Monthly Archives: December 2009

The worrying insanity of Peter Hitchens

Sometimes when I read the Daily Mail I wonder if it isn’t all a large practical joke being played out by creative writers who want to out-do each other with ever wackier viewpoints and rants. So many columnists writing for the Mail just don’t seem human – the amazing vacuity of Liz Jones and Amanda Platell, the utter bitchy pointlessness of Jan Moir, the vicious ramblings of Melanie Phillips and the predictably terrible drivel repeated by Littlejohn year after year. Still, even when you read these columnists regularly you still get shocked when a different Mail writer tries to trump them all with his utter insanity: step forward Peter Hitchens.

You should never judge someone by how they look, but I think in the case of Peter Hitchens we should at least address the fact that he looks evil. I won’t post a picture of him here because I don’t want his face scaring the occasional visitor that happens across this blog. He looks like the kind of person that has chopped his family into pieces and keeps various body parts in the fridge and freezer. He has the kind of face that scares local children who concoct rumours that he secretly kills dogs and eats them, if any kind of ball went into his garden no kid would dare fetch it.

I appreciate that all of this is rambling rubbish, but how else can you respond to a Peter Hitchens’ column that contains the following passages:

Of course I’d like to think that I would give a terrible thrashing to any burglar who broke in to my home. But I would be crazy to do so. It would be me who ended up in prison. In any case, what makes me think I’d come off best in a fight with some gaunt, rangy dope-smoker?

I long ago decided that the only wise thing to do would be to make the thief a cup of tea and ask him to sign a release form confirming that I had not harmed him in any way. I advise all my readers to do the same.

The solution to the problem does not lie in our having the freedom to bash burglars.

Though we ought to have that freedom as a matter of course, it would be more use as a deterrent than in practice.

The solution lies in a political change at the top – the expulsion from government of the socialists and liberals who have taken over all three major parties and driven justice from our country.

This liberal elite do not believe that burglary is wrong, so they won’t punish burglars properly. They think burglars steal because they are deprived, or because they were abused as children, or because they cannot get ‘treatment’ for their disgusting criminal drug habits. So many of our leaders now are unrepentant illegal drug-takers themselves that they shouldn’t be trusted near the making of laws.

Suddenly, after reading the insanity of Peter Hitchens my introduction – which is largely utter rubbish – seems to be a wonderfully composed and thought-out critique. Peter Hitchens is actually paid to write this shit. To actually write down that most of our elected leaders are ‘unrepentant illegal drug-takers’ and that somehow this has led to a person who (with two accomplices) chased down and beat the shit of out someone with various weapons being sent to jail.

He isn’t finished there either. He still finds room to make up some shite about that silly christian registrar who refused to carry out civil partnerships:

We are told by the Appeal Court that in a ‘modern liberal democracy’ the freedom to express Christian faith must take second place to the rights of homosexuals. So the law of England now says Lillian Ladele, a registrar who politely asked to be excused from conducting civil partnership ceremonies, must stifle her principles or give up her job.

This is the hard face of the same movement which has in recent years been doing its best to take the ‘Christ’ out of Christmas, and has marginalised our national religion in the schools and in broadcasting, often in the name of freedom.

Freedom for whom? Our ‘modern liberal’ society is not liberal at all towards those who continue to believe the message of the angels.

You get the impression with Peter Hitchens and most of the intellectually challenged keyboard stabbers that write for the Mail that their main problem is that they read the Daily Mail and believe it. Hitchens packs his columns with lazy conclusions arrived at by a lying newspaper. Thus he writes that all criminals are let out whilst the law-abiding are put away, that Christmas has been banned and that the world is run by some kind of liberal-elite that are – ironically – always accused of not being liberal.

The worst thing about the Daily Mail is just when you think it cannot get any madder, someone like Peter Hitchens pops up to remind you that it can.

