The Daily Mail's Abuse of the Vulnerable

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Three months ago, the Daily Mail published an opinion piece by ex-Sun writer Richard Littlejohn, targeting a Trans woman by the name of Lucy Meadows. I had the misfortune to read the piece when it was first published.

Meadows was a teacher, and chose to stay in her job after transitioning.

Littlejohn disagreed, stated that she would have a "devastating" effect on her pupils, claimed that the pupils needed to be "protected". He referred to her as male throughout the article. The tone of the piece was dismissive, insulting, patronising and degrading, as is most of his work.

Lucy Meadows died recently. EDIT: There is no official statement clarifying the nature of death.

I'm now beyond any kind of rational, compromising thought towards this man and the paper that chooses to publish what he writes.

These people are complicit in hounding the most vulnerable in society. A piece like this, in an extremely widely-read national paper, can have a huge effect. They target the vulnerable, and they do not care if they hound such individuals to the very end. They lie, they incite, they spread hatred, they have not a single positive impact on our society. Where previously I had disapproval and the occasional bout of outrage towards the paper, now I have nothing but disgust.

My point is, this should not be allowed. Littlejohn did not technically lie. It doesn't matter. Freedom of speech is not the freedom to hound somebody to their literal grave.

Littlejohn is a fucking scumbag. If the Daily Mail were a decent paper, then they would fire the fucker. They won't though, because they're not. The fact that The Daily Mail has removed all mention of the poor woman from their article says so much.

Silvanus:
snip

Just to point out that (as far as I'm aware) there's been no official confirmation of the suicide story yet. The director of Trans Media Watch has claimed it was a suicide and been widely quoted, but I think she's jumped the gun. There's very little actually known at this point other than that it's not being treated as suspicious.

I'd happily toss the entire staff of the Daily Mail into a jet turbine for a whole range of reasons, but for the sake of this woman and her family it would seem respectful to me to exercise a little caution in speculating about the precise cause of death before the police or authorities have made any kind of statement.

..I'm only saying this because I'm almost certain none of our tabloid media will do so.

evilthecat:
SNIP

Ah, that's a pretty important point I missed. Thanks for catching it. I'll modify the OP a little.

Silvanus:
Ah, that's a pretty important point I missed. Thanks for catching it. I'll modify the OP a little.

No worries. Heck, I saw this story and figured it must have been suicide until one of my politically-aware friends corrected me.

Heck, regardless of whether it's suicide or not I hope it proves a wake-up call. The whole newspaper culture in this country really needs to change.

Interestingly, the routine mistreatment of trans people actually came up in the Leveson report.

Unfortunately this isn't really the place to talk about it. All the (right-wing) Americans will just find some slippery-slope justification for it.

Still, here's my mega-post on the leveson inquiry. I find myself agreeing with him to an extent, but whenever I think of the daily mail I want something stronger.

I copied and pasted them directly from the report.

page 66

p72

p72

Saying that you C&P'd something directly doesn't mean anything. One can lie with omission and addition just as successfully (if not more successfully) than one can lie with direct falsehoods. This is exactly what you are doing whilst trying to argue that the Leveson inquiry is encouraging state censorship of the media, although you are confusing the press with free speech more generally:

1. Both of those pages are from the first section of a report which is around 2000 pages long. That is an important piece of information because it implies how you've not really read it. Documents like this CANNOT BE SKIMMED, which sucks because they're so long. They make important points using incredibly nuanced language which, when subject to a cursory, biased, or uninformed glance, can be misinterpreted.

2. Page 66 is in section 5 of Chapter 2- "The Freedom of the press and Democracy", which I've copied and pasted here, highlighting the words you chose to repeat in red, and words that go against your argument (that the Leveson inquiry is advocating state censorship of the media) in blue. I would highlight all of it, but because this section isn't discussing censorship, there's little to highlight. Pointing these things out mostly serves to show that your extrapolation from this particular mined quote is utterly incorrect. This section is discussing a far more nuanced legal and philosophical point than you think it is: whether the press is and should be above the rule of law, and the role of the press in a free democracy.

3. Page 72 is from Chapter 3 "Competing Public Interests", section 2, in full here. The same red/blue highlighting applies. All emphasis is mine. Again, he is not discussing censorship, but describing how the justifications for freedom of expression for individuals and the justifications for freedom of the press are different. These freedoms compete with eachother because the press has more power of expression than any one individual: in the same way that the military has greater ability to inflict violence than individuals, and so is subject to greater regulation; in the same way that corporations have greater ability to amass wealth than individuals, and so are subject to regulation; in the same way that the government itself has greater ability to coerce, and so is subject to regulation, the media has a greater ability too, and so should be subject to some form of regulation. That does not necessarily mean censorship by the state. There are more forms of regulation than that and more possible regulators than that.

