I read this morning on my impeccably liberal MSN/Yahoo news feed – first rule of warfare: know your enemy – in a story entitled ‘Priti Patel criticised for planning to deport homeless people’, by Yahoo staff journalist George Martin (I would say he’s about fourteen judging from his photo), that home secretary Priti Patel is planning new measures to stem the flow of migrants across the Channel.
Following on the revelation that plans are underway ‘to use nets as a method of disabling dinghies carrying migrants across the Channel’, whose occupants could then be returned to France, and rumours of wave machines being deployed, and of Ascension Island being used as our own offshore migrant processing centre, the home secretary has ‘reportedly asked Home Office officials to discuss new immigration rules which would make it easier to deport rough sleepers who engage in persistent anti-social or dangerous behaviour’.
Personally, I would just round up all rough sleepers, and beggars, but this is good news, surely? Well, according to our George, human rights lawyer Shoaib Khan has tweeted that Priti Patel might at least ‘pace herself with her vile, xenophobic policies’, adding, ‘You have years to prove all your evilness, Priti’.
Feminist academic Dr Charlotte Riley has tweeted that all the Home Office wants is to reduce the numbers reaching British shores and does not care ‘whether those people are being turned back or drowned’. And author Alan Travis (formerly of The Guardian) has written – well, at least he did not tweet it – that Priti Patel ‘is not giving up and somebody is going to end up getting hurt. This is what happens when you order a military response to a humanitarian crisis.’ And there ends the case for the prosecution.
Until recently, I had no problems with news reports of this kind. Indeed, left-biased mainstream media newsfeeds on our web browsers could be judged to serve a valuable purpose. The news story presented the bare facts combined with righteous liberal analysis and comment.
Then one turned to the readers’ comments section to see the flagrant bias of the analysis ripped wittily to threads. Taken together, one got a balanced overall view, and a lot of laughs into the bargain. The Telegraph comments section served – and when not disabled, still does serve – the same purpose in relation to the global liberal bias of Telegraph columnists.
So, for example, we can infer from the news story above that Priti Patel is doing a grand job, and that George Jones is an absurdly biased and credulous liberal, who should not be let anywhere near a newsroom.
But for the past few weeks the readers’ comments section has been disabled and the cryptic message ‘Commenting is not currently available, but don’t worry! We’ll have a new commenting experience online soon.’ has appeared. Whatever could they have in mind with this ‘new commenting experience’?
For any level-headed, semi-educated, old school adult, ‘no comment’ presents no problem. One misses the witty comments, but the left-liberal bias can easily be discounted. However, one fears for the younger generation, who have been indoctrinated at school, indoctrinated at college, positively brainwashed if they ever get to university (other than to study the natural sciences, engineering or mathematics), and who rely precisely on these web browser and social media news feeds for their political view.
We shudder when we hear of the Russians and Chinese erecting internet firewalls to prevent their populations from accessing foreign information and news sources. But could we not erect a reverse firewall that prevents comments sections from being disabled on newsfeeds? For, just as there is no smoke without fire, there is no news without comment.