A depressing article on the local news today, regarding a gang of angry parents and other concerned citizens who are holding a vigil outside the home of one of their neighbours in the village of Bishops' Lydeard, after The News of the World (who else?) exposed him as a paedophile and child-killer. They held grammatically incorrect placards and came out with logic-defeating arguments: newscaster "They have to live somewhere..." Angry mother: "They should of thought about that before they done what they done!" The BBC coverage is here.
While I wouldn't like to have a child-killer living next door to me either, the vision of an angry crowd, attempting to break its way into someone's house... to do what? is frightening. Normal people, out of control, their faces contorted with rage and hatred, succumbing to the will of the mob - the news footage was starting to resemble the last scenes of Day of the Locust.
The News of the World has a long track record of "outing" paedophiles. In the past, its campaigns have instigated vigilante behaviour which has resulted in paedophiles and suspected paedophiles being attacked. Ironically, when it started its campaign in 2000, on the same day it published a centre spread of Atomic Kitten star Kerry Kantona, posing topless in a series of pictures taken when she was 16. Her family must have been so proud, imagining old men up and down the country disappearing into the bathroom for a close "inspection" of their daughter's breasts, before carving up the Sunday Roast.
In this Sunday's edition there is an article about Paris Hilton and her "little sister Nicky... Paris, wearing stockings and suspenders and an animal-print basque, seems to be loving every minute of being captured bottom to bottom with Nicky, 23... In another shot Paris, 25, hugs and kisses her wide-eyed little sis - who is dressed in only a silky slip."
Cases of paedophiles living in the community are problematic in lots of ways.
But I wonder why the News of the World doesn't do more to counter the sexualisation of youth in the media? Why it doesn't do more to highlight the issue of child marriage in African and Indic countries. Why it doesn't do more to highlight the fact that most child abuse occurs when the child knows its attacker, often occurring within families? Why it doesn't acknowledge that scare campaigns like this are more likely to imprison children in their own homes, making parents terrified to let their kids play outside. Why it doesn't acknowledge that such stories are likely to whip ordinary people up into a frenzy of fear and hatred, triggering out-of-control vigilante campaigns?
Two words spring to mind. Salacious and hypocrisy.
Britain is apparently one of the most civilised countries in the world. Anyway, where's my pitchfork? I'm off to Bishops' Lydeard. There's gonna be a good ol' lynching tonight and I want a ringside seat next to Rebekah Wade. Would anyone like me to bring them back a souvenir? I'm hoping to get a hand. Or maybe even the head.