Sun debate missed the point

on why the Sun debate should have been about Hillsborough

Image: Urbansoup

Image: Urbansoup

As I write this article, I am aware of the shrapnel I am about to bring down around my head, the prospective comments I am likely to receive for breaching this topic. But for me, the criticism is worth it because I want to bring up an issue that I think is worth raising and one that was noticed primarily by a female friend of mine from this university who comes from Liverpool – that in a recent YUSU Referendum, feminism got in the way of a more serious issue that should have been raised.

I am talking about the debate over whether YUSU should keep selling the Sun. The debate might be over, but in my view, the arguments within it missed the most important point: Hillsborough.

In 1989, 96 people died at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield. The immediate aftermath saw the Sun report and help fabricate an elaborate story to present the incident as being the supporters fault, and not that of the police. 116 different police reports were altered; the Chief Superintendent directly accused Liverpool fans of causing the tragedy, and a lie was woven using the Sun as the primary outlet. The Sun claimed under a headline “THE TRUTH”, that fans had been drunk, urinated on police officers, violated dead bodies and stolen from those dying and injured around them. None of this was true.

One of the greatest smear-ups in media history? Probably.

Kelvin Mackenzie, the sickening editor who oversaw these lies being published and reported, only gave a pathetic excuse for an apology 20 years later, after previously repeating he hadn’t done any wrong. ‘The Scum’, as its better known in Liverpool, is sold at almost no newsagents, and Liverpool FC refuse to publish any of its articles through its website.

So where does YUSU come into all this? The question over the Sun’s sale came up in a recent referendum. As I read the arguments for and against the motion, I was shocked as not one part of any of the four different statements even mentioned the Hillsborough tragedy as a reason that we shouldn’t be selling it. Instead, the debate was centred solely on whether or not page three girls were a problem.

As much as people will hate me for saying it, feminism should have taken a back seat on this one. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with feminism, far from it, but in this specific case I feel that it got in the way of a bigger issue, and of what the debate should have been.

It is my view that the importance of page three girls is insignificant compared to one of the greatest sporting disasters this country has seen, which saw the government and media collaborate to form a despicable lie.

The debate should have been over Hillsborough, not whether page three is indecent. Whether we should sell something which caused that misery and humiliation with their lies is the question, not whether a girl can expose herself for money. Feminism, and perhaps YUSU’s obsession with it, in this case blocked what mattered the most in that referendum.

Does this come under a bigger issue? Is feminism getting too much student media and YUSU attention? I don’t know, I’m not qualified to say and that’s not what this article is about. All I can say honestly is that for me personally, YUSU and that referendum missed the point completely.

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