The news of the day is like all stories – a lot depends on who is telling it. I say this because the Daily Express and the Daily Mail have both chosen to make headline news of a story the rest of the media (as far I can tell) have largely ignored. The story in question concerns a young Romanian migrant who was allegedly (hold on to this word) arrested for stealing and, aided by his compatriots, laughed and danced while handcuffed and waiting for a police van to arrive. The Mail asks `Is Justice Such a Joke?`, the Express have used it as ammunition for their campaign to halt an influx of `thieving Romanian migrants` (there’s a petition apparently).
Firstly let’s consider the case in hand. Neither report makes any mention of what happened after the Romanian was taken to the police station. Has he been bailed? Has he been charged? Did he appear before magistrates in which case what was the outcome (if he was fined it seems rather strange they don’t mention it)? Unless there is a conviction the crime is only an alleged one anyway. There are certain protocols that are normal followed by papers in such instances, so why have neither publication followed them – they’ve bothered to pixelise his face.
Secondly, before I get accused of being too liberal for my own good (and of course assuming the facts are as reported) I must admit that dancing and generally taking the piss would not be the reaction of anybody wrongly arrested for stealing. Also, if somebody travels to a foreign country and promptly commits a crime they should have their visa revoked and be put on the next plane home (upon conviction of course). I’ve no qualms about that.
However we need to dwell upon the pitch both papers are using, namely that of apparent contempt for the law. I can’t imagine this Romanian youth was the only person arrested for stealing that day and very much doubt that all the others politely let themselves be taken away.
Let’s compare this with another case reported in the papers today. The son of the fourth Baron Ashbourne (no, me neither) was fined and made subject to a curfew after being found guilty of assaulting a policeman. Edward Barry Greynville Gibson was reported to have told the arresting officer he `was a nobody and did not have the power to arrest somebody like him` (source – The Times). If that’s not contempt for the law I don’t know what is.
So having established that the Mail and the Express were making a story out of something that isn’t really a story, we need to move on to their motives. Why highlight this case? The answer is obvious, to give the impression that all Romanian migrants are criminals. And there is a phrase for this – inciting racial hatred.
All it takes for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing. For that reason I am considering a letter to the press complaints commission.