Archive for the ‘Political Correctness’ Category

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google news logoFor its updated news application, Google is claiming it is using artificial intelligence as part of an effort to weed out disinformation and feed users with viewpoints beyond their own filter bubble.Google chief Sundar Pichai, who unveiled the updated Google News earlier this month, said the app now surfaces the news you care about from trusted sources while still giving you a full range of perspectives on events. It marks Google’s latest effort to be at the centre of online news and includes a new push to help publishers get paid subscribers through the tech giant’s platform.

In reality Google has just banned news from the likes of the Daily Mail whilst all the ‘trusted sources’ are just the likes of the politically correct papers such as the Guardian and Independent.

According to product chief Trystan Upstill, the news app uses the best of artificial intelligence to find the best of human intelligence – the great reporting done by journalists around the globe. While the app will enable users to get personalised news, it will also include top stories for all readers, aiming to break the so-called filter bubble of information designed to reinforce people’s biases.

Nicholas Diakopoulos, a Northwestern University professor specialising in computational and data journalism, said the impact of Google’s changes remain to be seen. Diakopoulos said algorithmic and personalised news can be positive for engagement but may only benefit a handful of news organisations.  His research found that Google concentrates its attention on a relatively small number of publishers, it’s quite concentrated. Google’s effort to identify and prioritise trusted news sources may also be problematic, according to Diakopoulos. Maybe it’s good for the big guys, or the (publishers) who have figured out how to game the algorithm, he said. But what about the local news sites, what about the new news sites that don’t have a long track record?

I tried it out and no matter how many times I asked it not to provide stories about the royal wedding and the cup final, it just served up more of the same. And indeed as Diakopoulos said, all it wants to do is push news stories from the politically correct papers, most notably the Guardian. I can’t see it proving very popular. I’d rather have an app that feeds me what I actually like, not what I should like.

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ASA logo ASA’s code writing arm, CAP, has launched a public consultation on a new rule to tackle harmful gender stereotypes in ads, as well as on guidance to advertisers on how the new rule is likely to be interpreted in practice. The purpose of today’s announcement is to make public the proposed rule and guidance, which includes examples of gender portrayals which are likely to fall foul of the new rule.

The consultation proposes the introduction of the following new rule to the ad codes which will cover broadcast and non-broadcast media:

Advertisements must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence.

The consultation comes after the ASA published a report last year – Depictions, Perceptions and Harm which provided an evidence-based case for stronger regulation of ads that feature certain kinds of gender stereotypical roles and characteristics. These are ads that have the potential to cause harm by contributing to the restriction of people’s choices, aspirations and opportunities, which can affect the way people interact with each other and the way they view their own potential.

We already apply rules on offence and social responsibility to ban ads that include gender stereotypes on grounds of objectification, inappropriate sexualisation and depiction of unhealthily thin body images.

The evidence does not demonstrate that the use of gender stereotypes is always problematic or that the use of seriously offensive or potentially harmful stereotypes in advertising is endemic. The rule and guidance therefore seek to identify specific harms that should be prevented, rather than banning gender stereotypes outright.

The consultation on guidance to support the proposed new rule change provides examples of scenarios likely to be problematic in future ads. For example:

  • An ad that depicts a man with his feet up and family members creating mess around a home while a woman is solely responsible for cleaning up the mess.

  • An ad that depicts a man or a woman failing to achieve a task specifically because of their gender e.g. a man’s inability to change nappies; a woman’s inability to park a car.

  • Where an ad features a person with a physique that does not match an ideal stereotypically associated with their gender, the ad should not imply that their physique is a significant reason for them not being successful, for example in their romantic or social lives.

  • An ad that seeks to emphasise the contrast between a boy’s stereotypical personality (e.g. daring) with a girl’s stereotypical personality (e.g. caring) needs to be handled with care.

  • An ad aimed at new mums which suggests that looking attractive or keeping a home pristine is a priority over other factors such as their emotional wellbeing.

  • An ad that belittles a man for carrying out stereotypically “female” roles or tasks.

Ella Smillie, gender stereotyping project lead, Committees of Advertising Practice, said:

“Our review of the evidence strongly indicates that particular forms of gender stereotypes in ads can contribute to harm for adults and children by limiting how people see themselves and how others see them and the life decisions they take. The set of standards we’re proposing aims to tackle harmful gender stereotypes in ads while ensuring that creative freedom expressed within the rules continues to be protected.”

Director of the Committees of Advertising Practice, Shahriar Coupal said:

“Amid wide-ranging views about the portrayal of gender in ads is evidence that certain gender stereotypes have the potential to cause harm or serious offence. That’s why we’re proposing a new rule and guidance to restrict particular gender stereotypes in ads where we believe there’s an evidence-based case to do so. Our action is intended to help tackle the harms identified in the ASA’s recent report on the evidence around gender portrayal in ads.”

