One of the things I often say about the Mail is that it words things in a particularly sly way, to try and give the impression of A while actually saying B. Today's offering is exactly that, skilfully giving the (wrong) impression that doctors are being bribed to give teenagers contraceptive advice specifically if they don't tell the parents. Of course that's not the story at all, and it's quickly unravelled in the following paragraphs, where it's explained that it's to give contraception advice to anyone, regardless of whether it's underage kids who aren't telling their parents or not.
Unfortunately, one Mail reader at least appears to have been confused enough by this deliberate mislead. The Mail reader in question is Melanie Phillips, who has decided that the false impression created by the headline/intro combo is actually the kernel of the story:
As campaigners have warned, such payments will act as bribes to doctors to give thousands of under-age girls contraception without the knowledge of their parents.
But no, that's not it at all. So there are only a limited number of conclusions we can draw from this:
1. Mel is so thick she got fooled by her own newspaper.
2. She only reads the headline and intro of stories, and never finds out about the qualifying statements beneath.
3. She knows it's not that at all, but says that it's true in order to perpetuate the lie and add her own gravitas to it, because it fits in nicely with her worldview and attacks the people she doesn't like.
4. She truly is the world's worst journalist. Ever.
Who knows which one it is...?
It's the question as much as anything else. These are the kind of people who'd go ballistic at any suggestion that the nanny state should interfere in their lives, if it came to fining them for speeding or any such trifle; yet all of a sudden the power of the state becomes oh-so-vital if it means you can 'allow' (or more particularly not allow) such horrendous perverts as gay people to be allowed to adopt:
Mind you, these are Melanie Phillips's readers, so what do you expect?
Sunny, among many others, is dismayed by the prospect of fuckwit Melanie Phillips winning some British blogging award. And I can completely understand. If that no-talent venomous witch were to emerge victorious it would be an appalling travesty, given that her career and blog consist of spouting batshit insane nonsense, often demonstrably untrue and often so wildly far from the truth that you have to wonder exactly what grasp on reality the woman really has. Seriously. It's not as if the "The Jews did 9-11" ravers are given airtime in the mainstream media (and quite rightly so), yet Phillips, just as bonkers but with different political views, is allowed to continue as if she's actually any good.
What the legitimisation of Phillips does is give a totally false impression. As if she's regarded as anything other than a fucking massive fruitcake. Surely most Jewish people wince when they read her column and blog (at least I hope they do), where the conspiracy theories get wilder and wilder than the things she's permitted to publish in the Spectator and Daily Mail. It's complete and utter fucking nonsense. It's drivel. It wouldn't be allowed from any other writer in the country; and if it were from any other political slant, it wouldn't be allowed at all. Not that I really care, but it's damaging to the reputation of the Spectator and the Mail to have such a despicably useless non-journalist twat spouting such cobblers on a regular basis. It demeans every other thing in those publications.
But then, on the other hand, you have to take a step back. The blog awards in question involved various submissions, which were then looked at by the organisers and then put through as finalists. As far as I'm aware, the number of submissions for a particular blog (ie due to a concerted effort from a small group of rather tragic individuals who support Mad Mel and her stupid views) didn't count towards whether or not a certain entry was put through as a finalist.
Therefore, there's only one conclusion to reach: that the people in charge of the awards actually thought it was good.
Much as it's important that Phillips doesn't win, you have to bear in mind that the awards are rather tarnished by the fact that she was selected as a finalist in the first place. You know, someone went to the blog, read what was on there and considered that it was actually any good, and not a pile of steaming shit.
Who would want to win an award whose judges think Melanie Phillips is anything other than a fucking fruitloop?
But still, let's make her lose.
Rhetorically Speaking has spotted a rather remarkable item that's appeared on Mel Phillips's Spectator blog:
Your article, “Carpe diem -- or can we all relax now?” by Melanie Phillips (26 November 2008), repeats a number of patently false assertions about Robert Malley that are currently blighting the more dubious corners of the internet and do not belong in a respected publication.
Mr Malley did not work for the Obama campaign, nor is he working for the transition team. He did not travel anywhere for Obama, neither before nor after the election.
A simple phone call to the International Crisis Group when writing the article would have cleared up all of these points, but your author apparently found it easier simply to copy-and-paste a libellous statement from an American web page.
Whoopsy! Make no mistake, this letter wouldn't be on there if there were any doubt about its veracity. And to think just a simple phone call to check the facts would have sufficed... but why bother when you're a high-profile journalist? Shades of Ross/Brand, I fear. But will the Spectator learn the same lessons that the BBC had to about the power of 'talent' and the need for checks and balances?
