Last acceptable racism?*

It's a bit of a cliche to point to some article in a crap tabloid and say, "imagine if it had said that about Jews/black people - wouldn't be okay then, would it?" But it's a cliche because it's such a useful way to expose how nasty something is, and perhaps get people to wonder if some things should remain acceptable.

A Mail journalist offering to pay black people to break the law so they can be photographed to prove how black people break the law would cause outrage. Ditto a hack who offered people money for unverified horror stories about how they'd been screwed over by Jews. The same being done to Polish people barely raises an eyebrow.

Today's Mail includes the wonderfully headlined, "Caught in the act: The 'gipsy' child thieves who could teach Fagin a trick or two". Note the scare quotes around 'gipsy'. They're not there to mark out the paper's idiosyncratic spelling of 'gypsy', which is allegedly there to avoid censure for racism. It's there because the paper doesn't actually know whether the 'gipsy' child thieves pictured in the article and the basis of the headline, are actually 'gipsies' at all.

Here's the withdrawal, three sentence/paragraphs in:
Both youngsters are pickpockets and both are also almost certainly the offspring of Roma gipsies.
And the caption beneath the second photo:
Pinch point: Another boy, also probably a Roma, dips into a bag outside Milan station
These pictures that might be of 'gipsy' kids pickpocketing and might not (and we have no idea when they were taken, how long a break there was between the two incidents, or even if they've been staged by the agency that took them) are used to frame a story about how the Italian interior minister has apparently vowed to fingerprint all Roma children.

Think about that for a second. Of all the ways it's possible to report the idea of a whole set of children being fingerprinted whether guilty of a crime or not (or even anywhere near a crime), the Mail chooses to do it by talking about 'gipsy' child pickpockets being able to teach Fagin a thing or two, illustrates it with two massive pictures of kids the paper alleges to be 'gipsies' pickpocketing and doesn't even get around to mentioning the fingerprinting kids until a third of the way in.

There is some attempt at balance in the story by including some single phrase quotes from a magazine opposing blanket fingerprinting, which is hidden among sentence upon sentence from people supporting it or emphasising how much Roma children are involved in crime. Still, by reporting the story in this way in the first place, the Mail has made it clear where the paper's sympathies lie.

Now - time to go back to the chestnut from my opening paragraph. Imagine Boris Johnson listened to Barnbrook's ravings about the number of black people involved in knife crime and decided that the best way forward would be to fingerprint every black person in the capital under the age of 21, just to be safe. Outcry, right?

Now imagine a newspaper reported that event in an article with a headline shouting about black people committing knife crime, including pictures of people in hoodies with knives - who might not actually be black - and using the opening third of the article to bang on about how black people stab everyone before even mentioning the fingerprinting measures.

What would you think of that paper?

*That would be a no. There's the Poles and Muslims to go after as well.


septicisle said...

So that's a paper that supported the blackshirts not doing much to complain about a formerly fascist country introducing a profoundly racist policy. Now all we need is someone to shout house.

Phil BC said...

Aren't there laws against this sort of thing? Anyone want to have a go at them for inciting racial hatred?