Saturday, August 27

Less tribal reporting

By Tim Worstall
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Stephen Glover in the Independent notes something interesting about the coverage of the Juan Charles de Menezes shooting.
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Twenty years ago, if the police killed a seemingly innocent civilian, the press divided in a rather predictable way.
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The general pattern was that the left-leaning titles assumed the police were in the wrong, while the right-leaning ones took the view that the police must have had their reasons for acting as they did.
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I'm not sure that it is just the authoritarianism of New Labour, which he points to, which is the cause of this change.
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The titles most critical of the Metropolitan Police have been The Guardian, the Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph.
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Last Wednesday all three papers splashed with ITV's scoop that Mr De Menezes had not behaved in the suspicious way alleged by the police, and the next day they came back to the story with still greater gusto.
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By contrast, the supposedly right-wing Sun and Times relegated the story to the inside. So too did the Independent. The Daily Mirror was slow off the blocks but caught up on Thursday. The Daily Express, however, was adamant that the police could not be at fault. On Thursday its front page said: "Why the police should never face murder charges over that Brazilian."
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My feeling is that this is a small but welcome symptom of the way in which politics as a whole is changing in this country, becoming less tribal and more of a choose it yourself buffet. For example, I as a (pragmatic more than ideological) libertarian find that I often have more in common on some subjects with those on the left than I do with many on the right.
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Social authoritarianism, for example, the civil liberties implications of this case itself perhaps. I'm aware that my own views on the shooting are heavily coloured by my seven years in immediately post-Soviet Russia.
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It's very difficult to live in a place recovering from 70 years of being a police state, totalitarian even, without finding oneself forever more agreeing with Perry De Havilland's motto, "The State is not your friend." I agree that this is an extreme view but I regard this shooting as in some way worse than the bomb attacks themselves.
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We've for a century or more had groups of nutters trying to kill us and terrorise us, from the anarchists to the current lot via the IRA but one lesson I take from the 20th century is that the people we really have to be worried about are the State and its employees, doing what they think is best for us in aggregate. This is why I'm happy to see that the major newspapers are not moving in lockstep on this.
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The Telegraph seems just as concerned about civil liberties from the right as The Guardian is from the left, in some ways we're no longer shouting across the barricades at each other but finding those areas where we do have common ground.
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This has also been evident in the papers' reaction to the Civil Contingencies Bill, the suspension of Habeus Corpus, ID cards and many other similar matters. And, as we know, it is the people here at the Adam Smith Institute who are actually suggesting that the basic income tax allowances should be massively raised, thus taking the poor out of that tax's net altogether, something that should be desired by all concerned for the poor of left or right.
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I'm not suggesting that this makes politics any less ideological, in fact it probably makes it more so. But instead of accepting all the assumptions andpolicies of one tribe or another, one is able to think through the varioussubjects and options on offer and to judge which one one prefers on thebasis of rational thought rather than on the basis of social allegiance.

http://www.adamsmith.org/blog/

1 comment:

Kelly said...

I have to say that I agree that the press or media needs to report what is going on without following what they are told to report. In my younger days, this is what I thought was actually happening. When I found out differently, I was actually shocked but no more.

I don't want to comment on what happened to that poor Brazilian. I am in two minds as to this happening. I have a son who is deaf, if he thought he was to leave an area as quickly as possible and he was doing so by running, he would not hear the police identify themselves and tell him to halt. He would just keep running. He does not wear a sign on his back that says "I am deaf so I can't hear what you are saying" He looks just like a normal pre-teen. Also, as a Native American Indian, well, let's just say that his colouring does him no good either.

ON THE OTHER HAND, the police do a service that is at best challenging and at worse thankless. We feel the need for them but don't want them to interfer with our lives. lol As an American, a mother, and someone who is probably only one generation away from being a so-called savage, I have to say that I would expect the police to find the people responsible for these crimes. Because if it was my family hurt or killed, well, I wouldn't be sitting by quietly. But them I am from a country founded on a premise of the right to bear arms and to defend oneself.

As for the coverage, on this side it was shown that the police tried to give him every opportunity to stop and explain his actions but he never did. He just kept running. These days it is difficult to know what actually happened. Do camera's tell the real story or only part of it? How are things being spun to show the point of view of the writer, narrator or even the telepromter technician? Have we become so used to violence that it does take a back page for us?

The state might not be a friend but it isn't the big bad enemy either. NOT if we keep an eye on them as closely as they are keeping an eye on us. We need to be sure what right and privileges we are letting them "give" to us and which ones they are taking away from us. I don't do well with authority figures. I am just as likely to do something simply because someone says I can't or says I mustn't. I am the despair of my mother for this fault in my character and have no one to blame but myself for it. Do I want the state making decisions for me? NO. We have seen over and over again how bad things become when the state becomes all things to all people. When the state powers become the only power, then what do the people have to do? This is not easy for me as I like having my fire department, teachers, police department, water services, etc taken care of by the state and paying the taxes each payday. But then I live from paycheck to paycheck and I don't like that existence.

My step-father used to tell me to identify the problem and then make 2 lists of pro's and con's and when I was done to make a decision based on the pro's offsetting the con's. I think this is an even race. A tie score.