Friday, July 01, 2011

The Poplar Tree was unavailable for comment.

Ever have one of those days when you’re feeling really good, in fact rather too good? Usually I’d recommend a good session of watching Jersey Shore or My Super Sweet Sixteen to bring your cynicism levels up to just shy of a simmering rage, but you’ll be relieved to know that there’s another alternative. Simply look at the Daily Mail website.

Yesterday a 13 year old named Sophie Howard was unfortunately fatally injured when a branch fell from a tree as she sat on a park bench. She was taken to hospital but later died from her injuries. It’s an unfortunate story, yet a simple one. It’s been handled with great sympathy and care by all of the major news outlets, all bar one. The fucking Daily Mail.

Their headline (which has been changed now, spineless knee-jerk journalism fans) reads “Girl, 13, crushed to death by a falling branch as she sat on park bench because her teachers were out on strike”.

Take a moment for that to sink in. Read it again if you can’t believe it. You’re beginning to forget that it’s Friday and oh-so-nearly the weekend aren’t you? That good mood you were in? Evaporating like dog piss in a shaft of sunlight. That warm sensation you’re getting? That’s not the gorgeous sunshine beaming down – that’s your blood beginning to boil.

They even perform the famous journalistic act of backing this up with the opinion of a random somebody who can express exactly the point the Mail were trying to make (if the headline isn’t obvious enough) – in this case an “angry parent” who “wrote on Twitter afterwards” (I.e. some copy made up by the journalist in question knowing full well it’ll be next to impossible to actually validate the statement).

“She should have been safe at school, she was just sat on a bench talking with could have been my daughter.”

A different broken branch.  Not the broken branch from
the report, but an innocent bystander.
 The article proves that it’s now scientifically possible to blame anything on absolutely anybody. They may as well blame God for his basically flawed Poplar design with its aesthetically pleasing but essentially easily-removed branches, or the designer of the park for being fucking stupid enough for the completely outlandish and maverick design idea of placing a park bench under a tree. In fact, sod it, let’s blame God for it. If he hadn't made it a glorious sunny day then Sophie Howard would have been safe inside. In fact fuck it - let's hold him solely responsible for inventing trees in the first place. Evil, evil trees. Sponging off the state and giving us nothing in return, except producing lovely breathable oxygen.

In typical Daily Mail style lets expect some striking revelations over the next few days; It’ll turn out the Poplar tree in question arrived here as a seed on the wind from Eastern Europe and has been happily claiming benefits for the past thirty years for himself, his wife and their twelve young saplings. Or that a neighboring Oak Tree will remark how “The Poplar tree was very quiet. Always kept himself to himself. Never would have expected he turned out to be a murderer” or possibly “I’m sure I heard him cry Allahu Akbah before he did the deed”.

But I jest. That’d be fucking stupid. As stupid as blaming strike action on the unfortunate death of a teenager.

Addendum: The ever astute Holly has noticed the Daily Mails excellent selection of photographs to accompany the piece. Look at the article on the Mail on the link above to see what she means. Look at them. LOOK AT THEM. There. Your weekend is ruined.

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