Con Text

I read a report on BBC News website today. It told of a teenager who murdered his girlfriend. Now, news like that is bad enough but with so much of it competing for attention it must be hard for any reporter not to just report the facts but to ‘build added interest and intrigue’, perhaps by an innuendo, suggestion or by building a matter of concern. Trouble is, there are people out there who will become afraid on the basis of remarks like:

‘Told to kill’

‘The teenager, who had been diagnosed as having an autistic syndrome, told his family that a voice in his head named Ed told him to kill someone.’

An autistic syndrome. Really?

A few months ago I contacted Sherrif Brown whose widely reported delicate and considered comments after a shooting and suicide were:

‘”It is very, very apparent that he was severely mentally disturbed. It’s obviously the work of a madman,” he added.

In a so-called manifesto which had been published online, Rodger – who suffered from Asperger’s – said he had been born in London…’

Well, there we are. Conclusive proof that any prejudice against anyone with an ‘autistic syndrome’, a computer and who comes from London must be about to shoot you if you look at them a bit funny, must be justifiable to ‘normal’ people. Hmmm. No.

Where are these ‘normal’ people?

Oh, I see them. They’re the one’s committing the rest of the vile acts being reported elsewhere, and even more frequently, not being reported because a surprising amount of it is accepted as – you guessed – normal.

There are facts and there’s context. There is chalk and there is cheese. There is reporting and there is selling a story.

By the way, the Sherriff did respond, eventually. He spoke of his close experience of Asperger Syndrome (which worried me more)… and asked for my vote in the forthcoming election. If only I could have emigrated to America in time I could have cast my vote for – anyone else.

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