4. You literally ignore the context. Read Chapter 2 "The Freedom of the Press and Democracy" section 1 (p56-65). I would copy and paste it here but I'm running out of characters, so here are a few key excerpts which directly contradict you, although the entire damn section does exactly that. After reading it myself I can't see how you could possibly reach the conclusion you have:

1. 1. Context, p56:

"A free press is the unsleeping guardian of every other right that free men prize;
it is the most dangerous foe of tyranny ... Under dictatorship the press is bound to
languish ... But where free institutions are indigenous to the soil and men have the
habit of liberty, the press will continue to be the Fourth Estate, the vigilant guardian
of the rights of the ordinary citizen."-Winston Churchill

"The proper functioning of a modern participatory democracy requires that the
media be free, active, professional and inquiring. For this reason the courts here and
elsewhere, have recognised the cardinal importance of press freedom and the need
for any restriction on that freedom to be proportionate and no more than necessary
to promote the legitimate object of the restriction."- Lord Bingham

p57:

1.6 The fundamental importance of the freedom of the press was a very familiar theme of the
evidence received by the Inquiry, and rightly so. It is one I emphasised myself on several
occasions. The description of the importance of press freedom was put to the Inquiry largely
in two forms: first, as a negative or 'default' argument (any interference with any sort of
freedom must always be justified in a liberal democracy) and, second, as a positive argument
(the press must be free to fulfil its important role).

p61-62:

3.1 When confronting the challenge of securing a free press it is important to be clear about
why we value a free press and what we seek to protect. Perhaps the most enduring and least
contentious rationale for a free press is the argument that a free press contributes to the free flow of communications in a liberal democracy. This can be put in a very broad way, for
example:

"the public interest in a free press is best construed as an interest in adequate (or
better than adequate) standards of public communication, that allow readers, listeners
and viewers to gain information and form judgements, and so as to participate in
social, cultural and democratic life. A free press is a public good because it is needed
for civic and common life."
And:

"a liberal public sphere, one in which every member, everyone in the community, can
take part is just a very good thing in itself. It's useful partly for the results it creates
but it's also a good in itself that we all have the status of being able to take part in
the liberal public sphere and it seems the press plays a role in that. People who are
insufficiently articulate or insufficiently confident to take part in the public speech,
the press can give them a voice."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So basically the government would stop people from criticizing any group of people. Any criticism of a group could be interpreted as stereotyping.

...

So if the government thinks that the media is promoting a "bad" idea, then the government should censor them. If that's what you believe then have the honesty and integrity to directly say. "I believe the government should censor opinions that I or the government don't like"

...

So therefore a religious Muslim or Christian can't say "Atheists are serving the will of Satan" If someone says "The labor party is pushing us towards communism" they will be punished if the labor party feels misrepresented.

Since you seem to know all about the exact legal results of the Leveson inquiry, why don't you point us to the law which makes the situations you describe here come to pass?

I expect you can't, because prosecution (Or "punishment" as you so simplistically put it) cannot happen in any of those cases, because no law has been broken. So here's the media prosecution guidelines used by the CPS. That's the Crown Prosecution Service. That is, if a paper breaks Criminal Law, this is the document the judge looks at to help him decide the punishment. This is the section regarding what is the public interest and what is criminality:

Because we have been operating in a common law system for almost 800 years at least, there are a lot of cases to establish a precedent and indeed a general public view that freedom of expression is paramount. I think we don't need to enshrine our democratic values in a legal Bill of Rights because, to be honest, our democratic tradition is simply longer than yours.

If you want to see what the report actually recommends, you would do well to read the Executive Summary. It includes a summary of various recommendations made by others (Such as Lord Black's one back in May), and contains a detailed breakdown of Leveson's actual recommendation.

Lord Justice Leveson:

By appointing a judge to conduct an Inquiry of this nature, the intention was that it would
proceed along judicial lines. In other words, the Inquiry would be a process of obtaining
evidence and reaching conclusions based on objective appraisal of evidence, independence
and political neutrality. Furthermore, for over 40 years as a barrister and a judge, I have
watched the press in action, day after day, in the courts in which I have practised. I have
seen how the press have assisted the investigation of crime and seen the way that the public
have been informed about the operation of the justice system. I know how vital the press
is - all of it - as the guardian of the interests of the public, as a critical witness to events, as
the standard bearer for those who have no one else to speak up for them. Nothing in the
evidence that I have heard or read has changed that. The press, operating properly and in the
public interest is one of the true safeguards of our democracy. As Thomas Jefferson put it:

"Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe."

