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Tuesday, January 30, 2007 

Scum-watch: Two faces, one day.

What then, to make of today's Sun front-page? On one level, it deserves to be welcomed and applauded. Any message which points out the values and life that we share, that prejudice based both on background and on the colour of our skin is completely unacceptable, and that children especially are often the ones that suffer the most from the unkindness and closed-minds of their peers ought to be celebrated, especially coming from a paper with such a poor history both of promoting forgiveness and tolerance. It's just that I don't believe the Sun means it, and there are also far more sinister undertones beneath its apparent road to Damascus-type conversion.

More to the point, the very reason for the Sun running this on their front page has to be related in no small measure to the decision of Shilpa Shetty to sell her story to the Mirror. Normally, the tabloids that can't afford/don't want to stump up the cash for the stories of the latest 15-minute wonder to emerge from the reality shows/royal family flunky/mistress of someone vaguely famous is to attack them, rubbish their views and point out all their various flaws. Unfortunately for the Sun, the decision to turn on Jade Goody and the others involved in the bullying of Shetty has meant that with Shetty going to the Mirror and Danielle Lloyd going to the Star, they were left without any of their own exclusives.

Cue some bright spark who came up with an idea to save everything: turn on prejudice day! What better way to make up for the dearth of stories which their rivals have? Hell, they even got the Commission for Equality and Human Rights to OK their use of various racial epithets, just to make sure all was, err, kosher. Graham Dudman, the managing editor and public face of the paper, as Rebekah Wade tends to get into trouble whenever she appears in public,
even went to CiF with his feel-good aren't we doing something good line, trying to rouse interest in something which otherwise seems to have been ignored.

One thing you have to wonder about is just how much the kids which the Sun has pictured know about the newspaper's own recent history in being far from tolerant of their own backgrounds. For instance:

MUSTAFA MIYASAR, ten, from Scotland, has been called “terrorist”, an insult which began after 9/11.

This wouldn't have anything to do with the far from restrained at times coverage from the Sun of the actual terrorist threat. Front pages such as "PLOT TO KILL YOU", editorials warning the public to more or less stay scared, and this from after the conviction of Kamel Bourgass, who neither had ricin nor could have produced it with the phony recipe he had (not to mention he had no links with al-Qaida) don't exactly reassure the public that Muslims in general are not responsible for the actions of a tiny, tiny minority who share their religious faith.

JOYTI PANESAR, 11, of Leeds, held a sign saying “Paki”, an insult towards immigrant workers who arrived from Asia in the ’60s.

Different decades bring different workers. Today it's the East Europeans, and the Sun naturally would never dream of insulting them, casting them as invading hordes or as potentially bringing disease. Oh, wait:

Ms Deborah Jack, the Chief Executive of the National Aids Trust, complained that the newspaper had inaccurately described HIV rates in Eastern Europe. She also raised concerns that the article had confused HIV and AIDS.


The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published the following correction:

“On 16 November we reported fears immigrants from Eastern Europe made up a large proportion of new UK HIV cases. We have been asked to make clear Eastern Europe is not a significant source of new HIV diagnoses and Romania and Bulgaria do not have high HIV rates. They rank 39 and 44 respectively in the European league table of 52 countries.” In addition, the PCC asked the newspaper to mark its records in order to help avoid confusion between HIV and AIDS in future."

And here's that very day's editorial on the subject:

BRITAIN once wiped out TB and was gaining ground against AIDS.

Today we risk an explosion in both these killer diseases, thanks to infected immigrants.

Virulent new strains of tuberculosis are virtually incurable and easily spread.

Many have arrived from Africa, but startling new figures show a sharp rise in cases from new EU states Bulgaria and Romania which have the highest rates in Europe.

The irony is that the latest increase comes as health chiefs launch an awareness campaign against sexually transmitted diseases.

Understandably, those facing death will do anything to seek health care — especially if it is free.

But we will soon have to choose between acting as Good Samaritan to the world’s sick.

And protecting our own citizens against a deadly epidemic.

The article itself seems to have gone missing, so it looks as if it takes a PCC intervention for such woefully wrong stories to be removed from the archive. (See Muslim yobs passim ad nauseum and Rochelle Holness.) Still, when it comes to protecting "our own citizens" from the sexually infected hordes who are about to invade us, who could fault the Sun for being vigilant?

MARY RYE, 16, from Bromley, South London, has been called “Pikey”, a term said to come from an old English word meaning to travel or from turnpike.

Gypsy groups report the Sun to the police

Patrick Barkham
Thursday March 10, 2005
The Guardian

Gypsy groups reported the Sun to the police and the Press Complaints Commission yesterday, claiming that its new campaign against Traveller camps was an incitement to racial hatred.

Their leaders made formal complaints to the Hampshire and Sussex police, and communities spoke of the fear and intimidation caused by the tabloid declaring "war on gipsy [sic] free-for-all", under the headline "Stamp on the camps".

