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Editor says sorry for 'offensive' mock-up splash

A weekly editor has apologised after a photoshopped front page image of an MP wearing a Rastafarian hat was branded “racist” on Twitter.

The photo of MP Peter Lilley sporting the colourful headgear accompanied the Hertforshire Mercury’s splash about his calls in Parliament for the legalisation of cannabis.

The Conservative MP for Hitchin and Harpenden was also portrayed wearing a lapel badge featuring a cannabis plant.

But the “light-hearted” picture garnered negative attention after it was tweeted by Daily Mail home affairs editor Martin Beckford, with respondents describing it as “racist” and “offensive”.

HertsMercFront

Julie Palmer, senior editor for Herts and Essex News, said: ““This was intended as a light-hearted way to engage the public and illustrate a splash which could have appeared quite bland.

“I apologise if it has caused any offence, but that was not my intention.”

In the Rastafari movement, which first became popular in Jamaica in the 1930s, the smoking of cannabis is considered a spiritual act.

Twitter user Lynsae Tulloch, a former reporter at the Inverness Courier, wrote: “Certainly an odd approach to a story. Oh, and perhaps a tad offensive to the Rastafari movement?”

Helen Reynolds added: “If it is a genuine cover it’s got the ‘a bit racist, misjudged and silly’ hat trick.”

However, some saw the funny side. Jake Hamby wrote: “Too bad that’s a (photo)’shop, the Rasta hat looks good on him!”

HertsMercTweets1

23 comments

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  • November 12, 2014 at 8:19 am
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    If Peter Lilley had appeared like this, wouldn’t he have been accused of racism? I fail to see why this story needed to be “light-hearted” to engage readers: and what a waste of time creating the image.

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  • November 12, 2014 at 8:44 am
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    By the way Julie it should be , in your quote, “THAT could have been ” not WHICH, which is usually used after a comma and subsidiary clause.
    Hope the trainees are not reading this. Don’t worry, it is a common mistake and hear it all the time on radio and tv.
    As for the splash, if it was going to be bland why was it the splash?
    All same, a lot of fuss about not much.

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  • November 12, 2014 at 9:26 am
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    ‘Racism’ the bleat of people with nothing better to say and who aim to shut down debate.
    Can’t people just lighten up?

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  • November 12, 2014 at 10:19 am
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    Surprised they didn’t ‘black up’ Peter as well. This just looks crass and amateurish.

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  • November 12, 2014 at 10:41 am
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    Jeez, looks more like the Scottish spokesman for the Rainbow Party. Never seen a Rastafarian in a suit and tie. Most peculiar idea, but still… all rather embarrassing really

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  • November 12, 2014 at 10:52 am
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    superpedant – careful with those stones in your glass house, there.

    Also I think your point about ‘that’ and ‘which’ is nonsense.

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  • November 12, 2014 at 11:10 am
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    Not racist. Just misjudged, slapdash and pointless!

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  • November 12, 2014 at 11:16 am
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    Superpedant is right: Getting that and which correct is important. I’ve made the mistake often enough myself when meeting deadlines, but that is no excuse for people working with words.
    I’ve just read in my local weekly: “This is the man which raised £500 for Cancer Relief.”
    What about amount? Nobody uses this word correctly anymore ie television journalists, university academics, nuclear scientists, members of the Cabinet etc etc.
    Everything has to be in cartoon comic format to get the message across today.
    And yes, I do think the Rolling Stones have helped to ruin Britain.

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  • November 12, 2014 at 11:29 am
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    Next time I call for the abolition of deep fried mars bars I must remember not the wear a kilt.

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  • November 12, 2014 at 12:03 pm
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    Not all is lost. Has anyone spotted the first news box: ‘Blooming great effort by gardeners’.

    What they have done is used the slang term which (or is it ‘that’?) working class people might use to describe something that (or is it ‘which’?) is of great size or stature – as in ‘it’s a right blooming nuisance’, which (or is it ‘that’?) also describes how plants produce flowers in profusion!

    Clever, and one I will cheekily swipe to use for any stories about gardens of the year, hanging baskets etc.

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  • November 12, 2014 at 3:59 pm
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    Journalists… too much time on their hands….. do some work….. please

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  • November 12, 2014 at 4:44 pm
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    What do you expect when ‘the boss’ has them all chained to their desks trawling Facebook and Twitter for ‘news’?

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  • November 12, 2014 at 4:53 pm
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    Don’t see the problem. You think Rastas don’t like marijuana?

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  • November 12, 2014 at 5:07 pm
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    I prefer their front page of Mr Humphries mocked-up infront of Hitchen church when gay marriage laws were past.

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  • November 12, 2014 at 8:46 pm
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    Roy Challis. Back to school please.

    The car, which was stolen, later crashed. (“which was stolen” is subsidiary clause, use WHICH)
    The car that was stolen later crashed. (no subsidiary clause, use THAT)

    Subtle difference.

    Hell of a common mistake but several thousand wrongs a year do not make a right.

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  • November 12, 2014 at 10:09 pm
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    Frankly, it was not a very good idea. For a start, the tam means nothing without accompanying dreadlocks if the intention was to make him look like a Rasta. The MP looks more like Peter McLilley, ready for a spot of caber tossing at the Highland Games.
    Inevitably, the picture was enough to stir the London PC freaks into another frenzy of indignation. The word ‘racist’ has become meaningless because of these po-faced bigots and their poisonous ‘diversity’ agenda.
    The rest of us are becoming tired of their faux piety.
    A final point: Lord save us from the ‘Superpedants’ of the world. The words ‘which’ and ‘that’ have become interchangeable in modern usage, though strictly speaking ‘which’ is descriptive while ‘that’ is informative.
    The matter is complicated by the Americans, who rarely use ‘which’ in that context and prefer ‘that’ to cover every eventuality. However, the US’s leading journalism college, Columbia University, New York, used to insist that ‘which’ could only be used after a comma.
    When it comes to pedants, I favour the stance of George Bernard Shaw, who urged his publisher to fire an editor who was obsessed with split infinitives.
    ‘Whether he goes quickly, or quickly goes, go he must!’ he cried.
    Hear, hear – not ‘here, here’ by the way.

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  • November 13, 2014 at 8:05 am
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    “…a splash which could have appeared quite bland.”
    Racist? No
    Confusing? Definitely.
    With respect, we are in the words business,
    Possible alternative:
    SPLIFFING IDEA!
    MP backs legal cannabis plan.
    Chuck in a pic of a joint and a cheery snap of Peter Lilley.
    Job done.

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  • November 13, 2014 at 8:41 am
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    Reality Check… sorry to be a pedant but it’s ‘any more’ not ‘anymore’. People also write that events are ‘underway’. I’m sure the correct expression is ‘under way’. Can any other pedant confirm? Thank you.

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  • November 13, 2014 at 9:33 am
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    Scribbler… you are quite right. I was just meeting another deadline at the time!

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  • November 13, 2014 at 12:26 pm
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    While this debate is under way I would like to add that this is something up with which I will not put any more.

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