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.

Mail on Sunday becomes Daily Star

This has already been covered by Tabloid Watch, but it’s worth covering here just so you don’t miss out on the full splendour of the Mail on Sunday’s front page today:

Mail on Sunday

The article is also currently the leading story on the Mail website as well:

The article starts with some common claims:

The BBC has been accused of ‘absurd political correctness’ after dropping the terms BC and AD in case they offend non-Christians.

The Corporation has replaced the familiar Anno Domini (the year of Our Lord) and Before Christ with the obscure terms Common Era and Before Common Era.

That indiscriminate group of ‘non-Christians’ that secretly rule the world are at it again, and the BBC are clearly nothing more than an anti-Christian propaganda machine.

The truth in this matter, as Tabloid Watch points out, is very clear and contained within the article:

The BBC said last night: ‘The BBC has not issued editorial guidance on the date systems.

‘Both AD and BC, and CE and BCE are widely accepted date systems and the decision on which term to use lies with individual production and editorial teams.’

Indeed, the Mail complains that some presenters / programmes switch between the two – clearly evidencing that the BBC has made no attempt to banish AD / BC. It’s very depressing even writing about this subject given how utterly insignificant it is. It’s just pathetic that a national newspaper has nothing better to concern itself with than an embarrassing accusation about the irrelevant change in language that the BBC is merely reflecting in its programming.

But of course, this isn’t just harmless fluff because it is just part of the agenda to create an atmosphere of victimisation in which good old white Christians can’t even use AD/BC anymore because it offends ‘non-Christians’ – a term which is never going to be taken to mean atheists, but rather foreign people. Or, more specifically, as can be seen in the Mail comments section (530 and counting): Muslims.

UPDATE: James ‘wrong about everything, ever’ Delingpole has found himself part of the ‘Rightminds’ team and has come up with this: ‘How the BBC fell for a Marxist plot to destroy civilisation from within’. Seriously:

When you mention to a Muslim or Hindu that the year is 2011, do you ever feel a twinge of guilt about your closet religious chauvinism? When you watch the old Raquel Welch film One Million Years BC, do you blushingly avert your gaze from the title sequence? When you catch your children reading 2000AD, do you furiously insist that they read something less offensive, such as The Beano or The Dandy, instead?

Well, the BBC thinks you should and it is taking action on your behalf. No longer will its website refer to those bigoted, Christian-centric concepts AD (as in Anno Domini – the Year of Our Lord) and BC (Before Christ). From now on, it will use initials which strip our traditional Gregorian calendar of its offensive religious context. All reference to Christ has been expunged, replaced by the terms CE (Common Era) and BCE (Before Common Era).

He continues:

And so yet another small part of our tradition, language and culture takes a step closer to extinction. We didn’t ask for it; we didn’t want it; yet still it’s happening because a tiny minority of politically correct busybodies have wormed their way into institutions such as the BBC and taken control.

This then leads him to this nugget:

Their goal is to create a world where Left-wing thinking – on ‘fairness’, on race, on sexual equality, on the role of government – becomes the norm. So far, they are doing brilliantly.

Rightminds, again, demonstrating that it will happily publish any old rubbish, even when the basis of the entire dribbling, foam-mouthed rant is a complete fiction.

HT @LissyNumber

In the media spotlight

Last month the Daily Mail wrote a worried piece titled: ‘How will children ever grow up if schools won’t let them take risks?‘ which was followed by the following in bold: ‘A passionate attack on politically correct nannying by the inspirational teacher sacked for allowing pupils to go’. Not only does this highlight Stewart Lee’s point that a lot of people confuse ‘political correctness’ with health and safety legislation. The teacher in question – Richard Tremelling who was Head of Technology at Cefn Hengoed School in Swansea – has received coverage from all major media outlets for allegedly being sacked for taking some students sledging without carrying out any form of risk assessment.

