Chelsea are not looking great, as a promoter of marriage and family values: will they keep their heads down until it blows over, or tough it out? I would come out blazing if I were them. I would release a statement saying how much worse the players are at Manchester United. It might not limit any damage, but it would probably be true and it would give us all a laugh.
One thing is clear, however: short of going back in time and leaving him sooner, Cheryl has done this at exactly the right time. It was doing her image no favours, the surrendered-wife-cum-careworker role she had carved for herself. She will be much better loved now, like a Geordie Princess Diana. Plus she can get a hot new boyfriend. Raise high the roofbeams, Girls Aloud!
Then I thought, oh you silly fool, Vowl, you've been tricked. It's a big spoof of the really vacuous kind of celebrity gash that gets chucked into broadsheets nowadays, and you haven't noticed. You'll be made to look light a right plum if you go saying this is dreadful, when it's a clever bit of bait to raise the ire of idiots like you. But then I stopped talking to myself, and read it again.
In the meantime, everything has changed apart from Ashley Cole's own jackass behaviour. Cheryl Cole has gone from quite-famous member of a quite-famous girlband, to international, explosively beautiful superstar. This is heartening to watch; the depressing subtext of so many football scandals is that the wives have no ace to play. Unless you're in a Jilly Cooper novel, and the footballer is going to be dealt a death blow when he realises the love of his life has just upped and left him, what you're basically watching, from George Best to John Terry, is a man who can do exactly what he pleases and a woman persuading herself to forgive him because the alternative is to be exiled. Don't give me alimony, she is about to be exiled from the Garden of Eden. Cheryl Cole makes her own Eden: she has everything he has, in her own right, and more. Money don't maketh the feminist, no, but this looks more like the Noughties than the Fifties for a change, and it's cheering.
And I thought: God, no, you were right the first time. And that disappointed me greatly, because I hoped that it was a spoof and that I'd been tricked. I wanted it to be that cute, and for me to have been tripped up by it. That would have made everything all right. See, the Guardian isn't just printing a load of tripe about the Coles, I could say, it's rather more subtle than that; it's cleverly dismantling the broadsheet celebrity story and eviscerating it for our delectation. It's setting the bar really high and taking a stand against the giggling inanity of celeb coverage, and feeble articles about pop stars and footballers.
But no. No, it isn't. I wish it was true, but it's not.
Sometimes it's wrong to sneer. Sometimes it's perfectly right, because some things deserve to be sneered at, but sometimes it's wrong. I find today's Guardian article by Roy Greenslade* about the new London Weekly newspaper a bit too sneery for its own good:
But it has launched. To wide derision. We have finally got a copy in the office and are scanning some more pictures for your delectation.
What a hoot!
Page two asks: "Do you have any celebrity gossip? E-mail email@example.com" above stories such as "Bruce Willis won't say No to kids" and "Jude Law maturing into happiness".
Yeah, it's not like the Guardian would ever do celebrity news, is it? Oh hang on, what's this? Speaking of Bruce Willis, here's an interview with his daughter, Rumer, in the pages of the, let me, see, Guardian!
Do your parents [Demi Moore and Willis] give you acting tips?
They've always given me advice. If I had an audition or something, I'd work with them on it, or if I had a script that I was reading I'd ask them to check it out. They're extremely supportive. I couldn't ask for anything more.
Ah, I see. Those are the lofty heights to which the London Weekly should aspire. Greenslade blog again:
Page three may actually includes some fresh, "exclusive" content: "The London Weekly talks to Former England cricket professional, jungle king and dancing star Phil Tufnell who is set to make 2010 a year to remember with his New Year resolution to quit smoking." So, Phil, drop us a line and let us know how your interview with London's newest paper went.
Ho ho. Searching for Phil Tufnell in the Guardian's website, though, brings up this masterpiece of journalistic brilliance, the Strictly Come Dancing Liveblog:
6.41pm: A big drum-roll to welcome the finalists. Ola is wearing a dress that has horrific shoulder-pads. Natalie's dress has a pretty sequinned bodice and a feathery skirt. Bruce makes a funny-because-it's-true joke about Chris crying if he loses because Ola will beat him.
And you have to admire the sheer nerve of the Guardian of taking the piss out of someone else for making spelling mistakes. Here's today's Corrections and Clarifications column, by the way:
In an auction story, Giacometti's thin man makes fat price, the artist made additional appearances as Giacommeti and Giacommetti (4 February, page 5).
Oh well, it was only page five of a national newspaper. Carry on having a right old laugh at the London Weekly, eh!