The consultation closes on 26 July 2018 .

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Department for Education logoUniversities minister Sam Gyimah hosts free speech summit and calls on higher education leaders to work together to create new guidance on free speech Free speech on campus should be encouraged and those attempting to shut it down must have nowhere to hide, the Universities Minister will make clear to sector leaders at a free speech summit he is chairing today (Thursday 3 May).

Sam Gyimah will call on higher education organisations to stamp out the ‘institutional hostility’ to unfashionable views that have emerged in some student societies and will urge them to work with the government following recent reports of a rise in so-called ‘safe spaces’ and ‘no-platform’ policies that have appeared on campuses.

He will say that the current landscape is “murky”, with numerous pieces of disjointed sector guidance out there, creating a web of complexity which risks being exploited by those wishing to stifle free speech.

The Universities Minister will demand further action is taken to protect lawful free speech on campus and will offer to work with the sector to create new guidance that will for the first time provide clarity of the rules for both students and universities — making this the first government intervention of its kind since the free speech duty was introduced in 1986.

The guidance signals a new chapter for free speech on campus, ensuring future generations of students get exposure to stimulating debates and the diversity of viewpoints that lie at the very core of the university experience.

Universities Minister Sam Gyimah said:

A society in which people feel they have a legitimate right to stop someone expressing their views on campus simply because they are unfashionable or unpopular is rather chilling.

There is a risk that overzealous interpretation of a dizzying variety of rules is acting as a brake on legal free speech on campus.

That is why I am bringing together leaders from across the higher education sector to clarify the rules and regulations around speakers and events to prevent bureaucrats or wreckers on campus from exploiting gaps for their own ends.

The free speech summit will be hosted in London and brings together a wide range of influential organisations, including those that have existing guidance in this area, such as the Charity Commission, UUK and EHRC.

The Office for Students, which came into force on April 1, will act to protect free speech and can use its powers to name, shame or even fine institutions for not upholding the principle of free speech. Michael Barber, Chair of the Office for Students, said:

Our universities are places where free speech should always be promoted and fostered. That includes the ability for everyone to share views which may be challenging or unpopular, even if that makes some people feel uncomfortable. This is what Timothy Garton-Ash calls ‘robust civility’. The Office for Students will always encourage freedom of speech within the law. We will never intervene to restrict it.

Alistair Jarvis, Universities UK Chief Executive, said:

Universities are committed to promoting and protecting free speech within the law. Tens of thousands of speaking events are put on every year across the country, the majority pass without incident. A small number of flash points do occasionally occur, on contentious or controversial issues, but universities do all they can to protect free speech so events continue.

As the Joint Committee on Human Rights recently found, there is no systematic problem with free speech in universities, but current advice can be strengthened. We welcome discussions with government and the National Union of Students on how this can be done.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights launched an inquiry on freedom of speech on 22nd November and issued its report on 25th March. The roundtable attendee include:

  • Home Office — Matt Collins, Director of Prevent
  • Office for Students (OfS) — Yvonne Hawkins, Directer of Universities and Colleges
  • Charity Commission – Helen Stephenson, Chief Executive
  • NUS – Amatey Doku, Vice President
  • EHRC – Rebecca Thomas, Principal, Programmes
  • Universities UK (UUK) – Chris Hale, Director of Policy
  • iHE – Alex Proudfoot, Chief Executive
  • GuildHE – Alex Bols, Deputy CEO
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Transport for London (TfL) has apologised for an ‘insensitive’ body shaming message written on a service information whiteboard at Blackhorse Road Underground stationThe sign, which was posted as a quote of the day read:

During this heatwave please dress for the body you have… not for the body you want!.

The PC lynch mob accused TfL of body-shaming, branding the message gross and disgusting , contrary to the usual insightful and witty quotes shared with commuters on its whiteboards.

No doubt the person who posted this didn’t understand the complex PC pecking order of who is allowed to bully who. They will surely suffer ‘appropriate’, probably meaning extreme, punishment for their innocence. A TfL spokesperson told i:

We apologise unreservedly to customers who were offended by the insensitive message on the whiteboard at Blackhorse Road station.

Our staff across the network share messages on these boards, but in this instance the message was clearly ill-judged and it has been removed.

An investigation is underway to establish who thought such an unacceptable message was a good idea, so that the appropriate action can be taken.

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failing justice oopsJustice is not seen to being done in the UK. A string of cases have emerged where men have been prosecuted for rape whilst evidence suggesting their innocence has been kept hidden away by the authorities. The presumption is that the authorities are willing to let innocent people be convicted so as to inflate the rape conviction rates to keep feminist campaigners happy.

