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Tuesday, March 21, 2006 

Sun-watch: Using the death of one girl to forward their own political agenda.

You have to hand it to the Sun (and not to let the Mirror off the hook, they have a very similar front page), at least they are somewhat consistent. Their front page today, showing the "trusting" face of Maryann Leneghan, who was murdered in an apparent revenge attack, is a typical piece of propaganda which only ever tells one side of a story. In the Sun's parlance, anyone ever convicted of any crime, however slight, is a yob. Maryann's death is apparently a scandal.

The motive behind the death of this trusting girl is only awarded two sentences in the Sun's story about her death.

"The two girls were grabbed from a car in which they were sleeping in a revenge attack masterminded by Thomas. He blamed them for setting him up as the victim of a robbery in which cash and drugs were stolen and he was stabbed."

Nowhere in the story is there room for the words of Richard Latham QC, who was prosecuting, not defending:

"Mary-Ann (and her friend) were not without their problems. Mary-Ann was bunking off school, neither had a job. They were certainly not the sort of girls who would have been tucked up at home at 10 o'clock at night."

No, that might take some of the force out of their story. Maryann was a trusting angel, there's no chance she could have been involved in what led to one of the men who took revenge being stabbed. After all, these girls would qualify for the same brush which the Sun often tars all youth with; The yob brush. And where did the killers find Maryann? In the car park of a pub, drinking wine underage. In another case she'd be called a yob and the Sun would demand that she should be locked away as well. Don't get me wrong, this is a case which really does question your own personal beliefs on punishment; nothing justifies what happened to the two girls, just as what the men did should not justify their own death, which is what many are calling for on the Sun website, but ignoring the background to the case doesn't help in the reaction to it, and the Sun's hypocrisy is to be expected. No matter though, let's just ignore that and use this case to force our political view of crime on everyone.

The Sun's leader is the really foul piece of today's paper.

"CHARLES Clarke is getting away with murder.

The Home Secretary is willing to insult the bereaved dad of a 7/7 bomb victim, but he won’t lift a politically-correct finger to protect us against killers.

On his watch, police are slow to arrest, prosecutors won’t charge, and judges won’t jail villains.

Even when a rapist or murderer is locked up, he is out again after serving half his time.

Loving dads like John Monckton and Robert Symons are hacked to death in their own homes by killers on early release.

A psycho with a violent record is set free to torture, rape and murder 16-year-old Maryann Leneghan.

These are merely daily examples of violence by thugs who treat the law — and us — with contempt.

Mr Clarke expresses concern. We don’t want his concern.

We want him to stop youngsters routinely carrying guns and using knives as fashion accessories.

We demand a crackdown on feral kids who have turned our town centres into no-go zones after dark.

Mr Clarke believes jail is the last resort. And we pay the price for his tolerance.

America has shown that criminals cannot rape and murder if they are behind bars.

But the mere thought of jail offends the sensitivities of our liberal elite.

We have the biggest prison population in Europe because we have the biggest crime rate.

Yet Labour is slow to build new prisons. It sneers at prison ships.

So we have to live in a country where violence is becoming a horrific way of life.

If Charles Clarke can’t find the guts to stop it, Tony Blair should use his next reshuffle to find someone who can."

Let's just start by acknowledging an inherent contradiction. Prosecutors won't prosecute, and judges won't jail, yet we have the biggest prison population in Europe. So if people aren't getting prosecuted and not being jailed, why are so many there?
Ah, that's right, we have the biggest crime rate. The Sun doesn't bother to back this up with any statistics, because they know that it would then fall apart. The crime rate in this country has now been falling for almost ten years, and the last statistics issued by the Home Office covering the last six weeks of 2005 showed a drop in violent crime of 11%. This was compared to the same period in 2004, which then also had a drop in serious violent crime by 8%, and all crime by 5%. The number of people shot dead in 2004 in the UK was 60, which was down on 70 from 2003. Still, if they included that it would destroy their arguments, so I can see why they didn't.

