Monthly Archives: March 2010

A Damning Report

I was reading a blog post by Mark Easton – the BBC’s home editor – on crime statistics being pushed in different directions by different political parties in the run up to the election. In the post he just happened to mention that crime statistics being pushed by the Conservatives had inspired the Daily Mail to assert:

that “nearly two-thirds of Government press releases contain misleading or unsubstantiated claims”.

However, the document actually says that its findings do “not necessarily mean that the statistics were misleading or inaccurate”. According to one of the statisticians who produced the “damning report”, it is not damning in the least.

Professor Sheila Bird, who will be presenting the results at the Royal Statistical Society tomorrow, tells me that the findings are “not shocking at all but a statistical standard to aim for”.

Not surprisingly a quick visit to the Daily Mail website reveals the writer of this article is none other than James Slack, who has form for misrepresenting crime statistics.

Gary: Littlejohn with Crayons

Tabloidwatch has already pointed out that Richard Littlejohn’s drivel on town hall ‘Nazis’ is about as reliable and factually accurate as normal, but I felt that some comment must be made on ‘Gary’s’ accompanying picture. Not for the first time it seems in pretty bad taste. If you haven’t seen it, here it is, (I personally don’t give a shit about nicking it and putting it here):

Gary: Littlejohn with a pen

Firstly, like all of Gary’s cartoons, it is a simplistic pile of shit created for the sort of utter moron that actually thinks Richard Littlejohn is a working class hero fighting the good fight. But more importantly, it is full of Richard Littlejohn stereotypes and ignorant assumptions. For example, the ‘Diversity Manager’ is black, because according to Littlejohn only black people could be concerned with issues of equality and race relations. Littlejohn absolutely slates diversity ‘nazis’ and the cartoon plays on the fact that groups like the BNP think that ‘white culture’ (whatever that is supposed to be) is under attack by other cultural groups. Here we have a black person employed to be a diversity manager, but, because they are black we can assume that it’s just another attack on the poor white person who no longer has any rights.

I don’t think i’m making unfounded allegations that having the diversity manager a black person is racist and pretty crassly offensive. I’m white, but I care about diversity because I really don’t think people should be judged by anything other than their character. You don’t have to be from a different cultural background or have non-white skin to be interested in diversity, you just have to be a half-decent human being. Not that you run into too many of them on the Daily Mail website (either as writers or readers).

The depiction of the ‘transgender co-ordinator’ is just the same: a hairy man in a dress, smoking a pipe with a tattoo of an anchor on his arm. Clearly, anybody with gender issues is the perfect target to be mocked – the comedy moustache, smoking a pipe whilst wearing a dress, as well as the unsubtle tattoo – oh, he’s a sailor, how original. Still, originality is the last thing the average Littlejohn reader is looking for. Again, the implication is that councils are making up jobs for freaks and paying them to be freaks. It is deeply stereotyped, ignorant and designed to be divisive. Like most topics Littlejohn engages with, rather than try to actually understand an issue he just mocks it and dismisses it as crazy and enforced by evil (Nazis).

One comment – currently 752 in the red – tries to engage with just how utterly silly and offensive the ‘diversity nazi’ label is, and I think it is worth quoting here:

‘Diversity Nazis’? How politically illiterate do you have to be not to realise what a stupid term that is? The Nazis tried to impose a monoculture, first on a country, then on an entire continent. The whole point of diversity is to ensure a monoculture cannot exist. Still, I doubt Littlejohn and his followers have the wit to appreciate that. As for Gary’s cartoon, for once that’s even more offensive than Littlejohn’s words.

– Charlie, Soho, London, 29/3/2010 8:53 Click to rate Rating 752

Quite how anyone should engage with Richard Littlejohn as a serious social commentator when he uses such a stupidly offensive phrase is beyond me. However, the trouble is that there are a lot of stupid people out there who genuinely think Littlejohn is great. Take for example a comment on this site a while back on a post about Littlejohn:

I like him,,,, but then i’m probably from the same generation and views. This country is sliding downward at an ever faster pace. You need ppl like Littlejohn to speask their mind and say what the vast majority are thinking

Now, I realise the commenter (Barry Faulkner) might find this a bit offensive, but it seems pretty clear that Barry is a bit of an idiot. You’re probably thinking this is a bit presumptuous, but then I have some evidence to back up my claim: Barry linked to his blog. Wonderfully titled: ‘Lies Damn lies enough is enough’ this blog is the kind of semi-literate childlike ramblings that you would expect from the sort of person who thinks Littlejohn is a serious and worthwhile social commentator. He’s the sort of person that could probably sit there with a straight face and argue that people interested in equality and fairness for all human beings are actually ‘diversity nazis’.

