Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Witch!



Hardly a week goes by without the papers reporting that a new witch has been found. I'm referring to paedophiles of course, who have taken the role of the new hate figure in the UK, a job that homosexuals held during the 1950s. The internet has made it easier than ever to find the new witches - who have all been giving their credit card details to look at child porn sites. I'd argue that morally it's wrong to fund any site that produces child pornography. But I don't know if looking at a child porn site definitely makes you a witch or not. Sometimes people are a bit thick and they look at things just to see what's there without thinking about the consequences. I think it's right that people who give their credit card details should be investigated. But I find the tabloids' obsession with the lurid details to be almost as sick as what the paedophiles actually do.

The latest witch (guilty until proven innocent, but ruined whatever the outcome), is Matthew Kelly. I've never liked Matthew Kelly very much, he's an anodyne, mumsy, ultra-mainstream tv presenter. But I don't like the way that the press are handling the allegations that have been made about him. The Sun's rather homophobic headline "Wish You Were Queer" makes the usual mistake of conflating homosexuality and paedophilia together - two insinuations that have yet to be proven about Mr Kelly in any case. The media builds up our celebrities, and then it delights in bringing them down, fuelling public opinion to the point where their lives are ruined, long before criminal investigations have ended, or in some cases, even begun.

I hate the UK tabloid press - it's a reactionary, scandal-obsessed, myopic harpy, excitedly twitching a pair of net curtains to spy on the world, and more often than not, getting it wrong. It's far too concerned with printing the latest storylines in the soap operas or whipping up a new moral panic than with reporting anything really important. Incidentally, if you want to complain about the Sun's headline, then go to the Press Complaints Commission. As far as I read it, it breaches section 13 of the PCC code of conduct:

13 Discrimination i) The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to a person's race, colour, religion, sex or sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.

ii) It must avoid publishing details of a person's race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability unless these are directly relevant to the story.

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