Obviously the school in question has now been on the receiving end of a large amount of angry correspondence from people who were encouraged by certain newspapers to contact the school about such an outrageous decision. The deputy head – Geoff Brookes – has now responded to this correspondence he has received in a humorous manner and confirms that ‘the reality of the case was much more complicated than that and I can’t go into it now for legal reasons’. What he finds ‘fascinating’ is the response he has received from those encouraged to contact the school:

It could have been quite hurtful if it wasn’t so bizarre. Clearly, there are people out there who have far too much time on their hands, along with access to old typewriters – still the instrument of choice in some of the remoter areas – while the skill of corresponding in capital letters using a blunt pencil clearly continues to thrive in Essex.

It is disturbing that there are those who accept everything they read at face value. If it appears in their newspaper of choice, then it must be true. So the letters are based on half truths, incomplete understanding and assumptions. A tabloid headline seems to confirm the fears of the confused elderly about the state of the world and draws out their prejudices along with lined paper and a grubby brown envelope.

One writer seems to regard ‘Allo ‘Allo! as a wartime documentary. Apparently, if we had been in charge “between 1939 and 1945 we’d all be speaking German now, doing the double-time goose step and calling each other Fritz and Heidi”. Another letter tells me it is my fault that “the country is full of queers, tramps, no-goods, dossers and what have you”. No wonder my performance management document is published in chapters.

“You should bow your head in shame,” another letter tells me and I could hardly disagree, given the fact that I am responsible for raising “wimps in a litigious society”. It is something I can tell my grandchildren, I suppose. “No wonder the country is in such a mess.” In fact our purpose is to “grind the planet to a standstill”. This explains why I am so tired at night.

The attitudes that underpin some of the letters are very disturbing and primitive. Our leadership team is described as half-wits “who speak a language no one outside of Wales can understand or would want to”. How do they know? A writer from Bristol addresses the headteacher helpfully, saying that “one characteristic of the female mind which I have recognised from observation during my lifetime is that women placed in positions of authority lack the ability to use the judgment that men could make”. Sadly, the rest of the letter isn’t quite as reasoned or well balanced.

I urge you to go and read the rest and consider, once again, just what impact newspapers do have on people. As easy as it is to think that no-one really believes what they read in the papers, there is a lot of evidence that they do. And when they do, it is those at the center of the story have to face the consequences.

The Daily Mail responds to the idea of a fairer society

Today saw the introduction of the Equality Act 2010 which is designed as a ‘basic framework of protection against direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation in services and public functions; premises; work; education; associations, and transport’. Typically the Daily Mail is outraged that we should dare to treat all human beings as equal: ‘Death of the office joke: Coalition enacts Harriet’s PC equality law which means ANYONE can sue for ANYTHING that offends them‘. This is fantastic news, given that my organisation pays for the Daily Mail to be stocked in the library, and as such I can now sue them for offending me (and, in fairness, the Daily Mail fails to meet a lot of equality legislation given its penchant for misogyny, racism, xenophobia and homophobia).

The article froths:

New equality laws masterminded by Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman have come into force today, threatening to create a political correctness minefield for recession-hit businesses.

Under the Act, vegans, teetotallers and atheists are to be given the same protection against discrimination as religious groups while gipsies and travellers will get special favours because of the ‘many socio-economic disadvantages’ they face.

Fancy that, people who do not eat meat, drink alcohol or believe in god deserve the same fair treatment as people who believe that the world was made in 6 days by a fairy that lives in the sky. You can hear the Mail team discussing the Act: ‘And gypsies – bloody horrible tarmac-laying pikey bastards who our best writer – Richard Littlejohn really hates – are going to get special treatment from being discriminated against!’  Truly, political correctness has gone mad. If the Daily Mail dislikes this ‘special’ attention being paid to tackling discrimination against gypsies perhaps it should admit that it is partly to blame for the situation, given their disgraceful coverage and treatment of them and the hate that such coverage fuels.