That is not to conclude that the British press is somehow so devoid of merit that press
freedom, hard won over 300 years ago, should be jeopardised or that the press should be
delivered into the arms of the state. Although the Inquiry has been reported as having that
aim, or likely to have that result, even to suggest it is grossly to misrepresent what has been
happening over the last 16 months. I remain (as I started) firmly of the belief that the British
press - all of it - serves the country very well for the vast majority of the time. There are
truly countless examples of great journalism, great investigations and great campaigns.

"I should make it clear at the outset that I consider that what is needed is a genuinely independent
and effective system of self-regulation."

- Executive Summary, S51

The way you have presented the Leveson inquiry in this thread is an example of the kind of shitty, misleading, biased, uninformed and downright ignorant reporting we are all sick of. You took words out of context, ignored the context of the inquiry, you make unjustified assertions, ridiculous suppositions, fear-laced and ignorance-based extrapolations. "Certain Powers" are not who you think they are. The government is not a monolithic entity. This argument is more complicated than you seem to think it is. You hastily jumped to conclusions and, to be honest, made yourself look like a fool.

If you want to raise the standard of discourse up to a level more fitting for the document in question, then please do. Have the "Honesty and integrity" to admit when you're wrong. Otherwise I have nothing else to add.

If this is suicide (given no police statements, as noted earlier, though somehow I doubt it is a death of natural causes given the high rate of suicide amongst transsexuals and the abysmal way they are treated by society and the media) then the Daily Mail are absolutely scum - particularly for deleting the old article as it certainly looks like they are trying to sweep their involvement under the rug. There simply are not words to express my contempt and hatred of the organisation and Littlejohn in particular. Hopefully there is some sort of legal recourse for the family if it can be demonstrated that this article contributed to her suicide.

They do have a story on her at the moment (buried in the "Home" page rather than news):

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2297116/Primary-school-teacher-32-announced-pupils-changing-sex-dead-home.html

What I find the most interesting about this, is a very small line at the bottom of the page there. Although it now says "We're sorry but reader comments are currently unavailable." it actually said that "Comments will not be available for legal reasons" about half an hour ago. Perhaps they know they are in trouble over this one (or does the removal of "for legal reasons" mean that their lawyers reckon they will be in the clear if it ever came to court?).

Perhaps the most depressing thing yet is: "[Facebook logo] 60 people like this."

http://web.archive.org/web/20121221195332/http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2251347/Nathan-Uptons-wrong-body--hes-wrong-job.html

There's the original article. Even though the guy is now dead I think this was just a one-time article. I do think it should've been posted elsewhere like if the guy had a blog because it's not news, just some guy criticising another guy. I would say they should've down the article and apologized to Nathan heavily as a form of damage control.

The Daily Mail sometimes makes Fox News look NORMAL.

Tanis:
The Daily Mail sometimes makes Fox News look NORMAL.

The Daily Fail is Fox News UK from what I've heard from the Brits.

And since this never gets old:

One article doesn't constitute hounding someone I would think. It's odd that this kind of thing got into a newspaper but other than that, I can't really assign blame to these guys assuming this did lead to the death in question.

I would say it depends...
First, of course, did she commit suicide or did she die due to something else?
Second, what were the ramifications of that article? Did she lose her job, was she pressured out of it indirectly, was she hounded by other folks into leaving or killing herself etc.?
One article could have kicked something into motion that ended up resulting in her death, but right now there's really not enough info, is there?
Let's wait and see until we know more of the details surrounding her death.

To what extent children should be "protected" from issues considered adult in nature is a political question. To voice an opinion on it is to voice a political opinion on a question of societal interest.

There's nothing in the opinion piece which constitutes "harassment". Stuff such as:

...
Nathan Upton is entitled to his gender reassignment surgery, but he isn't entitled to project his personal problems on to impressionable young children.

By insisting on returning to St Mary Magdalen's, he is putting his own selfish needs ahead of the well-being of the children he has taught for the past few years.
...

is a value judgement, based on a factual occurrence. One might not agree that it's a particularly big deal[1], but other people of other political alignments obviously do consider it so.

The UK government recognize the rights of transsexuals (...even if it had to be forced into doing so by the European court of human rights). It doesn't really recognize much freedom of expression as it is, denying entry to controversial politicians, imprisoning people several months for twitter trolling, and so forth. Calling for more censorship, this time of the political speech that lies at the very core of what's protected, is absurd.

Though the reason for this absurdity is readily apparent in the OP: "...they have not a single positive impact on our society". An expression of the abysmal fact that, in the EU, Freedom of Expression is viewed as something which exist only to the extent it benefits society. It's not seen as an inalienable right which belong to each and every individual human being, but as something which is allowed by the state, to the extent it benefits the collective. Thus it is no "freedom" at all, merely a longer leash.

