The Sun, on Friday 21 October’s front page, called Gary Lineker “jug-eared” and are calling for him to be sacked by the BBC for “peddling migrant lies.” This is a national newspaper and they are calling him names like they are kids in the schoolyard. And for just retweeting a (since proven wrong) tweet with the comment ‘Wow! Surely not?’ Not exactly endorsing the said tweet’s factual accuracy. Also, The Sun actually does peddle migrant lies. A lot. See below…
True, they did correct themselves. But more people will have read the initial story than would have read the correction. This is what people are reading everyday and agreeing with everyday; not just in The Sun, but in other right wing papers such as the Daily Mail and Express. No wonder the world is such a mess. No wonder we got UKIP and the subsequent Brexit.
Freedom of the press should not extend to outright lying; to outright racism. But this fear mongering is not going to be stopped by a government who benefits from it; it is, of course, going to be encouraged. It will win the Tories the next election.
Under UK law, incitement to racial hatred is actually an arrestable offence. The Public Order Act of 1986 has some definitions of what some of these offences are: deliberately provoking hatred of a racial group; distributing racist material to the public; inciting inflammatory rumours about an individual or an ethnic group, for the purpose of spreading racial discontent. Sounds exactly like what our nation’s favourite papers do on a daily basis. Just saying, coppers; the evidence is all laid out perfectly for you.
The main thing that keeps these papers going, of course, is the fact that the public buy them. The Sun and Daily Mail are the two bestselling papers in the UK. We are a nation of masochists, it seems. The ease in which people are manipulated into voting against their best interests is absolutely terrifying. The ease in which people, seemingly decent on the surface, slip into racism when it is immigrants and refugees as the target is even more terrifying.
But are people being manipulated? Or is the manipulation so easy because people are, in general, actually this awful? The amount of data that backs up how much better immigration is for a country is staggering, but if we turn to the refugees in particular, what does our country’s potential advantage (whatever that really means) matter when human beings are in danger? These people are in desperate peril and need our help; the help we actually (though begrudgingly) offered when Cameron said we’d accept 20,000 refugees by 2020 (currently at 2,800, by the way, and under target). Are so many of us really that selfish? Or has neoliberialism, mixed with an age old ignorance and racism, really turned our hearts so cold and black?
I genuinely do not know what the left can do to compete with this. Celebrity gossip, sensationalism and tits are difficult to beat when you’re trying to be a grown up. Though The Independent’s journalism has certainly gone downhill; The Guardian are often great, but are too quiet on some issues and seem to be more against Corbyn than for him which I just find baffling; and then it just leaves smaller news outlets like The Canary and, to be fair, Jon Snow is pretty cool on Channel 4. The BBC are, quite frankly, awful at covering the left POV.
Our sense of community has to be bigger, too. Liverpool has boycotted The Sun for the fact it vilified the Liverpool victims of the Hillsborough disaster. I find this hard to get my head around, in the sense that – why haven’t humans boycotted The Sun for the fact it vilified the human victims of the Hillsborough disaster? It is so opposed to logic and reason.
I have no answers here, really. I’m here to have a quick moan and live in hope that more people will eventually start to understand that a call for very basic decency from the likes of Gary Lineker and Lily Allen is not dangerously left wing, but should just be second nature to us. This attitude should be seen as political and cultural centre ground, but from the vantage point of our right wing demigods, of course, this centre is left. They’ve just fooled so many people into thinking that they are the centre that such things as compassion, the welfare state, community, peace and anti-austerity have been easy to smear as being far ‘loony left’ attitudes. And way too many of us have fallen for it.
A last word from our Gary…