Since my post from yesterday, CiF has published a post from one of the authors of the IPPR study denying claims that his forthcoming report will say that Christmas should be downgraded, scrapped or banned. It's headlined 'Christmas is here to stay'. Thank you, the liberal elite, you're my hero!
The posting isn't as good as Mr Garapich's letter to James Slack from the Daily Mail, but it's enough for me to be saved from eating crow for dinner this evening. Key quotes:
Nowhere in the report do we argue that Christmas should be "downgraded" nor do we describe it as a cultural barrier for minority groups. It would of course be completely absurd to do so.and:
Let's be clear: this does not mean equivalent public holidays for all faiths - no one is asking for that.I would say that that's a relief, but it's not enough of a surprise to be a relief.
It's also not surprising that this little urban legend spread like wildfire. That's what urban legends do. It's no surprise that some people who read the press coverage believed it and regurgitated it. It's easy to underestimate the ability of the tabloids to just make shit up.
The only papers (or bloggers) guilty of actually making shit up here that I've seen are, either or both of the Daily Mail and Daily Express (depending on whether either or both had access to the report) for inserting the word 'downgrade'. The Sun for increasing the nonsense by adding the words 'ban' and 'scrap' and Carol Malone for introducing the idea that the government called for the downgrading. Everyone else just fell for stories that are designed to be convincing in the first place. It really is easy to underestimate the tabloids' capacity for making shit up.
One thing that depresses me, and I have to disagree with, is a comment by Ally Fogg on the Cif article that says:
My argument was basically that by raising this issue in this context, there was only ever going to be one reaction from the right wing press. We all know how they work. The details of the report don't matter, the accuracy of their reporting doesn't matter. The point is you handed a gift-wrapped political-correctness-gone-mad scandal to the tabloids. I fully accept that your intentions are benign, but the effects are incredibly damaging. Either the IPPR did not realise what the press would do with your suggestions, in which case you are foolish, or else you did not care what the press would do with them, in which case you are highly irresponsible. Which is it?Have we really got to the point where the right wing press has so much power that we have to be careful about saying certain things because we know they'll lie about them?
It probably has, sadly. And that's partly due to the genius of shouting 'PC Gone Mad' at every turn, and partly due to the fact that the PCC really is the press watchdog - meaning it belongs to the press and protects it from the public, rather than the other way around.
But saying left wing think tanks like the IPPR should not say things in a certain way because the tabloids will lie about them is surely blaming the victim. The right wing tabloids should change the way they do things and stop bloody lying, since lying is actually wrong and making an argument isn't. Blaming the IPPR here is like telling off a victim for not staying away from their bully.
It's also a bit premature to blame the IPPR for being irresponsible or stupid for producing this report since it hasn't even been published yet.
Blame the right wing press. They're at fault.