Readers of national newspapers were outraged this week by a deliberately misleading headline. After taking the time to read an article that they hoped would fuel their anger and give them something to rail against, they instead found a perfectly sensible opinion that wasn't newsworthy at all.
"I was furious when I read the headline. Who on earth would support bobbies opening fire on innocent women?", asked Derek Jones, a retired police superintendent from Dorset. "We didn't shoot women in my day. We might have prodded a couple of annoying ones with truncheons, and I saw one punched in the tits once. But gunning them down seeems a bit harsh."
But Jones was appalled when he actually read the article. "It turned out that the story related to a letter sent to the editor by a bloke in Lincoln. The letter [from the public] stated that if there were to be cuts in armed response units, female officers shouldn't be singled out. No-one had even suggested that the 'shooting women' employed by the police should be made redundant, there was no story at all."
Jones wrote to the paper concerned to complain about the misleading article. "I told them that the media ought to be a bit more responsible and pointed out that women are just as good at handling weapons as men."
"On Wednesday, they ran the headline 'Police veterans back policy on shooting women', and quoted me as saying 'women are amongst the most dangerous groups of gun owners', the groups being 'men' and 'women'. I'd shot myself in the foot."
Since the report, the government has changed its policy on women, and has urged the public to phone 999 if they see one. William Hague explained "if you see a woman, try and disarm them with a smile. We're looking to negotiate, but I'm not very good at talking to girls. Don't quote me on that."