I’ve been called many things over the course of my blogging/internet talkback career. “Left-wing filth” and “Bleeding-Heart Do-Gooder” however, do not usually figure among the insults hurled at me. My regular readers will know why not 😉 .
And yet, over the past week, I have been accused of both these “crimes” – and for more or less the same reason.
In the first case, someone posted a video on Facebook showing a couple of children aged round about 13 (according to the accompanying news report), behaving like hooligans on a bus in Beersheba, swinging from the overhead handrails, shouting and physically attacking an old man who tried to pull them down and then, when the driver stopped the bus and threw them off, they retaliated by throwing stones at the bus and smashing the rear window. The immediate reaction from readers was to remark that the children (Arabs, apparently) would no doubt grow up to be terrorists and that it was shameful that the courts had released them in the custody of their own parents, to house-arrest in their own homes, instead of ordering them held in gaol until the end of criminal proceedings. It was further claimed by these commenters, that this was to be expected of the courts which are under the control of the Left!
I responded by pointing out that the courts are extremely reluctant to remand juveniles in custody until the end of proceedings, especially children this young, whether Jewish or Arab. I know this, as a criminal prosecutor – although I didn’t mention my job on Facebook and never do.
The immediate response to my purely factual and informative remark was – you’ve guessed it: “It’s because of filthy leftists like you that these little thugs get away with it and will go on to become terrorists.”
The second instance was a case I have been following on Sky News for the better part of a week. My UK readers will know about the abduction of five-year-old April Jones from just outside her home in the small Welsh town of Machynlleth last Monday evening, and the ensuing search for her. I will not rehash all the details here, but suffice it to say that on Tuesday morning, we were told she had last been seen getting into a light-coloured van on the driver’s side. We were then told the police were searching for a white or grey van, possibly with left-hand drive (in the UK, they drive on the left). On Tuesday evening, we were informed that a man – later identified as Mark Bridger – had been arrested, coming on foot from the direction of the River Dyfi, towards the town of Machynlleth and that a van matching the description had been found nearby. Aerial TV shots showed a group of white vans by the riverside.
The next thing we knew, they had located Bridger’s left-hand drive dark blue Land-rover in a garage and the public was being shown Bridger’s picture and asked if anyone had any knowledge of his whereabouts, or the whereabouts of his car (they gave the licence – plate number) during the vital 22 hour period between April’s disappearance and Bridger’s arrest on suspicion of child abduction.
Bridger has now been charged with the abduction and murder of April, as well as with perverting the course of justice. Speculation has been rife. The police, naturally, have not released to the Press the exact nature of the evidence at their disposal. Since, at the time of writing, no body has yet been found, the search for April continues – and so do the internet talkbacks.
You would not believe (or maybe you would) the amount of vicious accusations that have been hurled around. Rumour feeds rumour and one reader’s comment becomes the next reader’s “fact”. Large numbers of people have accused the parents of criminal negligence, because, after returning with April from a parents’ evening at her school, at about 7 p.m., they allowed her to play outside with her friends for ten minutes while they prepared supper. It was during this brief, ten-minute time span, that the little girl was snatched.
Some have gone further, suggesting that the parents were, in fact, behind the child’s disappearance, because “it’s nearly always a family member in cases like these.”
Worse – it was revealed in the Press that the suspect, Bridger, has a reputation as something of a ladies’ man and has apparently fathered anything up to 6 children, only 2 of them by his ex-wife (partner?) and others by other women in the area. This was sufficient for some readers to decide that he is April’s real father and to ask: “How could a father do this to his own child?”
This was further fed by other readers who mis-heard, or misunderstood, the presentation of April’s step-grandfather (her mother’s step-father) at one of the press conferences, so that a constantly recurring theme was: “I wonder where is the biological father? This kind of thing often happens in broken families.”
Other readers were all for torturing the suspect to make him reveal April’s whereabouts. When I ventured to suggest that he might just possibly be innocent and therefore not know her whereabouts and might even die under torture, I was, naturally, accused of defending a paedophile and – wait for this – told that even if he was innocent and died, torturing him was justifiable since his life was worth less than April’s “because of his previous record” so her safety had precedence!!!