It might look a bit amateurish, this newspaper, but blimey. Let he who is without... and all that, surely? I make more than my fair share of speling errers here, after all...
* Or someone else, in fact. If he's not writing it, why is his enormous face at the top though? You don't get "Littlejohn - written this week by a putrid hyena that's been run over by a truck" do you? Though that may, of course, be an improvement.
There's a lot of confusion at the moment about what the legal position is over clearing your path (or a neighbour's path, or the path outside your house) of ice - with urban myths and elf'n'safety bollocks getting trotted out, of course. Most news outlets have had a bash at the story, including the BBC and the usual suspects. Richard Madeley has been banging on about it almost all day on Twitter, bless him; but is the Express columnist right when he says:
Legal knowledge mine Jack of Kent, however, is a little less worried by the whole thing. If you do clear a neighbour's path, for example, he says:
Ah but where's the fun in that? Surely the most important thing for a news outlet to do is not represent the facts of the situation, but instead create a nightmarish vision of the world in which the spectre of elf'n'safety or compensation ambulance-chasing bastards who SHOUT AT YOU DURING THE ADVERTS IN JEREMY KYLE are taking over the world, and there's nothing we can do to stop them. Why bother with accuracy, when you can take your readers for a ride in the ghost train?
The Daily Mail's effort appears to be rather similar to the Telegraph's on the same subject - notethe use of the word 'could' and 'may', carefully crafted on this occasion to represent "could well" whereas in fact the truth is "could possibly, under extremely unlikely circumstances". The Mail says:
Householders and businesses have been warned not to clear snowy pavements - as they could be sued if someone slips.
The Telegraph says:
Yet the professional body that represents health and safety experts has issued a warning to businesses not to grit public paths – despite the fact that Britain is in the grip of its coldest winter for nearly half a century.
Householders and businesses with the Mail; just businesses with the Tele. Who are these experts, anyway? Telegraph:
Clearing a public path “can lead to an action for damages against the company, e.g. if members of the public, assuming that the area is still clear of ice and thus safe to walk on, slip and injure themselves”.
I would say that if that's the case, it's not really 'clear' is it, but then I'm probably nitpicking. Both the Mail and the Telegraph quote John McQuater, who gets a nice bit of publicity with this quote:
John McQuater, president of the National Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, admitted: 'If you do nothing you cannot be liable. If You do something, you could be liable to legal action.'
Which is odd. Because look at this quote in a Guardian article which mentions ice clearing:
4. I've cleared the snow from our driveway. Am I opening myself up to a claim if someone slips?
This is an urban myth. If you do the reasonable thing and clear your drive, you are not opening yourself up to a possible claim, except in very exceptional circumstances.
"This is a common misconception," McQuater says. "By clearing the snow from your paths, you do not invite any extra liability that wouldn't have existed had you done nothing and left the snow on the ground. The only circumstance in which you might invite a claim was if you acted completely unreasonably, and somehow created a new latent hazard that had not existed before your actions."
Yes, it's our old friend John McQuater! Funny how the 'except in very exceptional circumstances' in the Guardian from McQuater becomes 'could be liable' in the Mail and Telegraph. I wonder if he qualified that quote when he spoke to them with an 'except in very exceptional circumstances' and that bit didn't make it into the final printed copy?
Who knows. But as ever, news stories aren't about the truth - they're about a certain worldview which needs to be reinforced. So if you think compensation culture is running rampant and elf'n'safety has truly gone mad, why bother finding out what the facts actually are, when you can go looking for the quotes that support your point of view, and which will infuriate your readers most?
Thanks to Iain for the tipoff!
I'm often quite accurately accused of spending too much time obsessing about the Mail and Express (and Telegraph, and Sun, and Star) at the expense of other media outlets. "What about the Guardian?" people say to me. "What about the BBC? Surely they're just as shit."
It's a fair cop. The others are just as capable of being terrible; though I'd argue they do it less often - much less often when the words "Tanya Gold is away" appear in the Guardian, for example. I've got nothing against the woman personally, but it would seem to be the case that the Guardian have hired a Daily Mail journalist so their readers don't have to go to the Mail itself to exercise that Mail part of their brains - you know, the bit that starts pulsating when you see coppers pulling someone over for speeding, and before you know it, you've started foaming at the mouth about catching law-abiding motorists when they should be out there going after the real criminals, and I'm paying for this, and it's not right...