The US view of it cannot come to us soon enough. The opinion piece of this Littlejohn guy would - presumably - already be protected under the European convention of human rights. But a collectivist view of this so-called "right" will not withstand the pressure from those who would remove their political opponents from the free democratic debate forever.

[1] I wouldn't really care if my child's teacher was a transsexual dwarf who brought the love pillow he'd married as his partner to school receptions. But then again, I'm not a fan of sexually inhibited ideologies, nor actually a parent. And more importantly, not keen on excluding those who are from democratic debate.

Whether or not she committed suicide is almost irrelevant. Calling from children to be protected from the existence of transgender people is obviously nothing more than mindless bigotry.

Silvanus:
These people are complicit in hounding the most vulnerable in society.

Yes.

I actually think Littlejohn is perfectly entitled to make his point about transsexuals, odious as it may be. What is disturbing is that a journalist with considerable power does so by naming a specific member of the public who has very little power, proceeding to smear their character, professionalism, and potentially endangering their livelihood and even personal security.

But then, Littlejohn has the qualities of a narrow-minded, vicious, bully. The fact he is one of the most popular and influential journalists of the last 20-30 years and still so even though he's barely ever even in the country he writes about unfortunately says quite a lot about a sizeable chunk of the British public.

Agema:
...
I actually think Littlejohn is perfectly entitled to make his point about transsexuals, odious as it may be. What is disturbing is that a journalist with considerable power does so by naming a specific member of the public who has very little power, proceeding to smear their character, professionalism, and potentially endangering their livelihood and even personal security.

How would you frame a discussion on topic like this one, if not through example?

Littlejohn's blog is hardly aimed at people with a vast capacity for abstract thinking. Exemplification would be key when raising a discussion like this one, even more so than it is in every other venue of communication. The press have the editorial freedom to decide on how best to communicate with its readership. To interfere with that would be no different from interfering with the subject matter itself.

It would of course have been nicer if they had been able to use a high ranking politician, a powerful businessman, or the Queen as the exemplifying figure. Had that been possible, they'd undoubtedly also have done so. But it's simply not possible to always use only powerful figures to highlight issues of (perceived) societal relevance.

But then, Littlejohn has the qualities of a narrow-minded, vicious, bully. The fact he is one of the most popular and influential journalists of the last 20-30 years and still so even though he's barely ever even in the country he writes about unfortunately says quite a lot about a sizeable chunk of the British public.

Maybe that sizeable chunk says quite a lot about British society too?

It'd be hard to find a society more divided in regard to "class", where there been no showdown with the pervasive mindset of "nobility"/"lower class", and where the opportunities of the individual are thus locked into the class it belongs to. It hardly seems unfair that, in such society, the upper classes should be burdened by the voice of the lower ones. And seek to educate them if they wish to be free of them, rather than stifle the ability of the press to relegate them.

Imperator_DK:
How would you frame a discussion on topic like this one, if not through example?

Littlejohn's blog is hardly aimed at people with a vast capacity for abstract thinking. Exemplification would be key when raising a discussion like this one, even more so than it is in every other venue of communication. The press have the editorial freedom to decide on how best to communicate with its readership. To interfere with that would be no different from interfering with the subject matter itself.

Really? So you've never seen anyone including journalists use an example of someone's actions or behaviour whilst declining to actually name them, nor can imagine someone doing so.

How fascinating.

Maybe that sizeable chunk says quite a lot about British society too?

It'd be hard to find a society more divided in regard to "class"

Yes, it would indeed be hard to find a society more divided by the British understanding of class than Britain. It is, however, remarkably easy to find societies more divided by class.

, where there been no showdown with the pervasive mindset of "nobility"/"lower class", and where the opportunities of the individual are thus locked into the class it belongs to. It hardly seems unfair that, in such society, the upper classes should be burdened by the voice of the lower ones. And seek to educate them if they wish to be free of them, rather than stifle the ability of the press to relegate them.

If you had any real idea what you were talking about rather than at best hazy notions of what other countries and their class systems are like, you might have something useful to say on this. As you don't, I think I will just ignore this as the pointless ramble it is.

Agema:
...
Really? So you've never seen anyone including journalists use an example of someone's actions or behaviour whilst declining to actually name them, nor can imagine someone doing so.

How fascinating.

Yep, I'm sure nobody in her community - where the effects would be felt - could identify that the article was about their recently operated transsexual elementary school teacher, who was returning after the holidays as "Ms. X".

And if by strange magicks they devised it anyway, certainly there's no way that information would leave that local community in this day and age either. It's the perfect cover-up.

Imperator_DK:

Yep, I'm sure nobody in her community would be able to identify that the article was about their recently operated transsexual elementary school teacher, who was returning after the holidays as "Ms. X".