Mad Mel's 'Carpe Diem' appears to have been snipped from the Spectator's website, but happily it persists elsewhere on the internet, where it's reprinted verbatim and doubtless won't be updated in the light of new information. In a deliciously unselfaware paragraph, Melanie opines:
The Republicans, who really don't begin to grasp just what has hit them, similarly fail to acknowledge that among their own ranks are many who, just like in the British Conservative party, share with the left the desire to neutralize American power and throw Israel under the bus. Some of those people came to power under George W Bush and set him on the disastrous path to appeasement — which his demented detractors on the left somehow failed altogether to notice.
You can't help but chuckle at Phillips saying that batshit-insane nonsense, then claiming that anyone who disagrees is 'demented'. Hell, maybe she is right and there is a worldwide conspiracy, from the 'Left' all the way through most of the Conservative Party and including many of the Bush administration (though not the great man himself, luckily) which is determined to destroy Israel. Or maybe not.
Thanks to Steve in the comments yesterday for pointing me in this direction: if you were in any doubt whatsoever of Melanie Phillips's tenously slender grasp on reality, have a look at this Spectator article here. And then, if you have a couple of hours and can stomach the churning mass of insanity, read the comments. And then have a little cry, if you like.
A voice of reason amidst the frothing hate:
October 26th, 2008 1:59am
James (above 9.59pm) writes:
"Many have remarked that this election is the one during which journalism finally died. Not just in America either - the disgraceful BBC has officially thrown its own Charter under the bus and has allowed hacks like Justin Webb to use their BBC blogs to claim that anyone thinking of voting for McCain must "hate America."
This could in fact be the end of the mainstream media as more and more of us discard it in favor of online sources we can trust.
It does not seem like five minutes since the phrase "I read it on the internet" inspired mockery and derision. Now the roles are changing and the internet is gradually being seen as the only place you can actually find objective information and reasonable viewpoints.
No, James, the BBC's Justin Webb has not said anything of the kind and would be instantly dismissed if he did.
Is your post some kind of postmodern satire? If not, I suggest you go and have a good lie down in a quiet room and only get up when your computer has been safely locked away in a cupboard by your carers.
Melanie P is a fairly skilled polemicist, always has been -- even when she was a leftwing journo mostly writing about social policy for the Guardian. Good for her. These days, sadly, she is more of a demagogue. Her piece is interesting enough, but it is relies on any number of bald assertions and rash generalisations. Perhaps she should go and have a nice chat with Stella Rimington, the ex-MI5 boss who has a very different view of the threat posed by Islamists.
But more to the point, as an interested bystander and British friend of America who believes in democracy, I am frightened by the vicious tone of the debate, even here on the Spectator website. Is any one else?
Assuming Obama wins, are we going to have to put up with four or more years of internet nutters talking about anti-Americanism, palling around with terrorists, and the rest, or is all that dreck just a campaign tactic? God let's hope so.
I'm pretty sure Mr McCain himself will do everything he can to rally round if Obama wins. He is after all, a patriot and a democrat.
As we know, democracy is the worst system of government yet devised, except for all the others. But the tricky bit is your own team doesn't always win. Failing to respect the verdict of the people and labelling your opponents as unpatriotic is a slippery slope -- one that ends in McCarthyism and/or on Elm Street, Dallas TX -- and it's one that too many people, even here on a Spectator blog, appear to be in danger of sliding down.
I try not to bother with Melanie Phillips, but this is priceless. Mad Mel has a theory - or does she? - about why secret documents have been left on trains.
Is it not even stranger that this just happened to occur on the day before the crucial Commons vote on the 42-day terrorist detention limit - with a major argument against that limit being that the security world was too incompetent to be trusted with any more powers?
What? Someone might be deliberately jeopardising the security of the nation in order to try and swing a few MPs around to voting against 42-day punishment without trial, hoping that the security services looking rubbish will make people think that that's a good enough reason not to detain people for longer? What? I mean, what? What? The? Fuck? Is there anyone - anyone in the world - who actually understands this?
Is it not an even more remarkable coincidence that, on the very day that the counter-terrorism world was transfixed with horror at the revelation of this breakdown in basic security procedures, yet another batch of sensitive material was being mislaid on yet another Waterloo train?
No, not really. Just a coincidence, I'm guessing.
Watch this handbrake turn, though: it's one of the finest you'll ever see in journalism ever. So shameless, so brilliant.
So could all these documents have been left on these trains deliberately? Frankly, that idea stretches credulity. Leaving files lying around on trains leaves far too much to chance. Yes, in theory the officials concerned might have been hand-in-glove with the passengers who handed in this material; but such suggestions surely belong to the realm of spy fiction.
Mel likes having her cake and eating it, doesn't she? She gets to spout the most bonkers nut-nut conspiracy theory bollocks, but then pretend that she doesn't really believe it after all. Well if you didn't believe it, then why say it in the first place?
