Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Racial Scaremongering

A "shock, horror!" headline on the website of British tabloid The Sun claims "Third of rapists and killers 'are foreign'". Except they're not. When you actually read the article, this figure is only true in a few police districts. The figure across the UK as a whole is 1 in 7, or less than half the quoted proportion.

Further evidence that The Sun is engaging in racial scaremongering is that in three successive paragraphs it refers to immigrants, foreign nationals, foreign-born suspects, and in a later paragraph to non-English speaking suspects, as if all these groups were synonymous. Furthermore, despite the fact that the majority of recent immigrants to the UK are white EU citizens, they chose to illustrate the piece with a photo of a black convicted murderer.

Apart from the article's obvious racial bias, the ill-defined 1 in 7 (14.3%) figure is even more meaningless unless we know how many foreigners are in Britain at any given time for comparison. A recent estimate suggests that the figure may be around 11.4% - so far from the shock picture of the headline, the reality is that foreigners account for these crimes in only a slightly higher proportion than their total numbers would lead us to expect. Furthermore, it would be helpful to separate rape and murder for comparison in analyzing the figures, since cultural misunderstandings can play a part in some rapes.

The Sun should be ashamed of itself for peddling racist propaganda.


During a recent trip to Europe, I spent nearly a month without following the news. I didn't feel I'd missed much - when I got back, most things were going on exactly as before.

Two stories did filter into my consciousness - the death of Osama bin Laden, and the wedding of Prince William, at which time I was in Britain. I'm no monarchist - far from it - but this did at least demonstrate that a country rapidly descending into Third World status can still put on an excellent show of pomp and pageantry. Now if only they could apply the same impressive level of organisational skill to the chaos of Terminal 3 at Heathrow Airport. Considering that this gives many foreign visitors their first impression of the country, isn't it time the whole overcrowded mess was pulled down and rebuilt to the standard of Terminals 4 and 5?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Scary Vegetables

The 1978 movie Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is generally regarded as a good-natured spoof of the science fiction genre. Now today's BBC news site has a deadly serious headline: Deadly cucumbers claim more lives. We really are living in a science fiction world.