After Shannon went missing, those of us who dared to question the family's way of life were pilloried. Apparently, we were middle-class snobs looking down on a poor, working-class world. Who were we to judge Karen with her seven kids from five different fathers?
says Allison Pearson today in a gleefully triumphant piece of willy-waving "See, I was right all along" journalism.
Forget for a moment that there's an ongoing court case (yes, today's paper slipped just under the wire before Matthews appeared in court, but the website article is still up there). Pearson clearly has. As far as she's concerned she can say what she like about the case without prejudicing it, and by putting the word 'allegedly' in front of something means she can get away with saying it. As far as she's concerned, we don't really need a judge and jury: she was right all along.
Was she right all along? One of my blogging heroes, Obsolete, has written a 'mea culpa' today. As I said on the comments to that piece, I think that may have been a little bit harsh and self-flagellatory. Sure, Pearson may have stumbled upon some semblance of the truth, among all her bile and hatred - if you make a million unfounded assumptions, a few hundred are bound to hit the target through the law of averages.
Karen Matthews, who moved millions of us with her sobbing plea for her daughter to come home, is due to appear in court today accused of perverting the course of justice and child neglect.
Yes, I'm sure Pearson wept buckets over that.
No one is supposed to be "judgmental" any more. But isn't it the failure to be judgmental that has created the chaotic world where a nine-year-old can (allegedly) be [read the Mail article if you want to know what Pearson alleges]? An uncle, by the way, with whom the mum herself is alleged [again, check Pearson for the details].
I seem almost old-fashioned in my squeamishness sometimes, it would seem. I just don't see what we gain by repeating allegations about which there is no proof whatsoever, especially when there is an ongoing court case about the very matter in question. So Matthews won't sue; so what? Does that mean we can say what we like? And if we can, does that mean we should? Whatever happened to only printing what we can prove? Is that a charmingly naive attitude to have? Shouldn't we reserve judgment on these subjects until a court case is over? No? Is that too late nowadays, must we get the counterpunch in first?
But no, Pearson, it's not the 'failure to be judgmental' that has caused the tragedy surrounding Shannon Matthews. If her mother had been cold-shouldered for having children by different fathers, would that have made a difference? Would the opprobrium from Glenda Slaggs really have changed the events that happened? Really? I'm sure it does suit a newspaper columnist to think that they are bravely fighting for what's right, and claiming that only by being judgmental about other people's lives can we stop tragedies from happening; it's a very convenient narrative that gives them carte blanche to slag off anyone they want. But is it true? Of course it isn't. Whatever did or didn't happen to Shannon Matthews wasn't because people weren't judgmental enough; it happened for entirely different reasons, which maybe we can look at when the course of justice has taken place, if that doesn't sound too twee and outdated. I'm clearly an old relic, thinking that maybe we'll wait for the court case and the verdict before we decide what happens.
Of course it's all very happy for Pearson. She can claim she was right; she can attack her detractors; and, best of all, it gives her the chance to be 'judgmental' about so many other people - after all, she's only doing it to try and prevent a tragedy! Bad things only happen because people aren't judgmental enough!
So, in today's column of foaming bile, we get the following delightful items. Remember now, it's not Pearson being judgmental, it's her doing the world a public service; unless people are 'judgmental' then there'll be chaos, I tell you!
But I'm afraid the chief WAG's decision to dress up as Audrey Hepburn for Closer magazine just makes me mad. Not so much Breakfast At Tiffany's as Happy Meal at H. Samuel.
Audrey was extravagantly beautiful, exquisitely refined and became one of the great style icons of the 20th century. Coleen is cheerful, orange and about to become Mrs Potato Head. She may think she is paying tribute to Audrey Hepburn by donning a toupee and a little black dress. Well, she ain't.
See, she's lower class and therefore deserves to be slagged off! It's not snobbery; it's journalistic integrity to say that Coleen McLoughlin dressing up as Audrey Hepburn 'makes you mad'. Mad? Really? Why would anyone be made 'mad' by a woman dressing up as another woman, unless that person was 'mad' in the first place? How can a photo of something make you mad?
The Beijing Olympics has unintentionally given the world an exciting new sport. It's called Get The Torch. The country that manages to put the flame out most times - France managed four on Monday - wins. But first, contestants have to overcome a Great Wall. I mean the sinister Chinese guardians of the flame. With their scowling faces and blue and white matching tracksuits, they looked like the absurd henchmen of some James Bond villain, hell-bent on world domination. Come to think of it, that's pretty much what they are.
Let's have a go at the sinister Orientals! That's not being judgmental, it's an important piece of writing. Remember this: she's not doing it for a cheap laugh or to be nasty; she's doing it because she cares. So very, very deeply. But, that's only one race of people she's had a go at - surely she can squeeze in one more before the word count gets exceeded? Oh yes!
Mohammed Anwar avoided a ban for speeding when he told a court that not being able to drive would make it difficult to commute between his two wives.
His lawyer explained that the restaurant owner has one wife in Motherwell and the other in Glasgow and sleeps with them on alternate nights. He was described as "a busy man". Yes, we can see that.
Bigamy is illegal in this country. So is travelling criminally fast - 64mph in a 30mph zone in Mr Anwar's case. Would a non-Muslim with a wife in one town and a mistress down the motorway receive such outrageously lenient treatment?
See, that's not being judgmental; that's Allison importantly tackling the vital issues of the day - like why darkies get treated better than white people!
Spare me the lectures, Pearson. You're a vile piece of shit. You haven't been proved right. You're scum. Is that me being judgmental? I suppose it is.