Thursday, 8 January 2015

A story that Beggar's Belief!

Above is the front page of the latest Ayrshire Post (January 9). It claims to be an 'expose' of the beggars in Ayr but the language is so extraordinarily inflammatory and unpleasant the editor, and the writer, should feel thoroughly ashamed.

It reads:

Brazen beggars are coining in up to £200 a day on the streets of Ayr.
Roving East European gangs and lone-wolf Scottish scroungers are plaguing Ayr for rich pickings.
Now we can reveal new get-tough moves aimed at unsettling them are to sweep into action.
And there is vast backing to BANISH them from the town centre for good.
Our expose this week captures the panhandling pests on camera as they beg for cash help, typically waving worn polystyrene coffee cups.
Tourists and residents loathe them sitting on the public pavements.
But in recent weeks dozens of shameless beggars have preyed on people's consciences and targeted the High Street area during the Christmas spree.

It is thought that ALL the Eastern Europeans involved are transported from immigrant enclaves in the central belt.
And one woman beggar has a warm and cosy council tenancy ..... [bile turns to page 5.]

And this was just on the front page.

Looking at the use of language more closely, let's pursue it a little more:

Brazen beggars - these people have the temerity to be outside;

Roving East European gangs - run for your lives, there are hordes of foreigners on the lose;

new get-tough moves aimed at unsettling them are to sweep into action... to BANISH them...for good - these people will be swept away like litter from the gutter. Or Jews from Poland.

Tourists and residents loathe them sitting on the public pavements - because they're litter and shouldn't be on public benches. Only the gutter for them;

dozens of shameless beggars have preyed on people's consciences... during the Christmas spree - not only do these guttersnipes have the temerity to be outside, they also open their mouths and hunt down innocent Christmas shoppers in packs. And why, of all times, do they do this at Christmas? Christmas is a time for giving presents, not giving to scroungers (check Bible to be sure this is right Ed.)

one woman beggar has a warm and cosy council tenancy - look, she's not even bloody homeless. She's conning you.

Now, begging of any sort is not pleasant for either the beggar or the, erm, beggee. For those who are asked for money it can be embarrassing, uncomfortable and genuinely intimidating.

And people who find themselves on the streets, begging, frequently include the most vulnerable in society; those with mental health problems, the unemployed, the lonely, the abandoned, people who simply find the process of coping day by day impossibly difficult. And people begging on the streets does also include organised criminal gangs, sometimes forcing trafficked people into prostitution and to ask for money on the streets.

But, for the Ayrshire Post, there seems to be only two sorts of 'beggars': 'roving East European gangs' and 'lone-wolf Scottish scroungers' and no one else.

The Ayrshire Post's report comes just two days after Shelter Scotland - who have declined to comment on the Ayrshire Post's story - published a report that, on the one hand, finds that homeless applications in Scotland have thankfully decreased by 34 per cent in the last five years; but also identifies an 38% rise in applications from the private rented sector. The report can be found here.

Part of me wonders if there has been a dreadful editorial mistake. Surely no sane reporter, sub-editor or editor could have allowed such copy to be published. Perhaps there was a system error and a 'jokey' draft 'story' was accidentally sent to the printers, Maybe we will hear a heartfelt apology before too long. I genuinely hope that will prove to be the case, otherwise what has been published is simply vile.

But, for now, people seem to be getting pretty outraged by the paper's stance offering plenty of comments like these:

(thanks/apologies to contributing tweets & pics from @Ayrshire Greens, @gavincorbett and @MartynMcL)

1 comment:

  1. Note use of "lone wolf" - not only perjorative in that it subliminally links beggars to terrorists and extremists, but given what is unfolding in France, staggeringly inappropriate. One wonders whether the writer of this piece is attempting to incite hate crimes.


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