Daily Mail. Turning your back is not an option, the Daily Mail will not be defeated with a blind eye, it needs to be stared down.

Buying the Daily Mail should be as socially unacceptable as drink driving – we don’t care if you die from your own stupidity, but it’s the danger you cause to others that we will not tolerate.

P.S. it would also help if millions of people slapped themselves firmly around the face and realised that the lives of celebrities are a pointless distraction and stopped making the Daily Mail website one of the busiest on earth.

Just imagine a world in which people spent time informing themselves about the things that matter instead of reading celebrity drivel. The things we might achieve.

You can’t hate anyone anymore, can you?

Since the death of Lucy Meadows Richard Littlejohn – chief amongst the guilty parties who monstered her so publicly – has written not one word in defence of his actions or in apology for his attack. Instead, he has continued to attack people just as before. For example, WPC Kelly Jones is suing a suspected burglary victim for damages after she after allegedly tripped over a kerb, hurting her left leg and right wrist during the investigation. Littlejohn wades in claiming that ‘WPC Kelly Jones is not fit to wear the same uniform as a proper copper’ and that:

WPC Jones is an especially appalling example of a breed of so-called public ‘servant’ who, to invert John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s famous phrase, asks not what she can do for her country but what her country can do for her.

And he isn’t finished there, either:

Off-duty, she’s not much of a poster girl for the police. Visibly overweight with unkempt hair, she looks less like a policewoman and more like one of those ferocious female members of the ‘travelling community’ engaged in pitched battles with Plod at illegal camps such as Dale Farm.

It’s just typical Littlejohn, attacking those who do not have any hope of responding – not exactly the brave warrior holding those in power to account that his website makes him out to be.

In between the normal personal attacks he has also found time to speculate that half of Romania already lives in the UK and that they’re a one-nation crimewave, as well his classic confusion between ‘weather’ and ‘climate’ – in which the recent cold spell is used as the final proof that global warming is ‘lunacy’ and the product of ‘bovine stupidity’. The irony.

Speaking of irony, he also spends a column ruminating on April Fool’s stories in newspapers, wondering why ‘Every year newspapers go to elaborate lengths to spoof their readers on April Fools’ Day’ when ‘Looking at the papers, it’s increasingly difficult to distinguish fact from fantasy’. One of the few slithers of truth in a Richard Littlejohn column is, of course, entirely unintentional – and rather amusing considering he’s been responsible for some fine work of fiction down the years being passed on as fact. Remember, for example, when he claimed that ‘Haringey [council] hired someone to give hopscotch lessons to Asian women’. Turns out, no-one could ever find any evidence for this, but Fullfact discovered that ‘it later transpired that the public money had been given to the Hopscotch Asian Women’s Centre, a well-respected voluntary organisation that deals with domestic violence, language and integration issues in Camden, which neighbours Haringey’.

Littlejohn’s latest column decides to bemoan the fact that ‘now it’s a crime to hate the Sex Pistols’, which is actually Littlejohn commenting on the fact that:

[The Greater Manchester Police are] becoming the first force to extend ‘hate crime’ status to those with ‘alternative sub-culture identity’. In future, these groups will be granted the same special treatment as racial, religious, gender identity, disabled and sexual minorities.

Which seems fair enough, presumably because such attacks rely on how someone looks or what they are perceived to be – like racist or homophobic attacks. As usual, whenever Richard Littlejohn talks about someone who looks a bit different he invokes his ‘friend’ ‘Black Mike’ who ‘always jokes when he spots a Sid Vicious lookalike gobbing his way down the High Street: ‘Gi’ us a stick and I’ll kill it.’’

Which, presumably, is the sort of response that has made the GMP think that such hate crimes need to be formally dealt with as such. So, Littlejohn unintentially undermines his own argument. However, worse is to come because, of course, Littlejohn’s never really sure about what he has written in the past – and God knows his readership isn’t intelligent enough to call him up on it. You see, he decides to talk about the ‘tragic death of 20-year-old Sophie Lancaster, who was attacked along with her boyfriend in a park in Bacup, Lancs, by a mob who took exception to her goth clothing and stark make-up’.