I know I am repeating myself: but the Daily Mail is a complete joke. Just look at its website:

The Daily Mail: a sick joke
Click to enlarge

The lead story is a backward scream of rage about people daring to want the freedom to go to work at not be subjected to someone else’s idea of a ‘joke’. The whole act is about creating a working environment in which jokes about ‘Pakis’, chain emails about immigrants and other tabloid hate figures can be properly dealt with – irrespective of whether anyone from the target group is offended. The Equality Act 2010 is a clear acknowledgment that any decent human being should be offended by casual racism or discrimination and they should have the full support of the law in raising an objection against it. The Daily Mail article is as laughable as its claim that it is in any way a serious newspaper. Just look at the other top story: ‘Christine Bleakley reduced to tears of laughter as a hawk with a mind of her own causes mayhem in Daybreak studio’.

What is that doing in a newspaper? The juxtaposition between the offensive, backward intolerance and the cosy, meaningless celebrity hit-counter articles sums up the Daily Mail. It hates the world and 90% of the people living in it, but do please take the time to click on this inane article about someone on TV doing something.

I’ve been torn for a long time about requesting that my employer stops purchasing the Daily Mail – after all, we have an equality and diversity policy in work that the Daily Mail clearly breaches – or maintaining my access to the print edition in order to give me stuff to write about. I’m not sure what is in the bests interests of the greater good, getting the Mail banned from work, or keeping it in order to help this blog. Perhaps now is the time to say something.

Winning ‘Banned’ in schools…

Another dishonest headline from the Daily Mail: ‘Winning banned in two thirds of schools as teachers reward ALL students‘. Of course this headlines just reeks of bullshit and the whole article seems to be an ill-thought mess. You know the headline is a complete lie from the first two paragraphs:

Two out of three schools are rewarding all pupils on sports days to ensure that nobody feels left out, according to a survey.

Teachers want to be ‘inclusive’ and give prizes to both winners and losers to stop anyone’s feelings being hurt.

So, winning clearly has not been banned at all, merely two-thirds of schools choose to reward to some extent all competitors whilst still acknowledging and rewarding winners. Considering the Daily Mail is supposedly concerned with obesity and the lack of activity in young people they might want to think about the importance of rewarding anyone who participates in physical exercise rather than just those that win any given event. For a lot of people sport is not something they want to get involved with precisely because of the pressure involved, or the emphasis placed on winning rather than the pleasure of competing. If 20 children run 100 metres the winners should be recognised, but what is wrong with acknowledging that all 20 children still essentially completed the same task.

So, has winning been banned at all then? Well, according to the survey: ‘Nine per cent of all schools refuse to single out any winners at all’, which is very different to the Daily Mail headline which states that this is 2/3 of schools, whereas it is actually the case in only 9/100 schools. Of course, we all know who is to blame for this madness:

Left-wing councils that scorned it as ‘elitist’ and insisted on politically correct activities with no winners or losers.

Loony-left-wing-councils, is there anything they haven’t banned – according to the Daily Mail that is?

If you have enjoyed reading this blog then please vote for me in a competition I have entered to win my bride an amazing holiday, it only takes 30 seconds and I cannot win without your support – remember, you are allowed to vote once every 24 hours for me, so please vote again if you have not already done so. Click here to vote, click here for more information.

Another misleading headline about human rights

Daily Mail headlines are so frequently laughably inaccurate, just to secure the right amount of outrage as people rush straight to the comment section to shit-out their ignorant opinion. This is never more true than compensation paid out with even a vague mention of human rights. Take this top story for example:

Yuman rights

All that money for the loss of a filling? It’s PC-elf’n’safety-yuman-rites gone mad according to commenters. That is, unless you actually take about 1 minute of your life to read the article:

Michael Steele, one of the notorious ‘Essex Boys’ gangland murders, complained that being refused dental treatment left him in severe pain for years…

Soon after he was handed three life sentences, one of his fillings fell out at Belmarsh Prison…

[causing] almost seven years of agonising toothache

The irony is, of course, that if the prison had taken steps to properly safeguard the health of the prisoner (perhaps respected his human rights a little more…) then this whole expensive case would have been avoided. To those of you that might want to argue that as a murderer he deserves agonising pain for all those years I would merely point out that in this country we sentence people to prison terms; not to terms of agonising pain. Preserving the dignity and basic rights of everyone in society – irrespective of their actions – is what separates us from them.