One need merely mention an example by stating "I have recently heard about a transsexual teacher [no further details]..." and then proceeding to expound ones view.

The local community would mostly be aware of the teacher's situation and thus who the article probably referred to. However, that sort of thing is local, and the vast majority of local news stays local. If there were sufficient problem, the transsexual could move, and her prior maleness likely not be noticed or important at a new area and school.

However, major articles in major national newspapers significantly expands community awareness from local to national. In this situation, it greatly increases the likelihood the teacher would be recognised and face hostility anywhere she lived or tried to work.

I was under the impression that everyone already knew that the Daily Mail was a rag not fit to line a litter box. What this "journalist" did was unethical to the highest degree and should be shunned by his peers and reviled by the public. To single out a person, who isn't a public figure, and to hold them up for ridicule and public derision is wrong especially given the sensitive and not entirely accepted nature of the fact that was being ridiculed. The paper doesn't have a single iota of value to any modern culture, and the fact that its read by so many people, a large number of them the type of person who kicks up a lot of dust stamping their feet and whining, makes it a detriment to British society.

Imperator_DK:

Though the reason for this absurdity is readily apparent in the OP: "...they have not a single positive impact on our society". An expression of the abysmal fact that, in the EU, Freedom of Expression is viewed as something which exist only to the extent it benefits society.

Hrmm. Perhaps what I should have written was "they have an actively detrimental and harmful impact, both on society and individuals' lives", which would be closer to the truth.

Agema:

The local community would mostly be aware of the teacher's situation and thus who the article probably referred to. However, that sort of thing is local, and the vast majority of local news stays local. If there were sufficient problem, the transsexual could move, and her prior maleness likely not be noticed or important at a new area and school.

Agreed. The core of the matter is, this is an issue of an incredibly personal nature, already on a level of emotional difficulty most of us will never have to experience. It needs to be personal, it needs to be dealt with carefully and respectfully. There is a lot at stake.

What this man did could very well have made it infinitely worse.

the daily mail is akin to newspapers from certain European countries circa the early 1930s sometimes...

think that's too strong a statement ?

read this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2012/aug/13/dailymail-twitter

seriously, words fail me...

While LittleJohn is entitled to his opinion, he did cross a line when made the story about Lucy Meadow. Hell, this is significantly WORSE than the Australian radio shock jock incident a little while back where they pretended to be the queen and king of england and called the hospital to get information on the princess. That lead to a nurse committing suicide over the scandal and those radio hosts got fired.

Agema:
One need merely mention an example by stating "I have recently heard about a transsexual teacher [no further details]..." and then proceeding to expound ones view.

The idea about an example is that the specifics of it help get the general point across. Thus it would be needed to state that the teacher had before worked in a small school with small children as one sex, and was coming back to that same school as another sex. At which point anyone with the most cursory knowledge of this situation - be it from community gossip or a random facebook update - could identify who it was about. Unless Britain have significantly more transsexual elementary school teachers than I'd expect it to have.

The local community would mostly be aware of the teacher's situation and thus who the article probably referred to. However, that sort of thing is local, and the vast majority of local news stays local. If there were sufficient problem, the transsexual could move, and her prior maleness likely not be noticed or important at a new area and school.

However, major articles in major national newspapers significantly expands community awareness from local to national. In this situation, it greatly increases the likelihood the teacher would be recognised and face hostility anywhere she lived or tried to work.

Littlejohn's exact complaint was that she didn't want to move away and start over somewhere else. So either there weren't really any local problems this article could affect, or she was determined to stay at this particular school.

Assuming an operation removes all physical signs of prior maleness, I suppose publicity might make it harder for her to start over somewhere else (...in the UK), should she have changed her mind. But such hypothetical is hardly enough to justify censorship of the editorial freedom of the press.

Silvanus:
...
Hrmm. Perhaps what I should have written was "they have an actively detrimental and harmful impact, both on society and individuals' lives", which would be closer to the truth.

What harm?

There's a transsexual who might or might not have chosen to commit suicide. A choice that might or might not be partially based on this article. Might doesn't make right...

The thing is, you're well aware already that Littlejohn had no intention of "voicing societal concerns", as you euphemistically phrased it.

"Societal concerns" aren't what you - or I - happen to find to be so. People who complain about this aren't trolls out to bitch at transsexuals for the lulz. They're parents concerned about their children being subjected to adult concerns. Which should be everyone's right to give voice to, peculiar as others might find their concerns.

He finds examples of vulnerable people in society, doesn't do any research of any real value (in this case, the actual feelings of the kids & parents, which he assumed), and then subjects them to abuse in a national outlet.

From the opinion piece:
...
Parent Wayne Cowie said the news had left his ten-year-old son worried and confused.

