It’s not even been out 24 hours yet and I’m already bored to tears with hearing about the Leveson report.
Is Cameron right to stand up for ‘press freedom’ attracting the ire of the victims of hacking, etc and supposedly flying in the face of public opinion, and keep the dead tree press and his own supposed ‘right wingers’ onside?
Well, firstly, let’s look at one of the labels in that question. What the hell is a right winger? Left and right are names that are slung around with great ease, but what do they actually mean? I’m going to show some sympathy for those who would consider themselves on the left. Which party speaks for them? The easy reflex action is to say Labour. But they are no more a leftist party than the Conservatives. The party lost its soul somewhere between Foot and Blair. The Conservatives are no more a right wing party than Labour. They are cut from identical cloth. There are no significant differences between the two.
The BNP are decried as being ‘far-right’, but I see a party that is obsessed, apart from the obvious, with centralist authority and exerting control over a population they wish to mold to fit their own world view. Well the same can be said of Respect, yet no-one would claim they are ‘far-right’. Indeed I would say the same of the Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems as well. These labels are unhelpful.
Right and left is dead, what I think people mean is liberty versus authority. So do we read that Cameron doesn’t want to upset the portion of his party who believe in liberty? If you look at it like that, you suddenly view the vast majority of people sat in parliament in a very different light indeed.
The issue of press freedom is something of a red herring as well. Charlotte Church on QT last night made a very good point when she named the publishing of newspapers as corporate free speech rather than individual free speech. This was not a consideration when the presses were freed in the 17th century.
But it is irrelevant, this is an enquiry into the ethics of the mainstream paper media. Well, who decides what is ethical or moral? Sure, we can agree on the big stuff, journalists shouldn’t be hacking peoples’ mobile phones to find out which soap actor has been screwing which footballer behind which pop star’s back. But let us suppose that this method uncovers a conspiracy to blackmail and depose the Monarch. Would it be justified then?
This is the problem with legislation, especially that which is enacted in haste. Unfortunately we live in an age where most legislation is the result of a hasty, knee-jerk reaction. I am not confident that any legislation will be forthcoming that does not have politicians as the ultimate arbiter of what can and cannot be printed.
Furthermore, the papers are dying. With the internet we have the biggest free press in the world. Legislation has yet to catch up, thankfully. But the fact that you are sat here reading this means there has been the most amazing ground shift in the way that media works in the last fifteen years. In 1997 the effect of any blog would have been limited in the extreme. Four years previous to that the means of doing this blogging lark just wouldn’t have existed. Today in Guido Fawkes, we have a blogger with no paper behind him (excepting a guest spot in the Star once a week, a reaction from the dead tree press engaging with the blogger, rather than the blogger going cap in hand to the press) who is regularly referenced and interviewed on television. The days of going down the shop to buy a paper to get the news are over, the days of going down the shop to buy a paper to get opinion or editorial are fading fast. The internet will be king.
‘But it’s like the wild west’, is the complaint, ‘it must be subject to regulation’. Well, it is. If I were to run an article saying that politician ‘x’ puts kittens in microwaves and interferes with the kids who live next door and it wasn’t true, I’d be up in court defending a libel suit. If I got the material for a story by breaking into someone’s house, I’d be on a charge of burglary. The laws already exist.
Let us not forget that Leveson is all about press ethics, not any criminality. And we’re supposed to be shocked to discover that some journalists act in a despicable fashion?
The public blame the press for being shits. They point at the cosy relationships between the party big boys and the paper owners. They talk about how the police have been corrupted by the press. Leveson has given the public and victims a platform to air their grievances.
The victims from the general public I have a large degree of sympathy for. Those slebs who have a PR agent that calls a paper to say ‘oh, X is coming out of restaurant Y or nightclub Z in half an hour’ in an effort to get their client in the paper can have no complaint when their desire to be in the glare of publicity sees their attempts at covert affairs or other bad behaviour splashed large across the page.
However, the politicians, the slebs, the paper owners and the corrupted police officers are not to blame for the actions for these slimeball journos.
The people who need to bear the blame have been ignored, they will not be referenced by Leveson, and I suspect will not be referenced with any degree of importance in the coming debates in the House.
Who are these people? They are the biggest hypocrites of all; the British public.
The same people who moan about the shoddy activities of the press are the same people who go out and buy the papers. People will pretend they are upset about it, but they’ll still go down to buy the rag to see who is shagging who, what dress that pop star is wearing, or to see the teenage actress on the beach in a bikini whilst the paper rails against paedos and porn. It’s just so wonderfully exciting isn’t it? You want to know who is screwing who, it’s none of your business, but you can’t help but wallowing in the prurient details. Kiddie porn, bad. Phwoar! Look at the knockers on that seventeen year old soap starlet!
We get the papers we ask for.
Just as with our political parties, don’t vote for or buy the status quo and then start moaning that country is shit, our politicians useless and our papers out of control. You are giving them the green light.
We’ve come such cosseted little brats in this country though that we can’t stand to be shown the consequences of our actions, and not one politician in parliament has the guts to do it, it’s more than their seat is worth.
Like the battered wife who continually returns to her violent husband, fooling herself that the last smack in the mouth will be the last, because he’s promised he’s changed, we too vote for the same old people and buy the same old papers who have shown contrition for smacking us in the mouth and promised us that this time it will be different, we do it every time.
Like the battered wife, we believe our abuser when he tells us that no-one else will have us, or that life will be much worse without them. He tells us we deserved it, he doesn’t like doing it, but we leave him no option. And we keep going back for more.
We asked for it all, we got it all. There is no conspiracy. There is no NWO. There are no space lizards living in caves running the world. There is just the bovine stupidity of the general public, and the only person who can shake you out of it is you.