It is no secret that I am not a fan of the British tabloid newspaper, the Sun. Actually, that is an understatement. I have nothing but contempt for the way people are treated by the British tabloids: dehumanised fodder in ratings wars.
The big news yesterday was about the ‘scandal’ of the Prime Minister having written an inadequate letter to the mother of a young soldier who died in Afghanistan. Apparently, the Prime Minister wrote by hand a letter of condolence in poor handwriting – a letter that was then found to contain spelling errors. The outrage of the bereaved mother was then caught in newspaper print and in the broadcast media. Gordon Brown was put onto the defensive, having to explain to a watching world what should have been a private matter.
And this is where the Sun comes in. It appears that this ‘newspaper’ has generated a story in order to put political pressure on the Prime Minister and the Labour Government. In other words, this is a political maneouvre aimed at causing embarrassment to the party the paper has decided to oppose in the next election.
So, what happened next? Well, the Prime Minister phoned the bereaved mother – beyond the call of duty? The Sun had provided her with the means to record the private conversation – and now the recording has been made public, is being picked over in the media and yet might invoke sympathy for Brown.
Why do people buy a newspaper that so blatantly abuses a bereaved woman such as Mrs Janes? She is being cynically exploited for the Sun‘s gain. As another bereaved mother put it on the BBC news earlier: this is a private matter and bereaved people should be directing their anger where it is due – not by making political capital for a newspaper by allowing her privacy to be compromised by people you can’t trust.
Whatever you think of Gordon Brown or his Government or his policies in respect of Afghanistan, this behaviour cannot be condoned. The Prime Minister didn’t simply send out a standard letter of condolence with a brief hand-written sentence at the end to ‘personalise’ it; he writes an individual letter to each bereaved family. That should be recognised and applauded … and then left to the confidentiality it deserved.
No one will fail to sympathise with those bereaved through the horror and violence of this conflict. But the Sun is behaving exploitatively and with a dehumanising contempt for the people involved as well as for any notion of privacy or confidentiality.
Can’t the great British public see what is going on here – and how they/we are being manipulated by this stuff?
There is a place where the Sun don’t shine…