Visit his blog, try to read some of his posts (it is written by someone who cannot use a full-stop, you could argue it is a modernist stream of consciousness, but I’m not feeling that generous today). Yet, he claims to have ‘Started work at 15 in Advertising, onto some TV writing and script editing in the comedy field in the 80/90s’, I shudder to think what his scripts turned out like.

I guess you could consider this a smug attack at another blogger, but I’m trying to make the point that Littlejohn is written for a certain audience and that although it is so easy to deconstruct his lies and point out how ludicrous some of his catchphrases are, some people actually share his worldview. This is the danger of myths and half-truths, debunking them doesn’t stop everybody believing them, the only way to stop them gaining credibility is to not let tabloid hacks publish them in the first place, because pretty quickly the myth spreads around the world and Google only records the myth, not the reality.

Really Bad Journalism

Newspapers copy other newspapers, running the same stories in a frantic attempt of appearing on the ball, irrespective of the fact that this process involves no journalism at all. What is worse is that journalists copying these stories don’t even take the time to perform even the most basic fact checks, not even a quick Google check to find out whether those involved have issued a statement for example.

Today’s example is a story that has been picked up and repeated without question by the following newspapers:

The Daily Mail: ‘Teachers leave boy, 5, stranded in tree because of health and safety (then report passer-by who helped him down to police)
The Telegraph: ‘Woman reported to police after coming to aid of boy left in tree
The Express: ‘TEACHERS LEAVE BOY OF 5 STUCK UP A TREE FOR 1 HOUR
The Daily Star: ‘TEACHERS LEAVE BOY OF 5 STUCK UP 20FT TREE

I don’t know who started it, and I really don’t care. There is no excuse for copying and pasting without even basic fact checking. I saw this story and just immediately thought it looked like absolute rubbish, so I googled the school and found not one clear letter containing the truth, but two. Yet our wonderful press have preferred the horseshit version so they can whinge about ‘elf n safety’ going mad and sensible things being ‘banned’.

Let’s have a look at the Daily Mail version of the story (complete with 617 comments) – largely because it’s an average version of the story, but the other papers above are no less guilty:

A boy of five was left stranded in a tree at school because of a bizarre health and safety policy – which banned teachers from helping him down.

The mischievous pupil climbed the 20ft tree at the end of morning break and refused to come down.

But instead of helping him, staff followed guidelines and retreated inside the school building to ‘observe from a distance’ so the child would not get ‘distracted and fall’.

A boy of five was left stranded in a tree at school because of a bizarre health and safety policy – which banned teachers from helping him down.

The mischievous pupil climbed the 20ft tree at the end of morning break and refused to come down.

But instead of helping him, staff followed guidelines and retreated inside the school building to ‘observe from a distance’ so the child would not get ‘distracted and fall’.

The Daily Mail story was last updated on the 25th March, here is a letter [pdf] – available on the Manor School website since the 24th of March:

Sadly, some of you may have become aware of a tabloid newspaper story being run about the school.

The headline in one paper is: Banned – for rescuing boy stuck in a tree. The story appertains to an incident that happened over three weeks ago when a member of the public came on to school property, approached a child and was intercepted by staff. When she was challenged as to how she had entered the school grounds, she became aggressive and promptly left, climbing over the same padlocked gate in the middle of school grounds that she had climbed to gain access.

What I can tell you is, at no point was any child ever stuck in a tree and that when the woman approached the child who was standing on the pathway next to Miss Tristram’s classroom, he responded that he didn’t want to talk to a stranger. Staff intercepted the woman immediately and Mr Hester challenged her regarding her actions. The child was in no danger at any time and there was no chance that the woman would have been able to remove the child from the school premises. The child’s mother is fully aware of the incident and is fully supportive of the school. She has herself referred the woman’s actions to the police.

The woman is objecting to our actions following the incidents, namely to ban her from ever entering the premises again without my permission. To attempt to access school premises through a locked gateway is trespass and her actions were highly inappropriate in the light of child safeguarding.

The police have been informed about all three incidents involving the woman concerned and many of you will have noticed the additional police presence lately and the presence of staff on the school boundary. Following the police involvement, the woman concerned has not returned to the school boundary, other than to have her photograph taken outside the school gate.

