‘Outrage’

A favourite tabloid word, and rarely used in its proper context – for example, when over 24,000 people complained to the PCC about Jan Moir’s Gately article the word was not used by the Mail or any of the tabloid press. However, if the BBC has 7 complaints out of an audience of over 6 million for an episode of Top Gear then ‘outrage’ is inevitably used: ‘Jeremy Clarkson outrages viewers by announcing on Top Gear he’d seen saucy underwear beneath Muslim woman’s burka‘ – interestingly the URL shows that originally the over favourite word ‘fury’ was used originally.

Viewers is rightly plural, but rather than the hundreds or perhaps thousands that you would assume would make the story newsworthy it turns out that it was in fact just 7 complaints. The article soon turns towards the issue of the Burka, retreading old ground with the ‘debate’ about whether it should be banned or not – a debate that increasingly seems to be taking place only amongst the tabloid press and a few right-wing MPs. It is almost as if the Daily Mail are testing the waters, getting a feel as to whether they should launch a ‘Daily Mail campaign’ to ban the Burka.

Top Gear wasn’t the only show sparking ‘outrage’ today, ITV is also having to field the fury of a handful of puritanical viewers: ‘Emmerdale causes outrage over crude and offensive shopping list in the Dingles’ kitchen’. Not just ‘outrage’ but also ‘offensive’, which is a bit strange because when the tabloid press invents something that has been banned or criticised because it could ‘offend Muslims’ it is PC gone mad and ‘them’ taking over, yet here we have an offensive shopping list which causes people to be rightly ‘outraged’.

The offending items are: ‘jam rags’ and ‘piles cream’, they appeared on a black chalkboard in the background of a shot. Only a few people would have noticed it, most sane adults would have perhaps allowed themselves a wry smile. Sadly a few adults – assuming they haven’t simply been made up by the reporter, which is not unlikely – feel the need to complain (the only reason I can see why anyone could complain about this is that they lack the intelligence to distinguish between what will or will not harm them / their children or society and therefore complain about anything). One ‘outraged’ parent claimed:

‘I couldn’t believe my eyes when it appeared on screen – it’s not the kind of language you expect to appear in one of our oldest soaps.

‘I had to cover my young son’s eyes because I didn’t want to have to explain that kind of crass language to him at such a young age.

The whole story is really silly, and the irony is that hardly anyone knew about this supposedly offensive shopping list until the Mail published a story on it. What about the young children who read the article, who will cover their eyes? Those watching the show would have been unlikely to have seen the shopping list, now it has been screen-grabbed and repeated for them. It is utterly pathetic that the Daily Mail will give news space to any puritanical idiot just because they like using the word ‘outrage’ and pretending that every form of media is amoral apart from the Daily Mail.

This explains the hypocrisy of the Daily Mail writing about Jon Venables and his ‘1200 upskirt photos’, whilst featuring an upskirt photo of Alesha Dixon right next to the article. As the brilliant Charlie Brooker pointed out, TV – even the worst kind of reality / Victorian freak show exploitation TV – is a million times more sanitary than the tabloid press:

if TV broadcast the kind of material you see in the press – if it paid women in lingerie to recount graphic celebrity fuck’n’tell stories, or shoved its cameras up the skirts of girls exiting taxis so viewers could wank to the sight of their knickers, or routinely broadcast grossly misleading and openly one-sided news reports designed to perpetuate fear and bigotry – if the box in the corner smeared that shit on its screen for 10 seconds a night, it’d generate a pile of complaints high enough to scrape the crust from the underside of Mars.

But as we witnessed with Jan Moir and her Gately article, a record-breaking 24,000 complaints against a tabloid newspaper merits a wall of silence across all of the tabloids. Whereas 7 complaints about a presenter who purposely courts controversy (for which the Daily Mail loves him) just because he happens to be on TV generates an article; as does the words ‘jam rag’ and ‘piles cream’ when shown on TV. If the tabloid press wasn’t such a influential, toxic mess it would be funny.

Outraged… in favour of a criminal

Daily Mail readers are hardly the sort of people to defend criminals… except when they haven’t committed a ‘real’ crime in their eyes. You know the sort of thing: speeding, shooting criminals in the back if they are on your land and any crime committed in the eyes of any council, anywhere. All these offences should not apply as long as the victim is assumed to be ‘a law abiding, tax-paying citizen’ who is assumed to naturally be ‘hard-working’. Of course, Mail readers never see the simple truth that breaking a law – whether you agree with that law or not – makes you a criminal, so the whole notion that a criminal can somehow be ‘law-abiding’ at the same time as committing offence is laughable.

