A lot of the time the Mail doesn't need to distort the facts to provoke hatred towards minorities: it just sets the hares running and waits for its readers to sprint out of the traps. As they always do, with witheringly predictable results.
So this story about KFC showing cultural sensitivity (and good business sense in a credit crunch) by selling halal chicken in areas with lots of Muslim residents is presented by the Mail in a perfectly balanced way. Often I criticise the tone of articles but this is entirely fairly written. There is no outrage, and there are lengthy quotes from Muslim groups supporting the move. So on this occasion it's important to note that the Mail is capable of writing stories like this without the need for distortion or faux-outrage. But you know, I think they know what they're doing, don't you? It just goes to show that even a balanced story, if it mentions Muslims, will attract the scum.
First, though, how often has the Mail carried stories about the welfare of chickens? Well, they covered Hugh Curly-Wurly's TV show about chickens - feeling the need to bring in the voice of a chicken farmer who slagged him off for his welfare concerns - and the majority of readers didn't seem overly concerned by the TV chef's crusade to improve the lot of battery chickens:
Perhaps Mr Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall can afford to pick and choose but a large number of people trying to exist on the state pension can't. This cut in chicken prices could mean the difference between a cooked meal or non at all for a pensioner living on their own. More power to Tesco's elbow say I.
- Leslie Jackson, West Midlands UK,
What is humane about mollycoddling a chicken only to whip it's head off at the end? They all suffer fear when that time comes no matter how it is reared, so how do you stop that?
These creatures are at the bottom of the food chain I'm afraid; we all have to eat.
- Wendy, France, 7/2/2008 10:29
If I remember from his programme. All chickens will have more room and have access to daylight from some point this year. If Tesco want to sell chickens that cheaply then I will buy them. They can off-set the cost elsewhere in the store. I had free-range chicken this weekend and couldn't tell the difference. Chicken is chicken.
- Paul, Yeovil, England, 6/2/2008 15:06
Do you think the average person buying these cheap chicken cares how much their bird suffered in its short life? Of course they don't. They want the maximum quantity for the minumum cost.
- Jane, Tonbridge, 6/2/2008 15:02
Good for Tesco. I like having a roast chicken for Sunday and have one nearly every Sunday. Which we wouldn't be doing if the chickens cost more. Chickens are bred for our food. That is there whole reason for having them. I am sick of rich chefs dicating to us.
- Sarah, Warwickshire, 6/2/2008 14:33
It may not help the welfare of broiler chickens too much but what about the welfare of those people struggling with the UK's cost of living? You don't have to buy them Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall you look as though you can well afford the more expensive premium product.
- Kev, Jamaica, 6/2/2008 13:33
Perhaps Hugh can afford to pay inflated prices for free range chicken. I for one can't and whatever Tesco's motives they are supplying food at a more affordable cost which I applaud!
- Simon, Long Eaton, UK, 6/2/2008 13:29
See where I'm going with this? Mail readers are going to suddenly develop a huge concern about the welfare of chickens, aren't they? All of a sudden, they're going to think that animal welfare is really, really, really important - instead of unimportant. Of course they are, because it's those evil Muzzies who are doing the killing:
So British Animal Rights Laws only apply sometimes.
Who decides, can I have it killed humanely or slaughtered Halal wise.
I demand that animals for the food chain are killed humanely irrespective of the religion of the farmer, slaughterman, butcher or eater.
Next thing some of us will be allowed to marry polygamously and claim benefits for all wives and children.
- Deerwatcher, Fareham Hants, 06/5/2009
Hooray! There we are, mission accomplished. The Mail didn't need to be over-the-top in order to coax out these reactions. And while comments like this
Disgraceful, this is not our traditional English method of killing the birds and I will never go into that shop again.
If folks come to live here they must be willing to embrace our culture.
- Barbara Steward, Northumberland, 6/5/2009 15:44
I won't be buying from them again.
- John, Manchester, 6/5/2009 15:44
I cannot understand how this can even be legal.
Our local Subway has done the same thing.
This is just the most barbaric practice imaginable.
The animals have their throats slit, without being stunned, and die writhing in agony, totally conscious.
How can we allow this to happen in a civilised country, just to appease Muslims?
- Garry, uk, 6/5/2009 15:38
How utterly depressing. Still, it will be Halal-only meat in about twenty years time, so maybe I should just make the most of now.
- David N, Halifax, UK, 6/5/2009 15:32
are voted up by readers, even innocuous non-Muslim-bashing comments like this
As long as it tastes nice then fine with me.
- Stevo, UK, 6/5/2009 15:32
Tomo, Stoke, the report points out that slaughter methods will comply with UK animal welfare standards. I can't see anything wrong with this.
- Doug, Enfield, 6/5/2009 15:18
Sound economic practise. There's a lot of Muslims in London and it won't make any different to the non-Muslims. Well done KFC.
- Jeremy, London,UK, 6/5/2009 15:15
are voted way down. Although particular bile is applied to this:
brilliant. always wanted to go to kfc but couldnt. cant wait
- brit, uk, 6/5/2009 14:11
And I can't help thinking that's because this (Muslim) commenter has decided to call himself 'Brit'. You can almost sense the seething hatred that made at least 454 people decide to go to the trouble of voting the comment from someone who simply wanted to eat some fucking chicken into the red.
So there you have it. Even when the Mail is balanced and fair in the story, I can't help thinking it knows what it's doing. And the reaction of the readers? Well, it's interesting to see the sudden concern for chicken welfare. And depressing to see the same old predictable responses.
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