19 March, 2009

The children of Dunblane and the Express

I'm spitting about this one, really spitting. The British press have always been a shower of shitheads but they've sunk to an all time low.

Dunblane is a small town in Scotland. It has four primary schools and one secondary school. Most people had never heard of Dunblane until the morning of 13th of March 1996. That was the day that Thomas Hamilton, a 43 year old local man, walked into Dunblane Primary School and shot 16 children and their teacher dead before turning the gun on himself. The children were in the gymnasium. Some of them tried to run away. Some were injured. They were aged between 5 and 6 years old.

I still remember where I was when I heard the news. I cried that day for those children, their teacher, their friends and family. Thinking about it now brings tears to my eyes. I can't begin to articulate how I felt and still do. Anniversaries have been and gone and I've wondered about the parents of the murdered children. I've also wondered about those who survived, hoping they've been able to get on with their lives after such unspeakable trauma.

Seems I'm not the only one who wondered. There's a shitstorm brewing over a venomous - and pointless - article which was published in the Sunday Express. The front page story alleged that survivors of the massacre had "shamed" the memory of their dead friends by boasting about drunken nights out on social networking websites.

Paula Murray, the Express hack in question, used the headline "Anniversary shame of Dunblane: internet boasts of sex, drink and violence as youngsters hit 18". The article was published on the 8th of March, one week before the anniversary. Its premise was that some of those who witnessed the massacre first-hand had "posted shocking blogs and photographs of themselves on the internet, 13 years after being sheltered from public view in the aftermath of the atrocity".

The main crime committed by these private citizens who had one suffered the trauma of being shot at whilst in their PE kit seemed to be that one of them - who had been injured in the massacre - making posts on a networking site, which it claimed showed them making "rude gestures" in pictures and boasting of "drunken nights out".

Well, fuck me. Teenagers acting like teenagers. Who'd have thought it? What did Paula Murray think they were going to do? Don sackcloth and ashes? Spend the rest of their lives in quiet contemplation? Stay home and cry every day?

The Express has since quietly withdrawn the story from its website but the cat is out of the bag and it's screaming its head off. Here's a link to an excellent piece by Graham Linehan, including a PDF of the original front page. Here's another cracking piece where a Blogger examines the personal life of the author of the pile of shit. There's also a Facebook group with over 3000 members.

Quite why someone thought it would be a good idea to publish a story about a group of eighteen year olds drinking alcohol, having sex and generally behaving like teenagers is beyond me. I would imagine that both Paula Murray and the editor of the Express will have plenty of time to reflect on whether it was worth invading the privacy of young people who had once feared for their lives at an age where the rest of us were worrying about whether or not our mothers had remembered to pick up our favourite comic from the newsagents.


NiC said...

I'd not seen this before but am not surprised, the Express has become in many ways one of the worst of the tabloids IMHO. Shameful.

Foodycat said...

Thank you for letting me know about that. A colleague of mine is in Scotland for the anniversary; her daughter was at the school and I am fairly sure that she is DELIGHTED that her daughter has lived to get drunk, have sex and post things on Facebook that will embarrass her.

What sort of editorial team thought that would be OK?

KAZ said...

Scandalous - what's to be done about our British tabloids?
Did you know that Andy Murray the tennis player was a pupil at the school?
He wasn't in the room at the time -but he was in the building - and doesn't like to talk abbout it.

SSS said...

I didn't know that, Kaz. Poor boy.

sontology said...

The Express gives filth a bad name. Is there a name for what ever the hell is wrong with them?