Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Take that, bigots

I had a letter published in the local rag yesterday, objecting to their coverage of Travellers. The Press Complaints Commission brokered the deal: the Express and Swastika had to publish it or we go through the full PCC procedure - they accepted it.

Here's the text. No doubt the online paper has a comments box full of racist comments, but I can't get to it.

Your recent front page article, ‘Security stepped up as travellers move in’ (18 Sept) incorporated the following sentence:
"Security has been stepped up after travellers who have plagued Wolverhampton for six months set up camp alongside three city centre car showrooms."
I strongly object to the use of the word 'plagued' as inappropriate in a factual story for its negative and medicalised connotations: plagues are diseases to be eradicated rather than people with rights and responsibilities. Furthermore, your undifferentiated reference to this 'plague' of Travellers implies that all Travellers are responsible for the behaviour of some individuals: I feel that this indiscriminate approach encourages your readers to view Travellers as uniformly criminal and unwelcome. Tensions between mobile and static communities are by no means novel, but your reportage fails, in my view to reproduce the complexity of relations between these communities. Some acknowledgement of our social failure to accommodate or respect Travellers (and most local authorities' failure to fulfil their legal requirement to provide legal stopping sites) would do much to defuse the bitterness felt by both sides. 
Doubtless some Travellers, like some settled people, break the law for frivolous reasons or because they feel they have no other option. Ascribing criminality or antisocial tendencies to people simply because they are Travellers is inflammatory and unacceptable and would not be acceptable in reference to other distinct social or ethnic groups. I look forward to the Express and Star approaching the subject with a little more balance and accuracy in future. 

1 comment:

Ewarwoowar said...

I know you wont see this till after 4pm Voley, but...

UPPAL ALERT! UPPAL ALERT! Our favourite Tory Scumster just got a question in at PMQs (right near the end if you're going to be watching it back later).

Obviously, by his very nature, it was shit.