So, quite how the Daily Mail managed to repeat the completely untrue story is beyond me. They’re certainly not alone, all of the newspapers should be ashamed of themselves for running such a stupid story. So many tabloids picked up the original, rubbish story, that the school has today been forced to issue another letter [pdf]:

Firstly, may I thank you all for your many messages of support and your very obvious disbelief of the story printed in the newspaper yesterday. Unfortunately, the untrue story has been picked up by other tabloids and newspapers throughout the day, but all were based on the initial inaccurate copy. Like me, many of you have watched the story become more and more sensationalised on line. It was disappointing to watch timescales become inflated and the reported reactions of the child, the size of his climb in the tree and the location of the tree change throughout the day.

Some of you have asked if I can share the facts with you, so that you can put people straight. I have also been asked by the child’s mother to include a statement from her, and then you can make up your own minds.

On the 1st March, Key Stage 1 playtime ended at 11.05am. At the end of the playtime, the child concerned wanted to stay out and ran up to one of the trees on the pathway adjacent to Miss Tristram’s classroom and outdoor area whilst some of the teaching assistants on duty took the classes of children in off the playground. At 11.15am more than 130 children and seven more teaching assistants came out to the playground. In the ten minutes between the two break times, the woman was observed by one of our Key Stage 2 teaching assistants entering the vehicular gate and turning across the private staff car park rather than walking to reception. The child concerned had been sitting and then swinging on the bottom branch of the tree and was in no way stuck and was not distressed. The woman then climbed the padlocked gate that separates the car park and the playground, walked past Miss Tristram and Mrs Lee’s classrooms and approached the child who was standing on the path, having exited the tree. The child was reluctant to talk to her and walk with her. The woman was then intercepted by a teaching assistant who took her to see Mr Hester. Mr Hester took the woman back on to the playground during Key Stage 2 playtime and asked her to identify the tree and then challenged her regarding her entrance to the school via a locked gateway. At this point the woman became more verbally aggressive and exited by climbing back over the locked gateway. The whole incident including the discussion with Mr Hester was over in less than fifteen minutes.

The child’s mother has asked me to communicate this to you:

“I am amazed at the gullibility of the press and some of the general public. My child was never stuck in a tree and was very unhappy about a stranger approaching him in his school. I appreciate that the woman may have thought that she was doing the right thing, but there are proper procedures to follow and she shouldn’t walk past classrooms and staff to get at a child. The staff were doing their job and were fully aware that my son was there. They were also aware that a stranger was approaching him. They intercepted her to ensure there was no possibility of my son being removed from the premises. All I can say is thank God the staff behaved in the manner they did. I don’t know what the lady’s intentions were but I am really glad that I didn’t have to wait to find out. I fully support the actions of the school both before the incident and since.”

Are the press really gullible? Or are they simply pursuing their normal agenda irrespective of truth, fully aware that the PCC will not lift a finger to punish them for lazy and baseless journalism? I suggest the second rhetorical question is closer to the truth here.

No doubt the school can complain to the PCC about these articles, and no doubt the PCC will ‘resolve’ such a complaint by getting newspapers to delete online articles without so much as a whisper as if the whole sorry mess have never happened.

The result of these stories is that the whole Internet becomes full of another myth, repeated on blogs, forums and news collecting websites. People all over the world froth about how crazy us Brits are and how we’ve all gone mad. Take just one example: the ‘All American Blogger’ who has drooled out a post titled: ‘The Late Great Britain: Teacher Leaves Five Year Old 20Ft Up A Tree… for His Own Good‘:

Imagine if somehow, the government school teachers responsible for watching your child while they are being indoctrinated let your kid climb a tree. Not only climb it, but get 20 feet up into the branches.

What would you have them do?

In the late Great Britain, teachers are to retreat and observe, for the kid’s own safety.

He then goes onto parrot the various ‘facts’ in exactly the same way that the tabloid press did. The story has gone global and once again our tabloid press have made us a laughing stock.


Who would bet against this story making an appearance in Richard Littlejohn’s column tomorrow? If it does, then he is officially the laziest and worst columnist in the world.


UPDATE:

Richard Littlejohn did not cover this myth, although he did repeat the myh that foreigners are eating swans (visit Tabloidwatch for the debunking of this myth).

