Front page headline

I WRITE with reference to last week's front page story. I have every sympathy for the victim and I neither seek to excuse nor belittle the offence, but might I point out

I WRITE with reference to last week's front page story. I have every sympathy for the victim and I neither seek to excuse nor belittle the offence, but might I point out the unnecessarily emotive modification of 'Pervert', i.e. 'Pole'. It seems hardly relevant that the perpetrator of the offence was from this particular race of people. You do not customarily describe the ethnic origin of the subjects of your articles. Had circumstances been different would we have read English 'pervert' or 'pervert Englishman'? One is tempted to consider that, at best, your headline is sensational; at worst tending towards the xenophobic.JOHN MCLORINAN - Severn Road, WestonI WRITE with regard to your headline article in last week's edition. I feel that I should write in protest at its racist nature. Such statements are inflammatory at best and downright dangerous at worst. I am sure that you would not have written 'African' or any other national description, so why on earth write 'Pole'?I represent several Polish workers and I am sure they found the headline as offensive as I did. I would suggest that an apology is made to the Polish community and no repeats occur.NICHOLAS DYKES - Unite Union, WestonI WANT to say how shocked I was by the headline in last week's Mercury relating to the conviction of a Polish man. Whilst not in any way diminishing the crime committed I do feel that this type of tabloid racism is completely out of place in a local paper, in fact in any paper. How did this aberration occur? Please let us return to reporting the news in a responsible style.PAT MURRAY - Address suppliedI WAS disappointed to see that the Mercury has resorted to xenophobic and racist headlines to get people's attention. The Pervert Pole headline last week only helps to fuel anti-Polish opinion. In fact the vast majority of Polish people are hard working, respectful people similar to the Greek Cypriot immigrants who settled here many years ago and became very valid contributors to Weston's economy and cultural life.Any sex attack is disgusting, seriously damaging to the victim and clearly the aggressor needs help and/or punishment. However, and here is my point, whether that man or woman is white, black, Polish, Spanish, Greek, or has family roots in Somerset that stretch 1,000 years is irrelevant.I feel your headline plays into certain negative perceptions of immigrants that are as long as history itself: fear of the other, the outsider.Come on, Mercury, you can do better than that.ALEX WOLFE WARMAN - Via emailAS A regular reader of your paper I am getting more and more annoyed at the way you are reporting news stories. I hope the Mercury is not going down the same route as some of the gutter press with some of its cheap headlines and stories.Two weeks in succession you have sensationalised stories, one of which definitely did not warrant the front page. I refer to Boy's party ban in the paper of January 10. I agree that the four-year-old was not treated in the appropriate manner, but how can teachers control such a situation when they have no powers to control children? I feel that to make this story headline news sends out the wrong signal to youngsters who already believe they can get away with antisocial behaviour. In any case, did this story really warrant front page news?Last week you had the sensational headline 'Pevert Pole creeps into sleeping girl's bed'. I agree this is a shocking crime but it does not need the gravity of it to be reinforced with a gutter press type headline, as I am sure any reasonable reader would be appalled with this story without it. If this crime had been committed by an Englishman, would you have headlined it Pervert Englishmen creeps into sleeping girl's bed? I think not, it would not sell papers.I am not debating the rights or wrongs of either of these emotive cases, but I do feel that as a widely read provincial newspaper, it is not appropriate to resort to headlines, one of which borders on racism, just to sell papers.NAME AND ADDRESS SUPPLIED

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