Whether or not it is ‘proper’ to draw conclusions about somebody when you enter their home and encounter their reading choices evidently displayed on their bookshelves, do we ever wonder what it says about us as a nation that, until yesterday, four out of ten Sunday newspapers sold in the UK were copies of the News of the World ? Personally (although I harbour a degree of sympathy for the many who have suddenly lost their jobs whilst those at the helm retain theirs – isn’t that the way of today’s world?), I’m glad to see the back of the scum-sucking rag. If that suggests some faux intellectual snobbery tell, then you can have that charge. But by long since boycotting that organ, I am not troubled by any feeling of complicity in its activities. Because a newspaper is driven to large extent by what its readers want (else they wouldn’t read it).
Perhaps we all need to look inwards at our own appetites, and our susceptibility to News International’s not-so-subliminal – gloating – sway on our voting. If you (still) hear any Murdoch ass-schmoozing politician employing the obfuscatory tactic of arguing that NI’s attempt of a full takeover of BSkyB is somehow good for democracy, I suggest you give them a wide berth. But it would be wrong to be too severe on readers, who buy out of interest; not the same as buying an interest in. Something I read yesterday bothers me. The Church of England’s ‘Ethical Investment Advisory Group’ has decided to pipe up. Why? Because the CofE owns £4 million’s worth of shares in News Corporation, which it is now threatening to offload in protest at NC’s failure to hold those in charge accountable.
I have long since been (at best) confused/sceptical/cynical/incredulous as to organised religion’s continued superiority claim on morality and ethics. From the group’s pages on the CofE’s own website:
‘Ethical investment restrictions apply to companies involved in military products and services, pornography, alcoholic drinks, gambling, tobacco, human embryonic cloning and weekly collected home credit.’
Hmmm, what is the definition of ‘pornography’? And what better promotion for military products than a war, such as Bush and Blair’s moral adventure in Iraq, heartily backed at the outset by The Sun and The Times.
Has this group seriously only just cottoned on to what the ‘News of the Screws’ is (was)? Of course not. Rather, imagine its members sitting round a highly polished table, smugly pretending their importance in maintaining the church’s veneer, working out how to justify to themselves that, hitherto, investing in the publisher of the NotW was somehow ethically sound practice. Or perhaps that’s somewhat harsh. Maybe, being an advisory group, these ecclesiastical economists have long since been counselling against this association – but have been overruled, or their recommendations disregarded, by those who make the decisions. Evidence can be a troublesome thing. Being educated types, I imagine they have some serious literature on their shelves at home.