Ah, the Daily Mail. One of Britain's most popular and well read newspapers which in the past has seen fit to victimise those on benefits, transsexuals, homosexuals, asylum seekers, migrants and many more, now finds itself spitting venom at someone who isn't even legally an adult.
Ah, the Daily Mail. One of Britain’s most popular newspapers, which in the past has seen fit to victimise those on benefits, transsexuals, homosexuals, asylum seekers, migrants and many more, now finds itself spitting venom at someone who isn’t even legally an adult.
Paris Brown is a typical British seventeen-year old girl from Kent.
I don’t know her personally, but if you really have to come to a conclusion about someone’s personality from social networking, such as Facebook or Twitter, then I would say she is a bit brash, immature, gobby, outspoken, and doesn’t think before she speaks; or at least not before she took up the post of Youth Police Commissioner in her region, where media savviness will be crucial.
So, a normal teenager then.
The Daily Mail has latched on to the fact that her tweets, now deleted, contained material of a sexual nature, of a violent nature, of a homophobic nature, and of a racist nature. The article, published online on the 7 April 2013, asked whether this “foul-mouthed, self-obsessed Twitter teen” was fit to become Britain’s first youth police commissioner.
At this point I suspect the majority of readers would agree.
However I would ask you to consider a few things.
Consider how when you were a teenager, you were careless, care-free, and did or said a lot of stupid things which you regretted, and possibly still regret, as you matured.
Consider the informal gossip you were subjected to and possibly contributed to when in the office or out with friends, where politically incorrect things sometimes slipped out and may even have been the subject of a few laughs; but because of the verbal nature of the exchanges, the exact words were lost in the ether.
And consider the nature of the media and peers that teenagers are subjected to on a daily basis, which will influence their still-forming opinions.
Much as it would be good to live in a society where any racist, homophobic, sexual and violent conversations, actions, slurs and thought have been completely expunged, the reality is that they permeate throughout society.
A prime example is football, a topic close to my heart. Homophobia is still rampant in the sport, and I’m not talking just about the fans, I’m talking about the establishment, which is pushing through reforms at a snail’s pace.
Now I dislike Paris’ use of the words “fag” and “faggot” – they’re horrible words – but I doubt she is the only one in her peer group, or her college, who has used that word in a derogatory context. It’s a word she would have heard on television, in movies and in class, and if she follows football and listens to the radio, she would likely have heard it when a famous footballer said it on a popular morning radio programme.
The Daily Mail’s sole example of Paris’s ‘violent’ tweet was one where her brother hit someone in retribution for giving his friend a black eye. Funny that, as any violent crime reported on the Mail’s pages results in a torrent of comments calling for capital punishment to be reintroduced. If anything, the Mail should praise her for her “eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” approach.
Now onto racism. Britain has made great efforts to try and eradicate racism from our society. Overt displays of racism or support of racist individuals or organisations are in decline, and you only need to look at the declining influence of the likes of the British National Party/National Front, who 30 years ago were a serious threat to British society, as well as the widespread scorn over Sunderland’s decision to hire Paolo Di Canio, who has previously publicly identified as a fascist.
However, xenophobia still surfaces, and a common thread is the view that immigrants are benefit scroungers and only come here to take British jobs and benefits.
Take a moment, however, to think about which media outlets are mostly responsible for this kind of view.
Interestingly, typing “Daily Mail Gypsies” into a search engine brings up this story on the first page: “How to crush a gypsy camp French-style: It took us 10 years to clear Dale Farm but France’s ruling have smashed six Roma camps in as many weeks. Guess where the gypsies want to come next”.
So, here’s a thought. After reading the above, can you guess who it is that helps perpetuate these ignorant views and sentiments? If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’ll tell you who: it’s the right-wing media.
The media that blamed the welfare state for Mick Philpott’s manslaughter of six of his children, tarring all benefit claimants with the same brush.
The media that pushed a transsexual teacher over the edge and to suicide.
The media that just couldn’t accept that Stephen Gately’s sudden death was not caused by anything sordid.
The media that regularly demonises immigrants, referring to them as scroungers, criminals, and unwilling to integrate.
Is it any wonder that, with a media like this, your typical teenage girl has the opinions that she has?Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.