The MailOnline’s spinning moral compass

The MailOnline has become an increasing flesh-fest of celebrities, reality TV stars and anyone else vaguely worthy of a bikini-shot mention. However, at the same time the Daily Mail website retains the hypocrisy that has been a long-time feature of the print edition; as ever it is a case as do as we preach, not as we do when it comes to MailOnline judging the actions of other media organisations.

The Daily Mail kicked off the new year with an attack on the BBC’s much-talked-about and successful take on Sherlock Holmes daring to feature some women-back-flesh before the nudity claiming that the BBC was under-fire from viewers who thought that it had ‘gone too far with the raunchy scenes’. The MailOnline naturally took the opportunity to post the key screengrabs – on a 24-hour-no-possible-watershed-website and also decided to stick a large photo on page 9 of the print edition.

The Daily Mail has a special distaste for the Internet and the fact the entire spectrum of human depravity is available at the click of a button (providing you have entered the right key words into the search engine of course). The Internet – according to the gospel of the Daily Mail – corrupts us, keeps teenage boys locked in bedrooms with boxes of tissues, whilst teenage girls chat to pensioners in anonymous chat forums. Middle-aged people seek out suicide partners and meet in deserted industrial estates possessing nothing more than a desire to end it all with a stranger and a length of hosepipe.

But the thing is parents can install Internet filters onto their children’s laptops, middle-aged people have the free will to search instead for dinner-party inspiration and everyone makes the active choice whether to seek out the darker side of the Internet – we all know that if you wanted to watch a video of a hostage being beheaded you’d find a million websites hosting the video and so on.

What we can’t prevent is the young and innocent logging on to one of the largest news websites in the world and being able to watch a 7 minute video of an alleged rape that took place on Brazilian Big Brother. Or indeed, a video showing ‘Moment base jumper plummets 200ft and breaks both legs after botched wingsuit leap off Table Mountain’.

The rather obvious and indeed laboured point is that the Daily Mail likes to lecture us on morality and decency yet they will publish anything to gain a few extra hits, to draw in a few more curious rubber-neckers who just can’t resist a click on something illicit. The Internet has a million websites dedicated to people who want to watch dubious videos, but the point is that you have to actively seek them out and most filtering software can block them from younger viewers.

What shouldn’t happen is one of the world’s largest ‘news’ sites publishing them in amongst content that is supposed to be suitable for all.

Peter Hitchens on rape

Peter Hitchens does not understand freedom of speech. There, I’ve said it. Whenever anyone has a debate about anything which he feels passionate about he immediately screams that we’re not living in ‘a free country’ because the awful liberal governments and the PC brigade keep trying to shut down debate. Which seems a bit odd to me, given that the right-wing, anti-liberal, anti-PC Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Daily Express and the Sun amongst others constantly mock the only wet, lilly-livered, liberal, PC-enthralled newspaper (the Guardian) for having a tiny circulation compared to the utterly dominant right-wing press. It seems to me that the ‘liberal elite’ are doing a pretty shocking job at shutting down debate in the way that Peter constantly suggests.

Peter’s been banging on for years about how free speech is dying out and being shut down, whilst all the while he has been paid to write precisely what he wants without censure. It seems to me that Peter doesn’t have a clue what freedom of speech or thought truly means. It seems to me that what Peter really objects to is the expression of viewpoints which differ from his very narrow and distorted view of reality.

This week a debate has taken place about rape, caused by Ken Clarke’s comments on the subject. Lots of people got offended for a variety of reasons – some just, others just opportunist political point scoring. Suffice to say a lot of people called for Ken Clarke’s head and a lot of people showed support for him. It was typical of the kind of debate in which both sides could express themselves freely because as much as Peter suggests otherwise: we unequivocally live in a free society (albeit one which is under the increasing influence of a morally bankrupt press in which Peter plays a vital, unwitting role – yet he ironically thinks he is the last remaining rebel).

I’ve already covered Richard Littlejohn’s moronic attempt at stirring-up some controversy on Friday, but its good to see that Peter Hitchens isn’t going to let one tired old hack get the better of him when it comes to writing absolute rubbish for a pay cheque. Peter – much like Richard – gets the caveat out of the way early on before commencing on the usual predictable rant about ‘liberals’, PC-gone mad brigades and feminists:

I am sick of the censorship that surrounds the issue of rape.

