The crimes committed by Brandon Jolie and Kingsley Ogundele are, of course, appalling to anyone with a moral compass. That's a given. But when you read
something about it doesn't sit quite right. Jolie was, after all, not a rapper but a music producer. Does that matter? Not in terms of changing the crimes he's committed, which I reiterate are disgusting. But I can't help wondering if something else is going on.
The other offender, Ogundele, is described like this by the Mail:
Yes, he was no stranger to violence because he was once acquitted of armed robbery. Do you see? When you're convicted of one crime, you're automatically guilty of all other crimes you've ever been accused of, even if a jury of your peers decided you weren't. Again, let me emphasise this because someone is bound to say I'm trying to defend these lowlife, I'm not defending these lowlife. I'm just asking why these stories can't be shocking enough in themselves, with the details factually accurate. Why isn't the truth good enough?
From the BBC report you get this:
On his website he claimed to have had his music featured on films and on BBC One soap EastEnders, and said he had recorded a track for Nike.
And from the Mail's:
Known as Maniac, Jolie was regarded as one of the top grime producers and had been picked as a hot music talent to front a Nike advertising campaign.
Jolie produced a soundtrack for the Bafta-winning British crime movie Adulthood and also collaborated with rapper Tinchy Stryder, who reached the top of the charts this year with his hit Number 1.
With a big picture of Tinchy Stryder, who has nothing whatsoever to do with the case. Who knows who's right? Perhaps the BBC are just being extremely cautious about these things; perhaps the Mail has access to information that the BBC don't. Yet again I'll make the point, although someone still won't notice, that these crimes are shocking and nothing defends the action of the men, and no arguing about details changes the way in which they've acted. However, there's another difference between the Mail and BBC stories: comments. The BBC don't offer them; the Mail do. The comments are obviously all rightly condemning the pair for their horrific actions but... well, there appears to be a whiff of something else going on, but you be the judge.
Some comments condemn rap music:
I don't really know rap music well enough and I suspect a lot of Mail readers don't either. If there are lyrics that do glorify violence against women, and there may well be, then there's a case to answer. But:
The talk of 'extermination' is a bit unsettling. And then there's stuff like this:
Now some may say, and probably will, that there's nothing else going on here. But the question about whether these men 'look like the face of crime'... I'm not too sure you can dismiss there being some other nod and a wink being given there. There's also something a bit unpleasant about calling their families 'scum' when we don't know anything about their families. Then there's this:
I think if comment moderation does anything, it makes people slightly more veiled with their thoughts than they otherwise might be, to see what they can slip under the barbed wire. Why have comments at all? These men have carried out a despicable act against a pregnant teenage girl - who needs someone shouting about it underneath the story to tell them whether it's good or bad? Haven't we already made our minds up?
But of course, let's not let the victim get away with this. There must be a good dose of victim-blaming in every story about a crime committed against a female, and yes, as ever, it's here:
So there are a couple of ways of covering the story. You can play it safe, like the BBC, tell the story, be careful about reporting things you can't verify as being true even when they don't affect the outcome of the report, and so on; or you can just go in all guns blazing, say someone's guilty of another crime because he's convicted of a different one, say people are rappers when they aren't, put in a photo of Tinchy Stryder when he's not involved in the case at all, and then let your readers throw in a few hand grenades as well, including abuse of the victim.
I know which one I'd prefer to read. The BBC's coverage doesn't lessen the horror you feel about the victim's experience, the heroism of the man who saved the victim's life, or the revulsion you have towards the men who did this. And it doesn't add something else, a whiff of something unpleasant. By no means as unpleasant as what these two men did, of course, but they have been judged for their actions.
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Hello. I'm a Bristol-based writer and soon-to-be-redundant journalist. You can read more about me and the Enemies site here, or follow me on Twitter. Email me if you like - antonvowl at live dot co dot uk
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