A woman living on a site in Kent was so worried by the Sun's attitude that she contacted the police yesterday and asked for their protection. Other Gypsies said their children were frightened when they read headlines apparently declaring "war" on them.

Here's some edited highlights from March the 9th 2005's Sun editorial:

Illegal sites are a symptom of the PC-driven victim culture in which even wrongdoers — such as gipsies who ride roughshod over the planning laws — are granted immunity and even given privileges.

The villain of the piece is the Human Rights Act, which our judges have limply interpreted to mean that these wandering tribes have a right to family life and respect for their homes which outweighs any harm they might do to the environment or rural communities.

What a difference nearly two years makes! Also note how the Sun uses gipsy rather than gypsies, purely so it can avoid potentially being racist, as gypsies are defined as a ethnic group. Smart, eh?

ZHAO PENG, 15, from Bristol, has been called “Chinky” a racial slur to describe Chinese people.

The Sun would never be so crude. That's why they referred to Ding Junhui, the Chinese snooker player who recently reached the Masters final as "Pot Noodle".

ZAYNAB AHMED, 16, from London, held the sign saying “Raghead”, a variation on the “Towelhead” insult. She says:
The most terrifying experience I had was when my cousin and I were going home after prayers at a mosque during Ramadan.

There was a massive group of football fans and they started making comments about our headscarves. It was really intimidating. They were laughing and shouting abuse. We were really scared.

Frightening indeed. Is it possible that some of them could have been Sun readers?

FIFTEEN women suicide bombers have been sent to murder British troops in Afghanistan.

Taliban chiefs have ordered them to dress as beggars or teachers and hide devices under burkas, a secret intelligence report has warned.

THE Sun today launches a campaign to close the veil loophole making a mockery of Britain’s airport security.

We told yesterday how a member of the gang which killed WPC Sharon Beshenivsky sneaked out of Heathrow by donning a Muslim niqab, with just a slit for eyes.

Now we are calling on Home Secretary John Reid to turn passport control at every airport in the country into a veil-free zone.

Nevermind that there has been no evidence presented whatsoever to prove that Mustaf Jama actually fled the country wearing a niqab, the Sun still felt the need to start up a pointless campaign. The coverage among the tabloids since Jack Straw's original speech has to been to point out that women wearing the headscarf, especially the full veil, aren't to be trusted; they either aren't willing to integrate, as their choice of religious dress is a wall of separation, or they're someone in disguise.

SEAN CALLEN, 12, of Southampton, hates the insult “chav scum” — a jibe at white working class people who wear brash designer clothes. It shows white people can be victims of bigots, too.

A search of the Sun's archive gives 201 results for chav, among them are such delights as the following:

A DIZZY blonde caught using both hands to doll herself up while DRIVING was heading to meet her secret lover, she revealed last night.

Chav calendar girl Donna Maddock said she wanted to look good for her date with her two-timing fella, who lives with a girlfriend and their child.

And speaking after she was done for careless driving by a court, the defiant 22-year-old said: “I must have looked like Penelope Pitstop driving along slapping the make-up on. But it’s something all women do. I can’t see what the big fuss is about.”

A WOMAN suspected of murdering her own mother was urged to turn herself in last night — by a sister who called her a “chav”.

Chav out first in eviction

TEARFUL Bonnie Holt was boiling mad last night as she became the first housemate to be evicted from Big Brother 7.

The Vicky Pollard-style chav told how she was “bored out of her brains”, sobbing to the others: “It was my time.”

It's the Chavtas, innit

THE SUN is proud to announce a new award for givin' it large – the Chavtas.

Our gongs will go to the champions of chav, the yoof culture phenomenon that is sweeping the nation.

Do you have a blindin' collection of bling?

Do you know somebody who dresses their dog in Burberry to match their own gear?

Write, with a picture if possible, to The Chavtas, The Sun, 1 Virginia St, London E98 1SN.

Then there's today's Sun leader on the subject, coupled with Dudman's own references to yesterday's survey about young Muslims:

Britain’s overwhelming vote to make Shilpa Shetty Celebrity Big Brother winner shows, thank goodness, we are a nation that hates racism.

But the show also proved how name-calling can become racist viciousness. The impact on society of offensive labels can be dangerous.

Shunned minorities retreat into ghettos and nurse their grievances.

At a more sinister level, as new polls show, it splits society and turns thousands of young Muslims into al-Qaeda sympathisers.

This is more worrying now than at any time in recent memory.

Tory leader David Cameron rightly blames multiculturalism and unchecked immigration for stoking the flames. But he puts his finger on another key factor — education. Ignorance breeds prejudice.

