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Saturday, 13 October 2012

The thing is...

Jimmy Saville eh? Who'da thunk it? Well, apart from Mitchell & Webb (just past the minute mark). And pretty much everyone else, when you stop to think about just how little convincing people took of his guilt.

I mean, I know that a lot of stuff has come out at this stage, but even when the whole thing was just starting to kick off, people seemed to just accept it. Was that a collective 'yeah, thought so' about Saville, though? Or just an indication of how jaded we as a society have become when it comes to this stuff?

Murdered kid? Parents.

Jovial entertainer with family man image? Wife beating sex pest.

Famous and eccentric? Paedophile.

It's just how we see the world now, isn't it? Or is that just me?

Not that this post is intended as an indictment of that attitude, or for that matter a defence of Saville. No, what this is, is a rant about certain opportunistic publications. To be exact, The Sun. We all know about The Sun. No-one needs me to tell them about it's excesses and slightly off politics. I mean, it's no Daily Mail, but only because it doesn't trust it's readers to have the intelligence to understand a Mail article. And how damning is that?

The Sun is running a campaign. A campaign to strip Paedo Saville, which is apparently Jimmy Savilles name now, of his knighthood. Why? I know why, but first I want to express my thoughts about the notion of stripping Saville, posthumously I might add; posthumously in this case meaning the same thing as redundantly; of the gong.

First of all, I know pretty much everyone has decided that he did what he's said to have done. But on paper at least, and in the eyes of the law, he was never convicted of the crime. Nor, I should think, will he ever be. I have no idea of the legalities of trying someone posthumously but even assuming it can be done, what would be the point? It's never going to happen, is it? And if it did, you can bet that The Sun would cry foul about the waste of CPS resources.

But if he's never technically been found guilty of the crime, then how do you justify stripping the knighthood? No doubt some will say that this is a 'special case', but the law doesn't allow for special cases, and nor should it. If Saville can be stripped of the gong because we think he committed crimes, then so can others. It's a slippery slope.

I have a colleague who delights in posing me what if? scenarios to test my opposition to the death penalty. What if loads of people saw them do it? What if it's on cctv? What if they confess? If there's no doubt at all...  What he doesn't get is that if we execute someone for murder based on cast iron cctv footage, or multiple eye witness accounts, or even a confession, we execute them for murder. That is the operative phrase. Execution is an accepted punishment for murder, and that is what the law books will say. It will not make any of the other distinctions he so gleefully recounts.

(Of course his argument presupposes that certainty of guilt is the only factor in my objection, which completely ignores the fact that I just think killing people is wrong.)

Sorry, went on a bit of a tangent there. My point is that the law isn't known for it's subtleties; it's one way or the other. So unless we want people to be punished because lots of people think they did something, leave Savilles knighthood alone.

The Sun doesn't really care two figs about taking away Savilles knighthood though, do they? Of course they don't. They know that saying paedo on the front page will sell papers; they know that railing against 'paedos' will win them points with their readership; and they hope that by pandering to the masses in this ridiculous manner they can claw back some small degree of public sympathy after a couple of years of really bad press.

That's what this is. People don't like them. Some people have not much cared for them for a while but these days it's not just Scousers with a (perfectly understandable) grudge; a massive swathe of the population is turning on them. And this is their way of trying to counter that.

'Look everybody, we aren't the bad guys! Look at us, standing up for justice! We're leading the charge in your names, to strip a man who doesn't care anymore of a bauble that meant next to nothing in the first place! Aren't we just the heroes of the people?

No. You're not. You're rabble rousing, glory seeking, opportunistic scumbags. And I say this not out of any great hatred, as some seem to have, of the tabloid press as a whole, which serve a purpose every bit as important as the broadsheets. I say this as someone who is sickened by this one particular act of trying to score points off the suffering of countless children across who knows how many years, all while claiming to be the good guys. Shame on you, Sun.

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