Sunday, 25 April 2004

press review

Andrew Brown’s regular weekly Press column in the Church Times discusses how the British broadsheets covered the St Albans story. As this isn’t on the web for another 2 weeks, I summarise it below.

Update 8 May
The full text of Andrew Brown’s press column of two weeks ago is now available here.

But first, Andrew’s own blog draws attention to the Diary column in the Guardian on Friday, which began a new feature Behind the Barking Letter, with this:

A new Diary feature is inspired by a robust missive from one Rev Justin Hughes, sent to our colleague Steve Bates and concerning gay Dean of St Albans, Jeffrey John. With “Behind the Barking Letter”, then, we will attempt to bring you the people behind the poison, the personalities behind green ink.
There isn’t space, alas, to print Justin’s theological argument in full, but he explains Jeffrey is “one of Blair’s anus-lusting perverts… no better than a member of the vile cult of the dead woman, the pope religion… these vile creatures claim to be servants of God, when they actually serve your master, Satan …”
Having placed a call to the evangelical minister at his home in Bruton, Somerset, we begin. Thank you, Justin, for being the inaugural Behind the Barking Letter. Do outline your basic day. “My day-to-day life,” says his reverence personably, “wouldn’t be that different from yours.” Well, you say that … “I might do some street level evangelism.” Is that sandwich board work? “No, I carry a small battery-powered amplifier.” And how often, on an average day, does someone tell you you’re barking? “Quite a lot. I’ve been swung at by sodomites, I’ve had feminists shake their fists at me. Jesus tells you this’ll happen though.” What’s he like? “He can be like me. He’s lovely, but he can be firm. He told me off once.” What for? “Speaking against the wrong person.” And finally, how do you pay the bills? “I’m a rep for a medical equipment company.” Thanking you Justin, you’ve been most kind.

Andrew has published the full text of the letter sent to Stephen Bates, see Smashing Stereotypes

Now back to the CT press review.
After laughing at the gross ignorance of the CofE shown in the American quote (in Ruth Gledhill’s initial report):

This is an outrageous appointment. It is a backdoor attempt to make homosexuality mainstream in the Church of England.

he goes on to note how the opposing views of the Telegraph and Times on the one hand, and the Guardian and the Independent on the other, are all based on the same data, or rather lack of data:

if there is a gay clergyman there must be outrage; so phone around until you find it. This in itself makes an implicit judgement that the outrage must be significant, but it’s one that will be more quickly forgotten if it is wrong. Hyperbole is the natural key of a news report: when was the last time one saw real “fury” in the world? Yet even those journalists sent off to St Albans instead of Iraq find fury everywhere. Their readers, correspondingly, discount it, and remember instead the occasional shocking modulations into the key of common sense.

I will link the whole column here when it is released to the web (now done).

Most coverage of recent St Albans news is on the TA blog.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 25 April 2004 at 6:12 AM GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: St Albans | St Albans

The title ‘Smashing Stereotypes’ considers it strange that a person of Revd Hughes’s views should read ‘The Guardian’.
It follows that Andrew Brown considers that it is normal and understandable that people should read newspapers that merely tell them what they already believe.
On the contrary, the thinking person is the one who seeks to make himself/herself aware of the range of arguments. A dissenter will be far less effective and visible among the like-minded.

Posted by: Dr Christopher Shell at August 25, 2004 07:38 PM
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