Wednesday, April 09, 2008 

Mea culpa expanded.

I ought to be slightly clearer than I was in yesterday's "mea culpa" on Karen Matthews about exactly what it was I was apologising about, especially as two other bloggers I more than respect suggest I shouldn't have at all. I was not saying sorry for alleging snobbery; I think that claim still more than stands up for why there was far less coverage than that given to the Madeleine McCann case, although the factors of the difference in looks between Madeleine and Shannon and Kate and Karen were also a factor, as was that this was happening on a Yorkshire housing estate and not in sunny Praia da Luz in Portugal.

Rather, I was admitting I got it wrong directly by criticising Allison Pearson's original piece on the Matthews, especially her concluding paragraph:

But like too many of today's kids, Shannon Matthews was already a victim of a chaotic domestic situation, inflicted by parents on their innocent children, long before she vanished into the chill February night.

That seems more than accurate now. As noted at the time however, Pearson's hypocrisy was abject considering her repeated defences of the McCanns, and far more offensive was that Pearson, without any idea whatsoever about what had actually happened, was kicking a mother while she was down, with nothing to suggest that what had happened to Shannon was anything to do with her or her family at large. As it turns out, she might well have not been down at all; but her tearful appearances were, as Pearson herself writes today, incredibly convincing.

Pearson however has got the wrong end of the stick entirely here though:

After Shannon went missing, those of us who dared to question the family's way of life were pilloried. Apparently, we were middle-class snobs looking down on a poor, working-class world. Who were we to judge Karen with her seven kids from five different fathers?

That's not what I was arguing at all, although others might well have done. You can judge Matthews' lifestyle all you like, but if you must do it, do it after the girl had at least been found, either alive or dead. Pearson's original attack was humbug of the highest order, jumping to conclusions and making allegations which she could not possibly back up, purely on the back of Matthews' past sex-life and the children that had came with it. There's nothing more unpleasant that attacking someone while they're under such apparent pain, and Pearson herself had vigorously attacked those that had done the same with the McCanns.

Pearson continues:

Yet the more we learned about Shannon's family, the more the tangled roots of the little girl's unhappiness were cruelly exposed.

No one is supposed to be "judgmental" any more. But isn't it the failure to be judgmental that has created the chaotic world where a nine-year-old can (allegedly) be taken by the child-abusing uncle of her mum's toyboy? An uncle, by the way, with whom the mum herself is alleged to be having an affair. I know it's hard, madam, but do try to keep up at the back!

But again, Pearson hasn't got the faintest idea whether these allegations are true or not. I can't recall reading anything that suggested that the uncle was a child-abuser, although his reasons for snatching a girl would suggest that, if we're still meant to think that this was a snatching and not an elaborate scam, and the same goes for the way she's now suggesting that the uncle of Matthews' current lover was having an affair with her all along, something she cannot possibly prove and that which would affect the subsequent trial in any case. All this speculation and finger-pointing is doubtless the exact reason why the police have asked those on the Dewsbury estate not to take the law into their own hands, especially when they haven't got a clue of the actual facts themselves with all the rumours swirling around. If you're going to be judgemental, then at least have all the details laid out before you; if Pearson was going to do that however, she'd never get a column written at all. Part of this is churnalism, but part of it is also simply that the whole point of tabloid columnists is to be opinionated without necessarily having the slightest actual information to be able to back up why they have that view.

The same mentality is behind the current grasping of Shameless as the template for the entire estate on which the Matthews lived. The churnalism behind this is covered by the Churner Prize, a new blog that seems to be more than worth watching, but it's also because everything has now suddenly flipped in the media's mind. They weren't keen on the estate or the Matthews to begin with, but now they feel they've been taken for a ride, and the public themselves will feel the same, so they're justified in throwing around the epithets, no matter how potentially insulting or untrue. The Scum runs with this for example, and uses the example of a man saying the police found pornography in his house and that everyone has it as evidence of moral deprivation. That if he had copies of the Sun he'd have soft pornography in it as well doesn't seem worth mentioning. I've can't say I've ever watched a full episode of Shameless, but have caught glimpses, so someone can correct me if they need to, but if the show does at times feature the community itself coming together in times of need then that's been reflected in reality without the media bothering to draw that conclusion. The estate was completely behind the family and united in such a way that might not have previously been achieved, going out of their way to search and help in any way they could, ready to hold a party to welcome Shannon back, one which has sadly not been held. That however might be to give the impression that the under/working class aren't revolting, and we couldn't possibly have that.

