Saturday, 13 March 2010

Newspapers Jon Venables and knife crime?

Once again the tragic death of toddler Jamie Bulger in 1993 has furnished the press with an opportunity to launch a hysterical law and order campaign, demanding retaliation and “victim’s justice”. It is a demand that has found a sympathetic hearing within the government. I’ve delicately and deliberately avoided commenting on recent developments, and after all what’s nothing more than media hysteria designed to sell newspapers, constant for the last month the media feed a public, curtain twitching speculation based on incomplete evidence or fact.

The news broke that Jon Venables, convicted along with Robert Thompson of the killing of the two-year old, has been returned to prison following an alleged breach of his licence, the premier stories came about when reports were leaked to an irresponsible gutter press, and we must remember that both Thompson and Venables were just ten years of age at the time of Jamie’s killing.

We would also do well to recall that the killing of Jamie Bulger was used by the Labour Party, and its then shadow Home Secretary (now with the blood of many on his hands) Tony Blair, to prove itself even more right-wing on law and order than the Conservatives.

Such was the frenzy whipped up; that at great cost both Venables and Thompson― having been publicly identified at the time of their trial―had to be given new identities on their release from detention.

And now seventeen years on, at the time of an election once again, frenzy accompanied news of Venables recall. The media published one unsubstantiated allegation after another―a fight at work, sexual assault, and viewing child pornography―was brought forward by the tabloid press such as The (trash) Sun, The News of the World and The Daily Mirror. The Daily Mail in a random manner lumped Venables in with serial sex offender Peter Chapman in an article headlined, “The sorry truth is that many sex offenders CAN’T be rehabilitated.”

The demand went up for the government to disclose why Venables had been returned to prison, and for his new identity to be revealed. Labour Home Secretary Alan Johnson jumped on the bandwagon, only to be slaped down in the end, but proclaiming that the public had a “right to know.” Jack Straw with reluctance so he said, made a statement opposing disclosure, but only while stressing that this might jeopardise any future conviction. This provoked hostilities between the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office. A Home Office source told Sue Cameron of the Financial Times that some Ministry of Justice people were “Like wet rags.”

A former social worker has this week spoken at great length to the Daily Mail, disclosing details of Thompson’s time in a detention centre.

It is understandable that Jamie’s father Ralph, and Bulger’s mother, Denise Fergus, should find these events distressing. But this only makes it all the more revolting, the utilisation made by the media, whipping up hysteria only to sell more newspapers.

Such a serious crime should never be used by electioneering politicians, it sickens me to see this: Conservative leader David Cameron hits the newspapers with calls for Denise Fergus to be given “a lot more information” on Venables, what for, what good will that do. None of us can run away from the horrific murder of that child, we must ask ourselves even all these years on why, why did two children do just such an unimaginable wicked act?

I still think all these years later, that our society has had a very big part to play in this nightmare that the call for blood, for more violence and go astern hammer and tongs, fails to answer the real problems that have never gone away, that still remain, and I’m reminded of this every time I read a report of a youngster or youngsters have been involved or killed in knife crime!
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