Political correctness is supposed to be based on politeness and equality for all, but it doesn't really work out like that. It
turns out to be little more than a glorified pecking order system where those who shout loudest, or can drum up the most aggressive lynch mob, grab the best PC rules and everyone else can go to hell.
But the rules get a little difficult to rationalise and pin down when they run into officialdom. And the UK press censor had the unenviable task of adjudicating on terms used to characterise child abuse grooming gangs in the press.
A complaint was lodged by Sikh, Hindu and Pakistani-Christian groups, concerned about the liberal use of the word 'Asian' in the Sunday Mirror s investigation into child-grooming gangs in Telford. The Sunday Mirror spoke of 'epidemic levels of
child sexual exploitation' and 'that up to 1,000 girls, had been abused by Asian men'.
But the term Asian is far too broad and smears innocent communities, said the complainants. But IPSO rejected their complaint. The regulator ruled that it was not inaccurate to say the men were "mainly Asian". Nor did it give a
significantly misleading impression.
An article from Spiked comments that:
The media's use of Asian to describe grooming gangs not only masks the ethno-religious identity of the perpetrators -- it also throws Sikhs, Hindus, Pakistani-Christians and every other Asian under the bus. Gangs of Indian, Japanese and Korean
men are not rampaging across Britain's towns and cities, sexually abusing underage white girls. The men doing so are predominantly of Pakistani-Muslim heritage.
Of course the IPSO logic has to twist around the PC rule of the highest pecking order, that the word 'muslim' must never be attached to any wrong doing. Surely based on the totally reasonable logic that only a small proportion of muslims are
involved. But why then does IPSO rule that it is OK to use the word 'Asian' when only a small proportion of Asians are involved?
IPSO were on firmer ground when adjudicating on a related complaint. A complaint against The Sunday Times was upheld. IPSO ruled that the paper had published an inaccurate headline when it claimed that Asians make up 80% of child groomers. The
Muslim Council of Britain's Miqdaad Versi called for a correction to clarify that the 80% referred specifically to grooming gangs, not all child groomers.
Local newspaper editors from across the country have united to urge MPs not to join a disgraceful Labour-backed plot to
muzzle the Press.
Former party leader Ed Miliband and deputy leader Tom Watson are among opposition MPs seeking to hijack data protection legislation to introduce newspaper censorship..
MPs will vote tomorrow on proposed amendments to the Data Protection Bill that would force publishers refusing to join a state-recognised Press censor to pay the costs of claimants who bring court proceedings, even if their claims are defeated.
They would also lead to yet another inquiry into the media known as Leveson 2.
Former party leader Ed Miliband and deputy leader Tom Watson are among opposition MPs seeking a press censor.
Local newspaper editors warn today the completely unacceptable measures are an attack on Press freedom that would cause irreparable damage to the regional press.
Alan Edmunds, editorial director of Trinity Mirror Regionals, the country's largest publisher of regional and local papers, said:
We do not want our journalists facing the spectre of Leveson 2 when attempting to report on the activities of public figures, legitimately and in the public interest. Another huge inquiry would only embolden those who would rather keep
their activities hidden from scrutiny.
Maidenhead Advertiser editor Martin Trepte added:
The amendments represent an attack on Press freedom which is completely unacceptable in our society. As a point of principle, we stand united against these attacks on free speech and urge all MPs to do likewise by voting against all the
Ed Miliband served up an impassioned speech saying something along the lines of: 'think of the hacking victims', they deserve that the rest of British people should be denied the protection of a press so we can all suffer together.
But despite his best efforts, press freedom won the day and the Miliband's proposal to resuscitate the 2nd part of the Leveson report was defeated by a vote of 304 to 295. Tom Watson's amendment to withdraw natural justice from newspapers refusing
to sign up to a press censor was withdrawn after it became obvious that parliament was in no mood to support press censorship.
For the government
Culture Secretary, Matt Hancock said it was a great day for a free press.
On Tuesday, the Commons rejected yet another attempt to resurrect the £5.4million Leveson 2 inquiry into historic allegations against newspapers.
MPs were forced to act again on the issue after peers attempted to amend the Data Protection Bill, ignoring an earlier vote in the Commons last week. MPs have now voted twice to reject a backward-looking, disproportionate and costly Leveson 2
inquiry. Tuesday's vote passed by 12 votes -- 301 votes to 289 -- an even larger majority than last week.
Downing Street later urged the Lords to finally respect the wishes of the elected house. And the Lords seems to have responded.