So I shall defy it. Of course all rapes are bad. But some rapes are worse than others.

It takes a while for Peter to actually tell us what makes some rapes worse than others, because before he gets to the point he spends ages telling us about how we don’t have the freedom to say anything anymore:

Even for saying this, I know quite well that I will get raging, lying abuse.

This is what happened to Kenneth Clarke, when he went on the radio and tried to speak his mind as if this were a free country.

As he quickly found out, it is not. I am sorry that he was in the end forced to grovel. But this is a Liberal, PC government, and I am not surprised.

Revolutionary feminism, which regards all men as predators and sees the married family as a sordid prison, has scared most politicians, most judges, most journalists, most civil servants – and most people – into accepting its nasty dogmas.

Oddly enough, Mr Clarke would normally be an ally of this cause. But ultra-feminist zealotry is bitterly intolerant of any disagreement, however gentle or thoughtful. Nothing short of total submission will do.

Just like Richard Littlejohn Peter tries to pretend that only ‘revolutionary feminism’ has a problem with rape and that somehow this ideology has control – through fear – of just about everyone. Just look at the list Peter makes, according to him ‘revolutionary feminism’ has ‘scared most politicians, most judges, most journalists, most civil servants – and most people – into accepting its nasty dogmas’.

Peter is therfore brave to speak out against such an all-powerful lobby. Except that even cowards like Richard Littlejohn have spoken out on the same topic in a similar way – and he was also paid for it, which seems odd given that censorship would normally punish not reward such behaviour. Furthermore, if the ‘ultra-feminists’ really have so much power and ‘Nothing short of total submission will do’ for them, how is it that Peter and Richard have managed to get these articles published? Do they write for some sort of revolutionary underground publisher? Are they being tracked down as I write this for crimes against ‘ultra-feminism’?

Or is Peter just talking a load of absolute shite as normal, writing as he is for one of the most influential newspapers in the country whilst at the same time trying to argue that his rabid views are being censored?

Moving on past the oft-repeated padded-cell drivel he finally gets to telling us all what rapes are less serious than others:

in this case rape does not usually mean what most people think it means – the forcible abduction and violation of a woman by a stranger. It means a dispute about consent, often between people who are already in a sexual relationship.

He’s pretty clear at least: if you are forcibly abducted and violated by a stranger then congratulations: you were raped and it was serious!

However, in any other circumstance you may have been raped, but it’s less serious.

So, logiccally, if you know someone – maybe a work colleague or a friend of a friend and they forcibly abduct and rape you, then this – according to Peter Hitchens – must be less serious than if it were a stranger. Likewise, if you are in a sexual relationship with someone and they rape you, it is no longer a serious rape, but merely a ‘dispute about consent’ – you were probably just playing hard to get.

If I’m being a little harsh on Peter or taking his words a little too literally, then may I direct you to an article he wrote in 2008 (in which he again claims that the left is trying to censor the debate):

Women who get drunk are more likely to be raped than women who do not get drunk.

No, this does not excuse rape. Men who take advantage of women by raping them, drunk or sober, should be severely punished for this wicked, treacherous action, however stupid the victim may have been.

But it does mean that a rape victim who was drunk deserves less sympathy.

Simple, isn’t it? You can hate rape and want it punished, while still recognising that a woman who, say, goes back to a man’s home after several Bacardi Breezers was being a bit dim.

Peter will be estactic that he receives attention for what he writes, because to him it proves that the ‘liberals’ are out to get him, to censor him, to shut down debate because the liberals are the ones secretly running the world.

I’d just like to remind him that criticism is not the same as censorhip. Ken Clarke was criticised for his comments, Richard Littlejohn was criticised for his comments and now he is being criticised for his comments. No censorship, no call for the abandonment of free speech, this is just me exercising my freedom to discuss a matter I care about. What Peter might want to think about is that he is paid to write for a potential audience of millions, I am unpaid and write to an audience of hundreds on a bad day, a couple of thousand on a good day. Can he still credibly claim to be censored?

Of course not. But you can bet your life savings that he will.

Richard Littlejohn on rape

I’ve been observing – with some disgust – the arguments about rape this week and I was wondering if the level of debate could get any worse. Then I realised that Richard Littlejohn had decided to make this topic the focus of his column this morning.

