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bobwilson
906853.  Fri May 04, 2012 10:21 pm Reply with quote

Dear Mr Bingham,

I’ve read your article http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/9200616/University-to-have-alcohol-free-areas-for-Muslims.htm and I’m somewhat confused. My understanding is that it is the job of an editor (at minimum) to correct minor errors in a submitted text – not to introduce new errors. With this in mind (and given your professional status as a writer) I must assume that

Quote:
Prof Gillies explained yesterday: “There are students who do come from a tradition that stays alcohol is evil and they need to feel that they have a place at London Metropolitan University”.


is your error which has not been corrected.

I also presume that

Quote:
He also told the Times Higher Education: "It's a negative experience - in fact an immoral experience - for a high percentage of our students."


is your error – unless I’ve missed something and there is a new publication in addition to the Times Higher Education Supplement? Perhaps the Times Higher Education is for those busy people (such as highly paid but barely literate journalists) who don’t have time to read publications with four word titles? Perhaps they get confused by the idea of four-letter words and mistakenly understand that four words is akin to four letters?

If these are not your errors, but have been introduced by some minions to whom you’ve submitted your work (who’s only function is to faithfully copy into print what you’ve written) then you might want to consider the use of modern technology? Copy and paste works pretty well to make sure they use the text you actually submit (if those terms are unfamiliar to you I suggest you consult someone born in the 20th Century).

But let’s get to the nub of the article. It’s headed

Quote:
University to have alcohol-free areas for Muslims


Would these alcohol free areas be exclusively for Muslims? I don’t see anything in the article that indicates such?

Perhaps you meant that the clamour for alcohol-free areas came from Muslims? No doubt that’s why you included the statement

Quote:
(Professor Gillies) comments were welcomed by anti-alcoholism campaigners and the Methodist Church, which has a strong tradition of campaigning against excessive drinking.


In fact, all of the quotes you provide come from either Christian oriented or secular authorities. I don’t see a single quote from a Muslim organisation, or even a Muslim individual.

In fact, only three weeks later the Telegraph ran an article http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/universityeducation/9235874/Muslim-students-condemn-divisive-and-irresponsible-university-alcohol-ban.html which explicitly states that Muslims (whether students or otherwise) had nothing to do with the suggested limited ban on alcohol.

Sadly, the object of your ire has now been transferred from the blameless Muslim students to the blameless Professor Gillies. And I note that you’ve now involved the hapless Hannah Furness.

Let’s be absolutely clear about this.

The original article was related to a suggestion from Professor Gillies that some areas of campus should be set aside as alcohol free. Professor Gillies didn’t indicate that this initiative was driven, or even suggested, by Muslims. He didn’t even go so far as to suggest that it was driven by a (possibly well-meaning but misguided) attempt to sate Muslim sensitivities. That was purely your inference.

Three weeks later (according to an article in no less august a publication than the Daily Telegraph) indications are that

Quote:
it is "only a matter of time" before a Muslim student is assaulted


as a direct result of these reports (NB result of the reports - not the actions of Professor Gillies).

I note that the selective quotes you use from the protestation letter includes

Quote:
In fact it demonises them (ie Muslims) even more and it will be used as baseless evidence to show how Britain is becoming a ‘shariastate’


Well, exactly. In fact, the demonisation began with your very own article headed – need I remind you “University to have alcohol-free areas for Muslims”. There was no demonisation in Professor Gillies suggestion.

I presume you are aware that incitement to religious or racial hatred is (quite rightly) a criminal offence in this country?

A full report has been sent to the DPP with a view to prosecuting yourself, Hannah Furness and the Daily Telegraph for the criminal offences of incitement to religious hatred.

 
Sadurian Mike
906865.  Sat May 05, 2012 2:55 am Reply with quote

bob, this is the QI forum. You want your email software which is just down the hall.

 
djgordy
906886.  Sat May 05, 2012 4:30 am Reply with quote

bobwilson wrote:
My understanding is that it is the job of an editor (at minimum) to correct minor errors in a submitted text Ė


Nope, that would be the job of the copy editors (aka sub-editors).

 
Jenny
907032.  Sat May 05, 2012 1:05 pm Reply with quote

And quite frankly if I received that letter I wouldn't read past the first two paragraphs before filing it in the round file anyway.

 
bobwilson
907125.  Sat May 05, 2012 10:13 pm Reply with quote

Some misunderstanding here I think.

