Where there's a Willesden there's a way

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Come, friendly bombs...

There aren't many people in the country who might benefit from a vicious and unprovoked mortar attack. I think Rebekah Wade is about the only possile candidate.

On the one hand, having her office suddenly ripped apart by a barrage of crudely-made explosive rockets might do her and her staff some serious harm. And terrorist attacks are always wrong, and DOAFW almost never condones them..We'd like to point at this stage that we are *not* inciting a vicious and unprovoked mortar attack on any employee of The Sun newspaper.

On the other hand, becoming the blameless victim of a vicious and unprovoked mortar attack, watching her office collapse in on her and her innocent staff in a terrifying burst of noise and limb-mangling concrete, pinning her beneath rubble for hours with the bleak certainty of life-changing injury (which we can all agree is *wrong*) might give her some insight into what it's like to appear on one of her front pages.

Time was when the Sun's cowardly and bullying attacks were generally limited to the rich and famous, and rarely, dead scousers. The inevitable Price of Fame was that those who made their living from widespread recognition could expect tabloid employees trawling through their rubbish, furtive pictures of them putting rubbish out in their y-fronts and heavily bribed ex-pa rtners revealing mundane personal details under lurid Sunday headlines. But that was part of daring to be publicly successive, and it was difficult to feel that much sympathy.

But two things happened. Firstly there was reality television. Suddenly fame and its accompanying hatred were open to ordinary, frequently naive, everyday folk. And without the fear of expensive Celebrity libel lawyers, newspapers were free to slaughter these lambs as much as was profitable. The Sun crossed the Rubicon when it ran a headline of Jade Goody, essentially a gameshow contestant guilty of nothing but a mildly annoying laugh, inciting KILL THE PIG.

Secondly newspapers realised that people did not have to solicit fame or give permission in order to be torn apart, for profit, by the tabloids. And someone merely had to be close to a famous person to be fair game.

Today saw a classic of the genre. Not content with tearing apart the painfully young Wayne Rooney's fledgling personal life based on some inexplicable grudge, destroying his relationship and his family life, The Sun's now chasing hookers.

Being of a distinctly Victorian morality, The Sun doesn't feel it owes any sympathy to any woman who works in the sex industry. For that matter, if she happens to have had a celebrity customer, it's perfectly acceptable to chase her down the street with a camera and splash a picture of a terrified woman over millions on front pages with the headline DON'T FANCY YOURS MATE. When, exactly, did it become acceptable to hound members of the public and taunt them about their lifestyle and appearance? In any other context, isn't this called bullying?

Rebekah Wade in particular has had no qualms about humiliating and viciously bullying private, invariably poor citizens. Just a few months ago a clearly troubled individual found herself declared the LAZIEST WOMAN IN BRITAIN.She could do this to a vulnerable young woman knowing perfectly well her readers would take her devastating and unprovoked attack at face value and that no-one else would ever have the guts to stand up to Britain's biggest bully. Especially not politicians, there only as long as the bully is able to tolerate them.

For evil to triumph it is necessary only for good men to do nothing. And when evil sells six million copies, it might just be time for good people to reach for the welding torches.

Which, as we've said, would be wrong.


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