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January 28, 2006
So the Met Chief has apologised for asking why the Soham murders got so much publicity. I could write all day about the wider debate of what we expect from our public figures (if you have a loud voice given to you by your job, you must use it wisely), the insanity of political correctness, and so forth. Ultimately, he should have known how his comments would be construed and that they are insensitive to the families involved.
Besides being unreasonable, it is also unfortunate that Mr. Blair's comments have reared such a backlash – because this has almost completely obscured his point. Let us now hear what he actually said:
_I am pretty furious. We do devote the same level of resources to murders in relation to their difficulty…the difference is, is how these are reported. I actually believe that the media is guilty of institutional racism in the way they report deaths.
That death of the young lawyer was terrible, but an Asian man was dragged to his death, a woman was chopped up in Lewisham, a chap shot in the head in a Trident murder – they got a paragraph on page 97…There are other dreadful crimes which do not become the greatest story in Britain….
With one or two exceptions, clearly Damilola Taylor was one, the reporting of murder in minority communities appears not to interest the mainstream media…"
The wider point he makes is about why crimes involving non-white people do not receive the same attention as the Soham murders did. There is truth to what he says, but he must not compare anything to Soham. The loss of children always hits us harder than other crimes – to compare Holly & Jessica with the other examples is, then, somewhat erroneous.
Soham had a combination of things: a) they were children, b) the sadistic manner of their deaths. Yes, they were white. I suspect while the first two are above controversy, the final one is riddled with it.
Let me say this – the Damilola Taylor murder received considerably less coverage than the Soham murders. Is it because newspapers and TV saw the outrage created by Soham and followed it? Was the outrage caused by Soham so much greater than Damilola? If you live in the UK, that's a no-brainer.
So why? One was a black boy stabbed in a stairway, the other two girls carefully lured and murdered by a sadistic man and his acquiescent girlfriend. Is it the sadism? Is it the location – Peckham vs Cambridgeshire?
If the media merely follows public reaction, are we saying that stories about your own race resonate with you more than stories about other races?
I don't think so, but Sir Ian must not be damned for questioning this: it is not so open and shut.