This isn’t my letter (I doubt the DPP would take much notice of anything I’d care to send them – and anyway there’s already a thread where I could have posted my own thoughts on this story).

Interesting comment from Jenny

Quote:
And quite frankly if I received that letter I wouldn't read past the first two paragraphs before filing it in the round file anyway.


which implies that Jenny didn’t read past the first two paragraphs? (What’s the “round file” btw?).

A shame really, since the author (of the letter) makes some interesting points. Professor Gillies never made (as far as I can see) any suggestion that alcohol free areas should be set up “for the benefit of Muslims”. The support for the idea of alcohol free areas appears to come exclusively from Christian and secular organisations.

The brunt of the backlash, however, would appear to devolve upon Muslims, probably incited by a headline which read

Quote:
University to have alcohol-free areas for Muslims


What is particularly egregious is that, rather than admit to an error of judgement in permitting a partisan (and wrong) report to have been published the Telegraph has compounded their error by suggesting (wrongly) that Professor Gillies had indicated that the motivation was to protect the sensibilities of Muslim students.

So, yes Mike – I take your point that this is the QI forum. I think it’s Quite Interesting how rumours begin, and are then morphed into “a reliable source”. Take a look at BNP TV for exemplars.

And finally, dj corrects the author on the misunderstanding of the job of an editor. I don’t know the details of how newspapers work but I would anticipate that a clue is in the title “sub-editor”. It may well be the job of a “sub-editor” to weed out spelling mistakes but I think the clue is in the preface “sub”.

I wonder – would any of you have similarly commented if the headline read

Quote:
University to have pork-free areas for Jews


and the article had continued in a similar vein to the original but with Professor Gillies explaining that he was in favour of banning the serving of pork and/or bacon because of his perception of the conditions in which pigs were reared?

I’m with the original author of that letter – either the intention was to incite religious/racial bigotry or the original article was written by an idiot.

 
bobwilson
907128.  Sat May 05, 2012 10:59 pm Reply with quote

Interestingly (or maybe not) this http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-two/9246380/AP-journalist-sacked-for-announcing-end-of-Second-World-War-wins-apology.html
also appears in the Daily Telegraph.

The headline is

Quote:
AP journalist sacked for announcing end of Second World War wins apology


But reading the story

Kennedy's problem was that he broke an embargo on the news.

So, let's get this straight. Everyone (including that reporter) agreed to keep the news quiet and announce it simultaneously. Everyone (with the exception of that reporter) stuck to that agreement.

What a fucking hero - rightly celebrated by the Daily Telegraph. Having agreed to play fair and announce the big story at the same time as everyone else this lone warrior decided to stick his neck out and was unjustly pilloried.

Well, thank God he's been posthumously pardoned.

We definitely need more fearless reporters like this - prepared to break agreements for their own advantage.

 
CB27
907156.  Sun May 06, 2012 6:12 am Reply with quote

Bob, the funny thing is I mentioned Ed Kennedy on another thread, and I think you missed the whole point of what was wrong about his sacking.

Firstly, the idea of not telling people that war was over for 36 hours was wrong because it led to many people still fighting and getting killed for no other reason but to allow Russia to have a ceremony of their own. This was a politicial decision, not a military one.

Unfortunately, the same thinking that led to people still fighting to the last minute of WWI still prevailed and even Ed allowed it to happen for a few hours.

Secondly, initially the reporters were told they could report the agreement once it was signed, but after the signing they were told there was a new agreement to hold reporting for 36 hours, they were pretty much forced to agree after the event.

Thirdly, Ed didn't break the story to beat everyone else, it was German radio in Allied territory which broke the announcement first, and by that time they were already under military cesorship, so someone allowed that story out 2 hours before Ed phoned his story in. The delay was because Ed went to the censors first to ask why they allowed the Germans to report it in public, but not let the rest of the world know, and when he was dismissed he called it in.

Don't be so quick to dismiss other people's motives for their actions just so you can have a rant.

 
Neotenic
907203.  Sun May 06, 2012 8:45 am Reply with quote

Quote:
which implies that Jenny didnít read past the first two paragraphs?


And of course, only a witless blowhard would deign to comment on something they haven't read, right?

 
Jenny
907382.  Sun May 06, 2012 4:24 pm Reply with quote

The basic point of the letter was reasonable, but it was dumb to put all that grammar stuff into the first two paragraphs - most people aren't going to bother to read past it and it just looks like a nitpick (which it is) rather than the substantive stuff that comes later which is far more important.




