Judging the writer: in defence of Gordon Brown

I confess I am not necessarily a keen supporter of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. While I was generally impressed with him as Chancellor of the Exchequer, he seems to me to be less than sure-footed as Tony Blair’s successor – the job does not appear to be a natural fit. But this week I am on his side, and strongly so, as he has to deal with what I think is a totally outrageous campaign by the Sun newspaper, which I trust is backfiring on them.

As many readers here will probably know, the cause of all the trouble was a hand-written letter of condolence that Brown sent to the mother of a British soldier recently killed in Afghanistan, Jamie Janes. The letter contained several spelling mistakes, including an apparent misspelling of the fallen soldier’s surname. The mother passed the letter to the Sun, who wrote what I would consider a nasty piece severely attacking Brown and accusing him of being disrespectful and careless.

Of course anyone would feel sympathy for a parent who has lost a son in such circumstances, and yet it is, to me at least, incomprehensible that Mrs Janes would want to wage a campaign, not around the causes of her son’s death, but the Prime Minister’s bad spelling. But then again, grief can do terrible things to a person, and I can easily accept that anger is understandable.

No such excuse for the Sun. Apparently it is known that Gordon Brown is dyslexic. And I for one, apparently in common with most of those who have reacted to all this, find it more striking that Brown wrote a letter by hand. He subsequently even rang Mrs Janes to apologise for the misspelling.

All I can say is that, in my opinion, the behaviour of the Sun is disgraceful. The role of the media in securing a democratic and open society is vital; malicious campaigns of this kind have the potential effect of bringing the media into disrepute, which is dangerous for society. This case seems to me to be more than a failure of judgement: it is a failure to understand the nature and duties of responsible journalism.

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4 Comments on “Judging the writer: in defence of Gordon Brown”

  1. Vincent Says:

    It -the sun- is doing something worse, serious underestimation of the character of the average bloke in the street.

  2. I must say that I am very impressed to hear that the Prime Minister would hand write a letter of condolence and surely criticizing a few mis-spellings is a weird way for the Sun to react to it.

    I would like to think that Vincent is right to say that the Sun is underestimating the character of the average man in the street, but their sales figures seem to support the old adage that it is not possible to underestimate “the average bloke in the street”.

    I don’t want to sound condescending, but I am led to believe that the spelling ability of the average reader of the Sun is not much above Gordon Brown’s. Therefore it is quite likely that they would sympathize more with the Prime Minister who has made a few minor mistakes than with the outraged received or the letter.

  3. Brad Says:

    The Sun just published Gordon Brown’s letter for sales and sensationalism. It worked just Google, Dyslexia.

    They should know he is dyslexic, do they not have reporters?
    The Sun must think the public is daft. Well I’m not daft but I’m dyslexic and proud to be so.

    It seems that some of the public still think that a dyslexic is just “thick” (a word used it a few comments to the Sun article)
    So we have come far, our humanity.

    I do have trouble with B’s, D’s, Q’s and P’s.
    The alphabet and numbers are really hieroglyphics, normally a child will sort out by 7 or 8, along with which hand to use, left or right, sequence of event or tasks.
    I do not care anymore if I misspell or the 3 is an E or an E is a 3. I will try to correct my self and IF I can still NOT see the mistake well so be it.
    I 4 Apps on my computer to share and make my thoughts and writing readable, If I have someone to proof read then good, if not. That is all you get.

    So to the Sun thanks for looking “thick” and under minding the public, your readers.
    For a story, I think not.
    Nothing like riding the skirt tails of a grieving parent.
    Shame on you.
    The Sun have failed and neglected to report a story of integrity, honesty and factually.
    What The Sun has reported is they are willing to print half truth for their bottom line, money.

    Is dyslexic a new word to them if so here are a few ways to spell it. Dysleic Disleux Dsyleic dsylexi.

    Is this story about Gordon Brown?

    This story is about the loss of a child and a parent’s grieve. It is demanding a reason, an explanation on why.
    A child lost in war defending his country.
    I do hope that Ms Janes has family and friends for support and comfort. I have not lost a child but I do have children. My hart hurts just at the thought of loss.
    To Jamie Janes family, you are in my thoughts and prayers.

    So put Dyslexia a side, left or right it makes no difference to me.

    A sad day for journalism, you failed , all of us.

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