Saturday, December 13, 2008 

Weekend links.

Before we get started, the Sun's clearly decided not to just leave it to the commenters on the their articles to justify the murder of paedophiles:

THE former wife of a child-sex beast who was hacked to death and his genitals mutilated declared last night: “He’s had what was coming to him.”

The mum poured out her hatred for Andrew Cunningham after a mob left the 52-year-old in a pool of blood.

Branding him “pure, cold evil”, she insisted: “No one should feel sorry for him.

“I know mob justice is wrong but he caused a lot of innocent kids a lot of unimaginable pain.”

I know it's wrong but no one should feel sorry for him. Even when this happens:

His daughter aged 22 — one of five sisters taken into care as youngsters — told how her father physically abused her and said she had wished him dead.

But even she was chilled by his savage murder.


She was left terrified yesterday after vigilantes attacked HER home.

The paper corrects their claim yesterday that Cunningham had raped a 13-year-old, without, naturally, admitting they had made a mistake. They also carry Sara Payne's denunciation, predictably, whilst telling everyone not to have any sympathy for him and that even his ex-wife thinks he deserved to die. Notably, the comments are also still open, with the same congratulatory mob in evidence, while strangely on "Dying dad is beaten to death", they're closed.

Elsewhere, the story of the weekend is undoubtedly the Jean Charles de Menezes inquest verdict. The Heresiarch and Lenin provide the blogging responses, while Harriet Wistrich in the Groan and Deborah Orr in the Indie tackle it in the broads. Most virulent response though was undoubtedly from the Indie's leader column, calling it [R]eckless, incompetent and lethal policing. For me, a letter in the Guardian says it all:

Princess Diana, killed in a car crash - unlawful killing. Six passengers and four crew killed when a man drives his Land Rover off the M62 on to the Selby rail line - unlawful killing. Man throws his son from the roof of a Greek hotel - unlawful killing. A UK soldier is killed in Iraq when a US pilot opens fire on him - unlawful killing. BBC journalist Kate Peyton shot - unlawful killing. Two policemen shoot an innocent man seven times in the head on a train in front of witness who say no warning was given - not unlawful killing. Could someone please explain?

Dan Tanzey
Thornton Cleveleys, Lancashire

To which you could add baby dies after social services fails to protect him. Within three weeks a report has apportioned blame, the social workers have been suspended and the woman in charge has been sacked. In the de Menezes case, no one accepts any blame or even that they did anything wrong, the officers are back on duty, and one of those in charge on the day has been promoted. If only Sharon Shoesmith had personally pumped 7 bullets into Baby P's head maybe she'd still be in a job.

Elsewhere, not to blow my own horn or anything, but there's my latest post on the Sun Lies involving the Sun's payments to a man who provided them with the video of Amy Winehouse supposedly smoking crack, who has just been jailed for two years for providing the drugs. Brendan O'Neill asks which part of no doesn't the EU understand, Paul Linford comments on Peter Mandelson and the Euro, Dave Semple examines the Barclay brothers throwing their toys out of the pram, anticant castigates Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, Tom Griffin reports on the Met's latest tactics involving demonstrations, Matthew Parris rather optimistically suggests the Tories' hands-off message might work given time, while Lynne Featherstone, who lost my respect over her involvement in the Baby P case has rather amusingly been criticised for calling out the fire brigade to deal with her boiler.

Finally, Brenda Almond takes the award for worst tabloid comment piece of the weekend for her why-oh-whying in the Mail over who will defend the family over the "liberal establishment's onslaught".

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Friday, December 12, 2008 

Scum-watch: Another victim of crime they don't pretend to feel the pain of.

Here's a conundrum for you: you set yourselves up as a crusading, justice seeking newspaper, demanding that heads roll when social services fail to protect the lives of beautiful blue-eyed baby boys, sharing the pain and agony of families that lose loved ones and providing space for their personal manifestos of what must change to prevent it happening again, no matter how unrealistic, and you call society "broken", mainly as a result of politically correct loons, entrenched socialism and welfare scroungers. How then do you react when an exclusive comes your way that suggests that a marauding mob might have murdered a man in cold blood?

Simple. You splash it on the front page and use the most base, unsympathetic and sensationalist language you can possibly muster:

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that he was a convicted sex offender, which, of course, makes all the difference. For comparison, the Times headlined their article "Paedophile stabbed to death in 'vigilante attack'", the Mail's story, which has been updated throughout the day, is now headlined "Convicted paedophile 'who struck again' stabbed to death, stripped and mutilated in suspected vigilante attack", while Sky goes with, simply "Paedophile Found Stabbed To Death". At the bottom of Sky's article there's an appeal:

:: Anyone with information is asked to contact the Metropolitan Police Incident Room on 020 8721 4138 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

The Sun's is vaguely similar:

DID you know him? Call our newsdesk on 020 7782 4104, text 63000 or email

Yes, don't call the police, call us first and possibly earn some money at the same time. Did he feel you up as well? Call now!

