Writing in the Yorkshire Post yesterday, columnist Bill Carmichael wrote an article under the heading "Bill Carmichael: Brutal truths about protest" which details an extraordinary attitude towards the policing of the G20 demonstrations, and it would seem to women in general.
In this article, he makes the following assertion in reference to the attack on Nicola Fisher, who was attending a demonstration on April 2nd, in solidarity with those affected by violent policing of the G20 Protests the day before, which culminated in the tragic death of newsagent Ian Tomlinson;
'Take a few moments to look at the video and a strikingly different picture emerges from the propaganda being put out by the protesters and their friends at the BBC and left-wing newspapers. Instead of the sanitised version of injured innocence, what you'll see is an aggressive-looking young woman – as yet unidentified – hat pulled down over her eyes, mouthing obscenities into the face of a police officer, who is trying to ignore her. After several minutes of this he snaps and slaps her with the back of his hand with the words: "Go away." She doesn't and she continues to hurl abuse. At which point he draws his baton and belts her on the legs.If anyone ever deserved a good slap, this woman certainly did.Instead of being suspended and investigated, I believe the officer involved should be commended for his forbearance'.
Although Miss Fisher has courted controversy amongst activists since the footage came to light, chiefly due to her decision to hire publicist Max Clifford to sell her story to the mainstream press, there are few who would say that she deserved such an attack. In fact hers is just one of many such attacks that have occurred during recent protests as the police have made a shift to more confrontational tactics to deal with perfectly legal demonstrations, despite the weight of public opinion turning against them as a result.
The tone of this article is set early on with the following paragraph;
Poor love! She sounds a delicate flower, doesn't she? Strolling alone minding her own business in the City of London when suddenly she was struck down by the jackboot of the fascist police state.
Subsequently, a remarkable lack of respect for women and sensitivity towards the death from cancer of another young woman is summed up;
She'll get her 15 minutes of fame and a few quid. Celebrity Big Brother here she comes. Being belted by a policeman is probably the best career move she's ever made. Clifford has a gap in his portfolio where Jade Goody used to sit, so no doubt he'll be marketing his new recruit as "The People's Crusty".
Comments to the site have shown a complete lack of support for Bill Carmicheal's bizzarre views of the event. One comment by Johnt Davidson of Leeds follows;
"Bill, you say she 'deserved a good slap,' under what other circumstance do women who weigh 6 and a half stone and are 5 ft tall deserve a good slap? It would be interesting to know. How do you define a 'good slap'?"
Steve G Jones also elegantly makes this point;
"Good heavens - what is this article. Some attempt to grab the all-Yorkshire violent misogyny prize from Geoff Boycott? Let's, for the moment, leave aside the interpretation of the video. I'd hoped never to have read lines like these in a reputable newspaper...Now I'm no fan of the sort of grim-face, pre-packaged feminist view that men are the always the aggressors, and women are the victims. A mindset which Jacqui Smith appears to believe, but heavens above. Neanderthal journalism (with apologies to Neanderthals) of this sort makes that a precious difficult argument to fight. This piece of pavement excrement masquerading as an article should have been consigned straight into the bin."
Though the article does attract some support, mainly from a person leaving comments from the kent area, it would seem to be encouraging that the majority of people in the Yorkshire area find this sort of tone and dialect abhorrent. The Yorkshire Post has a long history of misrepresenting the views of activists in this region, and a column such as this would indicate that this is an endemic culture amongst the editorial staff for such a piece of "journalism" to have been published.
Anyone who has an opinion on what Mr Carmichael has to say are encoraged to add their own comments to the bottom of his article, and if enough opposition is displayed, hopefully issues like this will be covered with more tact and sensitivity in the future.