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David

Have a Rant!

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No point, the PCC will only accept complaints from individuals directly effected by the article.

 

However, at least they can gauge the level of disgust.

 

There was a tremendous response to here on a blog that was linked to on twitter but I cant find it now. Charlie Brooker seems to have hit the nail fairly on the head.

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No point, the PCC will only accept complaints from individuals directly effected by the article.
Yes, but as you say... :
However, at least they can gauge the level of disgust.
And that is point enough for me... even if I'm not affected by the situation directly, I'm glad I effected my complaint. ;)

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That's outrageous about the Daily Mail. It's completely inaccurate, libelous and slanderous for them to say that. Gately had a regular partner, he slept with less people in the past few years than most heterosexual men do. And his death was nothing whatsoever to do with 'promiscuity' - no STD, no nothing. Even if he *had* it would be no business of anyone's other than his own and his partner's, but the fact that his lifestyle was completely irrelevant to his death just makes me more incensed.

 

And he rarely drank. It's hideous of the Mail - they will almosy certainly be censured about this, and rightly so. I hope Gately's family sue. It's such appalling double standards - I've never seen The Mail condemn, say, Club 18 - 30 goers for spending weeks bingeing and shagging. Not that it would be any of their business, but it's the *selectiveness* of their prurience that upsets me.

 

(I've copied and pasted this from a mail sent to a pal as am required elsewhere, so if the words look a little familiar to someone out there, forgive me :-) )

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I've never seen The Mail condemn, say, Club 18 - 30 goers for spending weeks bingeing and shagging.

Oh I'm pretty sure they have. They don't like anyone having any fun! Melanie Philips is the worst. She's the most unbelievably judgemental, moralising, vinegar faced, old prune. She must be an absolute paragon of virtue and a picture of perfection to come out with some of the stuff she spouts.

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Just read the article properly - my post before was based on what a pal had told me about it. What a ghastly, judgmental, prurient cow Jan Moir is. How can she say men of 35 don't die of natural causes? Of course they do - where did she get her medial degree from? Acute pulmonary oedema is what would result if anyone had a heart attack due to a fast and abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmmia). Does she think Tony Blair brought his own arrhythmmia on when he was PM? Arrhythmmias can be caused by all sorts of things - inherited conduction problems or inherited hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HOCM) causing outflow obstruction being the most likely. So if his family are saying there's a familial heart complaint, that's the most likely explanation. Natural death in a young person is always tragic but it's by no means unheard of - it may be less common than in an elderly person but it still happens regularly. How dare Jan Moir stick her ill-informed beak in and surmise and gossip about something she knows nothing about.

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Moir herself now says that she has become a victim of internet flash- mobbing, thereby undermining and ignoring the valid criticism levelled at her.

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Shows her ignorance when she believes that is possible. The benefits of social networking is that people no longer have to chunter to work colleagues about things like this- people can share ideas and opinions immediately and with a huge network of like minded people (kinda like an uber forum). This is what has happened in this case.

 

You cannot 'orchestrate an internet campaign'. The internet and social networking is organic and grows through people, it cannot be organised.

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Moir also seemingly said that anyone who thought what she wrote was homophobic was being 'mischievous'. How strange that she doesn't even have insight into her homophobia.

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Surely few of us have any insight, or even awareness of, our various prejudices?

That's very true, but hopefully many will pause for a little self reflection when their awareness of it is raised by others.

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On the subject of prejudice, (not sure what the protocol is on here regarding politics - if its a no go area feel free to delete this post) but did anyone see the Nick Griffin show erm... I mean Question Time on Thursday?

 

It is people like him who make me ashamed to be a white British person, and it is seriously scary the way the BNP are gaining support through the country, not to mention extremely worrying the hatred he is spouting is not so different from Adolf Hitler in the 1930's and look what the outcome of that was! I can see the Beeb's point of view that as minority party it would be considered censorship if he was not invited to participate, but I can't help thinking that the whole thing was an cynical orchestrated attempt at a ratings grabber.

