Friday, November 17, 2006

Nothing in particular

Evenin' all. Oooh, that was a bit Andrew Neil. Forget I said it.

Well, it's safe to say I've had a bloody awful day. However, you don't want to hear about me. I thought I'd come on and rant about something but I'm knacked so I might give up.

The latest news on the BBC tells us that a new website has been set up in an effort to track down 'missing' paedophiles. The Crimestoppers website is currently hosting the pictures of five men known to have gone missing from their local area. The site does not contain details of the crimes they have committed. Despite this curious omission, I find the idea dangerous and a trifle mad.

The harming of children by adults broadly summons up two reactions in the population at large, both, it may be said, primordial. We are imbued with protective emotions and an urge to shelter our own. We wrench and weep when we learn of such outrages and reflect on how it can be avoided. But in others it provokes anger, rage, zeal and madness, never better evinced than during the trials of Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr when hoards of empurpled, baying fuckwits stood at the roadside and hurled and eggs and whatever else as the police vans containing the murderers careened by. In fact, I beg your reprieve: a more salient example may even be that of the paediatrician in Newport, south Wales, who was forced to flee her house when illiterate vigilantes laid siege.

I have no truck with the "cut their bollocks off" brigade. It solves nothing. It ruins and humiliates one person but does nothing to prevent similar crimes in the future. I fear of the consequences of publishing these men's details. I fear for anyone who may just bear a passing resemblance to one of these men and is one day assaulted by people who failed to pause for even the most cursory reference to detail.

Those in authority have promised that "any vigilante activity will be robustly dealt with and is likely to constitute a criminal offence." Yes, bloodly likely to, I'd wager. But why run the risk? By then it will be too late and communities will close ranks in the wrong-headed belief that justice has been served. The accusation that the Home Office panders to tabloid sensibilities has been prominent in recent months and this is about the closest we've come to having that view vindicated.


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