The News Of The World, the best selling Sunday newspaper in the UK, is owned by News International, with personal interventions regarding coverage from proprietor Rupert Murdoch. Today, it has run a story objecting to a fairly recent character appearing in the British children's weekly anthology comic, The Beano.
Simon Coe, or Si Co for short, is a schoolboy character whose strip has run as part of a new Comic Idol project, where readers can vote on their favourite new strip. With the tagline "You'll like him when he's angry", Si Co flips out at the merest provocation, with "hilarious consequences".
Or as the tabloid puts it "a troubled youth… who suffers violent mood swings" describing the character "Struggling Simon has an involuntary, Tourette's-like condition which leads his classmates to shun him."
Tourettes, mood swings, you can see where this is going can't you? "Furious mental health organisers fear the character will see kids with behavioural problems bullied in playgrounds."
Because that's what gets children to bully people who are different isn't it? Comics.
The first pressure group roped in is an anti-discrimination group, is quoted as saying "We're very disappointed to see such a popular children's comic insinuating that it's okay to mock or poke fun at children with behavioural problems."
One charity is quoted as saying " "Laughing at people who behave in a strange way which is not their fault, may cause incredible hurt" while another as "The message appears to be that behavioural and mental health problems are funny and that those who have them are psychos."
Appears to be. As in, probably isn't.
Scottish MP Robin Harper of the Green Party was the only politician they could get to comment, but it's a good one, saying "This could leave a generation of young people – including those with real mental health problems – stigmatised as 'Si Cos', I urge the Beano to think again."
Oh Robin Harper. A Green politician being used in such a transparent fashion by Murdoch's boys in this way?
A Beano spokesman is quoted as adding "He is just a guy who over-reacts dramatically to the annoyances in life that niggle us all."
Basically the strip is a younger version of Grumpy Old Men, One Foot In The Grave or Curb Your Enthusiasm, with Si Co getting enraged about dropping litter and poor customer service.
But if the News Of The World can whip up a storm of protest, then all this is for naught.
Of course, if the Beano withdraw the character as a result of the tabloid whipped up outrage, the next week will see an article with the publishers criticised for "kow towing to the PC police."
And that's journalism, folks!
In other news a very NSFW image slips past the sub editors – or they turned a blind eye to it. They noticed. A little bit of exposed erectness passed them by. But not for long.