 

I believe that the BNP are dangerous though, the propoganda which they push on a local level is very persuasive, and appeals to and wins over a lot of people, and the way they do it is almost like brainwashing, during local elections there is not a day that goes by that someone from the BNP knocks on your door to canvas and pushes literature through the letterbox, during the last local election we had 2 pamphlets from the Tories, 3 from Labour, 1 from the Lib Dems and 15 from the BNP, the week leading up to the election the tories came knocking twice, Labour once, Lib Dems were a no show but the BNP came every single day up to and including polling day, when they came 3 times in one day.

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On the subject of prejudice, (not sure what the protocol is on here regarding politics - if its a no go area feel free to delete this post) but did anyone see the Nick Griffin show erm... I mean Question Time on Thursday?

I didn't see it myself but I always thought Nick Griffin and Gordon Brown do in certain ways see eye to eye.

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Thoughtful post, Apple. It is definitely a thorny issue for liberals like me to wring our hands about. Ultimately, I believe the BBC did the right thing by letting the programme go ahead.

 

Like it or not, the BNP polled about 6% of the vote nationally in the European elections, which is enough for them to be entitled to one Party Political Broadcast during next year's General Election campaign. On that basis, in a democracy where we claim to believe in free speech, Griffin should also be allowed to appear on Question Time and put his views, however odious.

 

I had a problem with the programme itself, in that a normal edition of Question Time would discuss a wide range of issues but Griffin's presence skewed the content toward a discussion only of his party and its views. If it had been more of a normal show, I think Griffin would have been exposed as a single issue extremist even more than he actually was. As it was, it did demonstrate the man couldn't argue his way out of a wet paper bag and constantly resorted to bleating about how he was misrepresented in the press rather than trying to defend his position.

 

I also think there are people who vote for the BNP without truly understanding what it represents, and do it simply as a protest vote against the major political parties. By giving Griffin a platform to deny the Holocaust or to say that homosexuals are "creepy" for example, some of those people may reconsider their position and see that he is not the reasonable man he tries to portray himself as.

 

Ultimately, the popularlity of parties like the BNP ought to act as a wake up call to the main parties about the electorate's continued disenchantment with mainstream politics. It is only if the electorate regards the likes of the BNP as a viable political alternative that they will gain power.

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Grammath Wrote:

I also think there are people who vote for the BNP without truly understanding what it represents, and do it simply as a protest vote against the major political parties.

 

This is so very true, in the local elections in our area, they focused on an extremely unpopular house building programme, which was causing a lot of consternation, and various community issues which no-one in their right mind would be against, and won a lot of votes for doing that, their strategy was very convincing presenting themselves as a reasonable community orientated party it wasn't until you got them at the door and questioned them a little closer the true colours started to appear. The issues the main parties have been having recently though with the on going expenses scandal etc. have made minority parties seem more appealing not only as the protest vote, but as an alternative because the public in general are so disenchanted with politicians in general and see them as a greedy self serving bunch of morons, who couldn't properly organise a piss up in a brewery (without putting it on expenses!) let alone run a country. The trouble is the wake up call which should have happened hasn't done, because although Nick Griffin is a complete pillock and any reasonable minded person who saw his performance on QT would realise this, the undercurrent of grass roots reasonable community minded and patriotic propoganda, is there gnawing away and persuading a disolutioned public that the BNP are not the monsters everyone is making them out to be and besides who believes what any of the main parties say, and you get the main parties coming out dismissing the BNP as nothing but a bunch of facist loonies, and the voting public wouldn't vote for them, in the oh so common arrogant it can't happen to us type attitude which politicians seem to have got down to a fine art. Unfortunately it is happening in a small way granted a couple of local councils seats and European seats, but I just cannot help but think back to the history books, of a small minorty party who everyone dismissed as insignificant led by a chap from Austria with a funny moustache, who appeared to be a bit of a pillock he didn't think muslims and Islam were bad though, his gripe was with the jews, and look what happened to the world because Germany didn't listen to its wake up call!