I'm not afraid to admit however that I did get it wrong. A mother seems to have abandoned her child for whatever reason, and her family life was by no means above reproach. I should perhaps have moderated my view slightly by admitting the possibility of the truth of what Pearson wrote. This doesn't change one iota however the fact that Pearson is a snobbish cunt of the highest order, as proved by her diatribe against Fiona MacKeown, simply for not having the same standards as the high and mighty little Miss Perfect Middle Class Pearson. If there's one thing I do know, it's that I'd rather be wrong and mistaken than a despicable, sniping, unbearably cruel bitch.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008 

I'm not sorry, and I blame Allison Pearson.

Oh look, it's a rather over ripe peach.

When blogging and responding to articles both elsewhere online and in the press, there's always a case for two diametrically opposed responses. Like I did with Kamm's rampant apologia for rendition yesterday, you can fisk hard and fast but do so without peppering it with what might well be valid but also distracting insults and expletives, or you can go the whole hog and just call a cunt a cunt, as Kid in the comments does. I try not to do that too often for a couple of reasons: firstly, because it's not pleasant, the writer probably isn't a cunt however reprehensible their views, and it makes me look like one of the green-ink brigade, even here in the deepest depths of cyberspace, not to mention the deeply misogynistic tones of doing so, even if no such offence is meant, and how it also doesn't really make me feel any better in any case; and secondly, because then when you only rarely do exactly what I've just described, it seems to make the result all the sweeter.

This is one of those such occasions. Last week, while commenting on Shannon Matthews and the media response, I happened to come across Allison Pearson's views on Matthews' mother. Worth keeping in mind throughout all of this that Pearson is and remains one of the McCanns' biggest supporters in the press. Her blithering that "this kind of thing doesn't usually happen to people like us" summed up both how the press had responded to the Madeleine disappearance and how it hasn't to Matthews. The sheer class snobbery, something already endemic in the Mail, was overwhelming, and just to labour the point, Pearson said that "Shannon was already a lost child" and went on to make observations that were stupid at best and downright deplorable at worst, saying that "allowing a passing parade of boyfriends to play tickling games with your vulnerable small girl is, at best, naïve" and also that "Shannon Matthews was already a victim of a chaotic domestic situation, inflicted by parents on their innocent children, long before she vanished into the chill February night."

Pearson herself has two children
, and it's jolly good that she does, because otherwise she wouldn't be able to make such blasé generalisations about how others should look after theirs. Not content with kicking Shannon's mother while her daughter was and still is missing, Pearson obviously thought that wasn't quite potentially offensive enough. No, she had to go one better: kicking a mother when her daughter has just been raped and murdered. Yeah, I wish I was making this up too.

Fiona MacKeown, the mother of Scarlett Keeling, the 15-year-old girl who was raped and murdered in Goa, seems less like a grieving mother than an avenging tigress.

The dehumanisation therefore sets in immediately. In Pearson's fucked up, microscopic little brain, MacKeown is not someone who wants justice for her daughter's murder, something that the local police appear to have covered up, but rather a vicious creature that is out for vengeance, and more than willing to rip out a few throats in the process. Someone who ought to be supported when at her most vulnerable is instead about to be clobbered by the Daily Mail's latest and worst Glenda Slagg.

With her swishing curtain of grey hair, Fiona is taking on a corrupt local police force which initially denied that her cub had been the victim of foul play.

This is a pretty old cub we're talking about here, considering that Scarlett was 15. Never mind that the analogy is bogus, stretched to complete breaking point, and that MacKeown is instead doing what any relative, regardless of whether she was the mother or not would do if they had the personal strength to do so, in Pearson's grim calculus this is just the beginning in a build up towards far more than dehumanisation.

"If police had taken more interest in previous [suspicious] deaths, then Scarlett might not be dead now," growled Fiona.

