The Mirror and the Daily Mail both like to feed our baser instincts by giving us trashy headlines. And yet, my school blocks access only to one of these newspapers — why? Politics, of course.
The rise of the morally superior Left is ever-present in secondary schools, perhaps more so than anywhere else. Carrying out research for an extended essay, I was surprised, if a little perturbed, to find that the article I wanted to read was blocked by my sixth-form centre. It was from the Mail Online so yes, perhaps not the most reputable of sources, but nevertheless I felt at the time that this was fundamentally wrong.
What irked me even more however was the fact that when, out of interest, I checked to see if the — crucially, left-leaning — Daily Mirror‘s online newspaper was also blocked, I found that I could access it without a problem. Undeniably, the Mirror is just as ‘trashy’ as the Mail, for want of a better word. In fact, I would argue that the Mail doesn’t produce headlines quite as salacious and eyebrow-raising as the Mirror‘s. Yet it seems the Mirror has been overlooked — and depressingly, it is likely because of its political leaning.
The vast majority of teachers — well, actually the vast majority of public sector workers — lean towards the left of the political spectrum. Logically and understandably so, for they are the ones to bear the brunt of austerity, budget cuts, and the government’s mystifying need to constantly change the way our education system is run.
However, that does not give them the right to stifle sides of the debate which they may not agree with. Teachers, more and more, are tending not only to make their views known but to preach that they are the ‘right’ ones. It is wrong to preach that capitalism is ‘correct’ but it is equally wrong to preach that socialism is the way forward.
Articles on the Mail Online are not offensive, they do not limit anyone’s right to practise their beliefs, nor to exercise their freedom of speech. So why are these articles blocked? Well, the answer lies in the recent fixation of those on the Left on the idea of being morally ‘right.’ Perhaps this is more commonly known as political correctness, but this is political correctness gone way too far. In education, healthy debate should be encouraged; views from all sides of the political spectrum and from people of all walks of life should be welcomed. No, that does not include racism or sexism or any of the other offence-causing ‘isms’, but the Daily Mail cannot be argued to harbour or present these sorts of views. Of course, people with a bone to pick with Rupert Murdoch will pipe up with something like the ‘Brexit, Legs-It’ uproar, but we can hardly call that misogyny. I found that Sarah Vine article rather funny. And I’m sure Theresa May was flattered.
The Daily Mail is simply what is in the news with a right-wing slant. It is this right-wing slant which some people have an issue with, principally because since the turn of the century, the Right has become increasingly associated with racism, nationalism and the class war. This warped perception of right-wing politics is of course only magnified by the march of the PC brigade. I am not agreeing nor disagreeing with right-wing views, but rather arguing that the real, nitty-gritty ideologies behind modern politics have been lost to this obsession with being politically correct.
But back to moral superiority. A line in an article I once read — by a fellow student in fact — really resonated with me.
‘There is nothing remotely liberal about silencing those who you do not agree with’.
I couldn’t have put it better myself; people justify the banning of newspapers such as the Daily Mail from their university campuses, schools — and IT systems — by pointing to the principle of Liberalism. They say that Liberalism should only go so far as to protect the rights of those whose views do not limit or undermine those of others. But like the woolly argument about ‘safe spaces’ this is a weak justification. How on earth can you argue that the material in the Mail, or the Sun, or any other right-wing newspaper, undermines people’s civil liberties?
Who gave my teachers the right to decide which political commentary is appropriate for me to read? To limit the range of material which I can access? To try and steer the direction of my political affiliations? We are told all our lives that it’s up to us to form our own opinions. Then we reach the point where we are most impressionable, and one side of the debate is stifled — by the very people who are supposed to be helping us to develop into rounded individuals. This is not right, and this is not liberal.