Tuesday, August 31, 2010

London debate on Pope's visit to Britain

Wednesday 1st September at 7pm
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Nearest tube: Holborn
All welcome, free admission

Chaired by Polly Toynbee

Motion for debate: "The Papal Visit should not be a State Visit"

Speaking for the motion
Philosopher AC Grayling and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell

Speaking against the motion
Catholic journalist Austen Ivereigh and Father Christopher Jamison of the BBC TV series, The Monastery

Speaking in advance of the debate, Peter Tatchell said:

"As democrats, we believe the Pope has every right to visit Britain and express his opinions. But we also have a right to protest against his often harsh, extreme views. We have a right to say that he is not welcome.

"The Protest the Pope campaign is calling on the British government to disassociate itself from the Pope's intolerant teachings on issues such as women's rights, contraception, gay equality and the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV. On these and many other issues, Benedict is out of step with the majority of British people, including most Catholics.

"It is hypocritical for him to attack Britain's equality laws, while happily accepting hospitality and funding from the British people and government.

"We also object that a large part of his visit is being funded by the taxpayer. Much of his itinerary involves religious events. It is not appropriate that these are paid for by the public. We don't fund visits by the Grand Mufti of Mecca or the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, so why should the Pope get privileged financial support?" queried Mr Tatchell.

Wednesday's debate is being organised by the Central London Humanist Group in partnership with the British Humanist Association and the South Place Ethical Society, as part of the Protest the Pope Campaign.

Alan Palmer, chair of the Central London Humanists said:

"Our criticism of this State visit is not an attack on Catholics or on the rights of people to follow their religion. We want to give people the opportunity to debate the issue. Clearly many of our supporters are very unhappy with some of the statements made by the Pope in the name of the Catholic Church. This adds to the dismay many feel at our government honouring a Pope whose pronouncements fly in the face of the human rights that we support. Of course there is also considerable disquiet about the way the Church and this Pope have handled the question of child abuse.

"Central London Humanists champion the idea of an open society and freedom of speech. We genuinely want also to hear the arguments in favour of the State visit. We welcome everyone whatever their political conviction or their religion or belief to explore the issues and participate in the debate," said Mr Palmer.

The debate will take place at Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL on Wednesday 1 September 2010 starting at 7pm. This is a free event and is open to the public and media.

The Daily Mail on fry-ups

Quality press at work.

The Daily Mail, 26 August 2008: "Traditional full English fry-up 'may raise risk of bowel cancer by 63 per cent'". "The extra calories can also lead to obesity, which is linked to many types of cancer and heart disease", added the article, dishing out paranoia like only the Mail can.

But nevermind all that. This is what the Daily Mail "reported" on 1 June 2010: "Why the British fry-up is the healthiest breakfast of all...". The article revealed that "the traditional English breakfast is one of the best starts to the day" and that "eggs are filling and can help you to eat fewer calories over the rest of the day".

Monday, August 02, 2010

Daily Mail slams tan addiction!

A disturbing journey through Britain's most poisonous rags' relationship with tanning.

Why are we still dying for a tan? is one of the Mail's headlines today, a report on "how irresponsible in the sun [...] Brits have always been".

While raising awareness over the dangers of malignant melanoma is certainly praiseworthy, it may be interesting to take a look at how the same paper routinely ridicules pale people.

Take Girls Aloud's Nicola Roberts, for example, the only member of the band proudly shunning the Cristiano Ronaldo/Fanta Orange/fake tan looks.

The Daily Mail seems incapable of writing a piece about Nicola Roberts without involving at least one complexion-related playground insult. Last year, for instance, the very same paper who now asks why our young women are so dangerously addicted to tanning sported the headline Ghostly geisha Nicola Roberts pales in comparison to Girls Aloud bandmate Nadine Coyle on celebratory night out.

A one-off? Not quite. Has she gone too far?, the Mail asked in 2008, clearly troubled by what it dubbed Roberts' "deadly pallor", arguing that "sandwiched between her perma-tanned Girls Aloud bandmates Cheryl Cole and Kimberly Walsh, Nicola, with her exceedingly pale skin, it appears she may have gone too far".

It's not all. Last year, the Mail's piece about Girls Aloud joining Coldplay onstage at Wembley was accompanied by the following headline Seen a ghost? Nicola Roberts pales after Girls Aloud join Coldplay onstage at Wembley.

A few months ago, Daily Mail columnist Liz Jones wrote that Nicola Roberts "was so thin she looked like a ghost".

You can spot a regular pattern here. Britain's moral compass thinks that pale skin is weird, scary and ridiculous in equal measure. Ask yourself how many of its regular or casual readers may internalise the idea that "pale is bad" and be tempted to head for the nearest tanning salon.

Still, don't fool yourself that it's a Daily Mail-only phenomenon. Their main rivals-in-bullying -- the Sun, that is -- hardly fare any better.

Look at this useless, rickety, 4-line long piece that Britain's best-selling paper published last March. It obviously had no purpose other than taking the piss (or "avin a larff, get a bleedin' sense of humour, will ya, geezah?") out of Nicola's complexion.

Girls Aloud has 'ghost star' in Nicola Roberts was the headline, complete with the deep observation that "yesterday she looked more ghostly than ever as she left her hotel. It's enough to give anyone a fright". A proud display of Top Quality Journalism indeed.

"Somehow, dying of ignorance is less shocking than the prospect of dying of vanity", is how today's Daily Mail piece end.

Wise words. But perhaps they could do with sorting out their own lot first. Looking up the words "poison" and "hypocrisy" in the dictionary would be a start.

Still unconvinced? Take a look at this (h/t Daily Quail).