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Tuesday, November 7

Current Affairs

I, for one, feel quite odd about the death sentence for Saddam Hussein. There's no doubt in my mind that his actions in the past go against my beliefs and that not taking some grand action against him will only fuel his remaining supporters. It does strike me that we in the West have no real understanding of the country that we've invaded and applied our own value system to. As a result of Mr Hussein and Iraq and its relationship with the West there has been a lot of blood shed and many lives lost. Perhaps there has equally been a lot of blood and lives preserved. I don't know.

To put someone to death. To hang them off a rope until dead, or to wilfully snap their neck in one move of a trap door seems totally alien. It's the sort of thing you see in a film, safe in the knowledge that the person involved really walked away and that your primeval fear is awakened by the verisimilitude of what you're seeing, not the actual fact of it.

Yet, perhaps after being hanged the internet will be alive with various videos taken of Hussein's last seconds. People will celebrate his death in a way that nobody celebrates life. People will gawk at his twitching corpse in the same way as they gawked over Pamela Anderson's honeymoon home-made porn and Paris Hilton's... whatever it was.

Is this healthy?

No.

Is our relationship with current affairs healthy in the celebrity obsessed culture we live in?

No.

It's partly down to presentation. Here are some presentation thoughts.

The Jeremy Vine Show
I listen to this show on radio 2 some lunchtimes when I'm in the car going somewhere. It ALWAYS annoys me. Vine winds his guests and listeners up into a frenzy of revealing their most extreme opinions. He also asks questions of the listener to make them react and ring in. On the show yesterday he had a human rights advocate and an Iraqi journalist having a head-to-head debate over whether Hussein should be hung. The Iraqi journalist said that, owing to his understanding of the nature of Iraq and its people, hanging Hussein would be a fairly cut and dried act. The guy is dead, everyone would respect that.

The human rights man said that it is a barbaric act to put someone to death and that there were other options, including putting Hussein in a prison in international territory - he suggested The Hague - for life. This would, he said, not involve us coming down to the barbaric level that we apparently stepped into Iraq to prevent.

So far, so reasonable.

But guests on Jeremy Vine are not reasonable. Somehow our human rights expert had to go the extra mile. He then suggested that Hussein should be kept in solitary in a cell which was festooned from wall to ceiling with the faces of all of his "victims" and that he should wear a pink (yes, PINK) jumpsuit with the words "I am an evil murderer" written all over it. His aim was to provide Hussein with a lifetime (well, the remainder of a lifetime) of daily reminder of what bad things he'd done.

So we went from being reasonable to the logic of a petulant child. Fabulous. This is our mass media folks... but it gets better.

The Daily F****ng S*ar
I can't abide tabloids. If in doubt, report a TV programme as though it's news and add a picture of a young girl who is displaying her assets in denial of who exactly is being exploited.

Anyway, yesterday, while most papers were running the Saddam story as headline, front page news, The Star had a front page story relating to The X Factor. Apparently someone had had some sort of tantrum about something. Front page story! The Hussein story had made page 5 - opposite the rest of The X Factor story. The X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing, Celebrity Scissor Hands, Circe de Celebrite and a whole bunch of other clones are just pointless, meaningless, trivia - THEY'RE NOT NEWS... THEY'RE NOT EVEN WORTH WATCHING!

Sky News
I didn't watch Sky News last night as such. I was playing pool while it was on. As such I missed the context of what I saw. However, they were reporting something to do with a rather offensive poem that appears to be doing the rounds by email. I've been doing some digging. Without the sound on their broadcast, all I got was the full text of the poem which was displayed bit by bit, but ultimately in full, to go along with the report. The poem appears to have started in American and then been modified for the british audience. Here are some occurrences of it I've found on the internet:Sickening stuff, really. The poem talks of how it is for someone to take residence in a country like ours, get benefits, work and a new life. It suggests that this is a bad thing. It's probably a bad thing that a country like ours, where a lot of the work is done by people who want to work hard and do not originate from this country, would rather look at the hardworking people as a virus, rather than see them as having a work ethic worth aspiring to.

I'm proud that our country has conditions which are better than the country of origin for these migrants. I'm not proud that we're a bunch of brain-dead racists.

Anyway, Sky News appears to report its news by askings its viewers to ring in their opinions. Given that we're a country of mindless racists is this really a good idea?

Whatever next?
If our news and media is insistent on dragging everything down to the lowest common denominator, or at least anything which might make a marketing-child ecstatic (a marketing child being defined as the sort of mindless individual who assumes that anything marketable, must be as worthwhile as their bogus claims make it out to be), then where will international events be reported in the future, and how?
Reveal magazine
Saddam, 69, doesn't colour his hair - "It's naturally this dark, " he laughs, "though my beard could use some Grecian 2000. Unfortunately, the Americans have taken charge of all oils in this country, so I'm not allowed any."

We asked him if he has any fashion tips for our readers. "My advice," he said, shouting and pointing a bit, "is to check any necklaces you put on - if they've got a long rope and gallows on the other end of them, avoid at all costs".

And now our position of the week: strangely ambivalent to anything of any importance and passionate about the trivial and superficial.

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