Since my last post, the media coverage of the Jamie Bulger killers has gone through the roof with all the papers trying to discover the new identities of the killer pair. The Daily Mail claimed Robert Thompson is now gay and in a relationship with a partner who knows his past whilst details have begun to trickle out about Jon Venables and some of the stuff he may or may not have done. Suddenly, especially for the parents, it must be as though we have all stepped back in time to when the murder first occurred as it has all become a hot potato of a topic all over again!
On Question Time last week, respected writer and journalist Will Self argued, kind of, in their defence. He said that the media has branded them as uber-evil, as monsters but that murder is murder and in essence are they any worse than anyone who takes a life just because they were children when they committed the crime? Was it not possible as well that the pair did not know what they were doing? He described murder as an act performed with malice and forethought and claimed that, from the transcripts of interviews conducted with boys, it was not blatantly apparent that they had acted with any such malice and forethought. This is contrary to what I remember as I seem to recall that the pair tried unsuccessfully to abduct another toddler from the same Shopping Mall about an hour before they nabbed little Jamie. This to me smacks of forethought even if no malice was originally intended or at least to the extent that events occurred.
The problem is that this whole subject is such a complicated issue! There is no black or white, only shades of grey. I do think the Media though are at fault for over-publicising the whole affair this time around and that the Government really haven't helped matters! As soon as it came out that Venables had re-offended, and Will Self also mentioned that the list of crimes that could have resulted in Venables' parole being evoked are numerous and consist in some examples of very simple and innocuous things of the kind that we all participate in every day, I believe we should have had full disclosure of the offence to prevent speculation. I do not think we have a right to know the new identities of the pair; the decision to release them has been made, one would hope, under much consideration and despite what anyone may think the whole point of a justice system is that we need to have faith in the system or it is not worth having! But I do think that if you just release just a small trickle of information without any details then you are courting all sorts of misbehaviour from a media that hardly has the best reputation or track record in the first place. Either they should have withheld the information that Venables had been re-arrested or told us why he had been taken back into custody. By holding back, all they have done is blow up the whole sorry debacle into a full-blown clusterfrack!
The latest news is that all the media coverage and speculation may damage any future trial that Venables has to undergo. This in itself is dangerous as, in pressing to publish as much rumour and false truth about the pair that tabloid reporters can uncover, they could threaten to prevent him theoretically from going back to jail! I do not think this is likely but the fact that it is a possibility is worrying. Also all the media hoo-ha has the potential for innocent people getting hurt. One thing I heard of last week was that one person had to move when he was accused by his neighbours and harassed wrongfully for being Jon Venables. Is there not the danger that by whipping up a media frenzy and causing paranoia and widespread negative public feeling the papers might end up creating a society of vigilantism? The papers have a right to report the news as they see fit and to give us the information that they think we need to hear but there needs to be a certain amount of responsibility with their reporting because what they publish has wider and further ramifications. And is this our fault, in part, for becoming so media-obsessed and dictating what we expect from our journalism? Surely if they did not think there was a market for their own paticular brand of shit-stirring then they would not resort to such tactics?
On a brighter note, Gail Porter was on The Wright Stuff this morning as part of this weeks guest panel. You may remember she lost all her hair through Alapetia a few years ago and has been virtually bald ever since. Well, it turns out today that her hair has began to grow back! Something that had been suggested might never happen! Today she commented that it was the first time in several years that she had had to shave her legs!! The hair on her head is a little patchy but it is a vast improvement on how it was growing about a month ago when she was last on the show. Well done Gail- both for being positive through all you have had to endure through your ordeal but also for getting your hair back! You are an inspiration to us all! If only all of us could be so brave through adversity, the world would be one step closer to being a better place!