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Saturday, 23 March 2013

The Lucy Meadows bandwagon

Like numerous other, similar instances in the UK, the death of transgender teacher Lucy Meadows appears to have been hijacked by people with an agenda other than the welfare of the people concerned.

In particular, the scandal's focus has been shifted onto the Daily Mail and their £1million RWNJ (right wing nut job) columnist Richard Littlejohn.

In his column, Littlejohn said a lot of vile and ignorant things but he did not actually call for Meadows to be sacked. And now, as the New Statesman columnist and legal bod David Allen Green has pointed out, we can see from what evidence there is that media harassment of Meadows and the school, including of parents, is sourced to elsewhere in the press and that Meadows never referred to Littlejohn's column.

But the focus has been onto the Mail firing Littlejohn as some sort of trophy head-on-a-spike that'll teach 'em about how to treat transgender people. But this isn't how those actually engaged at the coal face in trying to change the media's approach see the way forward.

Instead, writes Trans Media Watch, who presented a very detailed report to the Leveson Inquiry (which Allen Green helped draft):
As a charity we prefer to build positive relationships and bring about change through education, providing training and resources for media.

Littlejohn is a pantomime hate figure, he is pretty much employed to do that job! But he doesn't represent the sort of doorstepping and agenda driven reporting which is cited in what evidence exists as to what Meadows' possible state of mind was prior to her apparent suicide. That comes back to the local newspaper, which is owned by Trinity Mirror not Associated Newspapers, the Daily Mail's owner. Trinity Mirror must be breathing a sign of relief that no shit seems to have stuck to them

Before this evidence came out perhaps it was natural for people who want-to-do-something to start a petition and, lo, so it came, via an interesting choice.

The petition to fire Littlejohn was on, a US based company which is expanding around the world, the UK being an early expansion target. is an enormous operation and it is for profit. It is assumed to be progressive but that was exposed last year when it agreed to promote campaigns against the Chicago teacher's strike.

There is a lot of competition when it comes to 'clicktivism' (typically meaning the signing of online petitions). The resultant lists of email addresses have great value and can be used to generate revenue from 'partners'. Most companies in this game say they have some sort of ethical basis for who they will work with - now insist they never claimed they had. But the game is the same, generate clicks/signatures to build up your 'clicktivism' outfit.

So it is telling that over Lucy Meadows a Brit chose to go first to rather than a British competitor.

It is also telling that another group has decided to set up in competition with over Lucy Meadows and Littlejohn. These are the people, note their UK Advisory Board members - especially people from the TUC and Oxfam. This is how it describes itself: is a global movement of consumers, investors, and workers all around the world, standing together to hold corporations accountable for their actions and forge a new, sustainable and just path for our global economy. seems to be a split from other US, probably just Silicon Alley New York, based groups. The publicity I received for their 'Fire Littlejohn!' petition came from someone who had done PR before for the LGBT 'clictivism', New York-based group

Their publicity was headlined:
Thousands Outraged After Daily Mail Reporters’ Bullying Leads to Teacher’s Suicide
'Leads to ..'? Littlejohn a 'reporter'?

I have worked with AllOut and one of the things I liked about them was that they were very careful to work with groups on the ground, for example in Uganda and Brazil. I am very much reminded of that careful work, particularly in Uganda, when I note that this petition plainly has no connection with Trans Media Watch. It's just bandwagon jumping and very ethically dodgy, no matter how you slice it, because this would build a mostly UK list and that has value and that gets funds for the group.

How it actually helps transgender people in the UK and not just is not clear, unless those involved think their 'global movement' can decide what actions will help without any apparent consultation?

WTF are the TUC and Oxfam thinking?

Pike's angry parent find
Added: The journalist who first 'monstered' Meadows is Stuart Pike of the Accrington Observer.

He was the one who went out of his way to find controversy and an angry parent, which was the picture (seen right) accompanying his story.

Pike's story is then what was repeated by the Daily Mail, which was then covered by Littlejohn. Yet Pike's possible breach of journalistic ethics has had no consequences, for either him or his Trinity Mirror owned Newspaper. He hasn't even been targeted on Twitter.

Irony of ironies, Pike appears to have a relationship with Alastair Campbell, who is singled out as a shit-stirrer in the Mail's response to the call to sack Littlejohn.

» » Follow up on reaction to this post is here.


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