Allison Pearson has no brain

I really am starting to think that to be a Daily Mail columnist you have to have an almost complete lobotomy. During the procedure almost your entire brain is removed leaving just the ability to stab your fingers at a keyboard and generate the ‘outrage’ emotion that blindly fuels any argument you’re putting forward. Today’s ‘I’m so stupid I’ve had my brain removed and so write for a tabloid newspaper’ moment is from Allison Pearson, who I don’t recall writing about before. Her main piece is on Munir Hussain, the man convicted for attacking a man who broke into his house with a couple of others and held him and his family hostage. Eventually Munir Hussain was able to escape and chase one of the attackers out of his house. So as far as this goes you can probably imagine the foaming mouths of Daily Mail readers: man defends home, man is imprisoned for it.

It gets better. The fleeing attacker that Munir Hussain caught actually gets away without being sent to prison. It is, as I’m sure every Mail reader would agree: PC gone mad.

Allison Pearson certainly thinks so:

Last year, the Government introduced a Bill that was supposed to protect people who fought back against burglars, so long as they didn’t use disproportionate violence.

It is unclear what Mr Hussain, whose family had suffered such disproportionate violence, was supposed to do. Invite the masked intruders to put down their blades, take a seat and wait for the coppers to turn up?

It almost sounds like she is making a reasonable point, until you remember that she has no brain and is writing purely in ‘blind outrage’ mode. Turn away from the Daily Mail report (which funnily enough doesn’t go that much into depth on what action Munir Hussain actually took) and you’ll find the following details. One of Munir’s sons escaped the house, alerted the police and got a neighbour round. As he escaped the house two of the attackers fled, leaving Salem (the final attacker) to flee by himself. Munir and two others followed Salem and cornered him. They swiftly incapacitated him. Surely the three men would now wait for the police – who are on their way – because, after all, the family are safe and all the attackers have left the house?

Err, no, the three men decide to beat the shit out of the defenseless Salem – according to This is Local London:

The court was told one of the sons escaped to his bedroom upstairs, called the police and then left via a window, managing to get to the ground floor and to safety.

Two of the men went upstairs to find him and fled when they failed to find him, Mr Price said.

The family and the masked man downstairs heard the boy as he jumped, jurors heard.

Munir Hussain was “emboldened by this turn of events” and “hurled a coffee table at the man”, Mr Price said.

A struggle ensued and the balaclava was ripped from the intruder’s face before he fled the house, the court was told.

Munir Hussain and three others were seen chasing Mr Salem, before cornering him and beating him up, according to witnesses. This did not involve the two sons held in the house.

Mr Price said Mr Salem could have “died from his injuries because they were so severe”.

He was attacked with weapons including a metal pole and cricket bat in a small front garden belonging to neighbour Miranda McCoughlin, the court heard.

One man was bent over Mr Salem, punching him in the face and saying ‘who sent you?’ according to her written testimony, summarised by Mr Price.

Others kicked and stamped on him, he said.

A statement from neighbour Mark O’Brien, said: “The man on the floor was screaming like I never heard screaming before.

“I heard him say ‘stop, please stop’. I really thought that they were going to kill the man on the floor.”

Mr Price said: “Other residents in Desborough Park Road who saw the attack all of them without exception remarked on its apparent ferocity.”

Mr Salem was taken to Stoke Mandeville Hospital with severe bruising to the brain, a fractured jaw, elbow and finger and later to the neurology ward at John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford.

The cricket bat used to beat Salem was used with such force that the bat broke into 3 pieces. This isn’t the defence of home or family, this is a revenge attack against a defenceless man who they should have just held until the police got there.

Allison Pearson on the other hand still claims that Munir Hussain is ‘no vigilante. He is, however, a good man, a law-abiding citizen who took violent action after the most horrible provocation.’

This was an exceptional case. Robberies are committed and the culprits caught and restrained and beaten up in the UK every year and the judge does not prosecute the home owner because it is normally reasonable force and takes place inside the home. In this case 3 men chased down and incapacitated a burglar (which the judge says was perfectly within the law and reasonable) and then subjected a defenceless man to a brutal attack that nearly killed him – even though at this point he was no threat and other people tried to stop the attack.

If we all reacted like this we would have anarchy. I have no issues with using whatever force necessary to protect those that I love, but in this case his loved ones were by this point safe and the threat was completely neutralized. Hussain and his two helpers took it upon themselves to nearly beat to death a defenceless man, not something I’d like to find ‘entirely understandable’.