For the past three years he has been taught by Mr Upton, but has now been told that he will be punished if he continues to call 'Miss Meadows' 'Mr Upton' after the Christmas holidays. 'My middle boy thinks that he might wake up with a girl's brain because he was told that Mr Upton, as he got older, got a girl's brains.
...

Unless "Wayne Cowie" is entirely made up, it seems Littlejohn actually did find one parent and one kid who didn't feel too happy. Hardly enough to say the majority of the local community is unhappy, but hardly "made up" either.

Imperator_DK:

There's a transsexual who might or might not have chosen to commit suicide. A choice that might or might not be partially based on this article. Might doesn't make right...

I've stated above that I believe she very probably did have other influences on her mind, and that the case isn't certain. That's not reason to dismiss the possibility.

Imperator_DK:

From the opinion piece:
...
Parent Wayne Cowie said the news had left his ten-year-old son worried and confused.

For the past three years he has been taught by Mr Upton, but has now been told that he will be punished if he continues to call 'Miss Meadows' 'Mr Upton' after the Christmas holidays. 'My middle boy thinks that he might wake up with a girl's brain because he was told that Mr Upton, as he got older, got a girl's brains.
...

Unless "Wayne Cowie" is entirely made up, it seems Littlejohn actually did find one parent and one kid who didn't feel too happy. Hardly enough to say the majority of the local community is unhappy, but hardly "made up" either.

I repeat, Littlejohn doesn't do his research. He's a Floridian who has a few choice details (ones that support an easy, targeted narrative) forwarded to him by the paper here in Britain.

One parent describing "Worry and confusion" does not equate with the class "devastated and in need of protection". This is not a basis on which to destroy a woman's life. It is hearsay, and it's not even Littlejohn's hearsay. (This aside, there have been cases in the past of quoted individuals in the Mail turning out to be utter fabrications, or to have never said what they were quoted as saying).

Seriously; this couldn't have been handled delicately or respectfully? This couldn't have been handled without splashing it through a national outlet? It was undoubtedly a time of immense personal trauma, and this man made it far worse and plausibly contributed to her suicide, for no purpose. If there were concerns, they should have been dealt with by the parents and the school.

Silvanus:
...

I've stated above that I believe she very probably did have other influences on her mind, and that the case isn't certain. Is this reason to dismiss the possibility?

It's (further) reason to dismiss your call for censorship of the press.

I repeat, Littlejohn doesn't do his research. He's a Floridian who has a few choice details (ones that support an easy, targeted narrative) forwarded to him by the paper here in Britain.

One parent describing "Worry and confusion" does not equate with the class "devastated and in need of protection". This is not a basis on which to destroy a woman's life. It is hearsay, and it's not even Littlejohn's hearsay.

It's primarily a value judgement of it being wrong to subject children to adult topics and themes. Made on the factual basis that a transsexual woman teaching elementary school students changed gender over the holidays.

...though if he lives in Florida, I guess there's little reason to discuss the woeful lack of UK free speech in regard to him personally. The US isn't in the habit of extraditing people for statements which are legally made from within it.

The paper itself might be subject to it, but it should be able to separate its physical and online branch into different companies, and host the online version in the US. I certainly would if I ran a newspaper in the EU.

Seriously; this couldn't have been handled delicately or respectfully? This couldn't have been handled without splashing it through a national outlet? It was undoubtedly a time of immense personal trauma, and this man made it far worse and plausibly contributed to her suicide, for no purpose. If there were concerns, they should have been dealt with by the parents and the school.

It probably could.

It's not that I necessarily disagree that this Littlejohn guy is a big prick. But I'll certainly defend the editorial freedom of the press, and its right to comment of things some people would rather it didn't comment on.

Imperator_DK:

The idea about an example is that the specifics of it help get the general point across. Thus it would be needed to state that the teacher had before worked in a small school with small children as one sex, and was coming back to that same school as another sex. At which point anyone with the most cursory knowledge of this situation - be it from community gossip or a random facebook update - could identify who it was about. Unless Britain have significantly more transsexual elementary school teachers than I'd expect it to have.

Comprehension of a point being made sometimes requires more than the snippet selected.

Littlejohn's exact complaint was that she didn't want to move away and start over somewhere else. So either there weren't really any local problems this article could affect, or she was determined to stay at this particular school.

No, Littlejohn's "exact" or rather "main" complaint certainly was not that. His complaint is that transsexuals in the process of gender change ruin the minds of little children (including the transsexual's own if they were so selfish and irresponsible to have kids of their own first).

The rest is your unfounded assumption of the unknown, in two parts.

All we know is that she stayed at the school. This does not imply she was determined to, but could just mean she did not think there would be sufficient problem, and no relevant authorities (headmistress, school board, local council, etc.) had informed her there would be. Also, whilst there may not have been sufficient problem initially, there sure might have been after Littlejohn wrote an intemperate hatchet job on her and the situation.