We've all got it, our Inner Daily Mail. I think it sits in between the bit of your brain that tells you that you need to go to the toilet and the part that makes you go "awww" when you see a puppy. It's quite an ancient part of the brain, I think, but what it also does is make you feel suspicious about new technology. And Gold brilliantly (or not, if you don't like dying in a sea of witless banality) taps into this with this article, about iphones:
Customers, you see – actually, I prefer the word hostages – cannot be bothered to say "application". That is three syllables too far for the avatars. They have better things to do with their time – like having a virtual pint with iBeer. (Hilarious if you are six years old or, because you are a software designer, other people have only ever been a fascinating but terrifying idea to you.) Not drinking? Have an iMilk. It's the same, but it's milk. Except it isn't.
In labour, trying to squeeze a baby out? Try the Birth Buddy app – it will help you track the frequency of your labour contractions. "I can't remember anything about the moment I brought you into the world, child, because I was playing with my iPhone." "I hate you, Mum." (This sentiment was brought to you by iPhone.)
Want to fart, but can't? iFart will fart for you. "Set your phone on a flat surface. The next time the phone is moved, it will fart." Is this where science has brought us? To a farting telephone in a joke shop world?
Gold has a bewildering talent, in that even when I actually broadly agree with what she's writing, I find myself getting angry. Do you know what I mean? There's something excruciating about the whole thing. Sure, a lot of people with iphones are total arses, but on the other hand, that's not the phone's fault; it's the people who are arses' fault. Gold annoys me not in the same way that the Mail or Express annoy me - she's not making up crap about immigrants to suit a prejudiced agenda, for example - but it's the sheer "is that it?"ness about the whole thing. When I read something in a national newspaper, particularly the nationa newspaper I buy most often, I kind of want it to be good. That isn't. It's feeble space-filling.
And yet, it's pretty much Proust when compared with Deborah Orr breathlessly telling us that Sadie Frost is an attractive woman - more than that, that Sadie Frost has 'flesh' like 'flesh' she has never seen before.
That's what the whole story's about. You think I'm making this up, and that actually there's more to it, and I'm being reductive and pretending it's worse than it really is. Oh no, go and see for yourselves. And read this, if you can:
I've seen Sadie Frost very close, very recently, with hardly any clothes on, when she appeared on stage in camisole and knickers for a charity fundraising event I attended last year. So I know that her body has very little to communicate to other women at all, except that it is quite exceptionally wondrous.
Sure she's slender, she's toned, and she keeps herself in good nick. Anyone can do that, given the motivation. But Frost's flesh has a special quality. It looks both soft and firm, like no female flesh I've never seen.
I know. You're probably softly crying into the keyboard, having pummeled yourself around the head with your fists, and now you're wondering why I subjected you to this. You may even be thinking: "Jesus Christ, Vowl, I've seen some shit from Littlejohn or Moir in my time - I've even read Allison Pearson and survived - but this is a whole different level of badness." And you'd be right. Drooling over someone's flesh, synecdochising someone into their bare components - it's like something Buffalo Bill might do in Silence of the Lambs, not a proper writer in a proper newspaper. Is it? If it is, it hurts my brain and I don't like it.
And then, just when I think it can't get any worse, it goes and employs Zac Goldsmith to write some crap on Comment is Free:
Actually, I was going to try and put a quote in there. But there's not a single sentence that lends itself to appearing in an article with the Guardian banner. It's dreadfully written, poorly thought out, smearing by association, unreferenced, and comes to a miserably pissweak conclusion which isn't stacked up by anything that's gone before. Is this really how low the bar is for Comment is Free? Or is it only this low if you happen to be some non-dom Tory prick who's about to be sedan-chaired into a nice cosy safe seat, despite having the intelligence of a freshly-coiled dogshit?
You might imagine - or hope - that it's a "Give this twit enough rope" exercise but I'm not so sure, given the context of Gold and Orr. I don't think we can give the Guardian enough credit to do that, when they're happy to fill their space up with such utterly unbearable crap on a regular basis. Of course, Goldsmith's nonsense is demolished in the comments - one of the few occasions on which I haven't looked at the comments under a CiF article without losing the will to live - and there's a good article about it at Liberal Conspiracy here. Now I don't mind the Guardian giving space to Tories, of course not - but I would like to see things that are interesting to read and well written, even if I don't agree with them, rather than the kind of desperate tosh spluttered out by Goldsmith.
While the Mail might make me angry, the Express might make me despair, the Guardian just makes me think: What the fucking hell was that? I know it has a lot of really great writers, but that's what irritates me all the more when it bulks out its content with sawdust. I want to like it; I want to enjoy it. But it won't let me.