Yes, Richard Littlejohn, the man who insisted that the five women murdered in Ipswich be referred to only as ‘prostitutes’ and that we needn’t mourn the death of these ‘disgusting, drug-addled street whores’ who were ‘no great loss’ as they ‘weren’t going to discover a cure for cancer or embark on missionary work in Darfur’. And anyway, said Richard, ‘death by strangulation [was] an occupational hazard’ for the five women murdered, so what were we all getting upset about?

Yes, Richard women-hating Littlejohn – the man who sees in the twice-weekly collection of wheelie-bins the very end of civilisation – has had to step in because he feels the ‘The confected, hysterical reaction to his remarks was frankly typical of the debasement of political debate in this country’.

Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you, the man whose greatest satirical tool is to miss-spell words and to imagine what any given modern event would be like if it involved the characters of Dad’s Army is stepping in to rescue the level of debate.

You are probably thinking: ‘This isn’t going to go well, is it?’ And you’re right.

You see the trouble with Ricard is that he is so incapable of understanding any given topic that in order to ‘win’ any sort of argument he has to set-up a completely false starting point. He does this by arguing something that no-one has been talking about – at all – all week:

Last Tuesday night, two British charity workers were attacked and raped repeatedly by a gang of six masked men on the Caribbean island of St Lucia.

The women — aged 24 and 31 — were overpowered and subjected to a horrifying and prolonged sexual assault.

Their nightmare ordeal took place on a remote stretch of beach in the north-east of the island, where they were working on a wildlife conservation project.

No one would dream of suggesting that because they were camping on an isolated beauty spot overnight they were asking to be attacked.

Six men have now been charged with gang rape. If convicted they can expect — and will thoroughly deserve — harsh, exemplary punishment.

But let’s imagine for a moment that one of these unfortunate women had met a man in a Tiki Bar on St Lucia, got off her head on rum punch and invited him back to her hotel room for a drunken tumble.

The following morning, through her hungover haze, she was consumed by self-loathing. Would she be entitled to cry ‘rape’? [Emphasis is mine]

There we have it, somehow Richard Littlejohn has stepped into a semantic debate that focuses on the idea that rape can involve different degrees of violence and therefore attract different degrees of punishment (with the counter-argument that all rape is equal because rape is inherently violent; so, irrespective of whether the rapist hits the victim or not, the crime is the same because the act of rape is a far greater act of violence than hitting someone) by talking about women who ‘cry “rape”‘ after having a consensual one-night stand.

And, it’s worth pointing out, that once more Richard makes it perfectly clear he is just making it up with his classic ‘imagine if…’.

Why is it that whenever rape is discussed certain people – normally barrel-scraping misogynist hacks like Richard – always want to discuss false accusations of rape. We all understand that this is a serious issue, Richard, but it adds nothing to the debate about the conviction and prosecution of rapists – unless of course you just want to imply that unless the rape is completely unequivocal as in your first example, then we should just assume the women regrets a one-night stand and is ‘crying rape’.

Richard – having as usual got his caveats out of the way right at the start of his piece – then gets going:

There’s a world of difference between a violent sexual assault at the hands of a complete stranger, or gang of strangers, and a subsequently regretted, alcohol-induced one-night stand.

That’s not how the self-appointed Boadiceas of feminism see it. To them ‘rape is rape’, regardless of the circumstances, even if the woman was so sloshed she can’t remember whether or not she consented.

These vengeful viragos insist that ‘rape is a life sentence’ in every case. No, it isn’t. In many instances, it isn’t even rape.

There is a world of difference between rape and consensual albeit drunken sex, the trouble is Richard no-one is arguing otherwise. You have, as usual purposefully missed the point entirely. The next two sentences accuse the ‘self-appointed Boadiceas of feminism’ (you see you have to be a proper hardcore feminist to think that rape is a bad thing) of doing something they are not. They’re not defending women who falsely accuse someone of rape, probably because these people do a huge amount of damage to the cases of the real victims of rape (it doesn’t help that they receive a disproportionate media coverage either).

Let me make it absolutely clear for Richard: this week a debate erupted because it seemed as if the justice minister implied that rape could involve various degrees of violence and thus deserved varying degrees of punishment. The people who took offence at this tried to point out that rape is rape, irrespective of whether the attacker is violent in other ways towards his victim. The point being made is that rape is in itself the ultimate expression of physical violence and dominance, it doesn’t need to be accompanied by other forms of violence to attract the label of a violent crime.

