Jun 27, 2007

Some Real News (for a change)

A little off-topic perhaps but I thought that you may all be interested to see the internet in its very best light (i.e. no boobies, no mentalists, no AA Gill).

Now, you may well have seen this rather dispiriting little tale of over-zealous religious teenagers and the inevitable claim to free-expression and discrimination:
A 16-year-old girl has gone to the High Court to accuse her school of discriminating against Christians by banning the wearing of "purity rings".

Lydia Playfoot was told by Millais School in Horsham, West Sussex, to remove her ring, which symbolises chastity, or face expulsion.
That of course is the retelling offered by the BBC. An understandably busy corporation what with all the re-runs of 'Allo Allo it has to schedule and its unrelenting attempts to find yet more mediocre panel-shows for David Mitchell to appear on. So in all their haste they (along with every other mainstream media outlet) have effectively echoed the original story as it was handed to them, without any real, well... you know... journalism.

Step up to the plate The Internet (that much maligned young buck with a lot of potential but a rather worrying penchant for unpleasant low-budget pornography and Diana conspiracy theories) in the shape of the dashingly anonymous Unity at a website called the Ministry of Truth. Unburdened by deadlines or word counts and with the world a few keystrokes away, s/he has done some frankly brilliant investigating of the figures lurking in the shadows of this story, unearthing a litter (what is the collective-noun for religious zealots, a congregation maybe) of characters sinister and bizarre enough to put Captain Jack's crew to shame.

[...] one has to question not only the merits of Playfoot’s case but the motives of the people around her, especially if one factors in the ‘elephant in the room’ that the press are assiduously ignoring, the very obvious interest that both the Playfoots (Playfeet?) and Robinsons have, as directors of Silver Ring Thing (UK) Ltd, in obtaining a High Court ruling that gives their chastity campaign the legal cover of the Human Rights Act.

The more one examines the background to this case, the more one has to wonder whether what’s really being sought in the High Court is not legal support for the rights of individual teenagers to wear chastity rings in schools, but legal support for the efforts of an Evangelical Christian group to turn schools into recruiting offices for their particular US-import brand of god regardless of the wishes of schools, their governing bodies or the parents of other children.

Now this is why I think the internet is a wonderful, monstrous thing. It may well be an ocean of noise but in its folds it always has room for quiet and methodical voices with some really interesting things to say that otherwise wouldn't get heard. I don't think you'll see a more comprehensive piece of investigative journalism very often. Do go and read it.

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