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I agree with you Apple and share your concerns. However, the reason it's different now - I believe - is that back in thirties Germany they'd never seen anything like this before and didn't know a) what is was, B) where it could lead and c) what to do about it. Now, we do know and I think that there are still enough 'good men' (from the phrase 'all it takes for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing') to prevent anything major from happening.

 

A situation that requires monitoring, I think.

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On the racism theme, I wonder what folk think of this?

 

I have the responsibility for setting prelim (mock) exams for our pupils. We normally buy them in from a reputable company whose papers are more or less accepted as the same standard as the external exam (and are therefore valid evidence for an appeal against the final grade, which is often needed and is standard practice.)

 

One of this year's papers is based on two articles about racist language - the sort used recently by Carol Thatcher, Anton du Beke and, a while ago, Ron Atkinson. The second article quotes what was said by each party in order to discuss it, making use of the n-word in the first two lines of the passage.

These are articles from national newspapers; they aren't intended to offend, and take a strong anti-racist stand, but I feel they are inappropriate for an exam situation where the kids have no choice about reading them. I was really quite shocked to find this while vetting the paper today.

 

Do you think I'm right? I'm then left without a valid prelim exam.

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On the racism theme, I wonder what folk think of this?

Well, there are two responses from my perspective.

 

The first is common sense. The subject is English and I think understanding the power - both good and ill - of language is a vitally important area of study. Kids need to understand why language can be inappropriate, the effect that it can have and the importance of context in determining that.

 

These stories are a good way of examining these things. Yes, the language is offensive but the articles take an appropriate stand. They are in newspapers that would be in the kids' homes and the stories received very wide coverage right across the media. This material has been produced by a reputable company that clearly has experience of what is appropriate.

 

It is not a word that is offensive in the same way as the f word - there are issues behind it which are of great sociological importance, so it seems a valid subject for analysis. Plus you can still buy a Joseph Conrad novella employing it in the title and Mark Twain and Dickens both use the word, reflecting the different social contexts of their times. So in any objective sense I don't think they should be ruled out.

 

On the other hand you can never rule out the over-reaction of parents. I've known parents complain about teaching Penelope Lively's The Ghost of Thomas Kempe because it features a ghost (not very Christian, dontcha know). Plus Carol Ann Duffy's 'Education for Leisure' was banned in a quite staggeringly ignorant knee-jerk, tabloidesque hype-fest because it features a knife. Perhaps if such parents spent more time reading intelligent poems as opposed to the Daily Mail they'd learn how to understand what they're reading.

 

So my advice would be to use the material, but run it by your head teacher first!

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So my advice would be to use the material, but run in by your head teacher first!
Minxminnie, have you discussed this with the providers of the mock paper? Other schools might have similar concerns and the exam setters could have a useful perspective to keep on hand if parents do question the paper.

 

I would still use the material. It's important for the students to have these results on hand to compare with their final results. I have a teenage son and I'm sure that most children that age are mature enough to understand these words in the context of discussing language. Might even make them think!

 

It might be in your own interest to get the head teacher's approval, though, as David suggests.

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Personally I think that this is a good idea, making the students confront their perception and making them think about what constitutes a racist comment will give them a stronger understanding of what is truly offensive and what is just an innocent remark taken in totally the wrong context.

 

It was interesting that the Carol Thatcher incident was mentioned I had a discussion on another forum about this subject at the time and I will reiterate here what I said on there then, in my humble opinion, I think that the Carol Thatcher thing was blown out of all proportion, she made a remark off air in the green room as a joke not intentionally offensive and someone grassed her up. I think that is the most offensive thing about it the fact someone reported her and got it broadcast to the press and got her sacked. What is this secret police?! There is a big difference between racism and political correctness and political correctness has gone mad in this country you can't say anything just in case it upsets someone she said the word gollywog big deal! to me a gollywog is a character in the original Noddy books - which got taken out in case it was offensive! Well this thick gobby tall ginger four eyed fat bitch (yes tall can be considered offensive - I kid you not I heard someone say once you can't say she's tall that’s being negative about her height!) thinks its all a bit bloody stupid! I don't know the inns and outs of the story but the way I see it is if it was just a throwaway comment made in jest without thinking off air about his haircut then I can't see the harm, it was tactless and probably in bad taste, I told my husband he looked like a gollywog once when he had his hair long (when he had hair - he calls himself a slaphead now is he a bad person?!) and it was like a bush one day does that make me a bad person? Now on the other hand if she was saying it to that particular tennis player in a derogatory manner intending to be racist and to offend and upset then that is wrong.

