This came while I was gone, and everybody has probably already seen it by now, but here it is anyway: a newspaper blogger in Britain has been censured for posting a statement about culturally enriched crime in London.
The interesting thing is that Mr. Liddle is being censured for asserting something about the ethnicity of criminals in London as if it were fact. Since Her Majesty’s Government effectively prevents any comprehensive ethnicity-vs.-crime statistics from being gathered, this means that any assertion on such matters could be actionable under the mandate of the PCC, since hard data do not exist. By these standards, the truth about ethnic crime in London is no more provable than the doctrine of transmigration of souls.
It’s also notable that this blogger’s “racism” was not directed at Muslims in this case, but at Afro-Caribbeans.
According to Yahoo News:
First Blog Faces Censure by PCC
Former Radio 4 Today editor Rod Liddle has become the first journalist to have an online blog censured by the press watchdog. Skip related content
A complaint was upheld by the Press Complaints Commission after the writer and columnist claimed on the Spectator website that the “overwhelming majority” of violent crime in London was carried out by young Afro-Caribbean men.
Stephen Abell, director of the watchdog, said it was “a significant ruling” to make against a newspaper or magazine blog for inaccuracy.
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A reader complained after Liddle wrote in December that “the overwhelming majority of street crime, knife crime, gun crime, robbery and crimes of sexual violence in London is carried out by young men from the African-Caribbean community”.
Mr Abell said: “This is a significant ruling because it shows that the PCC expects the same standards in newspaper and magazine blogs that it would expect in comment pieces that appear in print editions.
“There is plenty of room for robust opinions, views and commentary but statements of fact must still be substantiated if and when they are disputed. And if substantiation isn’t possible, there should be proper correction by the newspaper or magazine in question.”
The article breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, the PCC concluded.
A spokesman for the body said: “It was certainly true in this case, for example, that a number of readers had taken issue with Mr Liddle’s claim and had commented on the blog. However, the commission did not agree that the magazine could rely on publishing critical reaction as a way of abrogating its responsibilities under the code.
“While it had provided some evidence to back up Mr Liddle’s position, it had not been able to demonstrate that the ‘overwhelming majority’ of crime in all the stated categories had been carried out by members of the African-Caribbean community.
“Nor could it successfully argue that the claim was purely the columnist’s opinion — rather, it was a statement of fact.”
Hat tip: TB.