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You couldn’t make it up – unless you worked for a right-wing rag like the Daily Heil or the Torygraph. And from now on, even if reporters at those organs try, they won’t be believed.
The Daily Mail blotted its own copy(book) with an article on “Our Remainer Universities”. Building on the revelation that Tory whip Chris Heaton-Harris had written to universities, requesting details of courses and lecturers dealing with the European Union and Brexit, the <ahem> paper asked readers to send in their own stories.
Apparently nobody in the editorial team stopped to consider the kind of responses they would get from respondents who are – not to put too fine a point on it – educated.
Nor did they expect the floodgates to open in quite the way they did. This Site has already published one professor’s response. Here are a few more, from a range of sources:
So I turned myself in to the Daily Mail pic.twitter.com/xAOmU96UkK
— Steve Peers (@StevePeers) October 26, 2017
For those who cannot read images, Steve Peers wrote: “Dear Witchfinder General,
“I am writing to turn myself in as what your paper would consider a biased professor.
“I discuss the details of refugee law with my students, whereas your paper referred to the ‘problem’ of Jewish refugees ‘pouring into the country’ and depicted recent asylum seekers as rats.
“I ask students to look at EU and human rights laws on LGBT equality, whereas your paper referred to ‘abortion hope’ after a ‘gay gene’ was found.
“I discuss the risk that far right extremism poses to human rights, whereas your paper cheered ‘hurrah to the blackshirts’; and I outline the importance of the rule of law, whereas your paper shrieks that judges it disagrees with are ‘enemies of the people’.
“Despite all this, I can only dream of receiving the huge sums from the EU that your editor Paul Dacre has obtained.
“I can only salute your paper’s commitment to the truth, in spite of its many losses and settlements in libel cases and the frequent readers’ complaints it provokes.
“Professor of Law, University of Essex.”
and now we wait pic.twitter.com/rqiAhabx2t
— TechnicallyRaarrrghh (@TechnicallyRon) October 26, 2017
“Aaron” wrote: “Good morning.
“I attend updog university, and we are being taught anti Brexit propaganda by our left wing professors. We are now made to gather in the study hall once a week and salute an EU flag whilst the professor slowly eats a croissant.
“Another lesson that is now mandatory is ‘brexit may not have been a good idea and blind patriotism is a foolish and extremely dangerous answer’. I think this is disgusting. If you keep saying it will be ok, it will be ok. We all know this. I once had a rabbit that got smashed to bits by a tractor and I said it would be ok and a few days later my dad got me a new rabbit.
“Please help me, there is no longer any room for bigots like myself at places of education and thought.
Let’s all send in our stories pic.twitter.com/p2rvSHQS4y
— Will Davies (@davies_will) October 26, 2017
From Will Davies: “Hi.
“I thought you might be interested in the behaviour of one of our lecturers. In a 2nd year module I take (‘Cultural Maxism and Masculinities’ – 15 credits) our lecturer declared that they were committed to ‘free speech’, but on condition that the speech was in a language other than English. My mate was determined to give an opinion on why Brexit was good, but was forced to stand at the front of the class explaining it in French, a language he doesn’t really speak.
“Happy to talk more.
I'm just scared they may miss the point and take me seriously… (1/2) pic.twitter.com/Ae4kPRjZoR
— Tom Goodwin (@opentheirminds) October 26, 2017
— Tom Goodwin (@opentheirminds) October 26, 2017
From Tom Goodwin: “Hello,
“I wish to inform you that I have indeed experienced bias around Brexit at the University of Leeds.
“Only yesterday, I had a lecturer of International Communication show us a study which supposedly demonstrated that the wider international community believe that Brexit is a bad idea. I soon put him straight by showing him my curved banana and asking him whether or not this was the kind of thing that should be influenced by bureaucrats in Brussels.
“Needless to say, the spineless lefty had no response to my compelling argument.
“It is totally scandalous that the lecturers there have based their opinions about Brexit on both fact and quantifiable research that has been critically assessed and approved of by other members of the academic community.
“I can only pray that my lecturers stop using verifiably true information to influence the young minds that they are placed in charge of, and instead use publications such as yours to show students that Brexit will not only bring prosperity to our nation, but will also rid our proud island of the scourge of immigrants, with their unpronounceable names and funny accents.
“I hope this anecdote will be useful to you and your fine fact reporting establishment.
— Tim Brudenell (@TimBrudenell) October 26, 2017
And from Tim Brudenell: “Dear Sir/Madam, but hopefully Sir
“There I was performing my morning salute to the national anthem in my commemorative Princess Diana knitwear when my History lecturer kegged me and forced me to eat a copy of Das Capital.
“I was so distressed by this event I had to cancel my erotic pottery class.
Not to be outdone, the Daily Telegraph ran a story claiming that Cambridge University Student Union women’s officer Lola Olufemi had forced the university to stop discussing white authors in order to “decolonise” its curriculum.
Of course the letter signed by Ms Olufemi and more than 100 students, on which the article was based, did not call for the exclusion of white men from reading lists and Cambridge University has not dropped any authors from its courses.
Nevertheless, the Mail (again) followed up the story with a a profile of Ms Olufemi headlined ‘Feminist killjoy* behind the campaign (*It’s what she calls herself)’.
"Remember that black student yesterday, the one on the front cover, who was attacking white authors? Yeah, we made that up. Sorry." pic.twitter.com/eaAx4l8HkT
— Nicholas Guyatt (@NicholasGuyatt) October 26, 2017
The apology that appeared in the Torygraph‘s ‘Corrections and clarifications’ the following day stated: “An Oct 25 article incorrectly stated that under proposals by academic staff in response to an open letter from students on “decolonising” its English Faculty, Cambridge University will be forced to replace white authors with black writers. The proposals were in ract recommendations. Neither they nor the open letter called for the University to replace white authors with black ones and there are no plans to do so.”
These are just the latest blunders by our supposedly impartial mainstream media – which still, improbably, expect us to believe they are more reliable than online news sites.
Now, it seems people have decided enough is enough – and have started lampooning mainstream news stories as they come out.
For example, try this retooling of the story that the man who (allegedly) shot John F Kennedy – Lee Harvey Oswald – met representatives of the KGB before setting out to kill the then-president. It has been re-written to present a story that might be considered more in line with Heil readers’ leanings (and the version I’m using has been edited by an acquaintance to add some salient facts):
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