Posted by Dave Cross
November 8th, 2011
[This is cross-posted from davblog]
From today’s Daily Mail corrections column:
We stated in an article on 26 September that Christmas has been renamed in various places Winterval.
Winterval was the collective name for a season of public events, both religious and secular, which took place in Birmingham in 1997 and 1998.
We are happy to make clear that Winterval did not rename or replace Christmas.
This is amazing stuff. The Mail has been one of the main papers pushing the “Winterval” myth for many years. At the recent media bloggers meet-up someone said that our constant debunking of this myth was beginning to have some traction, but I didn’t expect to get a correction from the Daily Mail quite so soon.
On the Mail Corrections site I like to link back to the original story. And in this case it seems to be a column by Melanie Phillips where she claimed that “Christmas has been renamed in various places ‘Winterval’”. This, as the Mail now admits, didn’t happen. She ties this non-event in with the recent furore about the BBC banning the terms BC and AD (something else that didn’t happen). Phillips strongly defended her view in an email discussion with Kevin Arscott, so it’s nice to see even the Mail admitting that she was wrong.
Of course, it’ll be interesting to watch what happens next. Will all Mail writers get a memo telling them to stop repeating the lie? It’s approaching prime Winterval season, surely Richard Littlejohn or Peter Hitchens will want to write about it soon.
As always when discussing this myth, I need to link to Kevin Arscott’s forensic investigation of the evidence which is the most thorough debunking of a tabloid lie that I’ve ever seen.
Update: The Mail has updated Phillips’ original column to remove the reference to Winterval and to add the following note at the bottom:
A previous version of this article stated that Christmas has been renamed in various places Winterval. Winterval was the collective name for a season of public events, both religious and secular, which took place in Birmingham in 1997 and 1998. We are happy to make clear that Winterval did not rename or replace Christmas.
That’s the first time I’ve seen them explicitly update a corrected article like that. I hope it’s the start of a trend. This has been a good date for tabloid accuracy in Britain.
Categories: Melanie Philips, Religion |
Posted by 5cc
November 1st, 2010
This was originally posted at www.fivechinesecrackers.com, where I’ll be selecting a dodgy tabloid story for the award on the last Saturday of every month.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s here. It’s…
…the 5cc tabloid bullshit of the month award.
This has been a short month for me since I’ve been away for half of it, but I’ve been paying attention to blogs and keeping my eye out for particularly good bullshit. I considered breaking the rules for the first award and presenting it to MigrationWatch for being particularly rubbish this month, but rules is rules so MigrationWatch just get a raspberry blown in their direction.
Actual tabloid contenders included:
- Most of the tabloids and the Telegraph pretending an extractor fan had to be removed because of Muslims
- Most of the tabloids pretending Aldi had banned poppies
- Most of the tabloids blarting on about BBC presenters wearing their poppies too early
- The Mail for it’s head poppingly stupid attempt to link Ed Miliband and Joe Stalin
- The Daily Star for every front page headline they’ve ever printed, ever
The winner was a version of another story that was picked up and churned everywhere, but some coverage was better than others. The Sun even managed to report this story properly, something that the Telegraph, The Mail, The Express, The Star and to an extent the Mirror all failed to do.
It’s the ‘the Muslims are invading and Mohammed is the most popular name and they’re trying to keep it a secret‘ nonsense.
The tough part is choosing which of the many, many versions should win. Runner up is the Telegraph, which nearly sneaked a win for laughably trying to pretend that Mohammed is secretly the most popular boy’s name. But the winner of the 5cc tabloid bullshit of the month award, for the reasons outlined in the email below, is:
Mohammed is now the most popular name for baby boys ahead of Jack and Harry, by Daily Mail hack, Jack Doyle.
Here’s the email:
Dear Mr Doyle,
I am very pleased, not to mention proud, to announce that your story ‘Mohammed is now the most popular name for baby boys ahead of Jack and Harry‘ is the recipient of journalism’s newest prize. Break out the party poppers!
