You'll remember, back in those hazy days of summer, when people genuinely thought England might win the World Cup, that a story resurfaced about England shirts supposedly being banned by PC PCs and killjoy pubs. The myth grew legs with a story about a "Polish or East European" bus driver who had, apparently, told a child that he couldn't get on a bus because he was wearing an England top.
If you've got a spare couple of hours, you can have a trawl back through the old posts England shirt / Polish bus driver update, Starting to flag a bit, The myth keeps coming true, Getting shirty and The England shirt ban and other myths. The Sun's initial inaccurate story caused a feeding frenzy based on a desire to get stories about England and England fans in the papers; and, based on previous myths, journos in a hurry were only too busy to believe people's slightly odd tales about PC bus drivers (immigrant bus drivers at that! Grr!) and the Diversity Brigade telling people that wearing an England shirt wasn't allowed. It fitted in nicely with a classic tabloid "Thing that shouldn't be banned IS BANNED (and the PC Brigade have done it!)" narrative.
But it wasn't true. It might have been entertaining, but the claims were not supported, which only a rudimentary bit of digging would have revealed. The people writing the stories either didn't bother to do the digging, or did, realised it would torpedo the story, and quietly put the soil back into place. Either way, it created something out of nothing and gave fuel to the usual EDL/BNP suspects to claim that the 'indigenous population' were being victimised.
So if the stories weren't true - and the one about the bus driver certainly wasn't - what form of redress is available? Minority Thought has written about the PCC's latest stinging smack on the back of the legs that has left the Mirror reeling:
...the PCC negotiated the removal of the article from the newspaper's website.I have two questions: Why is the Daily Mirror not going to be printing a retraction or an apology, and what are they going to do to ensure that such a ridiculous scenario does not occur again in the future?
An article that no-one is reading any more has been taken off a website. The article was before the World Cup, and it's now nearly November. (You might like to chortle at a third of the "Fast, free, fair" slogan of the PCC's slogan here, if you like.) Still, it does mean that the article can't be found by people who will be concocting the same myths come the next football tournament that England manage to qualify for. And when you search online for 'bus driver England shirt', there's a pleasant surprise.
This is one way in which mediawatching sites can work well. The PCC decision might seem a tiny one, and in a lot of ways it is, but it removes another source of the original myth from search results, so anyone searching to see if it happened doesn't have the Mirror's version up there among all the rebuttal. Now there are still many stories up there propogating the myth, and you might claim that anyone looking to prove it will simply bypass the rebuttal and cherrypick the evidence they want, but the sites saying it really did happen are - just - outnumbered by the ones questioning whether it really did. And that's got to be healthy.
The next time a tournament comes around, and someone says England shirts are being banned, or that there was a Polish bus driver who chucked a toddler off his bus for wearing an England top, at least there'll be a bit of ammunition to say it wasn't so. It's not going to be easy, but at least there's a chance.