Friday, 24 May 2013

One Wednesday in Woolwich

I think it was the late Margaret Thatcher who talked about denying terrorists "the oxygen of publicity". In that she was wise.

The media machine and Westminster politicians have gone to town over the act of savagery that took place on the streets of Woolwich on Wednesday. It was a bloody and brutal crime with a young father being hacked to death in broad daylight and his murderers showing no remorse, but rather the reverse. It was an egregious crime. The two young men clearly wanted maximum coverage for what they had done and for their godless slogans of hatred. They clearly wished to be numbered with the dishonourable company of terrorists. And thanks to the media and the united declarations of our politicians - indeed of no less an ally than President Obama - their wish has been granted, beyond, I imagine, their wildest dreams. No doubt they will wear the title "terrorist" as an accolade for their rest of their incarcerated lives - with satisfaction.

What we actually witnessed too many times on Wednesday was no more than a grubby vicious murder by a pair of deluded and feral young men, who dressed up their murder most foul as a political quasi-religious act. The very broadcasting of the murderers themselves was questionable. The repetition of it ad nauseam was merely dancing to their agenda and in my view played to the basest instinct of voyeurism. The elevating (if elevation it is) of the crime to an act of terrorism has been merely to achieve the young men's aim on their behalf, to instil fear. The continual media headlining of the incident merely maintains the spotlight (as, in a small way, I admit, does this - my only comment on the subject).

The East End Imam, Ajmal Masroor, potently denounced the murderers on Sky News. I can't find the clip on YouTube, but the terms he used were very similar to his reaction to the tube bombers in 2005:
An imam talks about so-called terrorists, which is well worth listening to. 

From the Levison enquiry we learned about the positive symbiotic relationship that can exist between press and police - where the publicity given by the press is able to help with official investigations. In this case it seems that the publicity given by the two estates of government and the press have merely added oxygen to a horrible immolation on the streets of Woolwich. It wasn't great news. Last year about a hundred people were murdered in London. But Wednesday was a tragedy for one young man, Lee Rigby, his wife, Rebecca, their toddler son, Jack, and their close family. And they probably don't need to have the details of Lee's death endlessly pored over by the rest of us. May they all have some peace.


  1. Hear, hear! We have shamed the bankers into mending their ways: now for the media.

  2. "And they probably don't need to have the details of Lee's death endlessly pored over by the rest of us. May they all have some peace. "
    Oh how I agree with you. You put it so well.
    The front page of the Daily Mail was absolutely obscene and must have been so distressing for Lee's family.
    I suppose the Media just print anything that will sell their papers. It's sad and distressing though.
    Lee's young wife will rise to the occasion for the sake of their 2 year old son. May she be given strength of mind body and spirit each and every day.

  3. There is no hope of hushing up this kind of thing in the day of the iPhone. The BBC asked the public "Would you have stood around filming everything?" Which planet are they living on? Some people were filming it to sell their terrible footage to The Sun or Express, which "branded" it and then they sold it not to BBC but to commercial ITV, getting their money back. I cannot agree that these were not terrorists who had been trained to kill for some "idea" and they were British terrorists. So this modern "Cain" made anarchic politics about "Cameron and toppling the government". I agree that this part should not have been shown, but as I say, people will film and sell anyway.

    1. "The terrorist uses force because he knows he will never get his way by democratic means.
      Through calculated savagery, his aim is to induce fear in the hearts of people. And weariness towards resistance.
      "In this evil strategy, the actions of the media are all important. For newspapers and television, acts of terrorism inevitably make good copy and compelling viewing. The hijacker and the terrorist thrive on publicity: without it, their activities and their influence are sharply curtailed. There is a fearful progression, which the terrorists exploit to the full. They see how acts of violence and horror dominate the newspaper columns and television screens of the free world. They see how that coverage creates a natural wave of sympathy for the victims and pressure to end their plight no matter what the consequence. And the terrorists exploit it. Violence and atrocity command attention. We must not play into their hands....
      "And we must try to find ways to starve the terrorist and the hijacker of the oxygen of publicity on which they depend. In our societies we do not believe in constraining the media, still less in censorship. But ought we not to ask the media to agree among themselves a voluntary code of conduct, a code under which they would not say or show anything which could assist the terrorists' morale or their cause while the hijack lasted?...
      "As so often Rudyard Kipling has the last word: Keep ye the Law—be swift in all obedience—Clear the land of evil, drive the road and bridge the ford. Make ye sure to each his own That he reap where he hath sown; By the peace among our peoples let men know we serve the Lord" (Margaret Thatcher, 15 July 1985, Speech to the American Bar Association).

      Ought we not to ask the media to show some restraint?