This is a guest post by blogger Akela. Akela is a white, middle class, Christian, home owning, law abiding male scout leader and former cub leader. Everything the Daily Mail should love. He's also a left wing, Guardian reading, real ale swilling, vegetarian, public transport using (by choice), environmentalist, football loving, public sector worker who really REALLY hates the Daily Mail. He rants about pretty much everything at Akela's Diary.
It all started on Sunday when as I munched on my muesli I surfed through the Sunday scream sheets and I stumbled across this. It would seem, from the headline that scouts were being banned from using pen knives. And my first thought was, “yeah right,” on the basis that firstly it was in the Mail and second, as a scout leader, I get any important rule changes like this cascaded to me pretty quickly. So I read on to discover that apparently
The Scout Association is advising boys* and their parents that they should not bring knives to camp – despite it being legal for anyone to carry a foldable non locking blade in public as long as long as it is shorter than 3 inches.
Eh? What the hell was going on? There was nothing on the website, there was nothing on any recent emails, where was this all coming from?
in a recent edition of their official in-house magazine, Scouting, they are advised that neither they nor their parents should bring penknives to camp.
Now this rang a bell, I’d read something about knife law in scouting some months ago, so had a rummage under the bed and found the relevant article. Now I wont just cut and paste (more on cut and pasting later) wholesale, I shall simply leave you to compare what the Mail selectively quoted from that article, with what the whole article actually says (you’ll need to scroll to page 50). As you can see all it is is clarification of what Britain’s complex knife laws allow and recommendations as to how to put that into practice. And that boils down to stay within the law and only use them when appropriate. Now I ask you, is that really so controversial?
So far just a piss poor bit of research. It got worse though, as on Monday the Scouts Chief Commissioner made a statement on the scouts' website in reaction to the story, in particular he said
A Mail on Sunday journalist approached us on Friday having read the latest guidance we issued in Scouting Magazine/online in December 08 and April 09 on advising Scouts on the situations in which they can use a knife as part of normal Scout Activities. He was looking to make the story into "Scouts Ban knives shocker". The media team took them through the facts and sent them links to our various documents and magazine articles giving him the following info,
- The Rules changed about wearing knives with uniform in 1968
- We have issued regular guidance to the Movement on this matter ever since 1968 e.g. early 1980's , 1996, 2008 and 2009 (the latest being the magazine article in April/May)
- We need to support leaders with information to help them support young people
Despite making these facts available the Mail on Sunday published the piece, They used a few selective statements and quotes some out of context..
Yes, it would seem that despite being told directly what the situation was the Mail decided to go ahead and publish this story anyway to make the scouts look bloody stupid, wet and generally part of the ‘elf and safety/political correctness gone mad' crap that they churn out ad infinitum.
And they have form for this as well. I was ready to put my fist through the monitor at the distortions they published in 2007 over the “sun rise” camp on Brownsea Island. On that occasion the situation was that a camp was held on a remote island with limited cooking facilities for 300 kids from 150 countries including every religion and culture you can imagine including Jews and Muslims (no pork) Hindus (no beef), Buddhists (vegetarian) and many that you probably can’t all with their own variations. Given this the organisers went for a vegetarian menu for simplicity. The Mail naturally span this in to “scouts ban bangers, political correctness gone mad”. Rather than report on kids from all round the world living peacefully together.
Spinning outright lies about scouts fits perfectly with the whole “why oh why can’t it be the 1950’s again” agenda of the Mail which is itself made up of its various prejudices, prejudice against anything not white middle class and Christian with nice little women who know their limits and Dixon of Dock fucking Green on every street corner cuffing cheeky young scamps round the ear. Which is of course what the 1950’s were like. Apparently. You see in this world we should wear pointy hats, shorts and sharpen sticks with not a girl in sight. My lot will be going canoeing, go karting and to the ballet this term. Times change and the Mail does not like it one bit.
They could have written something positive this weekend. An explorer scout called Lucie Jones looks like she’ll be a big star on X Factor (not my thing personally but still positive). They could have written about the centenary celebrations of our sister organisation the Girl Guides, but they ignored it. Instead the scouts just became canon fodder for their constant crappy agenda.
Yet what are we to make of the rest of the press? Indeed in particular the broad sheets and how they responded to this? Did they see a story and decide to check the facts? Do a spot of research? Pick up the fucking phone and speak to someone? Did they?
Did they bollocks.