The annoying thing is that the Daily Mail normally prints stories that are pretty misleading so you can kind of understand why Mail readers (who do not question and jump straight to ignorant outrage) get worked-up when they read another crazy example of fines for not emptying bins or sorting recycling etc. However, today they print a story that is clearly aimed at outraging Mail readers (it already has 371 comments) yet it also contains enough information in it for most readers to conclude that the council had no choice but to take this particular person to court and they were clearly acting in the interests of the taxpayer.

However, Daily Mail readers are far too predictable (and in some cases, utterly, utterly stupid) to see beyond the headline: ‘Young father fined £550… for leaving his wheelie bin outside his own home‘. Of course, the headlining and the opening of the article is completely misleading and aims to rile Daily Mail readers, but the end of the article does contain enough facts and input from the council to make it patently obvious that this isn’t another case of jobsworths fining an innocent family man, but an adequate response to someone who was ignoring pleas from the council.

Council officers went to Mr Robinson’s home eight times between February and June this year and saw his bins had not been taken in on each occasion.

The authority said about 3,500 wheelie bins are stolen, vandalised or reported missing each year – costing the taxpayer £2million.

In 2008 the fire service were called out to more than 1,000 arson attacks caused by antisocial behaviour, of which a significant proportion were wheelie bin fires.

As well as the cost of replacing the bins, there is a significant cost to the turnouts and a risk to life and property of the arson attacks.

The costs to the taxpayer for each call out is around £2,000.

Mr Robinson was warned about his behaviour and served with a notice not to put the bin out before 7pm the night before collection and to bring it back in by 11pm on the day it was emptied, the council said.

He ignored this and was issued with a £60 fixed penalty notice. Robinson failed to pay the fine and the council started court proceedings.

He was then fined £350, and ordered to pay £200 costs and a £15 victim surcharge when his case came before Salford Magistrates’ Court.

Councillor Joe Murphy, the council’s environment spokesman, said: ‘Every month we get about 50 complaints from residents about bins being left out on their streets. It is something people want us to do something about.

‘It’s a two-second job to bring your bin in from the street once it’s been emptied and one that could save lives and thousands of pounds that can be put back into public services.’Salford Borough Commander for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, Geoff Akroyd added: ‘Too many times we attend incidents where wheelie bins are the target of opportunist fire setting which costs the council taxpayers in several ways including fire service time and obviously replacing the bins.

‘In conjunction with the obvious financial cost a very serious impact is also that it diverts fire crews and their equipment from doing their most important job, protecting the safety of the people of Salford. We even have had incidents previously where fires started in wheelie bins have spread to houses and put people’s lives at risk.’

Sometimes you can perhaps sympathise with Mail readers because you can appreciate that they are being lied to – and they might not have the cynicism or intelligence to find out the truth about matters. However, in this case it is clear to see the overwhelming supporting case for the council, if only the average Mail reader could actually read the article before spouting their idiotic comments on a story. The trouble is that the narrative is repeated so frequently by the Mail and the utter drones that buy it that they don’t feel they have to read the articles anymore. If the headline mentions someone being fined by the council then they don’t have to read the article: the council are guilty of fining a law-abiding tax-payer and it’s another example of New Labour Stasi madness.

You even end up with the sort of comment that just makes you want to give that person a good slap and suspend their licence to comment until they can actually READ THE FUCKING ARTICLE THEY ARE COMMENTING ON. Take this utter moron for example:

If you work are you supposed to come home just to bring your bin in? Oh I get it now, thats why all these youngsters dont go to work anymore, its so they can be home to bring the bin in, no matter what time they turn up to empty it. What if you are sick or have a baby and the weather is bad and you are reliant on other people. What a ridiculous time scale- 6pm or 7pm would be far more realistic if there has to be a time.
– rose, cheshire, 1/12/2009 14:08

Rose from Cheshire must have misunderstood the meaning of ‘PM’ because the article clearly states that people have until 11PM to take the bins in – which is far more generous than the 6 or 7PM that Rose would like. Furthermore, like most Mail readers ignorance flows from ignorance and she’s already hypothesising that this is the real reason why young people don’t go to work anymore. Wonderful.

Sometimes you get the distinct impression that the Mail really don’t have to try hard to fool their readers because they’re just so fucking stupid (see most of the other 370 comments for more evidence).