Furthermore, whether it is understandable or not isn’t really relevant, it was still a vigilante attack and this is illegal. People are convicted by courts, not by the victims of crime – otherwise the death penalty would be brought back and victims would be hanging every criminal in the country.
A final point regarding the punishment of Salem, if you can understand the desire for Hussain to have revenge and understand that Hussain and two others nearly beat Salem to death in a revenge attack. Then surely because they meted out on the spot ‘justice’ in the form of a metal bar and cricket bat (which incidentally broke into 3 pieces as they hit Salem that hard with it) they have no right to expect the court to issue further punishment? Surely a man can only be punished once for any one crime. In this case the judge clearly thinks that his punishment was nearly dying at the hands of those he sinned against.

If the family wanted to ensure he was punished through the right channels then they should have left him for the police, not doled out their own version of justice. I can understand the arguments put forward by people who think this judgement is wrong, I really can. However, Allison Pearson implies that Hussain was merely protecting his family (as if he had administered the beating inside his own home with his family under threat). The truth is much more unsavoury: Hussain carried out a sustained and extremely savage attack on a defenceless person, one who had been captured and could have easily been held for the police – something that an onlooker tried to request the men did. Instead they nearly killed him by stamping on his head, kicking, punching and hitting him with an iron bar and a cricket bat.

I would go to any length to protect my loved ones, but this case simply isn’t about that situation – no matter how much Allison Pearson thinks it is.

Littlejohn TV

Inspired by possibly the worst column in a series of columns by Richard Littlejohn that are a crime against the written word.

BBC1

6.00am. Breakfast With Littlejohn. Join Richard on the sofa as he interviews his celebrity friends – Nick Griffin – and discusses talking points such as why climate change is a terrible myth created to tax us more. Weatherman: Richard Littlejohn.

9.00am. Homos Under The Hammer. Richard Littlejohn sells rent boys as part of the illegal sex trade. Any unsold ‘homos’ are hilariously beaten to death with a hammer.

11.00am. Cash In The Attic. Richard Littlejohn opens his Florida safe and shows us all the money he has been paid over the years by shitty right-wing tabloids.

12.00pm. Working Lunch. Richard Littlejohn entertains his celebrity pals at The Ivy, on expenses. Also features an interview with his private jet pilot who flies Richard between Florida and the UK.

3.00pm. Bargain Cunt. Richard Littlejohn writes a column for a hilariously small fee.

4.00pm. Ready Steady Littlejohn. A team of experienced columnists are pitted against each other and the clock to produce a horribly cliched column in the style of Richard Littlejohn. Points are awarded for factual innacuracy, racism, xenophobia, homophobia and references to 70’s sitcoms.

5.00pm. Escape The Country. Watch Richard Littlejohn travel to his main residence – a gated mansion in Florida – in a bid to escape the ‘PC brigade’ that have taken over Britain.

6.00pm. Littlejohn News. Presented by Richard Littlejohn. A daily news show confirming that immigrants and ethnics are the source of all crime in the UK. TOnight’s special feature exposes a gang of asylum seekers that are eating YOUR family pets.

7.00pm. The One Show. Richard Littlejohn rehashes his only column for 30 minutes every evening.

8.00pm. Panorama. A special investigation by Richard Littlejohn into whether conkers really have been banned from the playground. Richard Littlejohn concludes that they have.

9.00pm. Violent Britain. Richard Littlejohn scuffles outside a nightclub. Part of the Broken Britain Series.

11.00pm. Imagine. Richard Littlejohn invites the viewer to step inside his imaginary world. Warning: some viewers may find this programme extremely offensive.

I could go on, but I fear I’d be as boring as Richard Littlejohn if I did.

More Lies about the NHS

There must be something wrong with me. I read Richard Littlejohn’s column from 30th November (Thank heavens my sick mum wasn’t at the mercy of the NHS) and I didn’t get angry.

Was this because I agreed with what RLJ had to say?

No.

Was this because RLJ extensive research had led to a well thought-out argument that I found interesting?

No.

Was it because his column contained some facts for a change?

No.

So why wasn’t I angry?