No instead every single one of them simply lifted it straight from the Mail (although in fairness the Indie, The Mirror and The Sun pulled theirs after being contacted by Scouts press office). At least the Guardian made some vague attempt to put it in their own words. Not so others who seem to have discovered the copy and paste function. Worst of the lot in this insipid bout of utter bone idleness was, I’m afraid to say, the Times. Yup The Times, I may not agree with all their politics by had at least credited them with some decent journalism. Clearly I was mistaken. Let’s play spot the difference shall we?
Oh I’m sorry, did I get those the wrong way round? Sorry, it’s just I can’t tell the sodding difference. If one of my scouts had been as bone fucking idle as that I would happily kick their arse, where as journalists right across the country get paid for this crock of shit.
*And another thing, if I have to tell one more person, be it journalist, parent or random punters that girls can be scouts (and beavers, cubs and explorers as well) then I’ll happily strangle them with by bear hands. And yes that does go against the scout promise and law, and I don’t care either!
This, then, is how modern journalism works. The TUC has a proposal to state that people shouldn't be forced to wear high heels (or foot-damaging footwear) in the workplace if they don't want to. The usual suspects at the Sun and Mail (and even the Telegraph, who really aren't a quality paper any more) decide they'll have a bit of fun and pretend that the TUC is BANNING HIGH HEELS OMG, whereas in truth they're more than entirely aware that isn't the case; it's just the same sort of drab lie that gets dredged up from time to time against trade unions, the hated bloc-voting Trotskyite Reds who WOULDN'T EVEN BURY THE DEAD BACK IN 1979 and so on, yadda yadda.
You'd hope that at that point the 'quality' papers, even the Guardian, which is traditionally seen as being a left-wing newspaper, might have a look at the facts of the situation and say, ah no, that's not it at all. Wouldn't you? You would? Well you'd be wrong. Because far from bothering to fucking check anything in the slightest, they just decided to run with a crock of steaming horseshit from Jenni Russell which assumed that everything the Mail and Sun had said was correct. Big assumption. Big, wrong assumption. But then I suppose there's no snooty little article (and £££ to be made from it) if there isn't a story, is there?
OK, so don't blame the journalist for not fucking checking in the slightest; it's not in her financial interests to check, is it? No ban on high heels = no shit article from me saying oh noes, but I like my heels innit? Fine. But didn't anyone else check? Couldn't anyone else give a shit? Didn't anyone else care that the Guardian, the liberal-left Guardian, was running an article based on a total and utter lie about trade unions? Or, to boil it down a bit further, did no-one care that a supposedly quality paper was running an article based on a total and utter lie? No, apparently not.
This comes in the wake of the fairly tawdry hatchet job the Graun did on comedians the other week, including Richard Herring, who was understandably a bit pissed off by the whole affair. Sure, he got a 'right of reply' but that doesn't excuse the misleading article.
It's pretty saddening for those of us who see the Graun as the last-chance saloon for some kind of mainstream liberal voice in the media (apart from the state-funded Bolsheviks at the Beeb, obviously, pffffft). Crap journalism makes every single article less respected. The thing about being the good guys is that you sometimes can't run the story you want, if it's not based in fact. That means you have a sliver of integrity, and it sets you apart from your rivals who couldn't care less.
Doesn't it? Or doesn't that matter any more?
Or at least there should be at the publication which put this miserable non-story on the front page of their website:
Burn, baby, burn: Simon Cowell battered by Mediterranean sun
Yes, a man went on holiday and got a suntan. Would you believe it? Well yes you would. Ooh yes, he was quite pale, and now he isn't.
As befits a man of his fabulous wealth and talent, Simon Cowell enjoys many of the trappings of the LA lifestyle. But while he has the cars, the mansions, the high-waisted but exquisitely tailored trousers – there is one thing about him that remains resolutely, even defiantly, English: his skin.
Oh really? Stunning. Thank goodness we all know about that. Imagine what a void of knowledge our lives would have been without knowing about the colour of some TV man's skin.
Like his fellow countrymen, the pop mogul seems to be cursed with an epidermis that burns like milk before a flamethrower when he ventures out of the shade.
Epidermis? What? Who says epidermis? Ever? Anyone?
Whatever the cause, his battle scars are all too familiar. First there is the bright pink hue of the flesh, reminiscent of a lobster freshly plucked from the pot but yet to be covered with a cheesy duvet of thermidor sauce.
I feel sorry for the life of this writer who had to churn out this wall of turd, because I'm sure they'd rather be doing proper journalism about real stories - at least I hope they are. But I feel even sorrier because the publication which has chosen to cover this pointless crock of codswallop and put it on their web front page is not the Mail, nor the Sun, nor even the Telegraph (although they may well have done it) but The Guardian.