The Daily Mail reported on the trial of the attackers in 2008, noting that:

A gap year student was kicked and stamped to death and her boyfriend left fighting for his life by a gang of drunken teenagers just because they were dressed as Goths, a court heard yesterday.

Just two months before this trial Richard Littlejohn had written about another couple who dress and act differently:

Much hilarity at the tale of the woman who describes herself as a “human pet” and her keeper, thrown off a bus in Yorkshire for being weird.

Tasha Maltby – runaway winner of this week’s Here We Go Looby Lou award – goes round the streets of Dewsbury on a dog lead.

Naturally, ever the serial recycler, Littlejohn invokes his friend:

My Geordie mate, Black Mike, would take one look at her in her absurd “Goth” outfit and remark: “Gi’ us a stick and I’ll kill it.”

Which, given this is pretty much what happened to Sophie Lancaster, Richard Littlejohn looks even nastier than he normally does. He really doesn’t understand what a hate crime is, even when he writes down an example:

When her owner – er, fiancé – Addams Family lookalike Dani Graves tried to take her on to a bus, the driver stopped them, saying: “We don’t let freaks and dogs like you on.”

And what did this couple have the gall to do? Well:

The couple complained that it was a “hate crime”.

Presumably, judging someone for what they wear / how they behave is just as bad as judging someone based on their skin colour or nationality. Tutting inside your own head about what someone is wearing is one thing, calling them ‘freaks and dogs’ and chucking them off of a bus is another. You could say that’s crossing the line between merely thinking something is a little odd to committing a hate crime. It’s a barrier most of the population don’t seem to have an issue with, so what Littlejohn’s issue with hate crimes is, I don’t know.

Anyway, back in 2008 he continued:

Where it really ceases to be funny is when we learn that the couple live in a council house, on benefits, spend all day in the pub and plan to start a family – maybe that should be a litter – which we will be expected to pay for.

Why should the taxpayer support their soppy, self-indulgent “lifestyle” – let alone pay them to bring puppies into the world?

His pithy conclusion?

They should be neutered

It therefore bus me somewhat that years later Littlejohn dares to talk in respectful tones about the death of Sophie Lancaster – especially when she is used solely as his normal ‘isn’t is tragic… BUT’ device.

Hate crime exists, it needs to be recognised and treated as such. Ironically, hacks like Littlejohn who regularly flirt (being overly generous to him) with the language of hate crime and invoke ‘friends’ like ‘Black Mike’ actually make it more likely that other police forces follow suit.

And, of course, Littlejohn’s premise that it is now illegal to ‘hate’ things / people is completely stupid. He is evidence enough that hating people is very much legal – and indeed can be very rewarding when you hate professionally for a newspaper. I think what the police are trying to stop is when hate crime is directed at individuals in a threatening way or when people are physically assaulted, which I think most people agree is fair enough (indeed, arguing the opposite seems very anti-social – supporting my whole ‘buying the Daily Mail is an anti-social act’ idea).

Of course, Littlejohn could be offering up a genuine complaint, best summarised by paraphrasing Stewart Lee: ‘You can’t even write racist smears on people’s houses in feces anymore, it’s political correctness gone mad!’.


PS. If you like this blog post, spending a couple of seconds clicking the videos on the right ensures I get paid around 1/100,000,000 of what Richard Littlejohn earns for shitting out two columns a week. Thanking you kindly.