Five Chinese Crackers has now posted on this story, pointing out that the left-wing media are also happy to cover this rubbish:

Passerby reported to police after trying to help schoolboy from tree – The Guardian
Teachers call police on mum who rescued 5-year-old boy from school tree‘ – The Mirror

As well as The Sun: ‘Tree-ly stupid safety measures‘.

Sadly, no media outlet seems to be retracting the story apart from All American Blogger, who, to his credit, has crossed out the text on his post, explained it was all made up and linked to this post. A big thanks to those of you that posted comments on that site and linked to here. Also a big thanks to those that have tweeted this story around the web, every little helps. You can follow me on Twitter here for all the latest.

More churnalistic Beeb-bashing

Full disclosure – I work for the BBC, but not in an area responsible for commissioning or producing programming. I’m also obviously speaking for myself and my words do not represent the opinions of the BBC.

BBC in fresh ageism row as just one in five presenters is over 50” roars the Mail. And a lot of their Fleet Street colleagues follow suit. Once again the BBC is accused of cynically dismissing its presenters the moment they hit their 50th birthday. And this time – rather than having to base their stories on the moans of some disgruntled prima-donna – they have actual evidence! With numbers and everything…

Well, kinda. In an astonishingly unimaginative move, someone’s done a survey*. Specifically, Anchor – a company who operate residential care homes for the elderly. They’ve commissioned some research into the age of actors and presenters appearing on TV which, conveniently, confirms the previously held assumption that the BBC is prejudiced against wrinklies.

Anchor make the research (carried out by PCP, a market research company) available on their website. And credit to PCP, it’s actually not bad (although I’m perplexed as to why ITV appears to have almost double the number of performers of any other channel). They explain their methodology, provide lots of data and context, which makes it much easier to fact check.

Which is sadly, where the Mail’s headline begins to unravel.

It’s true that across the five terrestrial channels surveyed, people aged over 50 are under represented relative to their frequency in the population (22% vs. 34%). However, if you split this into 50-64 and 65+ age groups, it’s clear that the underrepresentation is primarily amongst those aged 65 and older (8% vs. 16%) rather than those aged between 50 and 64 (14% vs. 18%).

Aha! Proof of TV’s terrible ageism! Well, perhaps not. 65 is the retirement age in the UK (currently 60 for women, although it’s soon to increase to 65). So I’d imagine, if you looked around most workplaces – whether they’re a TV studio, a shop, a school, an office or a newsroom – you’d find quite a sharp drop off in the number of over 65s there too. At a certain point, no matter what your career, most people decide to retire. It’s true that TV isn’t like other jobs – and that there’s a need to reflect society on screen – but with 8% of performers aged 65+, that’s hardly ignoring them.

[Possibly tasteless side note – in addition to not wanting to work any more, I’m sure that a certain proportion of over 65s are not actually capable of working any more, suffering from conditions that might necessitate them to live in, I don’t know, some kind of residential care home?]

So – we’ve found proof of TV’s ageism in general. So what of the Mail’s headline implying that the BBC is the worst offender. Again, the data doesn’t actually support the Mail’s conclusion. It’s true that BBC One has a lower proportion of 50+ than ITV1 (PCP ignore ITV’s digital channels) – but more than either Channel 4 or Five. And BBC Two actually has the highest proportion of over 50s on screen, with 37% – which is higher than their incidence in the population (34%)!

So, the BBC is no worse than average – and in fact over represents older people on one of its channels. In fairness to the Mail, they do acknowledge this later in the article – not that they’d let that disrupt a good headline.

The only age group consistently underrepresented (and by significantly larger margins) are under 18s. Across all TV channels, only 5% of faces are under 18, while they make up 21% of the population. Where are the lobbyists for young actors, cruelly denied their time on screen, just because of their age?

Finally, PCP back up their analysis with a survey, asking the public for their opinion on older people on TV. Their conclusions include:

“BBC1 and BBC2 were more likely than other channels to be perceived by the general population as depicting a positive impression of older people.”

“David Attenborough was much the most popular choice as the media personality perceived to best portray a positive image of older people.”

I’ll let those quotes speak for themselves.

To conclude, we’ve found that ageism exists in TV, but impacts young people more than older people. That BBC Two actually over represents older people on screen. And that audiences generally believe that the BBC does a good job of representing them on screen.