But once exposed, this failure in justice is surely very corrosive in trying to keep society ticking over in increasingly tetchy times.

So even the police have decided something needs to be done about this disastrous approach to justice. Met police commissioner Cressida Dick has announced that the police will abandon the policy of automatically believing ‘victims ‘. [but using the word ‘victims’ rather suggests the she still automatically believes complainants].

Dick said officers must investigate rather than blindly believe an allegation, and should keep an open mind when a ‘victim’ has come forward. It is very important to victims to feel that they are going to be believed , she told the Times. [But what about when they are out and out lying]. She added:

Our default position is we are, of course, likely to believe you but we are investigators and we have to investigate.

Dick spoke about several other topics including a whinge about the violent undercurrent in some music, especially grime.Meanwhile Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecution overseeing this disgraceful period of injustice, will not get her contract renewed by the government.

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American Beauty Blu-ray A well-placed source told me recently that late last year the BBC pulled plans to show the Oscar-winning film American Beauty on BBC1. Why? Because it stars Kevin Spacey, who had at that point just been accused of sexually inappropriate behaviour.

Spacey, who is now seeking treatment for his problems, has not been convicted in court of any of the offences levelled at him but the BBC seems to have decided it must shield licence fee payers from works of fiction he has appeared in anyway. No film involving Spacey has been broadcast by the BBC — or any other terrestrial TV channel — for months.

The same goes for Woody Allen. In 1992 he was accused of sexually molesting his adopted daughter, Dylan.

The writer asked the main TV companies for their comments but they weren’t willing to say anything worthwhile. Channel 4 was the only company even willing to allude to #MeToo reaction. A spokesman said:

Channel 4 and Film4 are always mindful of current events when scheduling films for broadcast. We select films on a case by case basis, taking into account the nature of the films and the likely impact their broadcast might have on our audiences given current events.

Read the full  article from blogs.spectator.co.uk

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martin kettlelThanks to Alan who ask:

Have you seen article by a twat called Martin Kettle in today’s Grauniad?

What has happened to Britain’s “liberal” newspaper? Kettle is a toxic, know-nothing, sanctimonious authoritarian. I’m no Tory, but comparing him and Damian Green makes me question whether we should use “wanker” as a pejorative. It’s the anti-wankers like Kettle who seem like dickends.

I agree and noted particularly this intolerant nastiness from Kettle’s column:

Green is to some degree a victim of the fact that online pornography is so easily available. People — they are overwhelmingly men — access porn because they can. MPs are not employees, so their offices are not even subject to employer-imposed controls. A digital revolution combined with a free-and-easy approach to online controls meant that porn went from being concealed in brown paper bags on top shelves in seedy shops that charged money for it to being a mass online product costing nothing at all and sent straight into your home, office or phone for anyone to see.Advertisement

The fact that men may like porn is not a justification for this ease of access. Porn demeans women. It is violent. It is socially undesirable. It is very bad for men too. To his credit, David Cameron grasped this. The upshot is the Digital Economy Act 2017, not yet in force but coming into operation in a few months. This requires internet service providers to impose an age verification requirement that will be a deterrent not just to children looking for freely available porn but also to adults such as Green (or someone), who will have to go through a process to gain access.

In time, shame and embarrassment may act as a deterrent not just to telling the truth but to porn itself. Society would be better off with as little access as possible, and ideally with no access at all. Controls matter. They should be stronger.

And I must admit to being somewhat angered by this example of intolerance from the Guardian.

15 years ago I was a keen Guardian reader myself, I found the newspaper to be most in tune with my own beliefs in a liberal and tolerant society, supporting universal equality. At the time the Daily Mail was the villain of the newspapers regularly calling for censorship as sort of panacea for all society’s ills.

Now 15 years on the Guardian has become the voice of authoritarianism, censorship, injustice and selective equality. Whilst the Daily Mail, in a strange kind of way, has become the newspaper that gives a voice to the opinions of significant sections of the people who would be silenced if the Guardian had its way.

The Guardian and its political allies seem to have become the enemies of the very basics of civilised life: free speech, tolerance, equality and justice. Martin Kettle provides a fine example about the disregard for free speech and tolerance. Political correctness seems to have resulted in a system of justice more akin to witchfinding than anything else. The standard PC unit of ‘justice’ is for someone to lose their lifelong career, and it doesn’t matter how trivial or unintentional the PC transgression is. And when a real and serious crime is being investigated, eg rape, the politically correct prove by their actions, that they are totally happy if innocent people are convicted, especially if it contributes to a feeling of wellbeing by those lucky enough to be favoured by the politically correct.