Thursday, 8 July 2010

The burden of proof

It's widely known that the Daily Express is to journalism what litter trays are to cat shit. But even the foaming-at-the-mouth tabloid's biggest critics were amazed at the front cover of the 'world's greatest newspaper' today.

With no Princess Diana stories to run on page one, the editorial team decided to focus on their other obsession - immigration. It was announced this week that two asylum seekers from Cameroon and Iran had been granted the right to remain in the UK for fear of persecution, violence or imprisonment if they were sent home.

Whereas most people with any kind of basic interest in human rights applauded the decision, the Daily Express took a contrary viewpoint. Choosing to sub-head the article with a direct quote from Lord Rodgers, they stated "They should be free to enjoy themselves going to Kylie concerts and drinking exotically coloured cocktails."

The issue of asylum for gay people has long been a contentious one, with previous judges claiming that homosexuals could be returned to their country of origin with the instruction to 'act a bit straighter'. Imagine a similar argument being applied to people of colour, or those suffering from religious persecution. In the days of the Spanish Inquisition, Jewish people attempted to hide their faith and were still burned at the stake as 'conversos'. Perhaps that's what the Express would prefer.

As they write in their coverage of the story, "critics warned it could lead to the UK - which is among the first nations to take such a position - becoming a leading destination for asylum seekers who are claiming to be gay." Unfortunately, these critics amount to little more than the usual suspects - a Tory MP and the chairman of MigrationWatchUK, who must be the paper's number one friend on Facebook.

They're concerned that anyone could claim asylum on the grounds that they're gay and, according to Lord Rodgers at least, all it would take is a tight t-shirt, the deluxe edition of Aphrodite on their iPod, and the mixology skills to pour a Cosmopolitan, to make their case.

Curiously, the Daily Mail's coverage of the story is almost a word-for-word facsimile of the article that appeared in their rival publication, implying that the whole piece is just a MigrationWatch press release with the logo removed. If we're going to be disgusted about something, maybe it should be the rapid decline of journalistic standards, rather than the idea that next year's Pride March may have a few extra participants.

No comments:

Post a Comment