The Daily Hate

Fresh from one of the vilest, most dishonest and openly hateful front pages in recent times the Daily Mail is continuing its attack on those receiving benefits, this time with a poll. It warns its readers that such a poll may be ‘hijacked by the Left’ (just in case the results do not go in their favour) and posts several articles around the main subject that argues that the ‘Left’ is once again trying to censor debate:

mail-hate

It always amuses me when so much of the political ‘debate’ (it so often does not deserve the term) is set by a powerful press that is – by quite some majority – firmly on the right that they still claim to be some kind of persecuted minority. It is an especially stupid argument to make when the Right-wing press just happen to be completely in agreement with the policies of the party in power. The Daily Mail is a huge believer in the need to destroy the welfare state and is therefore doing all that it can to support the coalition in its very successful attempt to do so. The newspaper’s role is to lay the ground for acceptance of change, to make its readers hate those in receipt of benefits irrespective of the reality of the situation, once this is done, the changes don’t receive grudging acceptance – or simply a lack of resistance – but instead the baying masses cheer on the result; after all, the scroungers don’t deserve a penny.

This tired, fallacious argument has been repeatedly rebuffed with statistics to little effect because the exceptional cases override statistics in our irrational minds – emotion beats logic, as newspaper editors well know. Therefore the occasional story of the convicted benefit cheat easily outweighs the millions receiving benefits legitimately. The occasional story of the ‘feckless’ family that has never worked but has a widescreen TV and a big house, outweighs the thousands of people who receive benefits to supplement their poorly paid jobs (because the market that we are supposed to so slovenly obey, doesn’t actually pay a huge amount of workers a living wage and the government recognises this, subsidising not so much the poor, but the businesses that employ them at such a low wage).

It hardly needs stating that Mick Philpott is the product of many things, but the welfare state is not one of them. As many people have pointed out on Twitter, the same logic would place the NHS squarely to blame for Harold Shipman’s killing spree. It’s utterly nonsensical, but here it is, one of the most popular newspapers in Britain and one of the most visited websites on Earth are not just making the link, but repeatedly beating their ignorant and fearful readership around the face with it until they submit to the logic that the benefits system is actually murdering children and must be stopped.

Child benefit is just £20.30 a week for the eldest or only child and £13.40 a week for each additional child. Having a small army of children is a route to poverty, not prosperity – although no doubt a senior Tory will pop up claiming they could easily feed, clothe & educate a child for £20.30 / £13.40 a week and still keep Mick Phillpott waste deep in cigarettes and alcohol.

This kind of nonsensical hate campaign supports a point I made recently, that buying the Daily Mail or supporting it in any way is essentially an antisocial act. Imagine someone living in a block of flats, pumping out rave music 24 hours a day at a 1000DB, arguing that this person is making a worthwhile contribution to the music scene is the same as arguing that the Daily Mail is contributing anything of value to social or political debate. It also reinforces my point that we really should start to formally separate ‘news’ from ‘propaganda’ and start labeling newspapers more accurately as ‘comment sheets’. The bias exhibited by the Daily Mail on the topic of benefits is about as extreme as it gets, they only run negative stories, they never publish the full statistics on the matter (i.e. the huge amounts of unclaimed benefits, the true rate of benefit fraud etc) – they are entirely blinkered, for political reasons, on the subject. Yet they are still allowed to call themselves a ‘newspaper’, even though they rarely print news without a hugely political slant which means so much of their content is hugely distorted.

Buying the Daily Mail is an antisocial act in the same way that attending a local council meeting and proceeding to do nothing but throw faeces at everyone present is. That is all the Daily Mail and its ilk do, they throw shit at everyone they want to destroy whilst pretending that they’re actually trying to make a serious effort to engage in ‘debate’. Just remember the Phillpott front pages, editorials and columns the next time Paul Dacre appeals to the noblest traditions of journalism to stave off much needed regulation. He might know what noble journalism is, but he’s very rarely practised it.


PS. If you like this blog post, spending a couple of seconds clicking the videos on the right ensures I get paid around 1/100,000,000 of what Richard Littlejohn earns for shitting out two columns a week. Thanking you kindly.