Right, so the Sun goes to the trouble of taking a picture of children who have suffered racism, all from different backgrounds, and then it still blames multiculturalism, despite all the evidence that living together fosters togetherness. The problem isn't multiculturalism, if anything it's because we've not become multicultural enough. Ignorance is indeed the problem, but you're highly unlikely to be enlightened from reading the Sun, let's face it. As for shunned minorities retreating into ghettos and potentially becoming radicalised, yesterday's study additionally pointed out how those who have been convicted of terrorism offences or who have killed themselves for their own perverted cause were almost universally better off than average, and had relatively few family problems. Racism might be to do with ignorance, but non-integration and poverty appear to be relatively low indicators for potential jihadis, at least from this country.

To be fair to the Sun, if its front page today does make someone who is prejudiced or racist think twice, and with its circulation reach it will hit a lot more homes than any other paper, then my cynicism can be dismissed. It's now up to the Sun to practice what it preaches - and by the above evidence, it's not hard to see how quickly this will be forgotten along with all the other short-lived outbreaks of moral superiority.

How quickly the Sun can change from attempting to be inclusive and all-embracing back to its hate-filled and downright nasty more familiar guise could not be better illustrated than its coverage today of their victory over Patricia Tierney:
Unhappy slapper loses

THE Sun won an historic legal victory yesterday after exposing the prostitute in the Wayne Rooney brothel libel case as a LIAR.

Gran Patricia Tierney, 52, tried to swindle hundreds of thousands of pounds in damages from us, claiming she was just an innocent receptionist.

She claimed her life had been ruined by a series of articles identifying her as a hooker known as The Auld Slapper in a Liverpool brothel Rooney used as a teenager.

But the court heard The Sun uncovered dramatic evidence last week that proved Tierney HAD been a prostitute at Diva’s brothel in Aigburth.

The mum of seven was caught out because of a damning statement she gave to Merseyside Police in May 2002 in which she admitted offering sex for £45 a go.

She stated: “My role was dual. On some days I would work as a receptionist.On other days I would act as a sex worker. My role would be to provide sexual services for clients.”

Historic my foot. Tierney was a liar, it's quite true, but all of this would never have happened if the Sun, instead of naming the woman and exposing her had simply covered her face and not revealed her identity, simply referring to as an older prostitute, which is what she was. There was no need to humiliate her; Rooney was the one who paid for the sex. As Michael White argues:

It seems that Mrs Tierney did do some sex work when she needed the cash and gave details - in confidence - to the Merseyside police when they investigated another case. Naive as well as greedy perhaps, to think it wouldn't come out. But you can't help feeling sorry for someone - not a rich footballer, but a working-class mother and grandmother of 16 - who finds herself on the receiving end of the tabloid treatment for not doing anything illegal.

"It has destroyed my children, my grandchildren, my husband and myself. What I have done, I had my reasons, but I did not deserve this. If it had not been for Rooney, I would not be here," Mrs T said, in applying for an adjournment.

Prostitution in this country is not illegal, but soliciting is. Tierney was not soliciting, and was not breaking the law. There's some additional information in the Grauniad's report:

Ms Tierney said she was "begging for her life". Mr Riley said the alleged libel and what had followed was "destroying us, slaughtering us".

The Sun had offered the family cash for "a dirty story, the dirtier the better" about Mr Rooney. "We never took any money. It's about getting her name cleared ... We are just low-life to the Sun."

After the judge delivered his judgment, Mr Riley was asked if he wanted to comment. "We never had a chance," he said.

How things change. While the Sun went all out for Rooney then, it later dropped its claim that Rooney himself had hit his girlfriend and told her to "fuck off home", paying him £100,000 in damages. Around the same time, Rooney signed his mega-deal with HarperCollins (proprietor: R. Murdoch) to publish his autobiography in installments.

The Sun's leader is even nastier:

GREEDY tart Patricia Tierney pleasured Wayne Rooney for a few quid in a seedy Liverpool brothel.

Then she tried to screw The Sun for £750,000, claiming we damaged her reputation by naming her.

She insisted she was just a granny helping out at the desk. The case was thrown out because she confessed to police two years earlier that she was a whore.

Now she risks jail for contempt of court.

Serves her right.

One day the Sun might get a taste of its own medicine when it comes to ruining lives. Until then, it'll continue to act almost with complete impunity, smearing anyone and anything that gets in its way, however much it pretends to hate prejudice.

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.......love the sun cover.....relates to my latest post......and what the hell's a pikey?

urbandictionary has a number of definitions: pikey

Excellent post. I'm left with the same problem I left you with yesterday - so it's swings and roundabouts in action!

The Sun story about AIDS has definately been removed. The original link is http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2-2006530343,00.html

I blogged about it here:

Which includes some quotes, so it's not completely lost forever.

In future if you come across something sensitive that you think might disappear, take a screengrab and save it.

If you're using Firefox, get this cool add-on called Screengrab!


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