Zero Tolerance for the Daily Mail, its contributors and supporters.

If anyone doesn’t want to read a serious and strident post on the blog of a writer who churns out pulp SF for a living, please feel free to move on to the next one. Because this is fairly heavy.

You know how sometimes, something is too big to process, and it takes 24 hours or so to work through your subconscious, and only then can you squeeze your feelings down into a form that can translate into vaguely comprehensible words or manageable actions?

Well, late on Friday night I read this article on the feminist blog Sian and Crooked Rib, about a Daily Mail article on the case of five footballers on trial for the gang rape of two 12 year old girls. It was an excellent piece by Sian, in many ways not surprising as I’ve been reading a bit about Rape Culture lately due to the Dickwolves affair, and not surprising in terms of the despicable lows the Mail sinks to and the horrific underlying attitudes they embody.

Sian’s post had sufficient impact that I felt physically sick with the world. My vision got blurry, I felt a deep nausea, and I went to bed feeling quite unwell.

On Saturday I woke up, felt better, and got on with the day trying not to think too closely about what had made me feel so ill the previous night.

Then, this morning, I read a tweet linking to a Daily Mail story about a guy who claimed he created Davros as a competition entry when he was thirteen, or thereabouts.

(I’m not going to go to the article and check that, for reasons that will become obvious.)

So, a couple of thoughts pass through my head:

1. I’m going to see this Daily Mail link passed around a lot amongst Who fan friends in the next few days.

2. Well, by Daily Mail standards this guy was old enough to be complicit in his own rape, so really if he did get ripped off by the BBC then by Daily Mail logic he got off lightly.

… which made me realise the sheer extent to which I don’t want to give the Daily Mail my clicks, or my time, or anything that might reasonably pass for support or tolerance.

Because, make no mistake, what articles like that Daily Mail piece about the ‘lolitas’ do is foster and support myths that make it easier for rapists to justify their actions, get away with it, and defend themselves publicly for their actions.

In this particular instance what they’re doing is even worse due to the age of the victims. In this case, by spreading those myths, the Daily Mail is, albeit indirectly, supporting a system of prejudices that defend and excuse the sexual abuse of children.

Let’s reiterate that thought and unpack it a little further: by promoting such weaselly justifications for forcing children into sex, the Daily Mail validates those excuses for further use elsewhere. These views encourage men like these rapists to believe that coercing women and girls into sex is ‘normal’ and allowable, and reinforce the idea that blaming the victim is a valid defence.

(Sian puts this more coherently than me, so go to her piece if you want a better unpicking of the issue.)

It follows then, that by encouraging the Daily Mail, by tolerating it and its readers, its journalists, its editors by buying the paper, reading the paper or circulating links to its online version, we support them in everything they do.

By clicking, and encouraging clicks, we help support a culture that excuses the rape of children.

GO US.

Now, I do not have the energy and mentality to be a campaigner. I don’t have the fervor or temperament to be confrontational about these things. To link to Sian again, my main response to the huge problems of violence against women and girls is to despair, and in my case despair is debilitating and dysfunctional.

I’m a father of a tiny daughter, and of course the scale of the problems terrifies me. But letting myself be flattened by the enormity of it all would just make me a permanent emotional wreck, unable to work of parent, which wouldn’t help anyone.

So, selfishly, no big campaign from me. That’s for braver, more determined voices like Sian.

However, I can draw a line. In the little online spheres I inhabit, I can discourage links to the Daily Mail, although I’m not going to banish Facebook and Twitter people I barely know in real life on the basis of a link here and there. I’m going to point people back to this post to tell them why I don’t want to read that shit.

I’m certainly not going to tolerate any more arguments from media pals o’mine that Mail journos are just doing their jobs, serving the demands of editorial/their publishers/their readership.

Would the Mail’s reporters be so forgiving when reporting on, say, a warehouse worker who turned a blind eye to massive amounts of child abuse images being trafficked under his nose because he wanted to keep his job?

No, they wouldn’t, and in this case the Mail would be right – some crimes are so grievous that any level of support or tolerance is unacceptable. As rank as I find the Mail’s baiting editorials and columns on immigrants or homosexuality or whatever, those are political positions, obnoxious as they are.

But child abuse is an issue that EVERYONE who isn’t an actual abuser is supposed to agree is terrible. And just like my imagined scenario of the neglectful  warehouse worker, tolerating articles like that Mail report, support an ecosystem that allows the abuse of women and children to thrive.

So in my own ineffectual and minor way, I’ll be taking a zero tolerance policy with the Daily Mail from now on.

If you’d like to do the same, and use Firefox, you’ll find a good start is Tom Royal’s excellent Kitten Block plug-in.

More jovial matters next time, promise.

Mark

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March 20, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , . Uncategorized.

7 Comments

  1. emiliadg replied:

    excellent blog Mark, but would you consider changing the phrase ‘child pornography’ to ‘child abuse images’ – the prior term was coined by pedophiles to legitimise their market & is used all too frequently by the media. It’s become a common phrase thanks to the likes of the Daily Mail but is incredibly offensive to survivors of child abuse. Shy Keenan and the rest of the Phoenix Chief Advocates have been battling to stop the media using this offensive term. We all use it so easily without really thinking. But I applaud your post & your sentiment whole heartedly.
    Emilia di Girolamo

  2. jon replied:

    A way to link to Daily Mail articles without giving them hits or advertising revenue from your clicks is to go through http://istyosty.com, a caching service.

    Given the popularity of the Mail (2m circulation, 4m readers, 56m unique hits/month online) I think any amount of campaigning is a positive step.

    Thanks for a thoughtful post.

  3. markclapham replied:

    Emilia – thanks for the tip, have fixed that now.

    Jon – yep, that’s a good way to read the Mail without contributing to their clicks, although I’d often prefer to avoid contact with their content altogether…

  4. Quiet Riot Girl replied:

    Hi Mark
    I avoid the Mail wherever possible for the reasons you suggest.
    I do read Sian’s blog though. But she blocked me from commenting on it, after I challenged some of her points in this last post about this Daily Mail article.

    I have a very different perspective from the one that emphasises ‘Rape Culture’. And in a way, my perspective is probably less depressing for someone with a daughter about to grow into this world.

    But if you are taking the feminist ‘rape culture’ line you may not agree with me! I just offer my way of looking at things as an alternative. If you have any comments/questions feel free to ask /chat on my blog or respond here.

    Best wishes

    Quiet Riot Girl
    http://quietgirlriot.wordpress.com/2010/06/12/further-adventures-in-rape-culture/

  5. markclapham replied:

    Quiet Riot Girl – Thanks for your comment. I’m not really in the market for an extended discussion of rape culture as a phenomenon, although I would agree it’s a problematic concept in many ways, which can lead to dismissing some valid viewpoints if too rigorously applied.

    I don’t actually know Sian, and TBH I don’t expect her to really care for my position – I’m very much a lightweight in terms of feminist discourse.

  6. Quiet Riot Girl replied:

    Probably the best way to be! I wish I were a lightweight when it came to gender issues.

  7. crookedribpublishing replied:

    Hi, sian here
    Thank you for such a kind and thoughtful response to my blog. I really appreciate it. Its vital we challenge the way the media talk about rape, particularly its use of language that places the blame with the victim, not the perpetrator.

    Thanks again and all the best.

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