A Tory peer who had just tried to resurrect plans for another multi-million-pound Press inquiry told his fellow plotters it was time to give up. Lord Attlee urged the Lords to abandon any more challenges.The peer, who was one of three Tories to
back a rebel amendment to the Data Protection Bill, said they should not seek to hold the legislation to ransom. He added:
We have had a good battle and now we have lost. We should not pursue it further. We should not hold a time-sensitive Bill to ransom in order to force the Government to change policy. In my opinion, that would be wrong.
Is it just me or is Matt Hancock just a little too keen to advocate ID checks just for the state to control 'screen time'. Are we sure that such snooping wouldn't be abused for other reasons of state control?
It's no secret the UK government has a vendetta against the internet and social media. Now, Matt Hancock, the secretary of
state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) wants to push that further, and enforce screen time cutoffs for UK children on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
Talking to the Sunday Times, Hancock explained that the negative impacts of social media need to be dealt with, and he laid out his idea for an age-verification system to apply more widely than just porn viewing.
He outlined that age-verification could be handled similarly to film classifications, with sites like YouTube being restricted to those over 18. The worrying thing, however, is his plans to create mandatory screen time cutoffs for all children.
Referencing the porn restrictions he said: People said 'How are you going to police that?' I said if you don't have it, we will take down your website in Britain. The end result is that the big porn sites are introducing this globally, so we are
leading the way.
Whenever politicians peak of 'balance' it inevitably means that the balance will soon swing from people's rights towards state control. Matt Hancock more or less announced further internet censorship in a speech at the Oxford Media Convention. He
Our schools and our curriculum have a valuable role to play so students can tell fact from fiction and think critically about the news that they read and watch.
But it is not easy for our children, or indeed for anyone who reads news online. Although we have robust mechanisms to address disinformation in the broadcast and press industries, this is simply not the case online.
Take the example of three different organisations posting a video online.
If a broadcaster published it on their on demand service, the content would be a matter for Ofcom.
If a newspaper posted it, it would be a matter for IPSO.
If an individual published it online, it would be untouched by media regulation.
Now I am passionate in my belief in a free and open Internet ....BUT... freedom does not mean the freedom to harm others. Freedom can only exist within a framework.
Digital platforms need to step up and play their part in establishing online rules and working for the benefit of the public that uses them.
We've seen some positive first steps from Google, Facebook and Twitter recently, but even tech companies recognise that more needs to be done.
We are looking at the legal liability that social media companies have for the content shared on their sites. Because it's a fact on the web that online platforms are no longer just passive hosts.
But this is not simply about applying publisher or broadcaster standards of liability to online platforms.
There are those who argue that every word on every platform should be the full legal responsibility of the platform. But then how could anyone ever let me post anything, even though I'm an extremely responsible adult?
This is new ground and we are exploring a range of ideas...
including where we can tighten current rules to tackle illegal content online...
and where platforms should still qualify for 'host' category protections.
We will strike the right balance between addressing issues with content online and allowing the digital economy to flourish.
This is part of the thinking behind our Digital Charter. We will work with publishers, tech companies, civil society and others to establish a new framework...
A change of heart of press censorship
It was only a few years ago when the government were all in favour of creating a press censor. However new fears such as Russian interference and fake news has turned the mainstream press into the champions of trustworthy news. And so previous
plans for a press censor have been put on hold. Hancock said in the Oxford speech:
Sustaining high quality journalism is a vital public policy goal. The scrutiny, the accountability, the uncovering of wrongs and the fuelling of debate is mission critical to a healthy democracy.
After all, journalists helped bring Stephen Lawrence's killers to justice and have given their lives reporting from places where many of us would fear to go.
And while I've not always enjoyed every article written about me, that's not what it's there for.
I tremble at the thought of a media regulated by the state in a time of malevolent forces in politics. Get this wrong and I fear for the future of our liberal democracy. We must get this right.
I want publications to be able to choose their own path, making decisions like how to make the most out of online advertising and whether to use paywalls. After all, it's your copy, it's your IP.
The removal of Google's 'first click free' policy has been a welcome move for the news sector. But I ask the question - if someone is protecting their intellectual property with a paywall, shouldn't that be promoted, not just neutral in the search
I've watched the industry grapple with the challenge of how to monetise content online, with different models of paywalls and subscriptions.
Some of these have been successful, and all of them have evolved over time. I've been interested in recent ideas to take this further and develop new subscription models for the industry.
Our job in Government is to provide the framework for a market that works, without state regulation of the press.