Perhaps you’ve seen it on Twitter: the line from the Australian Daily Telegraph that the subs should have spotted but didn’t – with presumably dire consequences for the author responsible.
Except, as Mark Steyn points out, this isn’t what actually happened.
Rather, the line was a deliberate witticism by the very funny Aussie writer Tim Blair in the course of an article about Jake Bilardi, the “weedy Melbourne teenager” who enlisted in ISIS and blew himself him up in a suicide bomb attack in Ramadi last week.
Blair had gone to interview fellow believers at the Hume Islamic Youth Centre and chanced upon the amusingly named Furkan.
“I’ve actually never seen him utter a word at the table when I was serving the food, cleaning up the table, nothing. He was the last person I would expect to actually go there,” said former youth centre worker Furkan Derya.
I furkan derya to find a better name than Furkan Derya.
This is what, in the old days on London’s Fleet Street, we used to call a “joke”. But as Steyn, rightly notes, modern journalistic culture is so po-faced and up itself, that most of the younger generation of hacks wouldn’t know what a joke was if it bit them on the **** (as they’re obliged to call even an arse these days, such is the culture of prudery that goes hand in hand with this humourlessness.)
As evidence of this, Steyn cites the various BBC employees who tweeted the excerpt not in a tone of matey approbation but rather in one of “Oooh! Look what the naughty boy did!” and, worse still, the journalist in the Independent who ran a “queeny little piece” calling the joke “outrageous.”
What makes this a whole lot worse is that that it apparently isn’t a case of copy being printed accidentally – it was meant to be published, and you can still read the offensive bit online.
If any of my staff on Breitbart displayed such censoriousness, faux outrage or humourlessness, I do hope I’d sack them on the spot. It seems to me that anyone who goes into journalism imagining that their job is to be po-faced, career-safe and abjectly in thrall to the prevailing political correctness of our era really is undermining the professional values of our industry, and would be far better off enjoying a pretend career somewhere in the public sector.