Ah, she's growling now. I see, like a cat. How much exactly do you get paid for this you witless, brain-addled fuckbubble?

Maybe so. But isn't there an even better chance that Scarlett would still be alive if her own mother had not abandoned her for several weeks after an argument and recklessly continued her own holiday?

Or perhaps if whoever it was WHO FUCKING KILLED HER hadn't done so she would still be. Scarlett and her mother don't come into this; the entirety of the blame lies with the murderer. But then, how could the murderer resist?

Instead the blonde teenager, as tempting as a ripe peach, was left in the care of a 25-year-old tour guide - a local man she'd only recently met.

As tempting as a ripe peach. In case Pearson hasn't been paying attention, over the last month or so we've seen similar "ripe peaches" who have been killed by men, in at least one of the cases purely for his own warped sexual pleasure. They however weren't excused for their crimes because those they killed were beautiful and therefore apparently asking for it; they were rightly put behind bars for more or less the rest of their lives. They say that the Daily Mail is the most misogynistic newspaper, and with such writers as Pearson, who needs enemies?

I don't know what they call that in globe-trotting hippy circles. Back here on Planet Parent it's known as dereliction of duty.

Jolly good. Perhaps if you have daughters and one of them is subsequently whisked away, you'll not begrudge me the right to blame your fucked up small-minded bourgeois values rather than the person responsible, while adding that your daughter was clearly asking for it because she resembled a plump plum, just ready to be devoured.

Mrs MacKeown is now to be questioned by Goan police for negligence - a tactic she claims is a "disgusting" attempt to "switch the focus" away from their own failings.

If anyone's trying to divert attention away from their own mistakes, I'd say it's Mrs MacKeown.

Oh, what's the fucking point with even bothering to argue against this diatribe? Fuck you Allison, and fuck your paper for printing this despicable rant which simply couldn't want a day longer to be formed in that shell-like wrinkled, busted contraption in the middle of your head that couldn't possibly be described by anyone that has read your prose as a brain.

Scarlett was last seen at 4am in a bar surrounded by several men. Witnesses say she was totally off her head on ecstasy and cocaine.

Surrounded by men? On drugs? Clearly this was another lost child abandoned by her parents and therefore which is eminently explainable to the fuckwitted readers out there in middle England that are no doubt nodding sagely along with your sordid analysis. She doesn't matter because she was clearly a whore, took ILLEGAL SUBSTANCES and was just waiting to be plucked by any man who set eyes on her.

That kind of behaviour would have made her vulnerable in her home town back in Devon, let alone in a culture where Western girls are all too readily viewed as sexually available.

Oh, I see. Not only is it her fault and her mother's fault, but it's also both of their fault for going somewhere where the filthy fucking backward savages just can't wait to get their hands on the succulent white women. Does Pearson really not see just how enormously offensive this is? No, of course she doesn't; she's far too fucking moronic.

Forgive me for being a boringly conventional bourgeois mum, but what the hell were Fiona MacKeown and her partner thinking of taking seven kids on a six-month "dream trip" to India - and then leaving one of them to fend for herself? Why wasn't Scarlett in school studying for her GCSEs?

You know, I'm almost tempted to agree with Pearson. I don't think it's the greatest idea ever to take a 15-year-old out of school for six months at one of the most important times in their school life; then though I remember that this abnormal amoral "conventional bourgeois mum" has just more or less justified a teenager's death because she was very attractive and in a country with a load of darkies that were just bound to want to rape her and murder her. You can take Scarlett's GCSEs which will now never be filled in and poke them right up your arid cunt.

The loss of any child must be a horror beyond imagining. But there is something about Fiona MacKeown that makes me want to scream at the TV.

Why exactly? Because she wants justice for having her pride and joy taken away and because she has been denied it? Or is it because her lifestyle and everything else offend your "conventional bourgeois" values so much that you therefore think that she ought to be kicked and assaulted while she's down?

Not an ounce of doubt or regret seems to weigh on this laid-back woman. She told reporters that she had counted every mark on Scarlett's body.

