Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Cox: the shame of our media

Today sees the completion of the Thomas Mair trial. He has been handed a whole life sentence for his brutal crime. The trial was largely a formality to establish for the record the events of that day. He was very obviously guilty. It should need no further comment. Save for one.

From the accounts of what police found in Mair's house we get an insight into his motivation. Police found the full monty of sociopathic white supremacist reading material and nazi paraphernalia along with detailed notes about his target. Mair was a dedicated scholar of evil. And that should be noted.

Mair is the genuine article and needed no "tabloid inflammation". This killing is absolutely not the result of a "toxic atmosphere" in public discourse, nor will it happen again just because of few robust tweets. The suggestion that full and frank debate of issues results in such horrors is entirely bogus and, in fact, free and robust debate is our best defence against it.

It is a particular kind of brain that can can take political extremism to the next level and while holders of extreme ideas are fairly common, very few can make that final mental leap to kill. This is a one off. This particular crime was premeditated, calculated and meticulously planned. It could have happened at any time in any conditions. The profile of his target tells you that much. It was a political assassination.

In that regard, James O'Brien, Polly Toynbee and Alex Massie (among others) should hang their heads in shame for suggesting that those who feel strongly about leaving the European Union are in some way akin with Mair, (a committed fascist with murderous intent), and consequently share culpability for Cox's murder.

Such cynical opportunism represents the very worst of British media and should be viewed in a similar light to the transgressions of the tabloids that these individuals in particular rail against. They are no different, they are no better. The self-serving manipulation of such events for political outcomes is one of the more revolting facets of contemporary debate - and if anything contributes to a toxic anti-establishment atmosphere it is that.

The blame for Cox's murder belongs solely to Thomas Mair and for his crime he will rot in prison, forgotten and unmourned. That is the fullest extent of punishment that British law allows and the judge has shown no hesitation in handing down that sentence. That should draw a line under it. There are no lessons to be learned here, no introspection to be had. This is merely a consequence of a free and open society and on occasion this will happen.

In all the platitudinal noise we will hear surrounding this crime, democracy will be a central theme - a component of which is free speech and open debate. It should be noted that attempts to shut down such debate are more in line with the ideas of Mair than Cox. Let that sink in, James O'Brien, Polly Toynbee, Alex Massie. 

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