How the Evening Post incites racial hatred: Part 94

This story from today’s Post (May 6th 2009):

Browser title: Travellers children stealing from Lady Chique dress shop in Horfield.

Headline: Bristol shopkeeper – travellers use their kids to steal.

A Bristol dress shop owner fears she could be put out of business by “travellers” who use their children to help them steal.

Susanne Lawson, who owns Lady Chique in Horfield, says she is being targeted by families of thieves who regularly take valuable items.

She says thousands of pounds of dresses and clothes have gone missing from her shop over the last few years and in the last month her business has been hit several more times.

Last Friday afternoon, a family of four with Irish accents went into the shop on Gloucester Road. The mother tried on a gown and a man, presumed to be her partner or husband, went to the till and tried to pay for a different dress.

But the cash card he used had no chip in it and while he distracted Mrs Lawson, the woman and a girl aged about four left the shop with a dress worth £350.

. . .

Mrs Lawson, 57, who suffers from severe arthritis added: “I’m thinking of putting up a sign on the door saying ‘no travellers’. I might be targeted again for speaking out but I don’t care, I’ve had enough. Travellers are not welcome in my shop.

Mrs Lawson has already put a notice on her shop door saying: “We have been targeted by a certain element. These people have stolen from us for the last time.

“This store will only be open to socially acceptable people not those who expect normal people to pay for their existence.”

The last theft happened just before 3pm on Friday afternoon. The woman said the dress was for her sister’s wedding.

“When I was at the till I saw her bend down, give something to the girl and she screwed it up tight.

“It’s really upsetting. I’m struggling as it is and I cannot afford to let these dresses go. They are putting me out of business.

“The people who do this are very sneaky. They have no social graces and no conscience. They send their kids in to steal.

“I just wish they would stay away. I’ve got very bad arthritis so there’s very little I can do.”

Note that nowhere in this story is any evidence offered by either the Post or the shopkeeper to back up their claims that the shoplifters are Travellers.

Even if they could prove that they are Travellers it would still not be acceptable to report the story this way; suggesting that shoplifting is an issue specifically related to Travellers and that these people are shoplifting because they are Travellers.

Of course, the editor would tell us that they are just reporting what they’ve been told; that they are not making any assumptions or judgements; that they are just objective reporters. But anyone with any intelligence can see from they way the story is reported that that is a load of bollocks.

In fact, one has to wonder why this is even a story. Would this be a story if there wasn’t the Irish Traveller allegation attached? Would they normally be reporting a couple of cases of shoplifting? How many cases of shoplifting happen in this city every day?

Jo from Horfield points out in the comments the NUJ code of conduct says, “A journalist shall only mention a person’s age, race, colour, creed, illegitimacy, disability, marital status (or lack of it), gender or sexual orientation if this information is strictly relevant.”

The Press Complaints Commission code of conduct says:

12 Discrimination

i) The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.

ii) Details of an individual’s race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story.

Of course, the problem with these codes is that they are virtually useless. The NUJ code is unenforceable. The PCC is a toothless watchdog controlled and funded by the newspaper industry. The current chair of its editors’ code committee is that well know fighter for justice, equality and fairness, Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail.

The other problem with the PCC is that only individuals directly affected by a story can complain to it. The newspapers know this and cause offence appropriately. So, the Post know that their readership is generally middle-aged, middle-class, white and (small-c) conservative. They will be assuming that few, if any Irish Travellers are reading their hate propaganda and so a successful complaint to the PCC is highly unlikely. They also know that the prejudices their story plays on are shared by many of their readers. Just check out the comments online:

“Should allow shopkeepers to keep shotguns for dirty pikey pest control.”

Laura, Bristol

I used to work in a mobile phone shop and we had the same problem, they would come in the store in big groups and steal anything!! Then they would bring it back a few days later and try and get a refund! I was working in my own once in our cheltenham shop, I refused to give them a refund and this guy took his shoe off and tried to hit me…

Adam, Bristol, Voda-Moan

Where i work we have always had blatant thieving by the great unwashed . . .

Seamus O`theavery, Severn Beach

Jo get back in your box. It’s people like you that have led to an influx of illegals and foreigners in this country and not doing anything about it. Lets see how you would feel if some of these robbed your house or place of work.

Mary, Bristol

Fucking assholes.

You can of complain directly to Post about their story; but don’t hold your breath waiting for a reply. We are aware of several cases of people complaining to editor Mike Norton about breaches of the PCC code and not receiving even an acknowledgement of their complaint, let alone an explanation or correction.

Update: Now the idiot-hole shopkeeper has wadded into the ‘debate’ on the Post website in an attempt to prove she is not a racist idiot. Her barely-literate ramblings include:

What some people need to accept is that I am not the one targetting Irish travellers’ (that’s travellers NOT Gypsies), Irish Travellers are targetting ME. . .

Why would these individuals support these, thieving Irish travellers? Or any thief, of any colour?, for any reason? I challenge ‘Jo’ to invite a family of Irish Travellers into her home, (the kind that steal from my salon) see what you have left when they leave. . .

Irish Travellers … mostly devoid of social graces and behave with the life motto – ‘I didn’t work for it, but I’m going to steal from someone who did!
Susanne at Lady Chique.

Susanne, Lady Chique, Filton Rd, Horfield

Yeah, I ain’t no racialist, but . . .
Meanwhile, there’s also a debate going on over at Bristol Indymedia about this story.

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2 Responses to “How the Evening Post incites racial hatred: Part 94”

  1. Jinty Hopper Says:

    Ahm nawt gunnee tell ye agenn, pack ett enn, ah lawve the wee Pawst, dawnt make me hunt ye dawn yah Sassehs

  2. Realist Says:

    The thing is, if you owned a shop that had been repeatedly targeted by Travellers, you\’d probably be pissed off at them too and want to ban them.

    We used to get Travellers camp in the fields near us before the days of the MOD being built, and they were always nicking things from peoples gardens and so forth, I\’m not kidding, local crime would jump when they were around.

    It\’s easy to dismiss this as daily mail reading hyperbole, and I don\’t deny the Evening Post is rightwing and racist (or I wouldn\’t follow your blog), but I don\’t feel this is inciting racial hared, it\’s just the sad reality that people around the Horfield and Filton area have had to deal with for years.

    For once I have to disagree with you on this one, and dislike that you seem to slightly be inferring that a dislike of travellers virutally turns you into goose stepping jackboot clad rightwingers. It doesn\’t matter if 99% of Travellers are upstanding paragons of virtue, if the 1% that always camp near Horfield and Filton are criminals.

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