Of course, most of the anti-BBC spin is present in the original press release from Anchor, then simply regurgitated by media outlets keen to promote another anti-BBC story. It’s almost as if they’d done it deliberately, knowing that it would make the story more likely to get picked up…

The BBC is far from perfect. And it’s wrong to ever fire anyone simply because of their age. But disingenuous PR like this, lapped up by a lazy press, have now led to a culture where programme makers feel incapable of replacing older high profile performers (no matter how expensive or in need of recasting they are) for fear that they’ll go straight to the press crying ‘Ageism!’. This prevents new performers from getting time on screen – and in fact pushes up costs for the BBC (as less high profile performers are cheaper to employ).


*Incidentally, I’d love to sit in on one of these PR companies’ pitch meetings – “So, you asked us to come up with a campaign to get your brand lots of media coverage. And what we’ve got will knock your socks off… Have you ever considered doing a survey? We just pick a topic tangentially related to what you do, ask a few questions and conveniently come up with a headline friendly conclusion that cheekily confirms or subverts conventional wisdom. If we publish on a slow news day, we could hit page 4 of Metro!”

References:

Population Statistics:

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/populationestimates/flash_pyramid/default.htm

The Safest Roads in Europe…

Richard Littlejohn has immense trouble with basic facts, yet conversely tries to claims that he is just ‘telling us like it is'; famously declaring once: ‘I merely report the facts’. Except he doesn’t, he just makes up whatever happens to suit his agenda.

Today’s column was no different with Littlejohn arguing that the drink drive limit should not be reduced because it:

already works effectively and delivers the safest roads in Europe.

This would ruin even more rural pubs and do nothing about hardcore drink-drivers, who wouldn’t take any notice of the limit even if it was cut to half a pint of milk.

The argument is pretty bloody stupid: drink driving laws are intended to stop as many people drink driving as possible, having a fairly low limit might still encourage people to have ‘just a couple’ and place themselves and others at risk, having an extremely low limit should push home the point that it really isn’t worth having even one if you intend to drink. What the ‘hard-core’ drink drivers do shouldn’t impact upon law-making decisions that apply for the rest of us.

Furthermore, as usual with Littlejohn, the first part of the argument just isn’t true: Britain hasn’t got the safest roads in Europe. In 2007 even Littlejohn’s research document ‘The Daily Mail’ covered this fact:

The UK no longer has the safest roads in Europe, according to a new report.

The country has lost its top ranking position in the European road safety league as progress on reducing the number of road deaths has been slower than in other countries.

The UK now has a higher number of road deaths per million population than the Netherlands and Sweden, according to the European Transport Safety Council’s (ETSC) first Road Safety PIN Report.

The Times updated the situation in April 2009 to show that things have got even worse:

Britain has fallen well down the European league table on road safety, despite being on course to meet its own targets for 2010, according to figures released by the Department for Transport.

A decade ago Britain had the best road safety record in Europe. By 2006 it had fallen to fifth place behind Malta, Sweden, Switzerland and Norway. Even Germany and France, countries where the road death rate was traditionally much higher, have almost caught up with Britain.

Littlejohn just cannot seem to get even basic facts right, and that’s important because it’s these basic ‘facts’ that he bases his arguments on. Worse, the idiots who plow through Littlejohn’s twice-weekly turds actually believe he’s the brave knight sticking it to the man with the truth they’re too ineloquent to possibly express. They’re probably in the pub now repeating his arguments over a pint, complaining that the PC brigade are trying to ban drink driving even though we’ve already got the safest roads in Europe.

Such casual disregard for the truth is an insult to his readers, even if you could argue that they should know better by now.

Killer to be released in weeks, maybe

Frightening news in the Daily Mail today: ‘Thug who stabbed to death headteacher Philip Lawrence ‘to be released from prison within weeks’‘. You’ve spotted them, haven’t you? The inverted commas covering the ‘to be released from prison within weeks’ part. You just know it’s bollocks, don’t you?

And, of course, it is:

Learco Chindamo, who was 15 when he stabbed the father of four to death outside his school, is in line to be assessed for release by a parole board panel…

No date has been set for the hearing, but it is expected to take place within the next couple of months.

So, firstly, it is not a foregone conclusion that he will be released at all, given the nature of his crime; and secondly, given that the best time-frame the Mail can give for the parole hearing is ‘within the next couple of months’, it hardly suggests the imminent release implied by the headline. Perhaps the Mail have covered themselves though, as technically if Learco Chindama is ever released, it would have been within weeks of this news article. Granted, it could be 3 weeks or 300 hundred weeks, but they’d still technically be right.