A psycho with a violent record? They must be referring to Michael Johnson, who attacked a boy of 13 with learning difficulties, hanging him upside down from a tree and battering his head. What they don't bother to explain is that happened when Johnson himself was 13. He served 2 years of a 3 year sentence for his crime, when he was discharged. Of course, the Sun doesn't believe in giving anyone a second chance.

The Sun also demands a crackdown on "feral kids" who make town centres no-go zones after dark. That's strange, I thought there had already been one going on for a couple of years now, with some councils handing out anti-social behaviour orders like sweets, with the police having the power to move on any group of 3 or more whether they're doing anything wrong or not. This isn't good enough for our moral guardians at the Sun though, they demand an even further crackdown, without suggesting what it should be. Maybe we should shoot any teenager seen out over a certain time of night? That would save us having to just lock every single young person up.

America has shown that criminals cannot rape and murder if they are behind bars? America has a far higher murder rate than the UK, even in the states with the death penalty, guns are much more easily available and the inner cities are even more ghettoised than here, yet America is the leading example. Silly me, I thought that should the last place we ought to look to.

When it comes down to it, the Sun turns to its favourite invented enemy, political correctness. The home secretary is politcally correct, our "liberal elite" whoever they are, is offended by jail. Could it be because politicians who aren't stuck back in the age of hanging and flogging realise that prison doesn't work?
No, the answer according to the Sun is to build more prisons, and seemingly use prison ships which Labour sneers at. Maybe they sneer at the prison ship, as according to the prison inspectors annual report, they were making up how many hours the inmates had spent out of their cells.

The Sun knows it will get away with such blatant distortions and untruths, as no one in the mainstream media will bother challenging it (There's the odd jibe in the Guardian and Independent, but that's about it). After all, why would anyone think it's worth bothering with when you see the number of comments on the story which call for the death penalty to be reinstated? I lost count at around 13 and lost the will to live myself shortly beforehand. Here's a couple of the "best" comments:
This Government should adopt the laws of our Far Eastern friends - they should all be flogged in public by Maryann's father, then hung by the neck until dead. Save the taxpayers' money - bury them now so they cannot be released to inflict pain onto any other innocent law abiding citizen.

Do this now and send a message to all the scum in Britain. You get caught, you pay the price - simple.

Colin Brothwood

The British no-capital-punishment policy is working wonders, isn't it?

At least on my side of the pond these scum would know they'd pay with their lives.

Frank Moss, Jr
Tennessee, USA

The probation service is getting all the stick, but there was nothing in what these men had just been involved with to suggest that they were capable of such a horrific crime:

The ringleader of the gang, Adrian Thomas, 20, and his followers Michael Johnson, 19, Jamaile Morally, 22 and Indrit Krasniqi, 18, were on a mixture of community punishment orders and a community rehabilitation order for a range of offences including possessing class C drugs, assaulting a police officer, driving offences and possessing a bladed article at the time they abducted and killed the teenager.


There were growing demands last night for an independent inquiry into the Leneghan case. But an unpublished internal inquiry by the London Probation Service is said to have found that national standards were met and there was nothing to justify a further independent investigation.

Just what were the probation service meant to do? Are we meant to lock everyone away for their entire sentence, knowing full well that no system is fool-proof, and that they may well reoffend whether they're released early or not? They seem to want all offenders to be permanently monitored or locked up until they're "changed". What the Sun can't face up to is that these problems cannot be solved by prison or by almost anything the government or social care can do. Crimes such as this have been around for hundreds of years, and they're not going to suddenly disappear. No one is suggesting that these men should not be locked up forever. They forfeited their second chance in the most brutal way possible, and now they must pay the price with imprisonment for the rest of their lives. Yet the Sun would seem to want to deny hundreds of people for who crime is an aberration in their lives and a one-off occurrence because of difficult circumstances which they would never turn to again their freedom. Surely it isn't the "human rights lobby" which is to blame, but rather society and human nature itself. And I really doubt there's anything we can do to change that.

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"CHARLES Clarke is getting away with murder.

The Home Secretary is willing to insult the bereaved dad of a 7/7 bomb victim, but he won’t lift a politically-correct finger to protect us against killers.

THat's my dad. I'm still alive though. They can't even get their facts straight!

The story...


and the apology...


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