I just get the impression that some people really see some kind of distinction between rape and violence. I think the confusion stems from the fact that ordinarily sex is a pleasurable and painless act so when a rape occurs the mind is able to make the fallacious argument that if no other violence occurred during the rape then it can’t have really been a violent act because the body is not normally harmed by sex. I genuinely think that this is the way some people subconsciously see rape. If the attacker doesn’t stamp on your face afterwards it’s seen as little more than inconvenient sex.

The sad thing is that this was never a discussion about consent, it was a discussion that stemmed once more around the idea that even in clear cases of rape (where the attacker confesses for example) there can be varying degrees of rape depending on the other violence associated with the case. Rather than engage in this debate Richard Littlejohn instead accuses women of crying rape simply because they regret casual encounters and then suggests that the only people to take offence are a bunch of hardy feminists who come out screaming to defend such women.

Even when he tries to get involved in a real, current debate he still has to completely invent a different debate to suit his own distorted agenda. In Richard’s world there are two types of rape: the first is the clear, violent gang rape of ‘innocent’ women, the next is just a bunch of drunken women screaming rape. It must be so nice living in a world of such clear distinctions.

This is the two types of ‘rape’ that Littlejohn puts into opposition:

I’ve no doubt that the victims of the most violent attacks, such as the poor woman who upbraided Ken Clarke on the wireless this week, carry their trauma with them for the rest of their days.

But, equally, many women who have had a brief sexual encounter of which they are ashamed simply shrug it off and get on with their lives. They don’t scream ‘rape’, they chalk it up to experience and vow to go easy on the chardonnay in future.

So, unless you are a rape victim who suffered a ‘most violent attack’ you’ll probably get over it just fine. On the other hand, if it wasn’t a really violent act then you’re were probably just drunk and feel a bit ashamed so you’ll just cry rape for the hell of it.

In conclusion:

  • Richard Littlejohn thinks that only women suffer or get upset by rape
  • Even when he tries to engage with a real debate, Richard must instead invent his own version because otherwise things are just too complex for him
  • If you weren’t brutally gang-raped, you’re probably just making it up (and you were almost definitely drunk as well)
  • No matter how hysterical or depressing a debate becomes, Richard can still easily drag it down another few notches
  • Richard Littlejohn is still the most cowardly little man in the whole of tabloid-land.

Dealing with rape and sexual assault

I met Susan George over a year ago. She had been sent to see me because she had just completed a Counselling course at the college I work in and she wanted to move onto an undergraduate course, but her tutor was concerned that she couldn’t work at that level. After working closely with her for a couple of months on essay writing and research skills I gradually learnt about why Susan was reluctant to sit amongst students and interact with strangers. Just over a year ago she had been brutally raped by an ex-boyfriend and was lucky to escape with her life.

The story was covered by the national press, including the Daily Mail. The Daily Mail Reporter gave a fairly accurate version of events and the comments under the story were entirely positive. This is because Susan George was an acceptable rape victim. By this I mean that she didn’t drink, wear ‘provocative’ clothing and wasn’t sexually promiscuous.

Do not misunderstand me, I completely understand that the only person to blame for rape is the perpetrator and that none of the above factors should lesson the seriousness of the assault or place any blame on the victim. However, as Susan made clear to me, in her experience women feel shame after a rape and if they feel that they were drunk, or wearing a short skirt they are somehow responsible for their rape. Susan took the step of waiving her right to anonymity and it turns out that her rapist had a history of rape and serious sexual assault over a 21 year period. Several other rape victims came forward during the trial and her rapist was eventually found guilty of 19 offences.

Susan had not shied away from her rape and although she was still (and is still) attending counselling to deal with the trauma she has been through she went back into education in order to become a counsellor – specialising in helping trauma and rape victims. She wants to help victims of rape pursue their rapists through the courts in order to bring them to justice. She is acutely aware of how rape is a subject that is not talked about openly, and that rape victims are reluctant to come forward.

This is why she has now put her story on the Internet and offered her perspective on what happens if a rape victim decides to come forward. She has set up a website – rapecounselling.co.uk – with a chat forum and is ready to listen to and help victims of sexual assault. She has also started a blog and has just posted an introduction to herself.

