Chuck berry?

Light posting at the moment because of real life. Damn you, real life - you and your laminate-flooring-laying-necessitating ways!

Anyway, this is worth a quick belated look. The Independent offers its own coverage of the pipe attack on a 10 year old boy (the Mail coverage of which I looked at in 'Who always starts the race row?' and 'The Mail? Balance?'), in 'School sets example after race-hate incidents rise'.

As anyone would expect, there's a significant difference in emphasis between the two sets of coverage. In the Mail's, the school is a bubbling pot of tensions about to explode. In the Independent, the school is an island of calm in the middle of a stormy sea. That's to be expected, I suppose, and there's not much we can do to work out which version is true.

However, the are one or two details in the Independent that aren't in any of the right-wing papers at all, whether we're talking about the Mail, the Express, the Times or the Telegraph. (I can't find any coverage in the Sun, weirdly). If they're true, they shed a bit more light on the story. They're here:
Matters came to a head 13 days ago when Jake Stedman, a 10-year-old pupil at Luton Junior, was found by his mother outside the family home with two black eyes and a bleeding head after allegedly being chased into an alleyway by a Slovakian mother and beaten, reportedly with a metal bar.

The incident came a day after the boy had confronted another Slovakian woman outside a convenience store, thrown a blackberry at her and punched her on the arm, allegedly shouting "go back to your own country".
Firstly, it seems the alleged pipe attack came a day later than the fruit throwing incident. All the right wing papers give the impression that the woman who's alleged to have attacked the boy did so in a crazed overreaction to the throwing of a berry and a shout.

Secondly, the berry throwing incident involved a completely different person. That might explain how the woman could be described as being in her twenties and 36.

Thirdly, the original incident involved the boy hurling not only abuse and fruit at a woman, but a punch. Now, a punch on the arm from a ten year old isn't that much of a threat - but punching someone is very different from throwing a berry. The range necessary for a ten year old boy to throw a punch is pretty close, and suggests the incident was a bit more close up and nasty than lobbing a berry from a distance and almost politely shouting, 'Go back to your own country.' I'm suddenly put in mind of the football fan who claimed he'd just said words to the effect of, 'It's an early bath for you and no mistake, sir,' to Eric Cantona before finding himself on the receiving end of a rubbish kung fu kick.

But that analogy would only really be accurate if the football fan had been kung fu kicked by someone else a day later, possibly for something else. Maybe something worse.

There's also this:
The reality is somewhat different [from the right wing press coverage]. Kent Police said yesterday a 10-year-old boy had been given an official reprimand after admitting common assault and that a 36-year-old Slovakian woman arrested in connection with the attack on Jake has been released on police bail. It is understood there is no evidence that a metal bar was used and all incidents took place some distance from the school.
No evidence a metal bar was used. I have to say that the idea of a 36 year old woman beating a ten year old about the head and back with a metal bar and leaving only two black eyes sounds a bit suspicious to me. That's not to excuse any beating that might have occurred even if there was no metal bar, but you'd think newspapers would have the responsibility to look through local rumours and at least, you know, ask the police what happened.

It seems that the revelation that prompted the Mail's coverage to be amended to 'Boy 'who was attacked' by Slovakian woman may face racism charge' was that police were investigating claims of assault - and quite possibly on another person entirely. Perhaps that's why there's no outraged follow-up to the story revealing that the boy had been reprimanded - the paper would have to reveal that the boy was reprimanded for common assault rather than inciting racial hatred, and maybe even on someone else to boot.

I have no idea whether the coverage of the right wing press is the way it is as the result of a deliberate desire to suppress one side of the story, or as the result of confirmation-bias driven laziness. I also can't be sure that the Independent's version is any more accurate (although it's not very encouraging for the Mail coverage to discover that comments on the story have been switched off). I'll email some questions to the Kent police to try to find some things out, like whether or not the boy was reprimanded for an incident that happened the day before the alleged beating (although the Independent implies this, it doesn't actually state it), but I shouldn't bloody have to.

Just think of the false narrative papers like the Mail have set up here. Kid gets beaten with a metal bar and then the kid is charged with incitement to racial hatred! Imagine how these papers will now cover the story if it turns out the boy was lying and the woman is found innocent, or not even charged. With judicious use of scare quotes, they've already reported that the woman beat the boy with a metal bar, even though police say there's no evidence of that. And this reporting is of an area where tension has already spilled over into violence. Imagine what oil has been poured on that fire, with wide reports that one side is indeed in the right, and implications that even the authorities are out to get them.

And the Mail gets worked up over the naming of a fucking cat.

1 comment:

septicisle said...

Not much really to add, except that whole thing reminds me of the Shanni Taylor fiasco: http://www.septicisle.info/2006/07/truth-will-out.html

There was an article a month or two back in the Sunday Mirror about how she'd made a remarkable recovery and was once again the bubbly, extroverted girl she was before the attack. There wasn't a single word about how she'd been the one bullying the Somalian girl with such a low IQ that she was not fit to plead.