Similarly, doubtless not a "doubt or regret" will weigh on the fucking harridan bitch that wrote this completely heartless piece. Personally, I hope you fucking choke on your words.

"There were almost 50 bruises and abrasions. She has clearly been battered and assaulted. I feel vindicated."

Vindicated? For crying out loud! Any normal person would be tearing out their own hair with grief and remorse.

And does it not cross your tiny fizzog that perhaps this is exactly her way of responding to that grief and remorse? Many others would have collapsed at the tragedy of their daughter dying after drowning; MacKeown instead questioned that and yes, she has been vindicated. If she hasn't grieved yet, that will doubtless come once she has achieved justice, and not before. My own mother, bless her, has questioned the McCanns because to her mind neither of them had showed enough emotion, and she ought to know, because she lost one son in an accident before I came along. I therefore don't question her on that view, despite my disagreeing with it. None of this however occurs to Pearson, or if it does, she keeps it hidden to instead only keep the most base prejudices out in the open.

Mrs MacKeown says her one consolation is that she's "got some photographs of [Scarlett] having a fabulous time".

She still doesn't get it, does she? Fiona MacKeown is an unrepentant member of the Me Generation, one of those people who would rather be a best mate than a parent.

Again, who the fuck are you Pearson to question what MacKeown is going through or state that she doesn't get it? It's you that doesn't get it; your unbearable cruelty to those going through hell through your column is far worse than any offence that Matthews' mother or MacKeown have ever committed. You're the lowest of the low, a bottom-feeding cunt that uses other people's misery against them and gets paid for doing it. You and the "newspaper" you write for are not just a disgrace to journalism, you're a disgrace to humanity itself.

It's more fun being a friend to your kids and, quite frankly, a lot less hassle.

You don't have to fight daily battles over bedtimes and body piercings. And if you have a row with your "mate" you can storm off, unlike an old-fashioned authority figure who has to weather the storm and stay put always and forever.

Oh my god! Scarlett had body piercings! Someone call the middle-class outrage brigade! Oh wait, they already did. Just what is your point exactly Allison? Do you want MacKeown to come and personally show you how sorry she is for her "mistakes" so that you're sated? I suppose you'd like that, and could write about it. TERRIBLE MOTHER WHO ABANDONED HER DAUGHTER TO DEATH AT HANDS OF EASTERN SAVAGES ON DRUGS SAYS SORRY TO TOP DAILY MAIL COLUMNIST. Read all about it!

This week, John Dunford, head of the Association of Schools and College Leaders, warned that schools are the only moral framework in many children's lives.

With the erosion of traditional family life, parents are no longer giving their offspring basic social skills or a sense of right and wrong.

I'm sorry, what's this got to do with MacKeown and Scarlett? Both seemed to have social skills and a sense of right and wrong; it's only you and the fucking murdering bastard who killed her that don't.

It's a bleak picture that brings to mind W.B. Yeats's great poem about a world where the natural order of things has catastrophically broken down: "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;/Mere anarchy is loosed, and everywhere/The ceremony of innocence is drowned."

Welcome one and all to Daily Mail island, where everything is going to hell, the kids all have body piercings and Allison Pearson knows exactly what the remedy is and how to dispense it. Roll up so you too can have the foot of middle England stamping on your bonce forever.

For parents who are poor and ground down by work, or the lack of it, there may be some excuse. But articulate, middle-class people should know better.

That didn't save Matthews' mother though did it? You assaulted her just as you're attacking MacKeown now. The reality is not that "articulate, middle-class people should know better", but actually those that Allison "even my parents must think I'm the lowest form of cunt" Pearson passes judgement on should know better.

Since Scarlett's brutal killing, Fiona MacKeown has fought for her daughter. Would that she had exercised half that dedication and sense of responsibility while Scarlett was still alive and in need of a mother's care.

Hug your children tight Daily Mail readers, because who knows when you too might be damned in the pages of your favourite newspaper for letting them go off on their own with another adult they trusted. You too can then experience the wrath of the very worst writers that man has ever known, with all their preening, self-centred superiority. How ironic that the newspaper which so rails against nanny statism thinks that every parent other than ones that resemble their own values exactly are the product of their own downfall. If Allison was perhaps a little wet between the ears and trying to impress the thrusting Paul Dacre, this sort of vicious attack on a grieving mother could be justified. As it is, Pearson is either 47 or 48 and at the "peak" of her career. One can't help but conclude with hoping that this typeface executioner falls under a train or something similarly messy and nasty. Then instead of blaming Pearson for being on the tracks her family can perhaps sue the train driver and company.

