One of the subtleties of the Misleading Headline is demonstrated in this article about Nadiya Hussain who won the Great British Bake Off back in 2015. She was interviewed recently and spoke about an incident some thirty years ago in which she was discriminated against because of her race. Hussain did nothing to contribute to the Misleading Headline nor is the writer responsible. It’s just an issue with human nature.
Hussain relates an incident from the past in which she responded to a casting call for hands to display jewelry. She was told that because her skin is black, she was not eligible to participate. The exact words, as Hussain relates were, black hands don’t sell jewelry.
The problem with the headline is it unintentionally implicates the Great British Bake Off in the racist incident. I want to be clear, Hussain had nothing bad to say about the Great British Bake Off. The article’s writer didn’t implicate the show in any way. It is human nature that we associate the Great British Bake Off with the incident of racism because they appear together in the headline.
I feel relatively confident no one intended to impugn the show in any way. The reason the show is mentioned in the headline rather than just Hussain’s name is that the Great British Bake Off is how she came to the public’s attention and the headline probably wasn’t going to generate many clicks with just her name.
Those of us who enjoy the show were instantly drawn to the headline because of the proximity of the show name and the word racism. The burden is upon me, the reader, to comprehend the article and what it means. This is often the problem. People look at a headline or a particular paragraph in an article that aligns with their view of the world and then leap to their own conclusions without using critical thinking and reading comprehension skills.
This problem is what leads to a great deal of censorship or attempt to restrict what we can and cannot read. When we don’t draw logical conclusions, when we let misleading headlines drive our thinking, when outright lies meet with our approval, we create an atmosphere in which the censor feels justified in his or her actions. These people are far too stupid to think for themselves and therefore we, the overseers, must restrict what they can see.
The problem with censorship is that, of course, it doesn’t really work all that well. People who want to find particularly loathsome and violent justifications for their distorted world view find them anyway. Meanwhile, the discerning mind is not allowed to peruse interesting articles that might legitimately sway an opinion.
The solution is not censorship, it is better critical thinking skills. The path to this solution is education in these matters, training the mind, from childhood to think critically. It is only then that the censors have no more justifications and we are truly free.
Like many things in life, the burden is upon our shoulders.