Given that Learco is foreign and has slightly brown skin the 172 comments under the Mail story were ‘unavailable’ at the time I looked, no doubt I could hazard a guess at what the majority of them were about.

You can’t even show the rugby anymore

Barely a day seems to pass without the Daily Mail launching a pathetic attack on the BBC. Each time it is a tale of ‘fury’ and ‘outrage’ as the BBC caters for a diverse audience of over 60 million people. Today it was the rugby and sport that caused ‘fury': ‘Fury at BBC’s 13-hour Saturday sportathon: Bar the Lottery and the news, nothing on except rugby and football‘. So, a good weekend for people who like rugby, and I’m not sure if it has passed the Daily Mail by, but a lot of people like watching Six Nations rugby.

But, of course, there are people in this world who just like to bitch and moan about every little thing because their lives are so meaningless. They buy the Daily Mail every day so they can be freshly outraged over PC councils, wheelie bins and ‘yuman rites’ and worse, they inhabit inane Internet forums where they piss and moan about what is or isn’t on TV:

Last night, angry licence fee-payers complained on message boards about popular drama and entertainment shows such as Casualty being booted off the flagship channel.

Some called the schedule a ‘total disgrace’ and a ‘waste of money’, demanding the resignation of BBC director-general Mark Thompson and BBC1 controller Jay Hunt, while others said that if the BBC wanted to provide such blanket coverage, it should launch its own sports channel.

A day in which some sport is shown causes these utter morons to call for the resignation of the director-general, get a fucking grip. If you don’t like what’s on the BBC, turn over the channel, or better still, switch off the TV and to to engage in a more worthwhile activity. Don’t complain that Casualty (a weekly show that has been on for as long as I can remember, and one that has spawned the weekly hour-long sister show ‘Holby City’) has been given a rest for a week. You get Casualty all year round, twice a week if you count Holby City, the Six Nations rugby happens just once a year you miserable arseholes.

The Daily Mail and these whinging fucking simpletons need to just grow up and accept that the BBC caters for a wide audience. Surprisingly there are a lot of licence fee payers who got rather bored of casualty years ago, given the standard plot which seems to go:

  • Oh look, not seen this character before
  • I do hope they’re careful with the threshing machine they’re fixing
  • Horrific accident
  • Casualty

Forgive me if I don’t watch Casualty or find it interesting, but you know what, I won’t demand that it is taken off-air just because I don’t like it. That would make me a self-absorbed bell-end with nothing better to do than try to share my own sense of misery with others.

If you were one of the people throwing your toys out of the pram on the message boards over the BBC on Saturday I’d advise you to try and grow up. Perhaps start by taking a long hard look in the mirror and ask yourself – seriously – if you really have nothing else good in your life apart from a TV soap. As for the Daily Mail, really, is this the best attack you can level at the BBC?

Jan Moir, Not Nice, But Very Dim

I think it’s worth quoting Jan Moir’s piece on Tim Loughton today in full, because when you try to skewer somebody as being a bit dim you really should ensure that you’re not:

Tory MP Tim Loughton. Just look at him.

Tim Nice but Dim. Has a clever or coherent thought ever walked across that unlined, pampered brow? Doubtful.

And unluckily for Conservative prospects in the forthcoming election, the shadow children’s spokesman has turned his attention to teenage mothers.

‘It is against the law to get pregnant at 14. How many kids get prosecuted for having under-age sex? Virtually none,’ he thundered this week, raising the prospect of criminalising teenage mothers.

Oh yes, that will really help.

Everyone knows that there is a worrying rise in teenage pregnancies among very young girls.

But flinging them in jail is hardly a solution. Make that Tim Not So Nice but Still Dim.

Dear me. It makes one tremble at the thought of this Tory lot ever gaining power.

Obviously, if a device existed to measure irony it would be off the scale having Jan Moir call someone not very nice, and mind-numbingly thick. This is, after all, the writer of the most complained about article in UK history, an article which was utterly wrong.

But ignoring that, it still gets worse because Jan Moir really thinks that she’s a know-it-all – which is presumably why she berates parents all the time about why their children being murdered was really their own fault. Here, she tells Tim that ‘everyone knows that there is a worrying rise in teenage pregnancies among the very young girls’. Except of course, anyone who actually looked at the latest figures for teenage pregnancy that is; figures which showed that ‘The number of girls aged 13 to 15 getting pregnant fell by 6%’ and ‘Since 2002 the number of teenage girls falling pregnant in England and Wales has been steadily falling, despite a slight rise in 2007′.