The round file.

 
bobwilson
907431.  Sun May 06, 2012 10:22 pm Reply with quote

That’s not round – it’s cylindrical! ;)

But anyway

Jenny wrote:
it was dumb to put all that grammar stuff into the first two paragraphs - most people aren't going to bother to read past it and it just looks like a nitpick (which it is)


Well, maybe so. But given that the original article was written by someone with a poor grasp of English and an even poorer grasp on reality, I got the impression that the letter was written with the intention of being as offensive as legally possible to the recipient.

I don’t think the letter author cares much one way or the other whether the letter gets read. As s/he says – a report has been sent to the DPP. The second article cited in the original letter is pretty much an admission that the first article was an incitement to religious hatred (or whatever the criminal offence is) – although it (ie the article) seeks to defer the responsibility for that onto Professor Gillies (I wonder, is that also a criminal offence?).

Not to put too fine a point on it – I don’t suppose the letter author expects the Daily Telegraph to take the slightest notice of his/her comments. I got the impression that it was a “shove this under your counsel’s nose and then measure the length of their jawdrop, or ignore it if you like”.

As you say

Quote:
the substantive stuff that comes later ... is far more important


The really substantive stuff will come if and when the DPP mounts a prosecution.

 
bobwilson
907432.  Sun May 06, 2012 10:32 pm Reply with quote

CB27 wrote:
Bob, the funny thing is I mentioned Ed Kennedy on another thread, and I think you missed the whole point of what was wrong about his sacking.


Sorry CB – I didn’t see that posting.

CB27 wrote:
Firstly, the idea of not telling people that war was over for 36 hours was wrong because it led to many people still fighting and getting killed for no other reason but to allow Russia to have a ceremony of their own.


I agree with you there. But let’s just take a look at the Telegraph article I referenced which is sub-headlined

Quote:
A former AP journalist who was sacked for achieving perhaps the greatest scoop in history


and begins

Quote:
Edward Kennedy, a correspondent for Associated Press news agency, was furiously denounced and then expelled from liberated France after being first with the news of Germany's surrender in 1945.


(my bold)

So what rankles isn’t that people would be needlessly killing each other for the proceeding 36 hours, but that he’d “usurped a scoop”? The only quote from Kennedy is the
Quote:
absurdity of attempting to bottle up news of such magnitude
(fair point) – but nothing about a humanitarian desire to prevent unnecessary loss of life.

CB27 wrote:
Secondly, initially the reporters were told they could report the agreement once it was signed, but after the signing they were told there was a new agreement to hold reporting for 36 hours, they were pretty much forced to agree after the event.


You make this sound as if it’s an unusual occurrence. It’s fairly common for reporters to be summoned to an event and for the conditions of reporting the event to be modified as the situation changes.

CB27 wrote:
Thirdly, Ed didn't break the story to beat everyone else, it was German radio in Allied territory which broke the announcement first, and by that time they were already under military cesorship, so someone allowed that story out 2 hours before Ed phoned his story in. The delay was because Ed went to the censors first to ask why they allowed the Germans to report it in public, but not let the rest of the world know, and when he was dismissed he called it in.


Here you’re on surer ground. Ed was quite right to ask why he (and his fellow correspondents) were subject to an embargo when German radio had already broken the news. What would have been a real scoop was a news report headlined something like “The Germans know it’s all over – but we’re not allowed to tell you this because of the idiotic politicians”.

If Ed had been truly motivated by a humanitarian desire to end the suffering, he’d have informed his fellow correspondents of his intention to breach the embargo (particularly after his interview with the censors) – which would, at the very least, have increased the chances of the news being reported if he himself was detained.

PS

Neotenic wrote:
And of course, only a witless blowhard would deign to comment on something they haven't read, right?


I assume this is directed at me? Whatever do you mean Neo? And you were doing so well in therapy as evidenced by post 905635

 
CB27
907451.  Mon May 07, 2012 4:29 am Reply with quote

Bob, hiding behind what one article itself says is not a good defence for deriding and attacking a person's motives for their actions when a quick look around will show there is far more to the story than simply getting a scoop.

You often snort at other people for voicing opinions about articles without looking around for more information, but defend yourself for doing exactly the same thing. I think you can perhaps understand why you often get hostile reaction to your remarks when you hold others to a standard you don't keep, especially when you then throw out abuse at them.

 

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