The state of the news in the UK

A newspaper story in the Mirror caught my eye the other day.

Basically the police had rounded up a young Muslim man (after having him under intensive surveillance) and held him under draconian terrorism laws.

I read the story twice. Not because I am particularly slow, but because I’ve developed a habit of reading these stories twice, because the way these stories are written are designed to twist our way of thinking, and form our opinion.
In short, we are constantly being manipulated.

Here is a typical example of this kind of reporting:

FANATICAL TERROR SUSPECT ARRESTED.

Police today stormed the residence of Ali Hamza in the early hours of this morning.

Fanatical Hamza, 25, had been under surveillance by police for some time, and has been detained under anti terrorism laws.

Hamza has been known to have visited Pakistan several times in the last year, and a police source confirmed that Hamza was suspected to have links with a terrorist organisation.

A neighbour (who did not want to be named) said “He always kept himself to himself, didn’t really speak to anyone. He was always going abroad, and I’m not sure where he was getting the money from.”

A police source said that a search of his residence had proved to be quite fruitful, and they were committed to ridding Britain of anyone who wanted to interfere in our way of life.

Hmmm.
On second reading, stories like these read like fabrications:
Fanatical? On whose opinion? No explanation on why he has been branded fanatical.

Police “stormed” the residence? For all we know, they could have simply knocked. “Known to have visited Pakistan several times this year…” So? If I did that, no one would bat an eyelid. Maybe he has family over there.

As for the “Suspected to have links with a terrorist organisation”

Very easy to tar anyone with this brush. Suspected by who? The police? The reporter writing the story? His granny?

As for the neighbour…. My neighbours could say the same about me – I mean, we nod, say hi to each other when we pass in the street, but I don’t think I’m going to be invited over for coffee.
What I know about my neighbours, I could write on a postage stamp – and I’m hardly a loner…

In closing, next time you read a “story” like this, read it again.

Dissect it, and work out how much is fact, and how much of the story is written to get the desired response from you:

we are overrun with terrorists, they want to destroy our way of life (yeah, work until you drop, whilst being taxed through the nose, while our politicians trouser as much of our money as possible…), and the only way we can solve this problem is to invade & occupy other people’s countries, tell the population how scared they should be, and bring in a raft of new draconian laws designed to keep us “safe.”

Copyright © Mark A. McPherson 2011.
All rights reserved.

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