So Jan Moir, please spare us both your unpleasantness and your sheer, face-palming stupidity.

Littlejohn’s Unfunny rip-off

I’ll let the readers do the work for me:

This column just gets better and better. Its nearer the truth than anything else.

– bruce, london, 19/3/2010 3:55

Really? I’m going to work in a minute, and Richard’s column has inspired me to stop at Tesco on the way, where I will be able to buy some Hot Cross Buns. As for the rest, it’s all lazy reactionary rubbish with no basis in fact written by someone whose news intake seems to come exclusively from the pages of the Daily Mail. The stories are then recycled and further exaggerated in this column. It’s like a self-perpetuating cycle of bu****it!

– Barry, Oxon., 19/3/2010 9:11 Click to rate Rating (0)

So… Nursery rhymes? Altered to reflect news stories that were completely made up in the first place?? Riiiiight… Looks like the Mail gave up being a ‘newspaper’ a long time ago. Meanwhile, Littlejohn disappears even further up his own orifice of fantasy.

– Charlie, Soho, London, 19/3/2010 8:59 Click to rate Rating 1

Not very good, is it? Is this the best that Littlejohn can do?

– David, London, 19/3/2010 8:52 Click to rate Rating 5

You’ve given up haven’t you?

– Tom, Milton Keynes, 19/3/2010 8:52 Click to rate Rating 1

There once was a tired hack called Dick, Who came over in print as quite thick, He completely lacked tact, Ne’er researching a fact, Because “making it up” was his schtick

– w. Miller, Camberwick Green, 19/3/2010 8:51 Click to rate Rating 4

You know, I could have sworn I’ve seen this column before somewhere recently. And as Victor Lewis-Smith once said, “imitation is the sincerest form of being an unoriginal thieving b*****d”.

I’d say keep up the good work, but it’s neither good nor did you do any work. Still, at least in The Daily Mash you seem to be looking for decent source material to plagiarise.

– Dave Crisps, Leicester, 19/3/2010 8:11 Click to rate Rating 1

Twinkle twinkle Littlejohn How I wonder what you’re on Jumping on a bandwagon quick as a flash Ripping off a collumn from the Daily Mash

– Barry, Twickenham, 19/3/2010 7:22 Click to rate Rating 3

Richard, wow. You are so funny. Amazing. Real ‘nail on the head stuff’.

It is indeed a fact that all Somalians have six wives and live in a London mansion (I should know – I read it here).

That stuff about global warming??? Global yawning more like. LOLLZZ. I used to believe that stuff that came from all that research ya know. Boy, dont I look stupid now. I wish that you could have confirmed all that stuff to me earlier. Littlejohn has spoken? Case closed in my book.

You’re absolutely right about the NHS too. Everyone who goes into an NHS hospital dies don’t they? I heard it’s statistically more dangerous to be a patient in a NHS hospital than it is to be one of our brave boys serving on the front line in Iraq.

Wow. You’re amazing.

I relly like your chin too.

Nonses eh? String em up. Why should honest taxpayers like me fund their legal costs when we can ‘lynch’ em like you said.

Makes me tingle. You’re just so class.

I wish I could marry you babes.

– Paul Mulcahy, South Korea, 19/3/2010 6:00 Click to rate Rating 16

This article started with business as usual with the ‘so called global-warming’ Brrr…. Schtick, but quickly graduated to the amended nursery rhymes…..this is a national newspaper right?

– Bunk, Leeds, 19/3/2010 2:25 Click to rate Rating 15

If you want to read Littlejohn’s appallingly unfunny ‘rhymes’ (they don’t even try to rhyme) the go here. If you want to read something humorous, visit the Daily Mash who did the whole thing days earlier and a million times better. You get the impression that the Daily Mail are employing the wrong writers…

Ignoring the Evidence about Immigration

Sometimes you think a story in the Daily Mail might make its readers think, just a little bit, about an issue. For example, the average Daily Mail reader firmly believes that every immigrant – illegal or otherwise – gets given lavish benefits, a house and everything they want. This is to be contrasted with the ‘indigenous’ Briton who gets none of these things.

