Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Freedom of the press.

If there's any danger British justice, it's the British Press.

Once again, they put their own profiteering needs before anyone else's, and manipulate the public into believing that they're doing them a favour.

A recent casing example? The Baby P case. I realise I put myself at risk with these words I am about to write, but if anything, that only proves how far this (admittedly sophisticated) process has gone. The pattern goes as this:

Appalling crime happens to an innocent victim, usually something none of us members of the public can contemplate without extreme emotion.

The British Press, in particular red-tops, spends weeks on end driving the message home of the abhorrence of the crime, and the suffering of the victim. At the same time, the articles build an underlying hatred in the reader for the perpetrator, with language such as 'monster', usually underlined and in capitals to ensure impact.

Over weeks and weeks, the public is spun into a frenzy of rage for the criminal(s) involved. The victim is almost forgotten in comparison to the bloodlust and murderous intents of the readers for the perpetrator. Usually this is expressed in forums, Facebook groups and any platforms that come to hand. In fact, the newspapers even have a comments section underneath their articles so we can be told what to think by our peers.

Then, the grooming process is complete. The Press strikes the moment the information is available and posts the names, faces and in some cases, locations of the perpetrators. The infatuated public leap at the scraps of information like rabid dogs to meat, and are suddenly a very real threat to the lives of the perpetrators.

Now, I ask you to put aside your own thoughts about the Baby P parents, murderous as they may be, for the moment. If we live in a country with a justice system, why on earth are the Press allowed to indirectly distract that course of justice? A murderer, rapist, kidnapper who comes to court, comes away with a sentence. Whatever our thoughts are on that sentence, too short, too soft, etc. it is not our place to interfere. If we take issue with the sentences imposed on criminals, the place to go is Parliament, not to criminals' homes to impart our own sense of justice.

The Press may not admit their approach, in fact, it may just be the collateral damage of their own profiteering, and not factor into their plans. However, to whip the public into a frenzy and cause them to crave personal details that they will impart when available is a dishonest technique to sell papers. It condones violence against criminals, which is not part of their sentence.

Some may say the Baby P parents deserved the death penalty, to be torn limb from limb. These are not few in number. I say to these people: campaign for the death penalty to be returned. They respond that certain people deserve it more than others. Where then, do we draw the line? We can't. Flawed as the justice system may be, it is a damn sight better than tearing those to pieces who we think deserve it. As a society, we are above that.

As a result, our government must spend millions on changing the identities of these said criminals, to avoid vigilante violence upon their release from prison. So not only do the Press exploit public information to sell papers, they cost the UK taxpayer doing so. Not that it's any guarantee of their safety.

It concerns me greatly that we're living in a society where it is becoming more and more socially acceptable to express murderous intent without a hint of irony. Criminals or not, it is impossible for anyone to decide that this person definitely deserves a violent death while another doesn't. Some even extend their violent urges to the care workers involved, who are accused of, at most, negligence in their job. When that warrants a violent death, I'll be leaving the country, and this simply underlines how far the papers have allowed this madness to go.

The Press gives the public a false sense of power, indirectly allowing them to think they can change the course of history with their bare hands. It is like the Emperor's new clothes, the papers encourage this criminal thinking as if it is something to be admired.

They even campaign under titles like 'Justice for Baby P' and similar titles. Put simply, there IS no real justice for a violent and painful death. The best we have is locking the perpetrators away for life, or a number of years decided by a jury in a legal court. 'An eye for an eye' belongs in the Old Testament, and needs to stay there. Anything within that vein makes our society no better than the few and far between criminals lurking within.

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