Christ. How depressing.
As a reaction to the kind of "Aaaargh! We're all gonna die!" stuff about pig flu comes this kind of cock from people like Simon Jenkins, who sees this whole business as a big murky opportunity for government to steer people's attentions away from the FACT IT'S KILLING ITS OWN PEOPLE and for the WHO to justify an enormous budget. But is he right? Is the right reaction to this problem not to bury yourself in a bunker but to laugh in the face of a sniffling man under a sombrero and wipe his germs all over your eyes?
What amuses me is the way in which Twitter, for example, has been blamed for whipping up fears about swine flu. Yes, there's a lot of rubbish on Twitter, but then again there's a lot of rubbish in real life, and a damn sight more in the mainstream media. (And what the hell is that website anyway? It looks to me like the online version of one of those suspiciously ever-present English-language newspapers you see everywhere when you're in a developing country, which, when you read them, contain eight billion billion articles on how great US foreign policy is and how everything would be better if only it all got privatised.)
Anyway, Twitter is supposedly the agent of misinformation about swine flu. It shows a new way of easy lazy churnalism from the mainstream media, whereby you simply go onto Twitter, find something as madly insane as you can, and then use it to represent the entirety of Twitter's output. Whereas the press, well they've been completely responsible, haven't they?
Mm. Jenkins is correct to point out that while the screamsheets are mentioning 150 deaths, only 20-odd of these are directly attributable to swine flu; and that no-one has so far died outside of Mexico. But it's what he goes on to say next that sees him veer off the rails:
We appear to have lost all ability to judge risk. The cause may lie in the national curriculum, the decline of "news" or the rise of blogs and concomitant, unmediated hysteria, but people seem helpless in navigating the gulf that separates public information from their daily round. They cannot set a statistic in context. They cannot relate bad news from Mexico to the risk that inevitably surrounds their lives. The risk of catching swine flu must be millions to one.
Ah. Here we go. While others are blaming Twitter, Jenkins is blaming blogs and, rather bizarrely, the 'national curriculum'. Er, what? Well I've looked through the rest of the article and there's nothing to stand that up at all. I guess Jenkins just wants to have a bit of mystery... it's the national curriculum - but why? Ah, you'll have to work that out for yourselves!
I do agree with Jenkins when he points out that avian flu was a lot of fuss that turned out to be about nothing, and there's an element of crying wolf about the whole affair. But on the other hand, that doesn't mean that avian flu is the same thing as swine flu, nor that there's nothing to worry about. The crying wolf, I think, is all the more dangerous because it might induce a sense of shrugged shoulders seen-it-all-before about the public, who've been lied to one too many times - at a time when swine flu might actually be really dangerous. There's no way of knowing. So Jenkins closes his eyes and sticks his betting slip under the window, hoping that he's right. But is that good enough?
He then goes on to mention MRSA and C-diff as being diseases 'for which the government is to blame'. Who knew? People all over the world are dying of MRSA and c-diff, but in fact it's the British Government that's to blame for all those deaths! No wonder the Brits are hated abroad! We're killing thousands of people because our Government is creating these terrible diseases! The Government is forcing - at gunpoint, forcing - people not to wash their hands in hospitals. Can you imagine? Why, that really is a scandal! Isn't it awful that no-one's doing anything about it?
Well, come off it. I'm fed up with the whole "Government is killing people" bollocks that people like to trot out when it comes to c-diff and MRSA as well. It's becoming something of a right-wing meme nowadays - everything ever can be swiftly dismissed with a "Well, thousands are being killed in hospitals every day BY THE GOVERNMENT and those evil bastard nurses, and no-one's doing anything about it". No, they're not. A simple point: if you don't wash your hands when you're in a hospital and you come into contact with someone with a weakened immune system, then you're much more likely to be killing someone than the Government or a hospital worker. But no. Let's pretend it's 'dirty hospitals' and 'the medical profession' that are somehow doing it, all those patients licking the floors somehow creating these deaths, because then we can put Gordon Brown behind it all, the big old Churchill-dog Aunt Sally that he is, and then it's all OK.
As for swine flu, the jury's still out. The real answers will appear in the mainstream media as well as on twitter and blogs, and as with all these things, it'll take a bit of sifting to find out the truth. But we'll find out soon enough. Who knows - maybe Jenkins will be proved right about the whole thing. Maybe he won't.