Monday 19 October 2009

The bloody BBC, again.

There's that annoying habit news organisations have got into of putting quotes in headlines. It's basically lying, but if you put the lie in quotes you get to blame it on somebody else.

But the BBC have come up with a new advance on that. Here's the headline:

Anger at US mixed marriage 'ban'

A "ban", eh? Blimey. That sounds pretty bad.

Except that there then follows a report in which the word "ban" does not appear. Not once. The only place it appears is in that headline. Which rather implies that, for all that the word's in quotes, it's not a quote. Surely, if it were, the BBC would be providing the quote. I mean, this is basic journalism: when you publish a quote, you attribute it. Otherwise, you could just be writing any old crap, right?

Oh, hang on: they are. The reason the word "ban" doesn't appear anywhere in the report is that what it's describing is not in any way a ban. It's a personal decision by one person and a complaint about his decision from someone else.

A white US justice of the peace has been criticised for refusing to issue marriage licences to mixed-race couples.

Keith Bardwell, of Tangipahoa Parish in Louisiana, denied racism but said mixed-race children were not readily accepted by their parents' communities.

A couple he refused to marry are considering filing a complaint about him to the US Justice Department.

Oh deary me. A justice of the peace is refusing to marry this couple. That's awful. What on Earth will they do?

Ms Humphrey, who is white, said that when she phoned Mr Bardwell on 6 October to discuss getting a marriage licence signed his wife told her about his stance.

Mrs Bardwell recommended that the couple see another justice of the peace, who did agree to marry them.


That little detail's down in paragraph 12, by the way, where the BBC can be pretty bloody sure it'll be missed.

I can't even see why the BBC are reporting this story, to be honest. I mean, there's a lot of racism in the world, most of it far worse than this. The entire story boils down to "Man expresses fairly racist sentiment, couple experience slight inconvenience arranging marriage." Would the BBC bother with this story if it came out of Poland or France or Italy? I doubt it. But, ah, America... it gives them the perfect opportunity to continue their decades-long propaganda war by blatantly lying in a headline.

I absolutely guarantee that I will meet people over the next few years who will tell me earnestly that interracial marriage is actually illegal in some parts of the US.

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