In a textbook example of how a story of ‘ifs’, ‘buts’ and ‘maybes’ can get out of hand, a report in the Daily Mail on May 1st about a potential tightening up of what can – or can’t be show pre-watershed caused a small amount of righteous fury yesterday.
Given that this is the Mail, they led the story with the idea that lesbian kisses could be banned from being shown under this potential change and this was picked up by The Sun which initially didn’t bother to pass on more information than just that, preferring instead to run with the outrage of an soap opera actress, who portrays a lesbian, who hadn’t read the full story either.
Cue snowball effect as various right-on internet publications, which also hadn’t bothered reading the story, all accused David Cameron and the Tories of going back to the days where they were the ‘Nasty Party’.
As the Daily Mail was at the forefront of the whole Section 28 palaver in the mid-80s and has been regularly accused of being economical with the truth by groups claiming to champion the rights of minorities you would be forgiven for thinking that such organisations wouldn’t have taken the story that they got second or third hand at face value.
Indeed, the whole basis for the original Daily Mail report is a single, anonymous source apparently close to the Bailey Review, commissioned by the government last year to ‘look at the pressures on children to grow up too quickly’, who said that:
For some parents, what has been considered acceptable in the past – such as that Brookside kiss – is not appropriate for children to see early in the evening.
And that ladies and gentlemen is it. A single line which stirred up a small internet frenzy. I suppose it would have been a bigger one but for the apparent death of someone in Pakistan which mean that, in the end, almost no-one was listening to the howls of anguish being generated by a small number of interested parties.
Shockingly, although you could have been forgiven for missing it, that wasn’t all that the anonymous source had to say. Not that the interest groups cared. Indeed I’m not sure the Mail did either as they probably thought that their job was done after giving lesbians and most of their male readership heart attacks at the thought of having to find pictures of two women kissing somewhere other than on prime time television.
Other things apparently in the firing line include raunchy dance routines on pre-watershed TV, sexual explicit advertisements in public places (by which they are generally referring to large posters of lingerie clad women) as well as a crackdown on internet pornography by enabling parents to ask web service providers to block obscene websites ‘at source’ rather than relying on parental controls.
Strangely there were no cries of outrage at any of that. No suggestions that ISPs shouldn’t exist to backstop parents who are too lazy to use controls that already exist to restrict what their children look at online. No thoughts on whether hiding away the semi-naked form is all just a touch puritan. No complaints about the potential suggestiveness of dance routines performed by the likes of Christina Aguilera and Rihanna.
Honestly, anyone would think that those making a fuss didn’t care about anything outside of justifying their own blinkered existence…