The Daily Mail never ceases to amaze me. In this story about Pope Ratzinger’s visit to the UK – which began yesterday in Scotland and continues in London today – it talks of how the 50-odd notable scientists, writers and entertainers who signed a letter critical of the visit were “spitting venom”.
As well as the “spitting venom” accusation (you need to scroll down to the second story to see this, or search on “Pope hit by a celebrity vendetta”, for there are two on the same page), the article adds that those who signed the letter were a “parade of celebrities – many of them Left-wing atheists”.
I suppose they needed to add “left-wing” to make the atheists sound a bit worse, and needed “atheists” (which I don’t think all the signatories are, incidentally) to make the left-wingers sound worse. A “parade of atheist left-wingers” would have done the trick equally well.
Believe it or not, these pieces come in the news section. No reporting of the news in the Mail, no down-the-middle straight reportage, telling it like it is. No, left-wing atheists have to be spitting venom.
It’s not what I’d call journalism. Put it in the opinion section, by all means. Everyone’s entitled to his/her opinion, after all, and you’d expect this sort of opinion in the Mail (the Daily Hate, as it’s often been called).
The piece – by Steve Doughty – goes on to examine one by one some of the signatories, and picks out the excellent fantasy author Terry Pratchett, an Alzheimer’s sufferer who has “claimed the right to assisted suicide”. The implication is, of course, that this is somehow a venomous, left-wing, atheist, and therefore bad, thing to do.
Journalism? You decide.