Simply because it was RLJ being RLJ and I’m told you shouldn’t shoot a duck for quaking.

Normally this kind of thing makes me really very very angry. I have a small confession to make at this point. I am an unrepentant apologist for the NHS. I work in it, I am aware of its limitations and issues and I could write long articles on what’s wrong with it. I don’t for three reasons. Firstly, the NHS is much – and unfairly – maligned. Two, the problems of it are almost always different to the issues raised in the press. And thirdly, and much more importantly, the NHS is an amazing thing and whilst it does have issues they are, in the real world, a price well worth paying for comprehensive healthcare. I am proud of the healthcare the vast majority of patients receive and the work we do in the NHS. It is hugely frustrating to see this constant abuse in the press. And it’s not just about the shear insult of this but every week I have to deal with the anxiety created in patients before they even make it to the hospital door. Of course, it is not surprising that anyone who reads our papers is scared of being admitted to hospital.

So, let’s summarise RLJ argument;

1.His mother was involved in a traffic accident and was well looked after in a hospital in the states.

2. The NHS might have killed her because all British hospitals are dirty and you will pick up a deadly disease in you are unfortunate enough to be admitted one.

3. American Healthcare is great and insurance works while the billions we spend on the NHS are a waste as there’s no good outcomes or accountability.

If I only I knew where to begin with this. I must warn any brave readers that in order to write this I have done some actual research and have provided references at the bottom so that all the facts can be checked. That’s right – this article ought to come with a health warning to anyone who reads RLJ regularly; WARNING, the following contains actual facts and not RLJ delusions.

MRSA

I think I want to begin by talking about MRSA. To be fair to Littlejohn, almost no one in the press gets this right. My own personal rant is that MRSA is NOT a superbug. (E.coli 0157 now that’s another matter…. sorry, getting of the point). MRSA stands for Methicillin resistant Staphlococcus aureus. Staph. auerus is an extremely common bacteria, it is on the skin of at least a third of the people who read this article. It can be treated with various antibiotics including penicillins. Methicillin is not used in the UK – it is most closely related to Flucloxicillin (a type of penicillin). MRSA is Staph aureus that is resistant to flucloxcillin. This is not a major problem, as the vast majority of strains of MRSA are fairly weedy and are sensitive to multiple antibiotics and are fairly easy to treat. It is quite misleading to say that someone died of MRSA – they died of Staph. aureus infection and the MR bit or otherwise is usually irrelevant. Hospital-acquired infections are common and in general have nothing to do with hospital cleanliness. I know, what a ridiculous thing to say! Well, firstly the majority of infections that patients get come from their own skin. The main reason why people get infections in hospital is not because they’re in hospital but because they’re ill. By definition the people in hospitals are those that will be most vulnerable to picking up infections. This is why hospital cleanliness matters because it is about minimising the risk to vulnerable people. However, and this is the key, even if the hospital walls, floors, ceilings and beds were entirely sterile it would not stop people getting infections.

So what’s all this fuss about MRSA? The answer to that is multifactorial. I think there are two important reasons. Staphlococcus aureus is a very clever bug and can infect multiple sites in the body; it can cause skin infections, urinary infections, pneumonia, septicaemia (blood infection) to name but a few. The other reason is that the methicillin-resistant strains of Staph aureus are only found in hospitals or other institutions. Places where antibiotics have been used. And hence there is an assumption that MRSA has been acquired in hospital. MRSA infection can certainly be reduced by increasing cleanliness but to some extent that’s irrelevant, remember that most infections come from skin (and it’s impossible to ever fully sterilize a patient’s own skin). Do you really care whether you have a MRSA or an MSSA (common-or-garden Staph. auerus) infection, if I can treat it for you either way? There is no evidence that MRSA strains are more deadly that non-resistant strains.

Here’s some facts you’ll never hear in the press:

1.      MRSA is a worldwide problem. (Probably the greatest problem is in Japan for various historic reasons).

2.      MRSA became endemic in UK hospitals in the early 1990s.

3.      MRSA-related deaths are falling.1

4.      MRSA is a major problem in the USA. This is a quote from a CDC report. (The CDC is the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention – one of the world’s leading authorities on infectious diseases).2

“Hospital-acquired infections from all causes are estimated to cause >90,000 deaths per year in the United States and are the sixth leading cause of death nationally. Nosocomial infections increase patient illness and the length of hospital stays. The direct cost has been estimated to be >$6 billion (inflation adjusted)  costs of longer inpatient visits are shared by hospitals.”

