There's another cracking example of 'Political Correctness Gone Mad' reporting in today's Mail. On the website, the headline is 'A school with no Hindus celebrates Diwali'. I've got a paper copy today, in there, the article appears below the story of the Christians getting compensation for being questioned by the police, with the lead-in '... but elsewhere, politically correct madness reigns'and the headline is 'Boy punished for not going to a Hindu festival (at a school that has no Hindus)'.
It's interesting that there's such a difference in headlines, as they change the emphasis quite a bit. In the paper, the story is quite clearly framing the story by saying a boy has been punished for not attending a Hindu festival. But the story itself (in a masterful use of the 'Withdrawn!' tactic) reveals that the boy hasn't been punished, and makes it seem doubtful that there was ever a Hindu festival in the first place. The language of the online version's headline is much milder. It's possible to celebrate Diwali without having a festival, and it makes no claim about the boy having been punished. Because he wasn't.
The story makes a number of claims, and then retracts them at the end, where we find that the boy in the story did go to the Christmas party, and Hinduism doesn't say what the boy's parents (and, by extension, the paper itself) say it does at the beginning of the article.
A seven-year-old boy in a wheelchair was left in tears after being banned from the school Christmas party - because his parents objected to him taking part in Hindu celebrations.But later we find (via the boy's mother) that the Headteacher actually said:
"She warned me I had the right to withdraw Liam from religious education lessons but I did not have the right to pick and choose. I was stunned."So, in fact, the headteacher said that to remove the boy from the Hindu celebration would effectively be removing him from religious education lessons, as you can't pick and choose which ones to study. Nothing about a Christmas party.
There's an interesting difference in the way the school's Hindu activities are reported in the paper and online versions of the story. Online, they are described as 'school festivities', but in the paper they are 'school activities'. I rather think that the word 'festivities' is being used to exaggerate what the school were doing to make it sound as though they were doing something more than learn about Diwali by participating in a couple of things.
Later in the article, the paper claims that the Headteacher did a u-turn and allowed the boy to attend the Christmas party after all. But an interesting thing is that the Headteacher is quoted later as saying:
"We would not prevent a child from enjoying Christmas activities under any circumstances."You know what I think? I think the boy was never banned from the Christmas party in the first place. I think that the Headteacher removed the boy from religious education, but the Christmas party was never part of religious education at all, and the parents misunderstood. That's why the Head is so insistent that no child would ever be prevented from joining in the Christmas activities.
The second paragraph says:
Liam Walker's parents withdrew him from school festivities marking the Diwali festival because they believed the religion's karma theory suggested he was being punished for previous sins.In the paper versions that statement is clarified by saying 'sins in a previous life' at the end. The parents' misunderstanding of Hinduism is repeated a couple of times before the article reveals:
Anil Bhanot, of the Hindu Council, said: "In this sort of case when a child is born disabled, it could be a testing period of some sort for that child. It could also be said the parents had done something bad previously but there are many factors."Which is another difference the online version has with the paper one. The paper is less selective in its quoting of Anil Bhanot, saying:
"Reincarnation is underpinned by the theory of karma, which is the law of cause and effect.So Hinduism doesn't actually say the things the parents say it does. They would benefit from some education themselves.
"People say that if you do bad things you will suffer in future life, but that is a very crude interpretation. In this sort of case where a child is born disabled, it could be that this is a testing period of some sort for the child."
There's another little bit worth mentioning. The paper also says:
But in a further indication of political correctness infiltrating the school curriculum, Jesus was banned from his year's nativity play.Jesus was banned was he? Who do you think the baby is supposed to represent, you fucking morons? Ken Livingstone?
Instead A Child For Peace centred around two tribes whose sparring was brought to an end by a newborn child.
There's a weird undercurrent to this story and one of the other made up Christmas stories, and that's that children only need to learn about other religions if some of them are from that religion. If there aren't Hindus in a school, the children don't need to bother learning about it. But surely, these are the children who would benefit the most from being educated about other religions. So they don't end up barring their kids from attending activities about them because they don't understand them. Strangely though, the paper still thinks that children at non-denominational schools should be taught exclusively about Christianity.
What this story is actually about is a couple of ignorant people stopping their child from learning about Hinduism, because they don't understand it themselves. The Headteacher at the boy's school said that they could only withdraw him from religious education completely and not pick and choose. The parents decided that this meant she'd banned him from the Christmas party, but this was never the case. The boy wasn't punished, there wasn't actually a 'festival' and Hinduism doesn't say what the parents say it does.
So why is the paper reporting this in this way? Why say a boy was punished when he wasn't? Why imply there was a massive festival for Diwali but Jesus was banned from Christmas (when there's a bloody play about him)? Why give the parents' ignorant views on Hinduism at all? Because it is only interested in making its readers believe they are constantly under threat from left wing pollitics rather than representing the truth.