Monday, 23 August 2010

Daily Mail still undecided on merits of mob rule

Last week two Pakistani boys, aged 15 and 17, were beaten to death by a 200-strong lynch mob after being mistaken for burglars. This, in itself, is depressing. The fact that the video of the killings is currently one of the most-viewed clips on YouTube is even more depressing in its own way.

The Daily Mail shares the revulsion felt by all right-thinking people, condemning the "horrifying" and "brutal" killings and noting that the Pakistani nation is asking itself how so many people could stand by without intervening. What kind of savage, backward country would allow such a thing? The Mail's online readers are in no doubt:

And Pakistan wonders why the world is reluctant to give them aid money when crimes like this go on in the street with no sense of law and order.
- Matt P, Wootton Bassett, 22/8/2010 20:42

"Is this what we are? Savages?" Yes, that pretty much sums it up.
- Peter, London, 22/8/2010 19:23

It is difficult to make a comment on this awful incident, where were the Islamic Imams when all this was going on? I can see why donors are scarce in helping Pakistan with flood aid, if this is a sample of cultural democracy
- lionel Clarke, macclesfield, Cheshire,

I'm more surprised that there actually people in Pakistan who have the decency to protest against this. As Bill Maher said - our culture is better than theirs, and we shouldn't be afraid to say it.
- Mephistophiles, Accrington, 23/8/2010

And who could possibly disagree? If a crime has been committed then the police should be called, the case should be investigated, and the suspect tried by a jury of his peers. Or maybe not. Because elsewhere in Mail World things are very different.

Sitting just below the Pakistan story on the Mail home page is the charming tale of a man who has been arrested after allegedly opening fire on a five-year-old gypsy child who "trespassed on his land" while
committing the heinous crime of... collecting ladybirds. Comments are not being allowed for legal reasons but the article oozes sympathy, noting that the shooter "must have been very scared", that he had been "plagued by break-ins" and that "gypsy children had cleared the shelves of local shops". Must've asking for it, then. After all, the kid was probably planning to steal the ladybirds.

For many years the Mail and its readers have idolised and fetishised another gypsy-shooter, Tony Martin. You may recall that Martin spent three years behind bars after being convicted of murder, later reduced on appeal to manslaughter, of 16-year-old gypsy Fred Barras, who shot in the back while fleeing Martin's farmhouse empty-handed. Almost exactly a year ago today, Martin gave an interview to the Mail in which he proudly stated that he had "no regrets" and suggested that he'd cheerily do the same again should the opportunity arise. Far from being horrified at this example of unrepentant vigilante justice, the paper described him as an "eccentric". The most highly rated comments under the interview stop some way short of condemning the killer of a teenage boy in the terms used to describe the foreign, Muslim killers of two teenage boys:

The guy is a hero ,in my book we need more like him.
- Peter, kent, 22/8/2009 21:17

I'm afraid I find it hard to sympathise with the victim, no matter how young.
- Catherine, York, 21/8/2009 14:08

His prosecution was an injustice at the time and it remains so. Enjoy a long and happy life Mr Martin, you did nothing wrong. As the support from these pages show, the people are behind you even if the discredited and bankrupt politicians are out of step.
- FU, Queensland, 21/8/2009 1:11

I dont think many people have any remorse or pity for those 2 thieves. Tony Martin is an inspiration to all law abiding citizens.
- dave, nottingham england, 20/8/2009 20:51

Tony Martin for Prime Minister!!!
- andrew, king's Lynn, 20/8/2009 20:54

And so on and so forth. The pattern repeats itself with every case where a householder is brought before the courts to answer for their actions after attacking a suspected criminal (and it IS "suspected", as I'm pretty sure we still have the presumption of innocence in this country). The householder is a hero, the victim had it coming, we can't expect the police to do anything about it so we have to take the law into our own hands.*

The coverage is presented this way because it fits in with the Mail's narrative on the state not just of this nation but of others, too: Britain is a wonderful, civilised place that is being ruined by Harriet Harman-style lefties, political correctness, a hopeless police force and a legal system that puts the criminal before the victim. So, if a Briton kills someone they suspect of committing a crime, they're a hero and all right-thinking people should support them. Meanwhile, Pakistan is a backward nation populated by savages who live in the dark ages and do awful things like take the law into their own hands. Clear?

*It's also worth noting that, in most cases, the householder is either cleared by the jury or cleared on appeal within six months. The fact that the Tony Martin case continues to occupy the public imagination more than a decade after Barras was shot dead shows how few people actually are jailed for such acts.

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