Related post:
Enemies of Reason - Least surprising Daily Mail headline ever...

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008 

More on the Shannon snobbery, Allison Pearson's despicable hypocrisy and the McCanns' legal action.

Roy Greenslade expands at length on why the Shannon Matthews case hasn't attracted the same amount of coverage as the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, and comes to the same conclusion as I did; that social class is overarching the whole thing.

Reading Greenslade's analysis and the article he links to in the Sindy, you realise just what Shannon's parents are up against. I didn't know that her mother, Karen, has six other children with five of them from different fathers. This is because such facts don't make any difference, or shouldn't make any difference, and haven't been featured in any of the coverage I've read. Just knowing that, it instantly becomes apparent why the Daily Mail for example hasn't gone overboard with its coverage: such a "lifestyle" as that apparently lived by the mother offends against every single sensibility in the Mail handbook. As Nick Davies and Private Eye in the past have outlined, even if you're respectable but black you're unlikely to get anything like the hearing you would if you were white, with numerous sources alleging that stories that were all ready to go were spiked at the last minute because they about those of the "dusky hue". You can imagine the casual prejudice which therefore is informing their coverage of Shannon's disappearance; why do "our people" care about a average-looking little girl unlucky enough to be born to an overweight, promiscuous mother, doubtless bleeding the state for all it's worth?

Unlike some of the posts I write here, this is one that is coming out more as a stream of conciousness. I was going to end the above paragraph with a quote from the Daily Mail columnist Allison Pearson, where she wrote of the McCanns "this kind of thing doesn't usually happen to people like us". She might as well have added, nor is it supposed to. After all, the McCanns were the Daily Mail dream family, except for perhaps Kate McCann working instead of staying at home to look after the children. They hadn't done anything wrong, or weren't a family where what happened to their daughter could be either justified or deemed excusable. Searching Google to see if I could get the exact article where Pearson wrote that, I instead came across a dispatch from Pearson where she writes about Shannon's disappearance, and it's as disgraceful, hypocritical and two-faced as you could ever possibly have imagined:

Poor Shannon was already a lost child

At the time, critics claimed that if the middle-class McCanns had lived on a council estate, they would have been in trouble with the police for neglect.

So where is the outcry over the disappearance of Shannon Matthews?


Four hours is an eternity for a little girl to be out on a dark winter's evening. And Shannon was afraid of the dark. Why did no one walk with her or care where she was?

But Karen insists Shannon was fine and enjoys a good relationship with her current boyfriend, 22-yearold Craig.

"Only on Monday, they were having tickling fights and telly cuddles. She views him as her dad."

Oh really? In that case, why was Shannon so desperate to be reunited with her real father?


But allowing a passing parade of boyfriends to play tickling games with your vulnerable small girl is, at best, naïve.

We must all hope and pray that Shannon is only missing and that her disappearance is not linked to any of the substitute dads who have trooped through her brief life.

But like too many of today's kids, Shannon Matthews was already a victim of a chaotic domestic situation, inflicted by parents on their innocent children, long before she vanished into the chill February night.

Incredible, isn't it? Gobsmackingly offensive, prejudging everything without so much as the slightest insight into the case whatsoever. The reason why there has been no "outcry" is because there is nothing except in Pearson's warped head to outcry about. The McCanns were condemned in some quarters because they had left their children alone in their apartment instead of putting them into a creche while they swanned off to have dinner with their friends. In Shannon's case, what happened was that she simply didn't come home, and doubtless her mother was already deeply worried if not panicking before she raised the alarm four hours after she had left school and failed to return home. In that time she was likely phoning round her friends, asking if she was with them, or even searching herself. Pearson has been one of the McCanns' most ardent supporters, comparing their anguish to both hell and to a Kafkaesque nightmare; that she condemns Matthews' parents simply because of who they are and what she thinks they've done shows the innate snobbery, bordering on class hatred which some who profess to be journalists suffer from, and which has so chequered the coverage so far. There hasn't been an outcry against Matthews' parents; there has however been almost precisely half the coverage given to Madeleine's disappearance, almost certainly because of the attitudes of those in Fleet Street which match Pearson's.

