Something for the Weekend: Shame, Shame, Shame

It’s taken all day for me to get over last night’s Doctor Who cliffhanger. So now that’s done, let’s get on with this.

Beanz Meanz Bigotz

Heinz have got themselves lots of free publicity this week by first releasing and then withdrawing this ad:

So the controversy surrounds the footage of a man kissing a man – or, rather, a man kissing a woman played by another man. 207 outraged idiots complained to the Advertising Standards Authority, under the impression that if their kids saw the ad they’d have to explain homosexuality to them. Perhaps they should ask their kids to explain the ad to them as they’d clearly missed the point.

Heinz now face the embarrassment (aka more publicity) of more people complaining about their pulling of the ad than complained about it in the first place. In their attempt to avoid losing business from a minority of vocal homophobes, the food giant risks losing the custom of, well, people with brains.

Hurrah for the tenacious Nick Clegg for writing to Heinz thusly:

The decision to withdraw it has not only offended many gay, lesbian, transgender – and straight – people, it also represents a backward step in attempts to combat homophobia in Britain today, not to mention a collective loss of humour.

I am asking you to reverse this decision and reinstate the advert.

(The Daily Mash reports: Television to be controlled by 200 latent homosexuals)

They should have been more discreet

Kissing on TV is, of course, a very good way for gay men to draw attention to themselves – so exactly the kind of thing the Home Secretary helpfully recommends to those in Iran.

Responding to a letter from our own Lord Roberts of Llandudno, who has called for a moratorium on deportations to Iran for all who fear execution, Jacqui Smith dismissed the idea that sexuality alone was an issue:

With particular regard to Iran, current case law handed down by the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal concludes that the evidence does not show a real risk of discovery of, or adverse action against, gay and lesbian people who are discreet about their sexual orientation.

Perhaps if Jacqui Smith was more discreet about everything she says, we’d all have a higher opinion of her.

Meanwhile, in Italy…

Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi’s cabinet has declared high offices of state, including, of course, the Prime Minister, as immune from prosecution:

Another law aims to suspend for a year trials relating to a range of alleged financial crimes committed before June 2002, potentially derailing a bribery case against Berlusconi, as has happened so many times before.

Meanwhile, Berlusconi’s government is pressing ahead with draconian controls over one of the examining judges’ main tools of investigation, wiretapping, and over leaks of wiretaps to the press.

Yes, ironic that the Italian people will be made freer from state snooping at the same time as we argue to use it in court here. Not, though, for the most high-minded of motives:

A magazine, l’Espresso, last week published a highly comic package of wiretaps in which not only Berlusconi himself but some of his closest aides and opposition leaders apparently pressurise state television executives to cast parts for their favourite actresses.

The Guardian has the details.

Fact of the week

The International Systems of Units is a metric system of measurement used across the world.

Only three countries haven’t adopted the SI system as their official system of measurement: Liberia, Burma, and the United States.

Haltemprice and Howden update

There are 26 candidates standing in the Haltemprice and Howden comedy by-election, which sounds like it should be a record. (Anders Hanson spotted the unusual comment form on a related BBC news story.)

A candidate must receive at least 5% of the vote to retain their deposit. Mathematics alone dictates that at least six candidates will forfeit their £500.

And here are some facts on deposits. The Conservatives lost the most deposits of the three main parties in the 2005 general election, costing them a total of £2,500. The Green Party spent £81,500 in lost deposits alone. UKIP lost £229,000. The total forfeited was £693,000.

Meanwhile, in Henley…

There were only a small number of counting agents from each party allowed to attend the Henley by-election count. The Liberal Democrats proved why it’s worth having good relationships with the minor parties’ candidates as a number of Stephen Kearney’s campaign team attended on behalf of other parties. Rumour has it that in Ealing the party’s Chief Executive was a counting agent for the Official Monster Raving Loony Party.

But before you can count, there’s knocking up. A constituency with a lot of countryside and more than its share of wealth, Henley has some long drives, and in the rush of polling day the activist must consider the cost/benefit ratio of a lengthy and potentially fruitless walk.

One knocker-upper decided she should move on to the next voter when confronted at the entrace to an estate with a sign that read: “Call gamekeeper for access.”

Muslim separatist rebel group of the week

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Or MILF.

In other news

I mentioned a few months ago Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Chicken Out campaign for better conditions for poultry. This week he failed to get the backing of Tesco shareholders at the company’s AGM.

Dubai is set to get a “moving” skyscraper which constantly changes shape.

A bizarre row about discrimination has broken out in Sweden after a boy left two classmates off his birthday party invite list. Political correctness may actually have gone mad.

Ian Usher from Darlington, who now lives in Australia, has sold his “entire life” on eBay for £192,000.

Web site name of the week

Weight loss support site Fat Loser Online. Which I stumbled across as I was browsing for Doctor Who spoilers, obviously…

Which right wing blogger are you?

Find out with Tim Ireland’s not-at-all-bitter quiz. (Apparently I’m Iain Dale, by the way.)

Social networking rant of the week

Top marks to the volunteers behind lowbrow social networking site Faceparty, who snapped this week after being subjected to abuse from many of their dumber users.

They shut the site down and replaced it with a refreshing rant that begun thus:
Faceparty image

Facebook groups of the week

NO2ID is the Facebook group of anti-identity card campaign NO2ID.

James McGrath is not a racist attempts to rescue the reputation of Boris Johnson’s ex-sidekick. I mention it because I can’t help thinking it’s not the most sensible group name to have chosen.

Only Connect – New BBC Four quiz – Apply today is advertising for contestants from a new quiz hosted by Victoria Coren. And if you prefer her brother, there’s Giles Coren & Sue Perkins are the funniest double act on TV.

This week’s most self-explanatory group is Boycott Heinz! Until the return of the gay kiss advert.

And finally

For no better reason than I’ve had it in my head all evening, this is Drugstore & Thom Yorke with El President (and apologies to Simon Hughes.)

* Something for next weekend? Email us at [email protected]

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