Imagine reading the British papers without knowing the main aim of most of them is to rile people up for no reason, or that they frequently lie through their teeth. Jeez.Today's Express front page is reproduced there on the top left, with its screaming headline reading 'Muslims tell British: Go to Hell!'. It's enough to make anyone frightened and want their mummy.
If, like Maher, you get your ideas about Muslims in the UK from the British press, what would you be thinking when you saw that headline?
Muslims are shooting out babies at such a rate that Mohammed is the most popular boy's name in the land, Muslims have their own parallel legal system and now look! Muslims tell the British to go to hell! It's the front page headline in a national newspaper and everything, so something really big must have been said by a major Muslim organisation with a lot of clout, right? Right? You'd probably be pretty alarmed.
The likelihood of you actually knowing that by 'Muslims' the headline seems to mean 'three idjits with bits of printed A4' would be pretty low. Even after you read the full report.
So what's going on?
Yesterday, the case of the attempted murder of Stephen Timms MP was in court for sentencing. One lone weirdo, inspired apparently by extremist websites, attempted to murder an MP and was sentenced to life with a minimum of 15 years. The judge only took 14 minutes to reach a decision.
From a tabloid perspective, this just won't do. There's no involvement with a shadowy, many-tentacled international organisation of evil cackling baddies, and 15 to life isn't exactly a low sentence.
This leaves the tabloids in a quandary. Focus on the defendant and the narrative about an evil underground cabal of highly trained murderous bombers is damaged. Focus on the sentence and the pretence that we treat extremists with kid gloves looks a bit stupid. But focus on the three 'Four Lions' style lemons with bits of paper, and with a bit of creative wording you can make them the story. Tabloid rubbish becomes tabloid gold!
Check out the Express's ace opening sentence:
JEERING Muslim fanatics turned an Old Bailey court into a battleground yesterday after an Al Qaeda follower was jailed for stabbing an MP.Jeering fanatics! Battleground! Al Qaeda follower! There's your many-tentacled evil group right there.
The Sun's opening goes for the kid-gloves for fanatics angle:
FURY erupted last night after police allowed Islamic bigots' hate-filled demo at the life sentence on MP murder-bid student Roshonara Choudhry.Police allowed a hate-filled demo! People were furious!
The Mail, which appears to have switched the focus of its article from Choudhury smiling as she's sentenced to life (see the page title) to the antics of the three lemons, goes that extra mile to connect this with proper terrosists later in the article, with:
The chaotic scenes unfolded as Home Secretary Theresa May dramatically revealed that the Al Qaeda gang behind last week’s ‘Lockerbie-style’ cargo plane bomb plot are already working in the UK.Dun-dun durrnnn!
Other creative wording includes the Sun calling the folorn-looking bits of paper 'placards', the Express calling the three stooges an 'angry mob' and the Star 'hilariously' calling them a 'rant-a-crowd' (which may or my not be a part of the new language it's inventing). The Mail gets a special mention for saying that the group outside were separate from the twats ejected from court and contradicting itself with the photo captions.
With the papers being so selective with their reporting, it's difficult to work out exactly what happened, but the Star claims that 2 men were ejected from court, and then:
The protest then spilled onto the street, where a demonstration was being held.That would mean there was a demonstration by one dude that the other two joined. The Sun, however, claims the three outside were the three ejected from inside. Whatever is actually the case, three paper-wielding numpties apparently constitutes a mob. We only have these papers' word for it that the protesters actually said 'British go to hell' too. None of their bits of paper - sorry, 'placards' - have it written on them.
But if you didn't know the tabloids were full of it, would you be alarmed? They make so much effort to alarm you that I wouldn't blame you if you were.
If Bill Maher mentions this on his show on Friday, it might be an idea to point him toward TabloidWatch, Minority Thought, Enemies of Reason or, well, here. The lesson he, or anyone else should take away from these stories is that you absolutely cannot trust British tabloids to report honestly about Muslims. Or much else for that matter.