There’s Always One

Last night on Twitter I joked that someone might accuse Sir Alan’s Choice of Arjun Rajyagor as the winner of Junior Apprentice as ‘PC gone mad’, and the Daily Mail website hasn’t let me down:

PC brigade, again
Sir Alan, famous PC Brigade member

It is good to see this accusation well in the red, and the fact that he is pretty much alone in suggesting it is down to PC ‘again’ gives me a little more faith in humanity.

Not Really ‘Shameful’

You can learn an awful lot about the opinion of the Daily Mail by its use of inverted commas in headlines. Inverted commas can mean a number of things but normally they mean that the the text contained within them is untrue, or that it is laughable.

So, what can you make of this headline: ‘Class greets German twin town visitors with ‘shameful’ Nazi salute‘. This seems to imply that greeting German visitors with a Nazi salute isn’t actually shameful, but rather than the PC brigade have labelled such action as ‘shameful’.

Considering the letter printed in the Daily Mail today, I guess this isn’t really a surprise.

Still, you cannot argue that the Daily Mail doesn’t know its audience:

Nazi Salute


In response to ‘shellsuitwarrior’ (thanks for taking the time to comment) below I’d just like to add that I completely understand their point and I can see that there is an argument that the Daily Mail is trying to appear neutral with this headline.

However, I would like to point out that as mentioned by the Mediawise submission [PDF] to the PCC Governance review: headlines are not covered by the accuracy clause and are in fact treated as ‘comment’ by the PCC. This ruling came about in response to complaints made about the Daily Express headline ‘Bombers are all spongeing asylum-seekers’ in 2005 – something which clearly not true, and as the PCC ruled, doesn’t even need to be.

I’d therefore argue that the Daily Mail is perfectly able to use headlines as comment, and given the huge amount of Daily Mail headlines in particular that bear no relation to the content of the article I would not be overly inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt here.

Feral Youth is ‘a loveable tearaway’ claims Daily Mail

Reading the Daily Mail you often get the feeling that you’ve seen a certain story before, often at least once. Today was no different when I came across a story about Dennis the Menace being made less menacing thanks to the ‘PC brigade’: ‘That new Dennis is a softy‘ (link is to online article, title has been copied from print edition – don’t worry, I didn’t buy it). Not surprisingly, it was a story that had been run before (in 2008 and 2009), albeit with the slightest new angle: the changes are happening to the print edition and an 8-year-old by called Jacob Rush has complained about that. Hold the front pages, 8-year-old boy writes letter of complaint about a comic strip book.

Naturally the Daily Mail jump at the chance to rehash old ‘news’ as space filler and Andy Dolan takes it upon himself to try to take the whole thing seriously. His main point seems to be that PC just isn’t fun. Dennis ‘doesn’t have his catapult or water pistol anymore and he’s not menacing enough’ whines Jacob, before the article states that he still retains his catapult and a peashooter, he just doesn’t fire them at people anymore. Surely, as far as the fearful Mail reader is concerned, the improvement of Dennis’ behaviour is a positive thing, seeing how he must be a role model for and influence on our nation’s feral youth?

Not so. The Daily Mail seem to think that it is absolutely fine for children to ‘live out their naughtiness through him’, yet most TV and other youth cultures will turn your child into a crack-addicted killing machine. Perhaps it is because Dennis first appeared in 1951 and the rose-tinted spectacles worn by Mail readers and writers look at him with a certain fondness, because he was a proper scamp. He isn’t like these modern feral chavs who look at you funny on street corners and smoke, no, Dennis was a loveable rogue who would simply clobber you with a catapult after spending the day at school bullying people – which never did no one any harm in the ’50s either and wasn’t even an issue in schools you know. If you told a teacher in the ’50s you were being bullied they would have given you a swift caning and sent you home without any lunch. Things were hard then, but good you see, so much better than the ‘PC softness’ that has infected our children.