Your story, chosen for being such an excellent example of tabloid reporting prowess, is the winner of the first ever 5cc tabloid bullshit of the month award, presented by me at Five Chinese Crackers. In such a crowded field with all the crap tabloids and the Telegraph covering the same thing it was a tough choice, but your version beat even the Telegraph’s, which pretended not only that Mohammed was the most popular boy’s name, but that it was a secret.
Here’s why your version won:
- It’s a crap trick. Adding together 12 variations of a name and saying the official list has Mohammed at number 16 without pointing out that the official list doesn’t add any variations of names together is just a bit dishonest.
- As is not bothering to mention exactly how popular a name Mohammed is among Muslims.
- Or that altogether, boys named every variation of Mohammed made up around just 2% of all boys. Actually, the number of boys named all variations of Mohammed actually took a slight drop since last year, but you didn’t mention that either.
- It’s an old crap trick. I was mentioning it on my blog back in 2007, when the trick made it look as though Mohammed was the second most popular boy’s name.
- It scaremongers unnecessarily about Muslims.
- The Mail was probably the first paper to pull the trick this year. Blogs were already calling bullshit on the story a day before any other paper has dated its version. Yours is dated the 28th too, but that could just be when you rewrote the copy originally provided by someone else. That would be more tragic when you think about it, your name on an embarassingly crap scaremongering trick that you didn’t even pull yourself.
- Even the Sun managed to report this story properly.
The prize is essentially a crap drawing of an award, but you will now be in contention for the 5cc tabloid bullshitter of the year award 2011. You’ve got 14 months to get as many monthly prizes as possible to be a winner, so keep up the good work!
Various bloggers pointed out how crap your old trick was. These include: TabloidWatch, Enemies of Reason, No Sleep ‘Til Brooklands and Primly Stable (twice).
If you’d like to make an acceptance comment, reply to this email and I’ll publish it at Five Chinese Crackers. In the meantime, you might want to look at this post I published on my blog a while back. You might also want to add ’scaremonger about the number of ethnic minority babies being born like I did earlier this year’ to the list of stuff I mention there.
Anyway, well done. Give yourself a lolly.
So, there we go. That’s it for this month. If you spot any really choice bullshit in the coming month, email a link to fivechinesecrackers [AT] gmail [DOT] com, or DM me @5ChinCrack on twitter, and I’ll consider it.
Categories: Media, Religion |
Posted by dnotice
October 17th, 2010
This is a cross-post of an article by Dario Battisti which was originally posted on The 21st Floor.
In ancient times, hundreds of years before the dawn of history, lived a strange race of people– the Druids! No one knows who they were, or what they were doing, but their legacy remains…
Thus sang Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel in the ‘hit song’, “Stonehenge”. However, the legacy of the druids is such that druidry continues today, in its revived, revised form. Recently, the Charity Commission accepted that druidry should count as a genuine religion, which should not come over as particularly shocking to anyone. Anyone, that is, except the columnist Melanie Philips, in a smugly hypocritical article protesting against the development.
Will someone please tell me this is all a joke. Until now, Druids have been regarded indulgently as a curious remnant of Britain’s ancient past, a bunch of eccentrics who annually dress up in strange robes at Stonehenge to celebrate the summer solstice.
Can it be long before the BBC transmits Stones Of Praise, or solemnly invites listeners to Radio 4’s Thought For The Day to genuflect to a tree?
Religious programming– imagine that! Laughable! No point is being made by this derision; Philips merely sneers at a faith which happens not to be the one she champions. Her article is replete with demeaning caricatures of druids intended to portray them as inferior savages compared to Christians .
Some might shrug this off. After all, the Druids don’t do any harm to anyone. What skin is it off anyone else’s nose how they are categorised?
Well, it actually matters rather a lot. Elevating them to the same status as Christianity is but the latest example of how the bedrock creed of this country is being undermined. More than that, it is an attack upon the very concept of religion itself.
How, exactly, is accepting druidry’s status as a religion an “attack” on religion itself? By the sound of it, Philips simply doesn’t like druids, and acknowledging that they might well fall into the ‘religion’ camp is too horrid for her to contemplate. Her article is replete of demeaning caricatures of practicing druids which serve no purpose other than to portray them as inferior to Christians. Additionally, pagan belief systems were the ‘bedrock creeds’ of Britain long before Christianity came along and decided to dismantle them, opportunistically pilfering elements which would come in handy for converting the populace.