But such hypothetical is hardly enough to justify censorship of the editorial freedom of the press.

Given that at the time I started this comment no-one in this thread, including myself, has clearly argued for the (government-enforced) censorship of the editorial freedom of the press, there is no particular point responding to lecture them as if they had.

The nearest you might have is the OP itself, but he may as easily mean press self-regulation or suing the Mail if it is deemed to have been sufficiently injurious to the teacher.

I had a teacher who did that, and you could only tell when she forgot to do a woman's voice which happened occasionally.

It didn't a "devastating" effect on me, or any effect at all, but I was a little bit older than primary school. I cant imagine it being an issue for younger kids (aside from being a bit mysterious) in any meaningful way, when I was at school we used to take the piss out of the teachers we didn't like regardless of their gender. This guys obviously using "think of the children" to vent his own prejudices.

I think the best thing we can do is continue to hate on the daily mail, then when all their readers eventually die off (as they inevitably will) so will it.

Agema:
...
Comprehension of a point being made sometimes requires more than the snippet selected.

...I don't quite follow? Is your point that it'd be possible to accurately relay all relevant details of this example, while still providing anonymity? Or merely that it's often possible to do so?

No, Littlejohn's "exact" or rather "main" complaint certainly was not that. His complaint is that transsexuals in the process of gender change ruin the minds of little children (including the transsexual's own if they were so selfish and irresponsible to have kids of their own first).

Mr. Littlejohn:
...
It would have been easy for him to disappear quietly at Christmas, have the operation and then return to work as 'Miss Meadows' at another school on the other side of town in September. No-one would have been any the wiser.
...

Seems he would've been quite happy with that solution. So I guess his point was that this was what she should've done instead of remaining on board.

The rest is your unfounded assumption of the unknown, in two parts.

They're hardly any less unfounded than the idea she killed herself, much less that she killed herself over this.

All we know is that she stayed at the school. This does not imply she was determined to, but could just mean she did not think there would be sufficient problem, and no relevant authorities (headmistress, school board, local council, etc.) had informed her there would be. Also, whilst there may not have been sufficient problem initially, there sure might have been after Littlejohn wrote an intemperate hatchet job on her and the situation.

Assumption as unfounded as the ones I made.

What we can say is that nobody knows what went through her mind, and no one have yet bothered to investigate her situation at the school prior to and after the opinion piece was posted. Meaning it's not really possible to prove - or disprove - any causality at this point.

If people are going to blame the paper for causing her suicide, then they should probably establish that it was a suicide, and that Littlejohn's piece helped motivate it. And even then, the task of explaining why one vulnerable person being motivated to suicide justifies limiting the freedom of press remain (...on a forum where there'd probably be a widespread consensus that if one dude was inspired by GTA IV to go out and run down random pedestrians, that shouldn't lead to the game being banned).

Given that at the time I started this comment no-one in this thread, including myself, has actually argued for the (government-enforced) censorship of the editorial freedom of the press, there is no particular point responding to lecture them as if they had.

So when the OP suggest it should not be covered by freedom of speech, what he actually means to say is that the law should still allow it?

...he may as easily mean press self-regulation or suing the Mail if it is deemed to have been sufficiently injurious to the teacher.

Self-regulation under the more or less explicit threat of government intervention as the alternative is censorship. Being able to sue the press for vast amounts of money over its stories and comments, in accordance with defamation laws set down by the government, such is also a form of censorship.

If a national court awards £100,000 in damages to a person over a newspaper article, such case can be tried by the European court of human rights. Why? Because it's a free speech issue (...yep, yet more British contempt for free speech, to the point that other parts of the civilized world have felt the need to actively take countermeasures).

Agema:

All we know is that she stayed at the school. This does not imply she was determined to, but could just mean she did not think there would be sufficient problem, and no relevant authorities (headmistress, school board, local council, etc.) had informed her there would be. Also, whilst there may not have been sufficient problem initially, there sure might have been after Littlejohn wrote an intemperate hatchet job on her and the situation.

I am just highlighting this section of your post to point out something quoted in the Fail's own article on this:

"The newsletter which was hand-delivered to parents, said: 'Mr Upton has made a significant change in his life and will be transitioning to live as a woman after the Christmas break. She will return to work as Miss Meadows.'

It said the school was fully supporting him throughout his 'transition' and added: 'We are proud of our commitment to equality and diversity among our staff and children.'"

So it does not sound like either the school or the local educational authorities had any problems with the idea of a teacher undergoing sexual reassignment surgery and continuing to teach - in fact they seemed to have supported and approved of the decision.

