These first two distortions beef up yesterday's 'More than 1,200 housing association staff banned from flying England flags on their OWN cars', although they're pretty minor examples.
The story tells us in the opening sentence that the housing association Botlon at Home has banned England flags:
...over fears they could deemed as racist.Despite seemingly being able to selectively quote bits of the email sent to Bolton at Home staff, the paper doen't include the bit that says flags could be deemed racist. The only quotes are one from 'an employee' (who I'm, like, totally sure exists) who says the ban is because they could 'in effect' be deemed racist, and one quote of the word 'discriminate' on its own.
The article is careful to include some phrases from Bolton at Home website's 'Equality and diversity' section, despite it saying bugger all about the World Cup and not being included in the email to staff, to make it look as though the email said things about equality and valuing diversity when it most likely didn't. In fact, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the quote from the 'Bolton at Home spokesman' is in fact taken from that original email, and has been strengthened with the quotes from the equality and diversity section of the website.
The headline tells us that the staff are banned from flying England flags on their OWN cars, which is technically true, but we later learn that:
The rule applies to Bolton At Home-branded vehicles, public offices and any personal vehicles used for work and for which an employee claims 'essential or casual car allowance'.So yes, the 'ban' applies to people's OWN vehicles, but only if they receive an allowance from work for.
In the final sentence, we also learn that:
We want to avoid the potential for flag displays to be taken out of context and so we believe their use during work-related activities to be inappropriate.So, it's the employees' OWN cars, but only if their work pays for their running, and only during work-related activities.
Around three quarters through the story, we also find that:
But in 2003, Bolton At Home employees were prohibited from displaying national flags and stickers on their cars following a complaint about an Irish flag on a caretaker's van.So it's not just England flags, as the headline suggests. Plus the complaint that kicked everything off seven years ago was about a non-English flag.
Both these exaggerating scope and distorting reasoning are standard stuff. The paper might have gone to a bit of extra effort to suggest the racism motive by quoting single words and then cutting and pasting bits from the equality and diversity policy, but without pretending things had been done for reasons they really hadn't, there wouldn't be very many PC gone mad stories.
The exaggerating scope aspect of this one is small potatoes. Usually the paper can take one teacher at one school, or one department of one council and make it look like schools or councils across the land have banned something. It looks as though the paper tried that here, with the original headline (check the page title) 'Council workers banned from flying England flags on their OWN cars', but that's been scaled back a bit at least.
The story's a doublethink special, given that it appears alongside 'Cry God for Rooney, England and St George! Suddenly the nation's going cross-eyed with World Cup fever', a story that celebrates how:
allegeiance to the St George cross is being shown in some impressively ostentatious ways. Whether it's a turf pitch laid in the front room, a horse in full kit or even the Korma Capello curry, England's army of football fans are flying the flag..Yeah. Except they're all BANNED.