“Don’t look at the sun,” my mother used to always say when I was running around the garden playing in my youth. And a useful message it was, the last few day’s baking heat has opened my eyes to something foreign to us English; 20 Degrees Celsius!
But, in my youth, I never took this casual remark to save my retinas from melting to mean not to look at a newspaper. Yet it seems that way for many people across the country. A recent humorous look at various Twitter users’ reactions to getting a free Newspaper in the post yesterday was inventive (it was used as Toilet paper, to line cat litter trays etc) but also downright stupid. For some reason there has been a backlash to Ed Miliband posing with a copy of this fun-filled, pro-England, free copy of The Sun intended to support “Roy’s boys” in Brazil. This action has been branded as an “absolute disgrace” by one group which represents survivors of the Hillsborough disaster which The Sun infamously reported on with a shocking disrespect for both the lives of those involved and the truth of the calamity.
But is what Miliband did really a disgrace?!
If we ignore the fact that Miliband is anti-Murdoch (which is only half an argument considering the fact that the free copy has no political bias in at all) then there really is no reason to criticise the Labour leader for posing with the 6.7 Million selling paper. Not only has the newspaper’s editor moved on (the notorious Kelvin MacKenzie) since Hillsborough but so have most of the staff I’d guess; it has been over 25 years since the horrific football disaster. Miliband has said that he “understands the anger” felt by those involved but he shouldn’t really have to defend himself for this. The manipulation of a terrible accident as a means to destroy the reputation of a national newspaper has gone on for long enough. No longer is this irrational hatred towards The Sun relevant. Especially when the free issue this week only celebrated some wonderful things England has that it can be proud of.
A freebie which says Englishness is characterised by respecting fair play, tolerance of others and talking about the weather and lists The Queen, Winston Churchill, David Attenborough and Kelly Brook (well, her ‘assets’) as among the greatest Englishmen and women is hardly one to label as rubbish. What are those people who are disregarding The Sun’s freebie really saying are English values?
They certainly aren’t playing fair (holding someone’s past mistakes up time and time again is hardly a fair way to criticise), they’re not being tolerant of other opinions and repeatedly dismissing The Sun will just open themselves up to accusations of ignorance.
As much as I’m thankful for my mother advising me against staring at the sun, I’m also thankful that she didn’t chastise me for staring at and talking about The Sun; after all, us English do love to talk about the weather. Whether it’s The Sun or the rain.