If all this is inspiring some deja vu, then the exact same thing which happened when the Sun published the details of the murder of Gordon Boon, another convicted sex offender murdered in mysterious circumstances is naturally now taking place underneath the story. Yes, did the evil dirty paedo deserve to die or should he only have had his bollocks chopped off?

no sympathy from me and lets hope the poice dont waste too much time looking for the people that did the world a favour

The best news I have read all morning. I say "1 down with plenty more to go "

Rot in hell Sicko.

This is what should happen to all sex offenders,paedophiles and child abusers. Anyone who ruins innocent childrens lives should suffer & rot in hell too.

I do not think that anyone deserves to die at the hands of a mob but the flip side of the argument is how many lives had he ruined with his actions and how many more could he have ruined ? Chemical castration is the answer , no one dies and the kids are safer...

Four months for raping a little girl? Yes he did deserve to die.

I will never agree with vigilante groups but when are the police and the courts going to do something about serial offenders?

As a father of 3...i think this is exactly the fate this man deserved you cannot molest children and expect karma to be kind to you..its a shame the government/courts dont take sex crimes against children more seriously then the people who killed the fiend would not now be looking at a murder charge. bring back capital punishment for convicted paedophiles simple.

I beleive this is called 'Justice'. Although I do not condone the overall violence of the incident this man surely deserved these actions. If the thugs and knife carriers on our streets are going to aim their anger at anyone it should be Paedophile's, Rapists and the like.

in reference to General26's comment 'did this man deserve to die?', er yes. did the girl under 13 deserve to be horrifically raped? er, no.

eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.

Mob Rule is the way forward. Police cannot rid the world of these people. I hope these vigilantes don't get caught, they did the Police and the world a favour.

And so it continues for 268 comments, the vast majority either giving the thumbs up or condoning the murder in the same contradictory way as some of those above. Only problem is, that as so often seems to be the case, the Sun article appears to be inaccurate. Not to give the Daily Mail any great credit, but they correct a couple of mistakes in the Scum's exclusive:

He had served four months in prison for a sex attack on a local schoolgirl aged 15, in 2000, and was on the Sex Offenders' Register until March this year.

The Guardian further explains that his offence seems to have been "unlawful sexual intercourse", also sometimes known as "statutory rape", where consent is usually given but the victim is under the age of consent. His apparent predilection for girls around the age of consent is backed up by a quote from a friend:

Linda Whelan, 43, a friend of Mr Cunningham, said: 'He was a lovely guy. He did used to like younger girls. Andrew was in his 50s and liked girls who were about 19 but that doesn't make him a paedophile. I can only imagine if he slept with someone under 16 that he didn't know she was underage.

Then there's the bit around a mob "burning his house down":

Mr Cunningham moved to the caravan because vigilantes set fire to a bag of rubbish outside his former house in Wandsworth in 2003. It came after he was arrested over allegations he was openly grooming children. He was released without charge.

No evidence then whatsoever that he had re-offended except hearsay, doubtless based understandably on his past.

As for his employer, who also found his body:

He said: 'He had a stab wound in his neck and there was blood everywhere. The bed was soaked with it and his head was lying in it. He was a lovely man, he couldn't do enough for me. The customers loved him, people used to say, "I don't want anyone else, I want Andy".'

A lovely man, but obviously a nonce who was asking for it.

In fairness to the Sun, both the Mail and Times also have their comment sections open, featuring much the same logic and faux-celebratory circle-jerking. The Mail at least though seems to have bothered to investigate slightly further, and not condemned the man in the same disgusting, judgemental terms as the Sun did:

But his warped lust for children had made him enemies for YEARS.

Despite there being little to no substantial evidence that was the case at all.

For a newspaper that so often claims to be on the side of the victims and uses their pain for its own ends, it shows remarkably little concern for their feelings when someone with a blemished record is murdered in such horrific circumstances. Don't they deserve something approaching respect, rather than having little more than open high-fiving facing them on the front page of the country's biggest selling daily newspaper? Or are they, simply by his crimes, branded as also being beyond sympathy and the normal reaction of civilised society?

Even the paper's usual first port of call when it comes to paedophilia, Sara Payne, is unequivocal:

Sara Payne, the campaigner whose daughter Sarah was murdered by a convicted paedophile in 2000, said the attacker or attackers were "no better" than the man they had killed and that his murder would set back her campaign for the names and addresses of sex offenders to be made available to the public.

The exact same campaign which the Sun supports and which would almost certainly lead to paedophiles being forced further underground, with more vigilante attacks taking place. Perhaps some good might come from the Scum's dog-whistling after all.

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