So, please go and read her story, visit her blog and link to it so that she can help other rape victims come forward and bring more rapists to justice. She is also on <a href=”http://twitter.com/coming_forward”>Twitter</a> and should be using it regularly just as soon as I have shown her how to use it all, so please follow her.

Daily Mail and Rape

I have been neglecting this site somewhat recently because I am helping build a website for rape victims. The purpose of the website is to try and shatter some of the popular myths or misconceptions about rape, and to empower more women or men to come forward and pursue the prosecution of the perpetrator. Throughout my discussions with rape victims the one point that can never be repeated enough is that no-one, no matter what they were doing, what they were wearing, whether they had been drinking or whatever any other circumstance agrees to be raped. The rape or sexual assault is purely the decision of the attacker, not the victim. No one is ever ‘asking for it’ or ‘encouraging it’.

However, in the time I have been reading the Daily Mail print edition and website I have seen numerous examples of how the Daily Mail tries to link the behaviour and promiscuity of the victim to the assault, as if really, the victim was to blame for causing the rape. It doesn’t help either that when a person is falsely accused that it gets far more publicity than a case that is successfully prosecuted, but it serves a purpose for the Daily Mail, it makes out that most rape victims are probably lying, and that somehow they are either mistaken or they are outright liars.

The trouble is that sometimes famous people – like Katie Price for example – claim to have been raped and it allows all of these misconceptions to be aired with spite because people feel that they know the sort of person Katie Price is, and they can then make a judgement about whether they believe she is the ‘type’ of woman to be a rape victim, or whether in fact her celebrity persona actually deserves rape in some way. The Daily Mail has certainly been responsible for some articles which imply that rape is caused by the behaviour of the victim: ‘I WAS raped,’ claims Katie Price, as she offers to take on allcomers at lover’s tacky cage-fight event.

The message here is clear, the subordinating conjunction ‘as’ nicely links the idea that a rape victim at a tacky event offering to ‘take on allcomers’, implies that she’s some kind of slut and probably asked for it? Forgive me if I’m reading too much into this headline, but I’ve been on the Mail website for long enough to know that very rarely do they accidentally create implications. The first lines of the article are bullet pointed to question the validity of the rape claim: ‘Price strips to underwear in front of 2,000 crowd; Former friend backs rape claims’. Clearly, the kind of person that strips to her underwear in front of thousands isn’t the kind of person who should be making rape claims – even if they are backed up by ‘friend’.

The point is that no matter what your opinion of Jordan that should have no bearing on how you feel about her as an alleged rape victim. You may think that she is a slut, a promiscuous airhead with no morals and many other things, this still has no bearing on any rape that may have taken place. Should we only support rape victims if they are sober, demure and innocent and forsake all those that don’t live like saints because we don’t like the way they behave so they probably deserved or encouraged it?

No matter what a person does in life they still maintain the right to control their own bodies, and what access other people have to that body. No matter what behaviours a person has exhibited in the past they always maintain the fundamental right to say no to anything that they do not want to do. If a sexual assault takes place after the word ‘no’ is uttered, then rape has occured, end of, no discussion – and no, you’re not allowed to question what the victim was wearing, that is all irrelevant.

Sadly, there are a lot of comments on the above article that accuse Jordan of making it up, seeking attention or generally trying to raise her profile:

Thought she said a couple of days ago that she was not going to mention the ‘rape’ again and wanted to get out of the limelight. That’ll be the day! I had to smile when I read that the alleged rapist made her ‘burst into tears’. I don’t think the man has been born yet that can do that.- Hilary, Staffs, 21/9/2009 15:44

Click to rate Rating 81

A woman who has been raped does NOT dress or act like this vile woman.- James, Plymouth, 21/9/2009 16:49

Click to rate Rating 82

Sadly, when rape gets reported by the tabloid media it becomes sensationalised gossip with people trying to guess who did it, or whether a rape really took place. The end result is that the real victims of rape (and I’m not even entering the debate over whether Jordan is a victim or not) are less likely to be believed if they do come forward, and, should they come forward, they have to deal with all the myths and misconceptions that surround tabloid reports of rape. This makes them not only the victim of rape, but also the victim of a society that doesn’t like to deal with the root causes of violent sexual assault and instead prefers to believe that somehow the rape victim has brought it upon them through their actions. The victim is blamed, whilst the perpetrator’s only crime is to have failed to interpret mixed messages correctly.