Saturday 31 January 2009

Fakecharity Spotting…

First sung in the days when Britannia ruled the waves, it became a favourite in schools and nurseries, handed down through the decades.

But the old sea shanty What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor? may finally be sunk by a broadside from the good ship Political Correctness.
It seems a charity called ‘Bookstart’ wants to replace it with a version without all those references to alcohol and pirates.

Is this a fakecharity? Why, yes, it does seem to be:
The government-funded charity Bookstart, which promotes reading for children around the country, has changed the lyrics to remove any reference to alcohol.
Because children hate drunkenness. And sailors. I think…
Nick Seaton, of pressure group the Campaign for Real Education, said: 'Changing the words of a much-loved children's nursery rhyme is simply trying to re-write the history and tradition of this country.

'Organisations such as Bookstart should know better and not start to tinker with traditional songs which were written many years ago.

'Once you start doing that you are asking for trouble. If they want to sing a song about pirates, why don't they simply write a new one?'
Hmm, I think the ‘re-writing of history and traditions’ isn’t a bug, Mr Seaton. You know what I’m going to say it is, don’t you…?
Bookstart is funded by the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Department of Work and Pensions to help parents share books with their children from as early an age as possible.

Mother Caroline Graham, 29, attended one of their sessions with her son Jacob, two, at her local library in Rainham in Kent. She said: 'I don't know why they bother. It is clearly meant to be politically correct but surely children that young can't be offended by a harmless nursery rhyme.

'It makes me angry that during the current economic climate people are being paid probably more than my husband earns to come up with stuff like this. It's pathetic really.'
Good. Stay angry, Ms Graham, because this is only the tip of the iceberg…
Katherine Soloman, spokesman for Bookstart, admitted she could see how some would think the change was politically correct.

But she said the change was to fit in with a 'pirate theme' it was promoting.

She said: 'We are keen on all the old favourites and we believe we do a good job in getting young children reading and enjoying books.'
I’m sure you do believe you do a good job. Does anyone else? And is that belief backed up by evidence that you do a good job?

Still, it seems that it isn’t just the likes of Ms Soloman who are helped (to our money) by this fakecharity:
Bookstart, established in 1992, is an initiative run by independent arts charity Booktrust. As well as government funding, children's book publishers and booksellers support it with sponsorship.
Now, if, say, McDonalds was sponsoring a government-funded charity aimed at getting children eating and enjoying hamburgers, wouldn’t the usual suspects be lighting their flaming torches and whetting their pitchforks?

What’s so different about this…?

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