Needless to say, we know nothing of any previous record. I should add, here, that one “lady” kept referring to his record of violence. No-where, in any of the police or media reports, did it mention him being known for violence. One female reader deduced, merely from the information that he had a reputation as a ladies’ man, that he was also violent!? Other readers picked up on this and repeated the “violence” accusation, saying they had read/heard it somewhere. Yes, they had – from another reader, who also had no basis for it, at least, not in the information released by the police and not from the media reports either. Nor did the people from the town who knew him and mentioned his “ladies’ man” reputation, say anything about him being violent!
Readers who have been following the case (and I assume that’s all my readers in the United Kingdom) will know that Mark Bridger has now been charged with murder. That means it will now be up to a jury of his peers to decide, after hearing and weighing all the evidence, whether he is guilty or innocent. But this isn’t enough for the lynch mob, baying for blood. “Waste of taxpayers’ money, he’ll get a nice cushy cell at our expense and be out in a few years.”
When it is pointed out that he may be found not guilty, the knee-jerk response is: “Of course he’s guilty, he’s been charged, why would they charge him if they didn’t have sufficient evidence?”
These are the same upstanding citizens who, while he was still being held only as a suspect, for questioning, were sure of his guilt because “the police wouldn’t be still holding him if they weren’t sure they’d got the right man.”
Yours truly (and others) ventured to remind their fellow readers of other cases where the police have been sure they’d caught their man, only to be proved wrong – in many cases, only after the hapless suspect had been pilloried by the Press and Public and had their lives destroyed – cases such as that of Chris Jefferies, arrested as a suspect in the murder of Joanna Yeates, for which another man was subsequently convicted, Barry George, who was wrongfully convicted but eventually acquitted (after three appeals and a retrial) of the murder of TV personality Jill Dando and Colin Stagg, who was wrongly accused of the murder of Rachel Nickell. Stagg is worth mentioning because, even after he was acquitted, the Police, Press and Public continued to believe in his guilt and to hound him – until the real murderer, Robert Napper, confessed to her murder. In Napper’s case, the fact that the police eliminated him from their enquiry and concentrated all their efforts on Stagg, being convinced he was their man, effectively allowed the real killer to commit (at least) two more particularly grisly murders (Samantha Bisset and her four-year-old daughter Jazmine, both of whom he raped before butchering them). To cap it all, even now, when Napper has confessed and been convicted of the Rachel Nickell murder, one of the internet “talk-backers” continued to insist that Stagg “got away with murder”.*
Of course, when I pointed out to the “take him out and string him up” brigade, that, as many of them have themselves remarked – nay, complained – the Police and Crown Prosecution Service have not released any details of the evidence at their disposal, and that we have not heard the evidence, I immediately became a “bleeding-heart liberal” who must be related to this child-murdering paedophile, because otherwise, why would I defend him.
Attempts to explain the principles of “Innocent until proven guilty” and “Trial by jury”, fall on deaf ears. A simple, factual exposition of the British system of justice is sufficient to turn me into a “Bleeding-Heart Do-Gooder” who “cares more for the rights of child-molesters than for those of their victims”. I have the feeling that if the lynch mob were to get hold of me, I would be strung up right beside Mark Bridger.
For the record – I am not defending Mark Bridger. He may be guilty. He may be innocent. I do not know. I have not heard the evidence. This will be for a jury of his peers to decide – always assuming they can find an unprejudiced jury once the media has finished with him, which I am beginning to doubt. For the record, I believe that IF he is guilty, hanging would be too good for him. What I am defending is the right of an accused person to a fair trial, in which ALL the evidence, from both sides, is presented and weighed up, whether by a jury (as in the United Kingdom) or by a professional judge or panel of judges (as here in Israel). I am defending the rule of law against the rule of the jungle. That does not make me a Bleeding – Heart Do – Gooder and it most certainly does not make me a Leftist.
Finally, since at the time of writing, there is still no sign of little April, not even a dead body, I continue to pray, with all my heart and soul, that she may yet be found alive and well – and that the Almighty may give strength and comfort to her family.
*For further information on the Colin Stagg case, see: “Who Really Killed Rachel” co-authored by Colin Stagg and my brother, David Kessler, (ISBN 0-9582027-2-9)