A cliche, but: is this a new low for the Daily Mail?

Bedbound pensioner dies after being gnawed by rats as scrapping of weekly bin collection leads to rodent infestation [istyosty.com link]’ screams the headline of a Daily Mail article attributed to The Daily Mail Reporter (no-one would want to claim credit for this article). The article claims that:

A bedbound pensioner who died after being gnawed by rats after her council abandoned weekly bin collections has died, it has been revealed…

Angry neighbours blamed the infestation on Reading Council switching refuse collections to a fortnightly pick-up but the authority denied this yesterday.

I love the insidious use of ‘it has been revealed’. It is such a wonderfully leading phrase, it invites the reader to believe what is written as fact because it gives the impression that all the Mail is doing is revealing a piece of information that had prior to this article remained hidden to the reader. It implies that the information is being passed to the reader without being tampered with: all the Mail are doing is showing you the information as they found it.

Of course, this is not the case at all, as readers who actually make it to the end of the article find out:

Council spokesman Oscar Mortali said… at this stage there was no reports of rats using bins as a food source.

‘There is no link between the move to weekly separated waste collections where householders follow the advice given to them and keep their refuse in closed wheelie bins’, he said.

As has been pointed out many times before: rats are unlikely to eat their way through a solid plastic wheelie-bin and if householders are responsible then fortnightly bin collections should have no impact on the food available to rats – even more so if householders have food bins as well which are tightly sealed and often have catches to prevent spillages even if a determined gang of rats worked together to tip one over.

Indeed, the council confirms that the problems seem to lie elsewhere:

Thames Water has been baiting and investigating its sewage network while the council was doing drainage work in the area this week.

Mr Mortali added: ‘The current evidence points to a drainage issue and that is where efforts are being focussed at present.’

But no, the Daily Mail are quite happy to directly link the sad death of a pensioner to fortnightly wheelie bins. When you can see so much evidence that the Daily Mail have no qualms about sinking to any level to pursue their agenda you can start to understand why the newspaper seems to be pretty keen that we all move away from the phone hacking scandal and the possibility that wider investigations of all newspapers will take place.

If this is the kind of distortion they sink to just to further their narrative on wheelie bins, imagine what tactics they use when pursuing narratives higher up their agenda.

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).