++

Just to point out, following on from my previous post, that the "comments" section is back to saying:

"Sorry we are unable to accept comments for legal reasons."

What do people think this means in relation to the story as a whole? Is it a sign that the Daily Mail think they might have overstepped the ethical boundaries of the press with the previous articles and might be in for something of a legal storm?

Though I am further depressed that the article now has 308 "likes" on Facebook...

Imperator_DK:

They're hardly any less unfounded than the idea she killed herself, much less that she killed herself over this.

Other people making unfounded claims doesn't make yours any less weak.

Assumption as unfounded as the ones I made.

Wrong.

An assumption is a possibility given preferential credibility, or a hypothesised situation from which to derive a further conclusion. What I stated are neither, they are merely feasible alternative possibilities that illustrate that your assumption is baseless.

What we can say is that nobody knows what went through her mind, and no one have yet bothered to investigate her situation at the school prior to and after the opinion piece was posted. Meaning it's not really possible to prove - or disprove - any causality at this point.

From my personal perspective here, I don't really give a monkey's whether causality exists between article and suicide in this specific instance. I'm more interested in expressing my personal distaste for Richard Littlejohn, and considering the general societal power difference those with national prominence and members of the public with little or no voice to express themselves in return.

So when the OP suggest it should not be covered by freedom of speech, what he actually means to say is that the law should still allow it?

If you want to know what the OP thinks, ask him not me.

I might merely point out that freedom of speech clearly does not need to extend to permit libel/slander, reckless endangerment of others, harassment, or incitement to criminality.

Imperator_DK:

It's (further) reason to dismiss your call for censorship of the press.

Uh-huh. Freedom of the press is the freedom to lie, misrepresent, breach privacy, and personally name & push those who are exceptionally vulnerable. Just like the freedom of assembly enshrines my right to hold a rally that makes a main road impassable or makes it impossible for you to leave your house, right? My freedom of movement enshrines my right to move my fist, very fast, into the face of whomever I choose, and my freedom of expression enshrines my right to shout loudly through a megaphone in the theatre.

These rights are not absolute. Moderation is possible.

Agema:

If you want to know what the OP thinks, ask him not me.

I might merely point out that freedom of speech clearly does not need to extend to permit libel/slander, reckless endangerment of others, harassment, or incitement to criminality.

^ This, basically.

Agema:
...
From my personal perspective here, I don't really give a monkey's whether causality exists between article and suicide in this specific instance. I'm more interested in expressing my personal distaste for Richard Littlejohn, and considering the general societal power difference those with national prominence and members of the public with little or no voice to express themselves in return.

Well, no disagreement there. I'm instead interesting in countering the attack on free speech also present.

I might merely point out that freedom of speech clearly does not need to extend to permit libel/slander, reckless endangerment of others, harassment, or incitement to criminality.

And I might point out there's no reason to trust that the UK can actually handle weighing these things, at least in a manner that's not grossly weighed against freedom of speech.

Absurdly harsh and expansive libel laws, laws allowing months of imprisonment for internet trolling, laws against inciting religious hatred being used to cull debate on immigration and Islam; Wherever the eye is turned, censorship and oppression is present. It didn't even allow transsexuals to express their gender by legally changing it, until forced to do so by the human rights court. Yet people would place faith in it that it'd simultaneously protect them and balance free speech?!

And could you point out where any of those things are present in Littlejohn's column?

Silvanus:
...
Uh-huh. Freedom of the press is the freedom to lie, misrepresent, breach privacy, and personally name & push those who are exceptionally vulnerable. Just like the freedom of assembly enshrines my right to hold a rally that makes a main road impassable or makes it impossible for you to leave your house, right? My freedom of movement enshrines my right to move my fist, very fast, into the face of whomever I choose, and my freedom of expression enshrines my right to shout loudly through a megaphone in the theatre.

Or perhaps you could then point out which laws Littlejohn have broken? Or at least what censorship laws you'd like to have been in place for him to break?

Both your examples concern directly causing physical harm; the absolute and clearly defined limit framing an otherwise absolute right. They don't concern writing out words which might or might not have contributed to somebody's decision - and ultimately the decision is of course theirs - to commit suicide. If it was proven beyond doubt that the video game "God of War" had inspired one person to kill his father - i.e. something far worse than suicide - would you like for it to be banned as well?

Imperator_DK:
SNIP

I'm going to stop this, now. This topic is intended to be about the woman who lost her life, and the Daily Mail's standards, not about press law.

When I wrote the OP, I was quite personally shaken and upset about the subject at hand. That's what drove me to include the line, "this shouldn't be allowed". It was not intended to turn this thread into a press law argument. Let's get back to discussing the woman who lost her life, and the paper that may have had a hand in it.

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