Shameful ‘journalism’

Saw this headline on the Mail website today and immediately thought it sounded dodgy: ‘Bah humbug! Father Christmas banned at children’s centre… to respect faith of one Muslim family‘. Bad journalism is like a virus that is easily carried around the globe via the Internet. Searching for more information on the story led to me having to trawl through hundreds of blog posts, news sites, forums all of which were littered with the most hateful and violent denunciations of all Muslims because of this one story.

Going back to the source of the story takes us right back to the 14th December when the Mankato Free Press run this story: ‘Santa gets the heave-ho-ho-ho‘. The article makes a number of assumptions and is fuelled by the suspicious of the ‘banned’ Santa:

Dennis Jackson said it was over-reaching cultural sensitivity that led to being told his annual Santa appearances must cease at St. Peter Head Start classes for young children.

Jackson said he was told “it was against some people’s wishes” for him to make the half-hour appearances for two classes catering to about three dozen children.

He said St. Peter Head Start personnel gave him no reason for the action. He’s made Santa appearances there the past four years to dispense candy bought at his own expense.

“It kind of burnt me up,” he said, speculating that program officials turned him away in deference to requests from immigrant families that don’t celebrate Christmas.

So, right away we are told that the Santa (Dennis Jackson) was given no reason for the action and that it is Jackson’s ‘speculation’ that he was turned away at the request of immigrants. This does not seem to fit in at all with the Daily Mail’s confident assertion that the ‘ban’ was caused by one Muslim family. The spokeswomen for the organisation does not necessarily help matters with her comments – but then, who knows if she has been quoted in full or in context:

“We have Somali families in the program,” she said. “We’re respecting the wishes of families in the program.”

She didn’t say how many objections were made, but said that program parents are surveyed annually to gauge their feelings toward holiday observances in classes.

She indicated that more than one objection would be sufficient to waive an observance.

“The simple truth is that southern Minnesota has become a much more culturally diverse society than it was a few decades ago,” she said.

“Part of our challenge in Head Start is providing an environment where young children from many different cultures can all feel comfortable.”

Again, no confirmation of how many objections were raised or who had raised them. If this journalist had any decency they would not have run the story as essentially conjecture, knowing the result would be mass intolerance from people seeking a justification for their own racial and religious hatred of Muslim immigrants. Who knows, the lack of invitation (which is not exactly a ban, is it?) may have been caused by one Muslim family, but equally it could have been for other reasons. This is why journalists spend time being trained, so that they can look into things to establish the facts prior to publication. Journalism is not accepting the comments of one aggrieved individual and sending them around the globe as pure speculation.

None of this really matters though. The sad thing is that people all over the world cannot separate the individual from the group label. Why would the complaints of one Muslim family (if this is the case) automatically lead to anyone wanting every single Muslim person out of the country? People act as individuals, irrespective of what labels we might want to apply to them. Everyone on earth can be labelled – whether it be through nationality, race, religion, gender and so forth – and we all deserve to be respected as individuals because we very often don’t choose the labels that are applied to us. As individuals we want to be judged for our own deeds and actions, not the actions of any other individual who can be put under the same label as us.

Racism, intolerance and bigotry is born out of ignorance. This kind of journalism is precisely the ignorance that helps to perpetuate and feed such behaviours. The outrage has been stirred, sent around the world and absorbed before any journalists has even attempted to establish the true facts.

That isn’t just bad journalism, it is dangerous journalism.

As for the Mail’s utterly unfounded assertions that:

Father Christmas was banned from visiting children at a Head Start Program… because Santa, and all he stands for, offended one Muslim family.

They are an absolute disgrace. Remember articles like this the next time the Mail pretends it does not support the EDL.

13 thoughts on “Shameful ‘journalism’

  1. Excellent post. You’re absolutely right – this style of journalism is dangerous.

    The headline is a lie, the story is based on he said/she said speculation, there’s no evidence whatsoever to show anyone objected to Santa. This story fits into two of The Fail’s narratives – those of the ‘war on Christmas,’ and ‘Muslims are bad.’

    I can imagine the reaction this has generated among groups such as the EDL.

    (Thanks for the mention, too).

  2. If i said this to my mail reading parents, they’d say its in a paper and there’s no smoke without fire. Thats how simple these “journalists” have it and how simple it is for bullshit to becomes popular conversation. These stories are lapped up by these people who can’t be bothered to think for themselves, but readily can bother to be annoyed by life and everything else aside from themselves

  3. I also saw this story and immediately thought it was dressed up to sell fear as usual.

    I did a bit of looking around and it appears the story started off with the Santa in question writing to complain in his local newspaper.

    There’s some speculation that the spokeswoman was a little out of her depth when she was pounced on by the paper, but she’s now got to live with her quotes.

    The objections may have actually been made in a questionnaire and not specifically regarding Father Christmas.

    Finally another commentator on the local newspaper web site insists she’s a parent at the school in question and they actually had a different Santa visit a couple of days later.

    Now I’ve checked none of this out from primary sources, but then again I’m not a professional journalist like thos employed by the DM.

    Oh wait a minute…

  4. The thing with repeating the lie and why it is so important is the chapter in Mein Kampf about propaganda and getting those unchallenging idiots to believe it. Repeat the lie so that the truth becomes harder to believe. and so on. Keep up the good work.

  5. They also don’t mention that Head Start is a U.S. government programme, and therefore, under the U.S. Constitution, is not supposed to respect one religious tradition over another.

  6. It seems fairly desperate on the part of the DM that they have to dig up stories from the other side of the Atlantic to stir up anti-muslim sentiment amongst it’s readers. Or have they just chosen this story because they think it will be harder for people to check out how true it actually is?

    The last time I took a look at the EDL’s Facebook page is was full of references to stories that had featured in the Daily Mail.
    So it is fairly clear that many EDL members spend plenty of time reading the tosh that the Mail churns out.

  7. These Moslems – they want to ban everything don’t they?

    I was researching fairy lights for my daughter’s bedroom the other day and came across a question on the Yahoo questions site asking if fairy lights are a fire hazard. (The answer’s apparently yes by the way) One (American) respondent said no, it’s a government ploy to pander to the Moslems and to get white god-fearing Americans to deny their culture. ‘Celebrate the holidays however you like’! (I note how this ‘it’s-pc-gone-mad’ person says ‘holiday’ rather than Christmas!)

    Now the Moslems want to ban fairy lights!

  8. The main culprits on freshhorizon for anti gay anti muslim anti gypsy anti black anti asian anti immigration are a guy called the major another called marky and they are backed up by the site owner micky and then his mods.
    It’s a terrible place selling itself as a nice family friendly place.
    It is full of propaganda and untrue stories printed by the tabloids as mentioned in the article.
    For those who would like to visit,
    http://www.freshhorizon.co.uk/

Comments are closed.