Regular reader Keith sent me the tipoff to this latest disgrace from the front page of the Scottish Sunday Express and called it 'a new low'. At first I was a little sceptical, given that I wondered just how much lower it was possible for the Express to sink into its midden of unpleasantness, but he's right: it really is an atrocity.
The story concerns children who survived the Dunblane massacre having now reached the age of 18, who have apparently "shamed" the memory of the murders by acting like teenagers. If you're wondering why the age of 18 is relevant here, then I'm here to tell you that it means they're no longer children and are, therefore, fair game for the tabloids. The Express admits as much when it says:
A number of the youngsters, now 18, have posted shocking blogs and photographs of themselves on the Internet, 13 years after being sheltered from public view in the aftermath.
So, with these teenagers now fair game, the Express's flimsy defence for this story is that it's in the public interest to know what these kids have got up to. Is it really? Are they just being normal kids? Is the only thing notable about them that they happen to have been in the school when the gunman attacked? Would this really be a story if this were a group of any other teenagers? If so, why treat these kids any differently from ordinary 18-year-olds?
In the days and months that followed the survivors, then aged just five and six, were the subject of overwhelming worldwide sympathy. But now the Sunday Express can reveal how, on their web-based social networking sites, some of them have boasted about alcoholic binges and fights.
An additional component to the story, then, is the presence of social networking sites, which are the new strand of fear for parents as far as the worldwide web is concerned. But 'kids boast about being drunk on Bebo' - big deal. That's life all over the country among teenagers, I'm afraid; I doubt these kids are any more or less boozy than any others; and if they are a bit more reckless, then, well, can we think of a reason why that might be? Perhaps being exposed to an act of appalling and traumatic violence when they were children might be a factor, no...?
The patheticness of this story is exemplified by this quote:
For instance, Stewart Weir – who was hit by a single bullet and watched in horror as his classmates died – makes rude gestures in pictures he posted on his Bebo site, and boasts of drunken nights out.
A man who was once hit by a bullet and watched his classmates die in front of his eyes has made a rude gesture in a picture. A teenager has been out drinking. Gasp! Horrors! The scumbag! How dare he not hide himself away for the rest of his life!
The webpage of Mark Mullan, who suffered serious injuries in the shooting, states he is the “f***y who canny stop drivin in the silver hing”, is littered with foul language and features images of him with his new tattoo on his back.
A man who has been injured as a child by a gunman now swears sometimes. And he's got a tattoo! How dare he! How dare he! (I'm not entirely sure, by the way, what 'hing' means in this context as I am but a poor southern fool - any explanation welcome)
Others boast about discovering sex.
Teenagers... having sex?! Good god. How dare they!
I don't quite understand this article at all. Is it trying to say that the people who survived Dunblane should somehow lead exemplary lives and be held to higher standards than people who haven't been through a traumatic childhood experience? Really? Or is it just a miserable excuse to try and dig some dirt on people who have been untouchable by the tabs - until now?
I think I have a fair idea as to the answer.
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