As did pretty much every national newspaper this morning, The Sun ran a picture of Colonel Gaddafi’s bloodied corpse on its front page. What sets The Sun apart, is the headline under which they ran it. In huge, big, bold, type it yelled:
‘That’s for Lockerbie, Gaddafi. And for Yvonne Fletcher. And IRA Semtex victims’
Leaving aside the dodgy factual matrix of the motivation for his death, I am interested in the motivation of the headline.
Headlines sell papers. I will be interested to know what the sales of The Sun are today – particularly as to whether they increase, or decrease (acknowledging of course, they may just stay the same). I am also interested in who The Sun is speaking to, and for.
The mainly liberal Twitter is this morning awash with criticism of all the papers for putting photographs of a corpse on their front pages, with a touch of extra distain for The Sun and its headline. However, largely Twitter users are not purchasers of The Sun.
The Sun is not a paper we can afford to ignore. Or rather, its readership is not a demographic we can afford to ignore. The 4th largest selling daily paper, it has a significant lead on sales over the paper everyone loves to hate, The Daily Mail. The ABCs for September show The Sun sold 2,725,323 copies.
The Sun’s headline this morning is all about ignoring due process, and demonstrating that revenge is an acceptable path. It doesn’t caveat that. Essentially, it says ‘a bad guy met a bad end. Good’.
Is that acceptable? I am not asking if it was okay for the Libyans to do what they did. That isn’t for me, or in my opinion, anyone else but them to decide – their societal rules are different to ours, and they have lived under a dictatorship for many years. I am asking if demonstrating the mindset that revenge is sweet in our society is acceptable, to us.
Extrapolating (prossibly wildly): in saying to its readers that it is okay to ignore due process, The Sun is feeding into a psychology that most of us know exists, but try our best to ignore. The mindset of the mob rule, the mob who would happily endorse public hangings of ‘paedos’ and ‘child killers’ regardless of whether there has been a full and proper trial or not.
The question is, when the likes of The Sun feed that mindset, how do we educate it?