Monday, March 08, 2010

Special Kay

The Sun's coverage of the Jon Venables situation is the embodiment of all that's worst about modern journalism. In the right situation, bumping into the boundaries of acceptability and legality can be a valuable safeguard of free speech and freedom of information, as it can bring out into the open details that the public not only have a right to know, but, as citizens, should know. This isn't that situation. We're looking at simple bloodlust - an eye for an eye. Already, idiots on Facebook are claiming to know Venables' new identity and getting other idiots to pass it on. With any luck, they'll soon have experience of incarceration themselves, as it's impossible to see such an act as anything other than incitement to violence.

Meanwhile, The Sun's coverage is being overseen by the paper's chief reporter John Kay. The same John Kay who, in 1977, drowned his Japanese wife Harue in the bath of their Barnet home before attempting to gas himself. Driven mad by the pressure of work as the paper's industrial correspondent, he could see no other way out for himself or his wife, who had been cut off by her family for marrying a westerner. He was convicted of manslaughter with diminished responsibility, and, on his release from Friern Barnet mental hospital, was welcomed back by his employer. The problem for me isn't that Kay killed his wife. I'm happy to accept that he was temporarily deranged. I've been temporarily deranged too, and it's a dark place to inhabit. The problem is that The Sun showed a greater degree of enlightenment and understanding when one of its own transgressed than it would ever have done in any other circumstances. Imagine the reporting of a similar case where the killer was AN Other.

There's also the question of whether Denise Fergus realises that the man to whom she is pouring out her feelings about the killers of her son is a convicted killer himself?


Shaun said...


(Great stuff).

James said...

After reading this and similar stories - the news stories and all the reader comments - I'm starting to worry that there's a growing portion of our country that lacks all knowledge of our justice system and politics, and who would also fail your basic reading comprehension test.

"We should have hung them when they were ten. Killing children is wrong and should be punished by death" was one comment I read.

Of course it's not a really a growing portion, it's just that what was confined to a conversation between friends at your local is now easily published to a world wide audience. Perhaps we could return to when the internet required you to read the instructions first.