Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Reply to an Irritable Reply

Well, I guess sometimes you can strike a nerve. Especially when you have a patronising pseudo-intellectual attitude.

I blogged the other day about how just saying that the Daily Mail made stuff up wasn't serious political debate. I went on to say that breaking down their arguments would be a far better way to get people thinking about the issues. That blogs were too full of name calling and accusations that it was all lies instead of serious discussion.

The blog I happened to have in mind was Angry Mob. It just happened to be the one I read but there were plenty of examples, particularly on the Mail's rather lazy and one sided take on Harriet Harman's views on remittances.

Despite having to put up with a bit of name calling myself I'm pleased with the response. Angry Mob's new blog is far better and lays out the case for what is wrong with the views of the Mail and the anonymous Tory..

I personally wouldn't go as far as calling the Mail anti-journalism but it's far better to hold it account by showing what is really wrong with what they are saying. Angry Mob claimed that what I was saying is that "It is a shame that you didn't spend more time considering the utterly false argument made by the Daily Mail...." Given what you say in your About section I'd have thought that is exactly what you would want to do.

Liar Liar Pants on Fire!

There seems to be quite a lot of hyperbole going around these days.

Sorry, did I say 'quite a lot'. I meant 'more hyperbole than there has ever been ever!'

If a football club loses a game they are in crisis. When it snows the country is in chaos. When a journalist writes something you don't like they're a ridiculous liars but what else could you expect from the likes of them!

It can be quite tiring hearing that everything that happens is the most extreme example of it's kind since records began but now that I'm more used to Arsenal losing and the snow has left us for the time being it's the inability to have a grown-up debate about the news that is irritating me the most these days.

Most of these attacks come from the blogosphere. Here people seem to spend a large amount of time reading newspapers that they know they won't agree with. This way they can then write a fatuous blog stating in no uncertain terms that everything in the paper is made up and only idiots read it.

The recent outrage and counter outrage over Harriet Harman's comments about heroic immigrants sending their dole money abroad is a good example.

Probably unsurprisingly this story broke in the Daily Mail with Tim Shipman giving us the 'facts' and Melanie Phillips telling us Harman is 'immoral'.

Fair enough wouldn't you say? A news article with a few comments, mostly from Tories but it's not like anyone is deceived as to the political slant of the Mail. Anyway, the story is about something a prominent Labour person has said so a Tory response is in line with standard journalistic practice.

Not according to the Angry Mob blog it isn't.

Angry Mob is a website devoted to pointing out the daily lies written by the Mail. In their article More Lies About Immigrants the Shipman article is portrayed as completely misrepresenting Ms Harman's statement. The key area of discussion was whether she was pleased immigrants were sending job seekers allowance back home or whether they were sending home part of their earnings which included benefits for low income earners.

Angry Mob was not interested in dissecting the Mail's argument that if you are on income support or housing benefit you shouldn't have enough money left over to send any home and that the real hero is the unassuming British tax payer who is now funding social security in Africa as well. They just claimed that the Mail made it all up and Ms Harman said nothing of the sort.

This is a shame because the Mail's argument is pretty easy to pull apart. If people are receiving benefit for being on a low income then they are employed, paying tax, doing a job no Brit wants to do. If they can scrape by and send a few quid home then they are epitomizing the selfless behaviour the Mail now believes is lacking in our society.

Whether you agree with that or not, it is the argument that could be made. It is certainly the argument Ms Harman would make. After all, she did say that people could be on child benefit or tax credits while sending money home. She does not think it immoral, she thinks it heroic and was brave enough to say what she thought.

Political debate is certainly not aided by pretending that everything is a distortion just because it is accompanied by some opinion.

Perhaps if we could all just grow up and have a discussion about the issues rather than believing that everything is some sort of conspiracy people might engage again with politics.