Philips goes on to claim that druids belong to a cult rather than a religion, on the feeble basis that they believe in spirits of nature but not a ‘supreme god’, and that they are not ‘mainstream’. Yet anyone who has been following our Cult Status series will be aware of the difficulties in distinguishing cults from religions. The standard by which Philips makes her judgement seems completely arbitrary, postulated only for the sake of portraying the ever beloved Judeo-Christian faiths as superior to other faiths. You know, the wrong ones.
On the prospect of charitable status, she complains about druid leaders’ statements that they want “harmony with the earth and everything in it” by noting that:
…there are many who subscribe to no belief system at all and who would say they, too, want to live in harmony with the earth and everything in it. Are they, therefore, also to be regarded as religious folk and given charitable status?
Well, wait a minute! This would suggest that people have charitable inclinations regardless of religion, rather than as a result of it, thus undermining the practice of affording charitable status to any specific religion.
The whole thing is beyond absurd. But it is also malevolent. For it is all of a piece with the agenda by the oh-so politically correct Charity Commission to promote the fanatical religious creed of the Left — the worship of equality.
The Commission was primed by Labour for this attempt to restructure society back in 2006, when charity law was redrawn to redefine ‘public benefit’ as helping the poor.
This put the independent schools in the front line of attack, since education was no longer itself considered a benefit — as it had been since time immemorial — but only insofar as it furthered the ideology of ‘equality’.
Equal rights? Helping the poor? It’s political correctness gone mad! What’s really beyond absurd is Philips’ labelling of equal rights and concern for those in poverty as ‘malevolent’ and ‘fanatical’. This kind of outdated attitude betrays an extremely callous and oppressive streak on the author’s part.
But the new respectability of paganism cannot be laid entirely at the Charity Commission’s door. For in recent years, pagan practices have been rapidly multiplying, with an explosion of the occult: witchcraft, parapsychology, séances, telepathy and mind-bending cults.
Parapsychology, an occult practice? I was not aware that Richard Wiseman was an occultist. And when exactly did this ‘explosion of telepathy’ occur?
How on earth has our supposedly rational society come to subscribe to so much totally barking mumbo-jumbo?
That’s Melanie Philips, speaking in the Daily Mail, invoking rationality and decrying “so much totally barking mumbo jumbo” in her defence of Christian tradition. This is an astonishingly arrogant level of hypocrisy.
After making some more lazy caricatures, Philips makes the claim that focus on the natural world– that is, this world, rather than an elusive world-in-waiting– somehow provides a justification for mindless self-gratification.
These beliefs were, therefore, tailor-made for the ‘me society’ which turned against Biblical constraints on behaviour in the interests of others. They were subsequently given rocket fuel by environmentalism, at the core of which lies the pagan worship of ‘Mother Earth’.
I’m still not sure how the worship of the natural world, outside of oneself, amounts to self-worship. That sounds like the exact opposite to me.
…they were then legitimised by the doctrines of equality of outcomes and human rights — which, far from protecting the rights of truly religious people, aim to force Biblical morality and belief out of British and European public life altogether.
This is because human rights and equality of outcomes are held to be universal values. That means they invariably trump specific religious beliefs to impose instead equal status for all creeds.But if all creeds, however absurd, have equal meaning then every belief is equally meaningless. And without the Judeo-Christian heritage there would be no morality and no true human rights.
Yes, imagine the nightmare scenario that promoting human rights as universal values would result in. Never mind the fact that the whole point of human rights is that, as far as humans are concerned, they are universal values (and therefore must indeed trump religious doctrines which deny human rights, as any civilised person would realise). In any case, what the hell does “equality of outcomes” mean? Equal rights doesn’t mean that every outcome is the same, but that individuals in society are given equal opportunities within that society and not discriminated against– that citizens should have equal status as citizens. This terminology appears to have been devised solely to imply moral relativism where no such implication follows. The pathway beginning from equal rights and leading to absolute moral relativism does not exist.
There is nothing remotely enlightened about paganism. It was historically tied up with both communism and fascism, precisely because it is a negation of reason and the bedrock values behind Western progress.