What we saw with the disappearance of Madeleine now also seems to setting in with the disappearance of Shannon. With no real developments to report, the media instead turns to speculation, innuendo, and downright scaremongering. The Sun, which to its credit has given the most coverage to Shannon's disappearance, was already at this on Monday, asking whether Sarah's law was the answer, despite there being no evidence whatsoever that any convicted sex offender is involved in her disappearance. Today it's turned it up a further notch with this fearmongering report, which will have no doubt done nothing to set minds at rest in Dewsbury:

NEARLY 1,400 registered sex offenders live within 25 miles of Shannon Matthews’ home, The Sun can reveal.

Many are based just a five-minute drive away.


And the Home Office statistic showing 1,387 registered sex beasts in the area was a stark reminder of the mountain detectives must climb. A further 400 live just 30 miles away in Manchester.

In the IoS article the local rector spoke of "helplessness... not hopelessness but anger, certainly". The Sun seems to be wilfully fanning the flames rather than making any effort towards keeping the calm.

P.S. Today's Private Eye (1205) reports that the McCanns are suing Richard "Dirty" Desmond's newspapers through Carter-Fuck, and are demanding a cool £1 million from each of his four newspapers for the incessant suggestions that they might have had something to do with the disappearance of Madeleine. A couple of thoughts: firstly, hiring Carter-Fuck doesn't come cheaply, which must mean that even more of the money donated to the McCanns is going on things other than directly finding Madeleine, although seeing as so far they've spent the most on the useless Metodo 3 private investigation agency which said that "Madeleine would be home by Christmas" they might as well be pouring that down the drain too. Secondly, if they do get suitably high damages, and Desmond has already apparently offered £250,000, will all of this be put back into the fund, or will some of it instead end up lining the McCanns' own pockets? The Madeleine fund's objectives are that only if she is apparently found will anything left over be given over to charity. As that seems ever more unlikely, questions will undoubtedly be asked about will be done with any eventual surplus.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007 

How to be witless in just over 1000 words.

Not to come over all Alastair Campbell, criticising cartoons, but the one on the fifth page of today's Private Eye (1193), comparing Citizen Kane to "Citizen Journalist", while somewhat true, takes the usual position that all blogging is "witless".

On the same page, the Eye lays into the true witlessness of the summer: the incessant, ignorant, complicit reporting of the Madeleine McCann case. For every useless, highly skippable blog post, you can point to the amount of dead trees used to print the acres of instantly throwaway, endlessly speculating and empty stories that have been haunting the nation. Despite some of the more thoughtful hacks taking a step back, examining just what has happened and why and how they as the media have been involved since the beginning, most of the coverage is still on the level of this abysmal abortion put together by the Mail's latest Glenda Slagg, Allison Pearson:

The past few days of Kate McCann's life may have rewritten the definition of hell.

I don't know: personally, I think I'd rather be in her position than burning for the rest of eternity, forever condemned to listening to Kate Nash's album over and over again while one of Satan's minions' sodomises me with a rusty knife. Each to their own though. Everyone's definition of hell is different; it can't be rewritten every time a tabloid journalist feels the latest situation means it has to be.

Skipping nearly 200 words of how terribly awful and unfair it all is to this unimpeachable couple:

Imagine how thrilled those literally clueless Portuguese cops were to be handed some inconclusive DNA evidence they could talk up to scapegoat the British visitors who had become such a pain in the backside.

Breathtaking, isn't it? The police are dressed up as the villains in Pearson's narrative of woe, rather than simply doing their jobs; the DNA evidence, collected and analysed by the British Forensic Service rather than any nasty clueless foreign types, is inconclusive; and the British visitors are being scapegoated because they'd "become a pain in the backside". Almost all the coverage has treated the McCanns with kid gloves, willingly blind to almost any possibility that they could have been involved, but this kind of myopia could only have been written by someone who's spent the last few days under the American regime of sensory deprivation. Some have accused those who suspect the McCanns of twisting the truth and the reality of what happened; this goes far beyond any of that, seeing an organised conspiracy not just involving the Portuguese authorities but also the British team who've done all the forensic legwork.

