Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Internet, the Tabloids and the murky world of misinformation


I have a couple of friends who send me stuff from the INTERNET that they receive from other friends. I usually pass them on too. Many of them are very funny, showing the infinite stupidity of humanity; others are very clever and creative and some, Dear Reader, are a bit rude. It is rare for me to delete without sending on but there are categories I won't be party to distributing. Here is one (he says, distributing it more widely).

An incident occurred in a supermarket recently, when the following was witnessed: A Muslim woman dressed in a Burkha (A black gown & face mask) was standing with her shopping in a queue at the checkout.

When it was her turn to be served, and as she reached the cashier, she made a loud remark about the Union Jack Flag lapel pin, which the female cashier was wearing on her blouse.

The cashier reached up and touched the pin and said, “Yes, I always wear it proudly. My son serves abroad with the forces and I wear it for him”.

The Muslim woman then asked the cashier when she was going to stop bombing and killing her countrymen, explaining that she was Iraqi.

At that point, a Gentleman standing in the queue stepped forward, and interrupted with a calm and gentle voice, and said to the Iraqi woman:

“Excuse me, but hundreds of thousands of men and women, just like this ladies son have fought and sacrificed their lives so that people just like YOU can stand here, in Britain, which is MY country and allow you to blatantly accuse an innocent check- out cashier of bombing YOUR countrymen”.

“It is my belief that if you were allowed to be as outspoken as that in Iraq which you claim to be YOUR country, then we wouldn’t need to be fighting there today”.

“However - now that you have learned how to speak out and criticise the British people who have afforded you the protection of MY country, I will gladly pay the cost of a ticket to help you pay your way back to Iraq”.

“When you get there, and if you manage to survive for being as outspoken as you are here in Britain, then you should be able to help straighten out the mess which YOUR Iraqi countrymen have got you into in the first place, which appears to be the reason that you have come to MY country to avoid.”

Apparently the queue cheered and applauded.

IF YOU AGREE.. Pass this on to all of your proud British friends..
Well, I have also seen an Australian version of this so I was not entirely convinced, especially as there is no means of verifying the truth of the story. But it rang a bell and so I did a little INTERNET search. There seems to be a strong link between the above little piece of incitement to social harmony and a story from an edition of The Sun from Last October.

Asda Till Snub for Hope for Heroes Mum. Mum-of-three Beth Hoyle claims an Asda till worker refused to serve her because she was wearing a wristband backing injured troops. Beth says the checkout lad told her the band for Help for Heroes - aided by The Sun - meant she supported the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And when she complained to a supervisor, he BACKED the Asian youth, saying he was entitled to his view. Beth, 40, who has two brothers in the services, said the checkout worker told her he didn't want to serve her because of "what she was wearing."


Asda’s ultimate response was: We’ve come to the end of our investigation at Asda Rochdale and can’t find any truth in the allegation that one of our colleagues refused to serve a customer for wearing a Help for Heroes wristband.

Our regional operations manager Paul Rowland said: “We’ve completed our investigation and it’s clear this exchange never happened. We’ve interviewed over 400 colleagues in the store, examined over three days worth of CCTV footage and talked to other customers and we can find absolutely no evidence that a colleague said what was alleged.”


They concluded: “We are disappointed and angry that right-wing groups are using this mythical incident to whip up racial hatred,” said Paul. “Thankfully the people of Rochdale will see straight through that. We remain big supporters of the work our troops do serving our country.”

Asda, it seems, sell the Hope for Heroes wristbands.

Most worryingly, the websites for Exposing Islam and the NF still have the story.

Excellent. Well done The Sun!