It is not in the least surprising that, like any good fundamentalist nut, Philips does not neglect the obligatory unsubstantiated Godwin. The idea that the insular and insidious brand of Christianity championed throughout – a version of Christianity which does not recognise human rights as universal values – has somehow been the bedrock of Western progress is perverse.
The result is that, under the secular onslaught of human rights, our society is reverting to a pre-modern era of anti-human superstition and irrationality. From human rights, you might say, to pagan rites in one seamless progression.
This damning of secularism as instigating a reversion to “anti-human superstition and irrationality” is also utterly bizarre. By ensuring that people can live in a society whereby the religious views of one group (cough, Melanie Philips, cough) cannot be imposed on others, therefore meaning that measures have to be negotiated according to a rational, humanist approach, secularism defends against the advance of anti-human superstition and irrationality in making sure that it does not become a basis for laws. That is essentially the very purpose of secularism.
Anyone who thinks radical egalitarianism is progressive has got this very wrong. We are hurtling backwards in time to a more primitive age.
All this leads me to suspect that Melanie Philips writes her column from the safety of some bizarre parallel universe where a red traffic light means ‘go’, and rain falls upwards. A world in which a religious group is not a religion, in which worship of the natural world means self-worship, in which human rights are not universal values, in which equality is a malevolent doctrine, in which secularism favours superstition and irrationality, and in which egalitarianism is primitive and regressive. Her near-colonialist rage at the existence of anything non-Christian belongs in only two places that I can think of: the Dark Ages… and the pages of the Daily Mail.
Categories: Guest Blog, Melanie Philips, Religion |
Posted by Tim Ireland
September 16th, 2010
The Daily Mail have just engaged in what can fairly be described as a typically misleading attack* on someone with whom they have a difference of opinion; rather than allow their argument to stand on its own merits, they have chosen to entirely misrepresent the position of their opponent.
All praise to Stephen Fry, not only for having the courage to stand up to the Daily Mail, but for also having the wit and patience to pick their pathetic straw man to pieces:
Hated By The Daily Mail
I was one of 50 signatories to a letter that called into question the official state nature of the papal visit. I didn’t write the letter, but am proud to stand behind it and with my fellow signatories. Otherwise my “hate campaign”, as they well know, begins with the words, “I’ve no objection to the Pope coming to visit Britain, he is welcome to do so…” it is, as I go on to say, none of my business. I go out of my way to make it clear that I fully respect the desire of the pious, the faithful and the devout to welcome their spiritual father, their supreme Pontiff.
My only objection is that this be a State Visit. It hasn’t happened before and the Vatican is in no real sense a nation state. Visit the place: it takes fifty minutes to walk round. You don’t need a passport or visa to enter. It is a curlicue of history that makes this “absolute monarchy” (to quote the Holy See’s own website) a “country”. Under no reasonable or worthwhile definition does the Vatican match up to the old-established and widely accepted Montevideo protocols on statehood. So by all means come, but please don’t ask the British taxpayer (a figure whom the Daily Mail is usually so zealous to protect) to help foot the bill.
Believe me, there is no hate there. None whatever. The Mail knows this perfectly well.
As Fry points out in his opening remarks, this is an example of the staff at the Daily Mail “intentionally, knowingly lying” to their readers, and we make no secret of the fact that the purpose of this site is to warn their readers that they are under a constant barrage of balderdash designed to make them afraid and/or hostile, sometimes for no other discernible logical purpose than to keep sales ticking over… but we do not discount the theory that some of this activity may be due to an unknown number of writers and editors being as mad as cut snakes.
[*The online version of this article was updated at 10:29am, and presently acknowledges the true position of the signatories of this letter (that Pope Ratzinger should not be given the honour of a state visit to this country), in passing, before going on imply/maintain that this equates to a refusal to engage in or allow open dialogue on religious matters. Further, this minor acknowledgement of reality does nothing to address the "atheist hate campaign led by Stephen Fry" text under their front page headline.]
UPDATE – You’ll probably want one of these as much as we do:
Click to buy! You know you want one!
Categories: Religion |