So, please, can we move on from the myth that NHS hospitals are uniquely dangerous because only we have MRSA and it’s a superbug?

The US Healthcare system and its costs

So let us look at the US healthcare system. The top hospitals in the USA are amazing and provide amazing healthcare, many of them are world centres. However there are a few minor points worth noting. Healthcare in the US is astoundingly expensive.

Here are some interesting statistics;

46.3 million3 – that’s the number of Americans with NO healthcare coverage. (15% of the population). In the event of an emergency they do indeed get treatment – but it is strictly emergency only. So cancer surgery is not covered, on-going asthma care is not covered. People with bad asthma need on-going treatment to control their disease. Without this hospital admissions are common. Emergency cover will patch them up (usually) and chuck them out to come straight back in again the next time. The frequency and severity (i.e. whether it is life-threatening or not) of attacks can be reduced with good on-going treatment. Not available to 46.3 million Americans unless of course they pay for it themselves.

The leading cause of bankruptcy is the US is healthcare costs4 - even people with healthcare insurance struggle – limitations on cover, the deductible (i.e. how much you have to pay yourself). Imagine recovering from a serious illness to then lose your home.

£92.5bn - the cost of the entire NHS for the financial year 2008-95

$596.6bn - the combined cost of the US Medicare and Medicaid programs6. That’s £360bn. Medicare provides healthcare coverage for the elderly and Medicaid for the poorest. The majority of uninsured people are too well off for Medicaid but can’t afford insurance or their employer doesn’t provide it. Both of these programs still involve premiums and co-payments in addition to the government £360bn. Medicare has about 45 million people enrolled and Medicaid 50 million. So, in summary; the inefficient, expensive NHS covers 60 million people entirely for £92.5bn, whilst Medicare/Medicaid provides basic coverage (but not without co-payments) for 95 million people for £360bn. In fact, the US spends more per population on a basic healthcare system that only covers the oldest and poorest than the UK government spends on a healthcare system that looks after everyone. In UK terms that would equate to the government spending around £120bn for basic (so-called safety-net) coverage of less than 20 million of the UK population.

And here’s the real shock; for all the money they spend, the US life-expectancy is less than that of the UK.7

I am seriously impressed by anyone who’s still reading at this point. And this is part of the problem, the sort of trash that the Daily Mail puts out is much easier to read than the complex facts that actually reflect the truth of healthcare. There is so much more I can write – about unnecessary and invasive tests, about the benefits of preventative medicine but I think I should stop now.

The NHS is far from perfect but it is very very good. It is also unbelievably cheap for what we get for our money – worryingly to those who work in it, it is the most efficient healthcare system in the world. The problem is that for ideological reasons (i.e. Government=bad) The Daily Mail and those like it want to force us to take on a US-like model of healthcare. They’ll get their 5* hotel room hospital beds and everyone else will suffer. We will see the poor and the elderly left to die quietly or to live with their debilitating disease as the insurance companies make a fortune. And if the American example is anything to go by, ultimately we all end up paying more for sub-standard healthcare coverage for the most vulnerable.

I want to apologise for the length of this article but someone has to stand up to the constant lies of the Daily Mail. The NHS is an amazing thing and whilst it does have issues they are, in the real world, a price well worth paying for comprehensive healthcare. I am proud of the healthcare the vast majority of patients receive.