 

I think I went a bit off track there a bit, I went off on a tangent. The point is there is a point where anything anyone says can be construde as wrong and its good that these exam papers are making the youngsters think about at what level racist comments end and political correctness starts. At the end of the day there is a big difference between the word Gollywog and denial of the holocaust and ethnic cleansing of a nation.

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It was interesting that the Carol Thatcher incident was mentioned I had a discussion on another forum about this subject...

I suspect it was discussed on many forums, and this one was no exception, so I'm sure you'll be interested to take a look at what we thought:

 

Golliwogs

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They are in newspapers that would be in the kids' homes and the stories received very wide coverage right across the media. This material has been produced by a reputable company that clearly has experience of what is appropriate.

Plus you can still buy a Joseph Conrad novella employing it in the title and Mark Twain and Dickens both use the word, reflecting the different social contexts of their times.

 

Yes, but in both cases, any reader offended by the language could simply choose not to read on. In an exam, you don't have that choice.

We teach Of Mice and Men, and tackle the use of the n-word in its context, but there you have the guiding hand of a teacher leading the reader into reflection.

 

On the other hand you can never rule out the over-reaction of parents.

That's my concern, but I'm not convinced it's an over-reaction in this case. I don't know how I could look a parent in the eye and say that it's a shame their child got upset by the use of the language and failed the exam, but they should have given more thought to the socio-political context and less to the racial abuse they suffer on the way to school.

 

What would any parents think if your child came home and reported this had been their exam?

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I would still use the material. It's important for the students to have these results on hand to compare with their final results. I have a teenage son and I'm sure that most children that age are mature enough to understand these words in the context of discussing language. Might even make them think!

I agree. As the mother of a 15 year old I think it does them good to think carefully about these things.

 

Out of interest - is it an English or a Sociology exam? If it's an exam about language it's useful to discuss, but it puts a slightly different slant on it if it's sociology, especially if these things have not been discussed in class before. What happens if the kids come up with the "wrong" answer. Many children will have heard racist language within their own families before - some deliberately intentionally racist and others where such words are just used without thought.

 

I had a similar issue a couple of years ago when my son had sex education which seemed inappropriate for his age. He was 12 or 13 and being shown how to put a condom onto a dildo. Also some of the subjects used in drama of a sexual nature seemed far too grown up. I think my son growing up just crept up on me all at once and took me by surprise. I remember discussing the issue with a friend at work, who said whether I like it or not my "little boy" would already be thinking about sex and becoming a sexual being and after my initial surprise I had to agree.

 

I assume these kids will be around 15 years old? If so many of them will be working next year and need to have thought about these language issues. Where I work using words inappropriately can lead to disciplinary proceedings and even dismissal.

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What would any parents think if your child came home and reported this had been their exam?

Well, I don't have kids but if I did I would be pleased the exam was getting them to think about serious issues in relation to language.

 

It's one of the things that has concerned me about the drift of English exams in England, to be honest - they became terribly insipid in fear of offending someone or other and consequently students weren't challenged to think.

 

Obviously I don't know the content of the articles in question but my really honest opinion, MM, is that I simply can't imagine someone would be that offended simply by seeing the word. If they witnessed it being used in a pejorative context or even in misplaced 'jest' that would be another matter altogether, but here it is the context of a sober discussion of issues surrounding the word which, from what you say, takes an appropriate stance on the issue.

 

If not using this material is going to disadvantage them, if I've understood your previous explanation correctly, then I wouldn't personally say there is sufficient concern not to go ahead. But I don't know your school, pupils or parents, so I can only tell you the judgement I would have made in the same position from my own experience making exactly those sorts of decisions in the past.

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