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Posts Tagged ‘Crime’

I read with interest today (in the Daily Mail online, but don’t judge me on that, I don’t normally read it… honestly) the story of Craig Matthews, who was murdered four years ago after a night out after confronting a man who was urinating in a neighbour’s garden. His family have been seeking financial compensation for his death, but until recently this has been refused due to claims by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority that by confronting the man who was urinating in the garden, Matthews ‘contributed to his own death’. Well… seeking compensation for a murder seems a little strange, but then in a country where hundreds of thousands of pounds are awarded for hurt feelings and broken fingernails, it’s understandable. It has also been suggested in other reports that Matthews did more than just verbally confront this man; not that anything would merit his murder, but the story is dubious. However, regardless of the specifics of this particular story, it does bring to mind other instances of the negative consequences of intervening in crime in Britain. In August 2007, Gary Newlove was murdered in front of his family by youths whom he attempted to prevent from vandalising his car. During the same month, Evren Anil was killed after he protested that youths had thrown a sweet wrapper through the window of his sister’s car. In December 2007, Richard Whelan was killed by a criminal mistakenly released from a young offenders’ institution, after complaining that the man had been throwing food at his girlfriend. These are isolated instances, but there are many more. There is such aggression and fear, not only on the streets of British cities, but in the suburbs and estates, that it seems understandable that citizens disregard crime in the interests of self-preservation. This is a terrible shame and should be addressed as a matter of priority by the politicians who ignore Britain’s vast social problems.

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I think I want to write a lot more blog entries from now on, but I always get writer’s block. However, although I’m happy to be an emigre, I keep up with the UK news every day by reading The Times online and the BBC News (plus, I can’t yet speak decent enough German to read a newspaper here), and so I thought I could start writing up some of the thoughts and discussions I’ve had regarding what I have read over the past month or so in the British e-papers. I wish some of this news had been good news, but I honestly couldn’t find any of that in the British press over the last month. However, even though this occurred over a month ago, I wanted to write something about the death of Shaun Dykes – and from now on, I’ll be a bit more punctual.

28 September 2008: A mob goads suicidal teenager Shaun Dykes to his death. Dykes jumped from the roof of a multi-storey car park after attracting a crowd of onlookers, some of whom filmed the event on their cameraphones and jeered him to jump, encouraging him to ‘get on with it’, and subsequently photographed his body. This is an indictment of the police, who were unable to negotiate with the young man sufficiently to discourage him from suicide, or to disperse the crowd. More so, it is a shocking indictment of a minority of the British people who have become so inhumane, bloodthirsty and desensitised. To me, the saddest thing about this story was that it was neither impossible to believe nor a horrifying anomaly, but another signifier of the shift which has occurred in the British public over the past five or ten years and which suffuses so many towns with an atmosphere of aggression and nihilism. Although the reasons for the suicide of this young man are not known, it is possible that he was motivated to kill himself because of his homosexuality. This serves to remind that we cannot yet risk apathy regarding the difficulties which some people, and particularly young people, still suffer due to their sexuality. It also reinforces a need to change the lexicon which has made homosexuality an object of derision and which associates the term ‘gay’ with anything negative; a term which is used in this context with a frightening abandon. It’s interesting that the reactionary tabloids which reported this story (The Sun, The Mirror, The Daily Mail) did not mention Dykes’ sexuality; although the latter suggested that he had been depressed by the breakdown of a relationship. There were no plans to pursue inquiries into those responsible for goading Dykes. As an aside, one of the strangest things about modern tragedies like these is the ease by which information about the people concerned can be discovered by looking at their pages on personal networking sites. It is so eerie and melancholy to see the banal elements of their lives and the sudden cessation of their posts and comments.

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