I wonder how many deliquent youths could get away with the Daily Mail describing them as ‘a loveable tearaway’, I’m guessing Dennis is probably unique unless Paul Dacre has spawned some devil-children.

You Leave Your Rights at the Door, but not your Beliefs

David Cameron has suggested that ‘the moment a burglar steps over your threshold… I think they leave their human rights outside’. The Daily Mail published an article on this that has so far attracted over 338 comments, of which the majority (and best rated) are people saying it is about time we’re allowed Carte Blanche in our own homes. The Daily Mail have done their best to hype things up a little bit with a few choice phrases such as: ‘Under existing laws, homeowners are allowed to use only ‘reasonable’ force to tackle a burglar’.

This is put forward as if it is unreasonable that homeowners are only allowed to use reasonable force, as if somehow homeowners are being cheated out of a basic right to defend themselves and their homes. This is, of course, utter rubbish. Reasonable force sounds vague precisely because it is designed to be flexible. For example, if a burglar breaks into your house and is subdued merely by being discovered and cowers in fear whilst you call the police, who then turn up to arrest him; it is safe to assume that reasonable force in this instance would be making sure the burglar did not leave the premises. Unreasonable force in this instance would be knocking the burglar to the ground with a cricket bat and beating him to within an inch of his life.

However, should the burglar try to escape by grabbing a kitchen knife and trying to stab the homeowner; then reasonable force would cover the homeowner grabbing a chair and knocking out the burglar and so on and so forth. Reasonable force can cover pretty much any act carried out by someone protecting their home and perhaps more importantly their family as long as the circumstances justify the force. This – to me at least – sounds reasonable and I can see why the phrase legislation is called ‘reasonable force’.

The idea that burglars are no longer human beings once they enter your house is to suggest that we can just give anyone a damn good beating and worse even if they don’t pose a real threat. It’s a slippery slope which we perhaps don’t want to go down when reasonable force can protect ‘law abiding citizens’ who – according to the comments on the Mail article – seem to be suffering from the advent of universal human rights.

Perhaps now is a good time to examine just what rights homeowners should have in their own home and consider the case of Paddy and Stephanie Lynch, who invited into their home a maths tutor for their 14 year old daughter who is unable to attend school because she has Leukaemia. This couple invited the maths tutor – Olive Jones – into their ‘non-religious’ home to tutor their daughter in maths. However, according to this couple Olive Jones:

“used every opportunity to discuss religion, despite the fact I made it clear we were a non-religious family and didn’t want to talk about these issues in this way. On one occasion she asked my daughter to pray with her. My daughter was distressed by this behaviour.

“On another, after the death of my daughter’s close friend, Mrs Jones told my 14-year-old daughter that when young people die they go to heaven. These conversations upset my daughter deeply. The sessions with Mrs Jones became increasingly traumatic and we decided it was not appropriate for this woman to come to my home.”

However, rather than report this story as more evidence that homeowners need more rights and that visitors ‘should lose the right to convert your loved ones to their religion once they enter your house’ the Daily Mail attacked the parents and suggested that this was another disgraceful attack on Christianity.

So there you have it, you should be allowed to give anyone who breaks into your home a damn good kicking whether it is necessary or not, but you should not be allowed to defend your daughter from a maths teacher with a penchant for distressing your daughter with religious propaganda.

For full details and the latest on the appalling Daily Mail reporting of the Olive Jones case – attacking the family for trying to protect their child – see Tabloidwatch’s post: ‘Who are the zealots? (cont.)‘ and his original post on the subject: ‘You can’t upset a 14yo girl with leukaemia any more – it’s political correctness gone mad!‘.

For more on the ‘burglars should lose human rights at the door’ story you might also want to look at Nadine Dorries’ tweets on the subject which are looked at over on the Nadine Dorries Project: ‘Not All Humans Have Human Rights‘.