Overnight, Gerry and Kate found themselves trapped in a nightmare straight out of Franz Kafka. A world where lack of hard evidence is taken as proof of guilt and innocent explanations are twisted to fit our darkest suspicions.

Pearson perhaps out to reread, or even read for the first time Kafka. The whole point of the Trial is that K. cannot clear his name because he never knows what he's accused of, comes up against a bureaucracy that hinders his every movement towards discovering what it is the case is about, and finds that he is mocked and even more ruthlessly targeted by the authorities for continuing to maintain his innocence. It's a story about the tyranny of everyday life as well as being about the horrors of the totalitarian and unaccountable state. The control order regime is Kafkaesque, where some of those held under what is essentially house arrest never know what it is their meant to have done, and can't as a result fight back and defend themselves; the situation that the McCanns face is nothing of the sort. For someone who's just twisted the events of the last few weeks into a grand conspiracy, it's ever so slightly rich for Pearson to then suggest that the McCanns' innocent explanations are being twisted by some to fit suspicions.

Now Kate and Gerry have been named as official suspects, it suddenly feels as if it's open season on the doctors from Leicestershire.

Really? Unless you count the Desmond papers, which seem to have decided that going with the opposite of the rest of the press might attract a few more readers to their disgusting publications, the press has almost uniformly been completely behind the McCanns. It's only been the internet, predictably, where others have been suggesting otherwise.

In this post-Diana age, people want proof of grief. They don't want dignity or faith or an attempt to keep up appearances, even if you are collapsing inside.

And just who's to blame for this I wonder?

That Gerry and Kate, devoted parents by all accounts, loaded Madeleine's decaying body into the boot of a hire car four weeks later while they were busy courting the international media to help find their child?

Can you credit it? Of course not. The allegation is not just revolting. It is surreal.

Completely unlike the events of the last four months then. Absolutely nothing has made any sense, and it still doesn't. How does someone, within the period of around half an hour go almost completely unnoticed through a bustling holiday resort, manage to get into a locked apartment without leaving almost any prominent clues, take a 3-year-old girl without waking up her brother and sister and carry her off into the dark, never to be seen again, with only a friend of the family seeing a man from behind carrying what appeared to be a child in blankets over his shoulder?

Whatever you may think about the error they made in leaving their children alone that night, these people are not Fred and Rose West.

The deed the McCanns are accused of would have required such black, cold-hearted evil that I refuse to believe they are guilty unless overwhelming evidence is uncovered.

Nonsense. If the McCanns are guilty, and I have no idea, as pointed out before whether they are or not, the most likely explanation seems to be that whatever happened to Madeleine was a tragic accident. Out of self-preservation, probably because they feared losing their two other children as a result, they planned a cover-up, one that was for a few months surprisingly successful. They have probably been completely overwhelmed by the media coverage of the event, as almost everyone else has been. Nothing they've done is evil, or even instantly condemnable; how do we know we wouldn't have done the same thing in their position?

This is the prism through which the tabloids, and some of the other press have to see absolutely everything through. Every murderer is instantly evil, a monster whose actions are eminently unexplainable. One suspects that the media, if the McCanns were to be eventually found guilty, wouldn't vilify them for what they'd done to their daughter, but rather because they had the audacity to play them for fools for so long.

The one point that nearly all the commentators have failed to make, whether because they're unwilling to because of their own role in it or because they quite like their jobs, is that the media has been complicit in this from the very beginning. Everything was staged and created for maximum publicity, the McCanns both using and being used by the media, each out of their own motives. Is it little wonder after all of that they're unwilling to countenance the possibility they could even be slightly involved? It would be the equivalent of admitting that they'd conspired in it all themselves.

So please, spare us the cartoons about the witless blogs. The tabloid press, and especially the commentators within it are the ones currently being exposed as vacuous.

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