It had crossed my mind to write about food today – a couple of slight experiments on the culinary front.
But just when you don’t expect a story to crop up that you feel a need to comment on, up pops the Daily Mail with exactly that.
Yesterday, in Nottingham, three people were found guilty of the manslaughter of six children. Two of these people were Mick and Mairead Philpott, the parents of five of the children. Mairead was the mother of the sixth child from a previous relationship. The third guilty was a friend.
I can’t imagine that there will be much sympathy for the trio and that’s most certainly not the point of this post.
In this morning’s issue, the Mail’s headline trumpeted that Philpott was the “VILE PRODUCT OF WELFARE UK”.
Of course, the Mail never has been much cop at logic.
A little digging finds that the same paper reported in very different fashion on the case of Hugh McFall, an indebted businessman who murdered his daughter and wife before killing himself in 2010.
It was reported pretty much straightforwardly as a tragedy – with his struggle with debt as a possible trigger.
“Troubled”, is the way the paper described millionaire Christopher Foster, who killed his wife, daughter, dogs and horses before killing himself and setting fire to his house in 2008.
Now only a complete idiot would suggest that Foster’s crime was a ‘product’ of his being millionaire or that McFall’s crime was a ‘product of business UK’.
Nobody would suggest that Harold Shipman was a mass murderer because he was a “product” of a medical training.
Nobody would say that Fred West was a rapist and killer because he was a “product” of the construction industry – or being an ice cream man; take your pick.
Nobody is likely to pretend that Dennis Nilsen became a murderer because he was a “product” of working in a job centre, or that Peter Sutcliffe became a killer because he was a “product” of long-distance lorry driving.
In the 1970s, Philpott was in the Army – perhaps he’s a ‘product of Army UK’? Indeed, he was in the Army when he attempted to kill his then girlfriend back in the 1970s.
Actually, what his having been in the Army illustrates is that he did work for a living at one point.
And before that, he was ultimately ‘a product of’ his parents, with contributions from a variety of institutions, including his school and possibly his local church.
And no – before anyone suggests it, I am not saying that Philpott and his crimes are a “product of the Army”, because that would be as ridiculous as any other such claims.
His crimes are a direct result of his being a controlling, violent, obnoxious piece of work – a psychopath, as one psychiatrist interviewed on the television about the case has put it.
And there is no evidence out there that the welfare state creates psychopaths, although if that diagnosis is anything like correct, it may provide an example of why Philpott doesn’t seem to have been particularly employable.
But that wouldn’t suit the agenda, would it?
The Sun wasn’t good today either, although it was a little more subtle.
The leader in its first edition ran: “We hope he never sees freedom.
“Likewise, let’s hope this is the last time the State unwittingly subsidises the manslaughter of children.”
In the second edition: “We hope he never sees freedom.
“And let’s hope this is the last time the State unwittingly subsidises a monster like Philpott.”
Where was Murdoch’s rag when “the State” was ‘subsidising’ the killing of innocent Iraqi civilians?
But even in the Sun’s more ‘subtle’ message, there is the suggestion there that the likes of Philpott only ever come from those on benefits.
But back to the Mail. The main ‘think piece’ of its coverage was penned by AN Wilson, a man who has gone all religious following his conversion to Catholicism, which makes it even more jawdroppingly dire.
Staggeringly, Wilson claims that: “... throughout this painful trial, as the evidence was so slowly and painstakingly heard, it was impossible not to think of it as a hateful parable of our times ... Those six children, burnt to a cinder for nothing, were, in a way, the children of those benevolent human beings who, all those years ago, created our state benefits system.”
That’s right: the deaths can all, ultimately, be placed at the doors of Wilson, Beveridge and Atlee, the founding fathers of the modern welfare state, which was a vast part of the post-war settlement.
You want vile? That’s vile.
Further, Wilson’s attitude is as far removed from what the Bible lists as the teachings of Christ on the poor that one wonders what Bible this convert has actually read during his devotions.
And then there is the small matter of whether he would extend his own logic to saying, for instance, that child abuser Jimmy Savile was ‘a product of the Catholic church’.
And this from a man who is regarded as some sort of intellectual.
He is a prime example of just why this country is in a mess. Nasty, vindictive individuals, so often from a privileged background themselves – Wilson went to Rugby – who demonise those less fortunate and are believed by large numbers of the knee-jerking gullible, who themselves like to think they're better than anyone else and have something close to an orgasm when anyone writes something that corresponds to their prejudices.
I’m reminded of the classic That Was The Week That Was sketch on class, with the Ronnies Barker and Corbett, and John Cleese. In other words, it’s all down to nasty snobbery.
But what does this say about a paper that decides to exploit the killing of six children to support the general attacks by this government on the poor, the disabled, unemployed – in short, anyone who is in receipt of any benefit?
What you also need to consider is that the Mail’s reports of the Philpott case contain plenty of prurient detail about sex.
In other words, the paper aims to scandalise and titillate in equal measure – and if it has to use the deaths of six children to do that, it will.
After all, this is the same publication that, on the one hand lectures about the sexualisation of children and, on the other, publishes pictures about young children on its website accompanied by text that sexualises them – referring to an eight-year old child as a “leggy beauty”, for example.
So, Wilson claims to be a Christian and takes his 30 pieces of silver from an utterly immoral rag to demonise the people that Christ apparently supported.
And perhaps the biggest obscenity of all is that so many people actually believe its vile copy, and all apparently without seeing it for what it is and without realising just how gullible they are in allowing it to profit from their worst instincts and prejudices.
And that, my friends, makes me despair.
* With thanks to The Media Blog for nods in directions on this. Well worth following at themediablog.co.uk and @The_MediaBlog.
Note: I have not provided any links to the Mail because, while it needs challenging, I have no wish to aid its profits. If you really need to verify what I have posted, you won't find it difficult to search for what you need.