Science fiction and fantasy

Authors Support Stop Funding Hate

16th November 2016

For anyone living in the UK, the divisive tone of certain newspapers has been hard to avoid, moving from a national joke to a skidmark on the nation's consciousness, soiling our debate and souring everyone's mood.

The Mail's "Enemies of the People" headline crossed a line, but it wasn't the first one crossed. For years the anti-immigrant, anti-democratic, hate-fuelled headlines have been building in certain sections of the British press. The murders of Jo Cox and Arkadiusz Jozwik didn't take place in a vacuum. Jo Cox was a British Labour MP who campaigned for the UK to remain in the EU and worked hard to protect the disadvantaged, no matter the colour of their skin. Arkadiusz Jozwik was a Polish man living in Harlow, Essex, and the police are treating his murder as a hate crime.

As the rhetoric has become increasingly rabid, people have begun to ask themselves what can be done about it, when the press regulator IPSO has proved to be utterly toothless. IPSO, the Independent Press Standards Organisation, recently failed to uphold complaints about the Sun's treatment of Fatima Manji in spite of receiving 1900 complaints about Kelvin MacKenzie's article which criticised her for wearing a hijab and reporting on a terrorist attack in Nice. The ruling is chilling for anyone who expects freedom of religion, and has rightly drawn criticism. Meanwhile the billionaire-owned press feels free to print increasingly incendiary and racist pieces with impunity.

This is the catalyst driving Stop Funding Hate, and it's urgent. What's at stake isn't just a few hurtful words: it's already life or death for some people. So Stop Funding Hate is a movement exercising its freedom of expression by letting people know which big brands are being hypocrites by claiming to have strong ethical values yet advertising in newspapers which represent the very opposite of those values. It has produced some videos that explain its aims, along with a call to action: put pressure on brands to withdraw their advertising from the Daily Mail, The Express, and The Sun. And people have responded, with over seven million views of the video below on Facebook (the YouTube version has some catching up to do). Lego has also pledged to withdraw from its advertising relationship with the Daily Mail.

For many people, this presents the choice to boycott those brands whose response has been less than ethical. Some authors are taking things further. Melissa Salisbury, author of The Sin Eater's Daughter, has agreed with her publisher, Scholastic, not to provide her books for review to the Daily Mail, the Express, and the Sun. "I can't, in all good conscience, let my work be "advertised" or promoted in publications that advocate an increasingly fascist attitude," she states on her blog.

I don't know what sales can be expected from a tabloid review, but this is a brave move for an author who is still at an early stage in her career.

Bestselling thriller writer Ken Follett has also tweeted about his stance.

I applaud Melinda Salisbury and Ken Follett, and hopefully they will have great sales this year. They have put their money where their hearts are, and it's a move that should inspire us all, writers and readers, to consider how everything we do has ripples of consequence, whether it's where we advertise or where we spend our spare cash.

As a self-published author I don't even consider sending ARCs to national papers, so it means little for me to say I won't be sending them ARCs or offering interviews (I won't, of course). But I'll be talking to my friends about authors who do the right thing, and word will spread. One snowflake at a time is how you create an avalanche.


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