However, Daily Mail readers are not very good at thinking – which is why they buy a newspaper to do it for them. They cannot see that immigrants cannot possibly be both stealing all of our jobs and leaching off the taxpayer on benefits. Likewise, if a story appears that shows immigrants not living the life of luxury that they assume they’re all living, they don’t think that perhaps they’ve been mistaken. Instead, they get angry that immigrants who do seem deserving are getting a rough ride, whilst immigrants who do not deserve anything (illegal is used widely) get everything. It doesn’t change their viewpoint, it just makes them angrier about their original viewpoint.

It’s all rather depressing that certain sections of humanity cannot help a fellow man without first crying in despair with arms aloft: ‘But what have they done for US?’. This brings us to the story in today’s Mail about a set of immigrants that have earned compassion: the Gurkhas. ‘Picture of despair: 24 Gurkhas living in desperate poverty in country they fought for (so why won’t Joanna Lumley speak out now?)‘. Quite why Joanna Lumley is the only person that should speak out for them is beyond me, and the attack seems more than a little hypocritical and distasteful given the Daily Mail campaign to dehumanise immigrants.

But, I accept that the Daily Mail exists purely to attack people, regardless of whether they’re throwing stones from within an extremely delicate glass house. What frustrates me is the unfailing inability of Mail readers to think when they read an article. Whatever article they read I get the impression that they walk away with exactly the same opinion that they started with. I know that most of the Daily Mail’s output is designed to actively ensure this, but often they run contradictory articles like this and still Mail readers are none-the-wiser.

The article makes it clear that:

Astonishingly in the current financial climate, they were advised they would get jobs paying £1,000 a month.

Yet the reality is so cruelly different. Most of the veterans have never received a penny…

The majority insisted that they had received promises from the Gurkha’s veterans association Gaeso and by the English lawyers at Howe & Co about getting work, houses, and benefits in the UK – yet hardly any have received a penny.

The reality is that the Gurkhas have received the same treatment that any immigrant receives when arriving in the UK. We do not lavish benefits on immigrants, even those that have served us. Rather than questioning whether this is in fact the case, Mail readers simply stick their head in the hands and insist that someone, somewhere, is getting all of these handouts and that they are less deserving than the Gurkhas:

Genuine cases like these get nothing while every Tom Dick and Abdul from Somalia to Iraq get everything they could possibly require. Makes me so angry.

– jake, reading, 18/3/2010 6:00 Click to rate Rating 76

If I understand correctly, these gentelmen are LEGAL immigrants.

Maybe that was their mistake.

It seems to me that the disgrace belongs not to Joanna Lumley, but to the British Government. From this distance, I receive the impression that the minions of government, both local and national, are too busy with preserving the human rights of illegal immigrants, fining people for taking photos of their grandchildren in public parks or for blowing their noses behind the wheel at a red light. I wonder if a change of government might help?

– Barduchas, Dubai, 18/3/2010 5:57 Click to rate Rating 58

Some people do not even see the obvious contradictions in their own arguments:

As it has been said before and as i will say it again now. These men fought for this country. Were willing to put their lives on the line for US. Now we are forsaking them and for WHAT exactly??

I would be proud for them to come and live in this country and be a part of our society. They, more than any other immigrant who comes to this country to take advantage of our LAX benefits culture truelly deserve far far more both in support and gratitude than what they are not receiving at the moment.

I’m frankly disgusted at their treatment.

– Rick, Toytown, 18/3/2010 10:12 Click to rate Rating 56

Just what is Rick thinking? How can he actually write down that argument? Does he seriously think that an already deeply unpopular government is withholding benefits from the popular Gurkhas that every other immigrant (legal or otherwise) gets? Is he suggesting that everyone is able to ‘take advantage of our LAX benefits culture’… apart from Gurkhas? Has the government put in special measures to ensure that no benefits are issued to just about the only immigrant group that the public generally supports? Do Gurkhas join the benefit queue only to be turned away: ‘Sorry Sir, turns out you’re a Gurkha. You’re not entitled to anything, can you please step to one side so I can throw money at the illegal Somalian behind you.’

Do Mail readers never see how utterly ridiculous their arguments are? Do they not realise that this treatment isn’t abnormal, it’s the reality of moving to the UK. If anything, they should be pleased, after all, given how much they hate their taxes going to those less fortunate than themselves in the form of benefits. If you generally have no compassion for those these fortunate than you, do not be upset when a group less fortunate than you that you just happen to like gets shafted just like the rest of them.

Either have compassion for other human beings, or don’t. Do not pick and choose based on which groups might have done something for you first, that just makes you a selfish arsehole.