Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Our Snowflake Press

Ah diddums, the Daily Mail is no longer to be sold by Virgin Trains. Please note that sentence. Sold, not banned. Yet going from a range of right wing rent-a-quoters, you'd think Branson were forcibly pressing Mail readers into clearing up the storm damage to his Caribbean island. According to Nigel Farage, "Banning things because you don’t like them solves nothing." And right you are, Nige. So your party's call to ban the burka then, was that just "bantz"? Did you not really mean it? Or was that the pathetic opportunism and hypocrisy that comes as freely to you as breathing does to the rest of us?

I really don't see a problem here, so I'm short on sympathy for the Mail's "plight". In the market place of ideas, if someone is interested in the wares of a journal, paper, comic or whatever they can go seek them out. Virgin might not stock The Mail any longer, but there's a good chance the paper shop across the road from the station does. No, what this is really about isn't the loss of a handful of sales but something more precious: legitimacy.

As the welcome resignation of Toby Young from the government's preposterous Office for Students shows, something of a corner is being turned. The spread of social media and the rude intrusion of hundreds of thousands into mainstream comment means several things. That Twitter, for instance, has something of a levelling effect. If you're on social media, every columnist's attempt to stir up hate will have blow back. The ignorance one could once proudly parade without dissent leaking into the paper's pages is found out time and time again. And the association of these poltroons with nudge, nudge racism, and wink, wink sexism and homophobia doesn't look edgy or challenging in our increasingly socially liberal world. It looks outmoded, backward, bigoted, and the promulgation of these idiocies are now attracting significant social costs.

This is a problem for The Mail and the hard right press because their power derives from the influence they are perceived to command over their readers. Hence the recent bout of petty Brexit stunts. Meanwhile, as the circulation plummets their toxic reputation wards off future readers, and every time someone refuses to stock them, or a company withdraws their advertising so the aura of repulsion surrounding the paper strengthens. And no readers means no power, and that slope towards extinction by the right gets a little bit steeper that little bit quicker.


Gulliver Foyle said...

I can't help thinking that VT missed a trick here, instead of saying the DM would not be sold because it was a bigoted hate rag, they should have simply said they were no longer selling it because, at only 70 copes sold per day nation wide, hardly anyone wanted to buy it.

Although not quite so newsworthy I suspect this would have been infinitely more damning than the stated reason.

Anonymous said...

"And right you are, Nige. So your party's call to ban the burka then, was that just "bantz"? Did you not really mean it?"

Farage is a charlatan, but I'm confident that the reasons his party put forward for the outlawing of the burqa were a bit more substantial than "I don't like this." At face value, at any rate.