Dr alienfromzog BSc(Hons) MBChB MRCS(Ed)


References:

1.      Department of Health: http://tinyurl.com/6kjbue

2.      Centre for Disease Control and Prevention paper: http://tinyurl.com/ybvp2p3

3.      US Census: http://tinyurl.com/ln5a2q

4.      Baltimore newspaper article: http://tinyurl.com/ylg2fet

5.      HM Treasury corrected figures: http://tinyurl.com/yzme4ng

6.      Official financial report of Medicare and Medicaid; http://tinyurl.com/yguq2wn

7.      World Health Organisation figures: http://tinyurl.com/yguq2wn

Britain’s Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall was a concrete barrier erected by the German Democratic Republic in 1961 that split Berlin in two. The barrier became much more than this, it was fortified with a wide area (that became known as the ‘death strip’) that contained anti-vehicle trenches and other things to stem any flow of human traffic from one side of the wall to the other. According to Wikipedia from 1961 to 1989 (when the wall came down) around 5,000 people had attempted to escape over the wall, with an estimated death toll of between 100-200 people.

So, quite a serious wall, politically, symbolically and physically.

Fast forward to 2009 and head west to Britain, a fairly liberal country which respects human rights (of its own citizens at least, on the whole) and has a democracy in which people can criticise the government and not only do they not get punished they actually get paid handsomely and work for tabloid newspapers. However, all is not well and the quiet streets steeped in history are ready to flood with the flow of blood spilt in the lawnmower of civil unrest stirred up by… BRITAIN’S OWN BERLIN WAR! That is right, you heard it here second, one town in Britain has been torn in two by a barrier so fearsome, pensioners must drive their lethal electric buggies literally YARDS to get round it. The death toll for those circumventing the barrier is currently thought to be nil, but surely it is only a matter of time before that pensioner dies.

The article that first shook British society with news of the terrible barrier appeared in the Liberal Daily Mail newspaper – champion of the little man (providing he’s white, middle-class, is called Gerald and lives in a lovely detached house worth at least £250,000 with a docile wife and 2.1 white children who attend Sunday school and play woodwind instruments) – who shockingly broke the story with a typically restrained headline: ‘Neighbours’ fury after school erects ‘Berlin Wall’ across road to allow pupils to cross safely‘.

The  divided hoardes
The comparison to the Berlin wall here is well-founded and provides a clear indication of just how serious this wall is. Built to protect school children – who might not even be white – the wall has succeeded in blocking off the end of an entire road. The restriction on human movement has affected literally 10 people, who – rather than walk the 45 yards that they used to – are now faced with a terrifying 150 yard walk around the block (quite literally in this case!).

Naturally the invasion of liberty and the inhuman demand that people walk an extra 105 yards has caused utter outrage and horror from a people usually slow to revolt. Beverley Mason, a 46-year-old art student, said: ‘It’s ludicrous. Why don’t they just ban traffic? ‘I can’t think of anywhere else this has happened, apart from Berlin.’

Pensioner Joe Beckles, 73, said the school had been unwilling to compromise: ”The school is not committed to having the road opened. We will carry on protesting until access is authorised.’ The whole community senses a divide much like that of Berlin, like the families torn apart for 28 years by the Berlin Wall, non-war hero Joe Beckles continues with a tale of his own grief:

They say it’s an inconvenience but we’re saying it’s much more we’re being deprived of.

‘The extra diversion the wall has created has caused me grief. People who come to see me can’t find me as the street is blocked.’

The school at the centre of the monstrous division refused to comment, but the local council (who can be unfavourably compared to the Communist Stasi or Nazi stormtroopers) insisted that the hoarding was only a temporary measure.

A spokeswoman (too evil to be named) said:

‘After a thorough consultation process, dating back to 1999, planning permission was granted in 2006 to turn Lant Street into an attractive space which would benefit the whole community and add to the outstanding facilities provided to Charles Dickens pupils.

‘Any objections received were fully considered at the time. Temporary hoardings are in place to address the issue of safety for children attending the school.

‘We understand that the hoardings can be an inconvenience and we do appreciate people’s patience while we improve the area for the benefit of all.’

One can only speculate as to whether the council actually intend on disbanding the ‘temporary hoardings’ or whether the whole city – or country – may eventually be divided by a rampaging council and school.

One can only sympathise for the divided residents in a town that could be any town in England. The residents can only hope and pray that the mighty pen of Richard Littlejohn will bring their crisis and misery to a wider audience on Friday, and that the school and council will be brought down by the masses chanting: ‘IT’S ELF ‘N’ SAFETY PC GONE MAD’.

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).