Unlike Kate 'n' Gerry, Muslims targeted by the Express in general rather than as individuals can't sue - no worries about that letter from Carter-Ruck or Schillings landing on the newsdesk. So recent days have seen a flurry of anti-Muslim stories. Here's just a selection.
MORE ATTENDING MOSQUES THAN MASS BY 2020
MOSQUES in England and Wales will have more regular worshippers than Catholic churches in 12 years, a new report has shown. At the last count there were only 1.6million Muslims living in Britain, compared to 41million Christians, but experts believe they are more likely to practice their faith than Roman Catholics.
It's 'practise' you illiterate fool. And why compare Muslims with just Catholics - in order to skew the figures? Is that why they said 'mass' rather than 'church'?
The new statistics are published next month by think-tank Christian Research.
Oh, well if a 'think-tank' says anything then we should just slavishly repeat exactly what they say without checking the data. Heaven forbid we might actually challenge what these jokers come up with; we are only journalists, after all.
The comments are predictable, but worth reading:
CLOSE DOWN ALL MOSQUES.......
...until we can freely and without fear attend Christian, Jewish and other places of worship in places like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan and all the other Hell Holes in the Middle East.
• Posted by: Robertocarlo • Report Comment
I think the point is that this is a relatively free society, Saudi Arabia isn't. Would you prefer it if this society became less free? And I don't think Sudan is in the Middle East, is it, but otherwise a perfectly valid point, Robertocarlo.
MOSQUES IN THE ASCENDANCY?
I am concerned that we are allowing foreigners to take over our country. Why do we keep voting for governments that sell out our country to foreigners?
• Posted by: Peter_Pan • Report Comment
It's perfectly normal, in Express Comments Land, to think that Muslims are 'foreigners' even if they were born and brought up in Britain. That's a totally acceptable viewpoint to have on this website. And many more will come to agree with it by the end of the day.
Also, there's an Express follow-up on the Sun's ridiculous kite-flying story of yesterday where they got Omar Bakri to slag off Amir Khan. The usual nutjobs have been let loose, of course, many not realising that Bakri is in exile in Lebanon rather than in Britain - something the Express wasn't entirely explicit about.
Ah another moderator Muslim preacher. Khan used half Pakistani and half Union flag remember. He wasn't born in Pakistan but still puts his relgion first so this cleric is just another example of the brainwashed religion
• Posted by: Fable • Report Comment
A SIN TO WEAR THE UNION FLAG ?
Then go home radical cleric. Where you may worship Allah without the union flag to your hearts delight !
Much good it will do you !
• Posted by: abuela • Report Comment
AND THE NUT WANT MUSLIM CLERICS IN OUR SCHOOLS
This just about sums up the reasons why NUT are NUTs along with these radical Muslim clerics.they pay homage to.
"Send this clerics family home for him to keep.
Why should we keep his ugly brood !!!"
• Posted by: abuela
Well posted as usual., abuela
No problem with a Union Jack toting British Muslim but just look at the backlash he gets from the fanatical Muslim cleric.
• Posted by: TrueBlueSpirit • Report Comment
These aren't unusual comments. But it would be wrong to think that the Express has the only anti-Muslim agenda out there. Mad Mel is allowed to spout her ridiculous nonsense in the Spectator and Mail, in the former using the story of the priest attacked by a gang to claim that 'jihad' is happening, even though the priest himself says that's a racist attitude. I wrote this week about Damian Thompson's chirpily anti-Muslim blog at the Telegraph. And even Private Eye, to their eternal shame, employ 'Ratbiter', a writer whose job seems to be to create the impression of radical Islam terrorising Britain without ever providing any scrap of evidence whatsoever.
If you do think Islam is the problem, it seems you're not alone. Writers in posh magazines and newspapers, as well as in the sewer of the Express, say that Islam in itself is the problem - implying that Islam itself is radical, that Islam equals jihad and that Muslims can't be like ordinary citizens. This viewpoint is becoming more and more prevalent. A lot of people really do think that the Muslims are coming to take over Europe; I read it more and more. There never seems to be any real evidence or investigation; it's always just some person's personal view, often based on the fact they come from a different religion and background.
Can you imagine a Muslim columnist in a mid-market newspaper saying that Jews are the problem, that they can't be ordinary citizens, that they're all radical nutjobs trying to colonise our country - and getting away with it? Can you imagine a Muslim columnist in Private Eye saying that there's a whole bunch of radical Jews out there, without having any evidence whatsoever, and slagging anyone off who attempts to disprove this utter lie? Can you imagine any crime committed by a Jew being taken as evidence that their religion is to blame, and dozens of commenters at the bottom of a news story being allowed to say this?
Then why do we allow these anti-Muslim agendas to carry on? In the interests of free speech? Really? Then why is it only ever in one direction?