The Loneliest Jukebox

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Friday, August 25, 2006

Ed West's East London

An interesting piece in today's Telegraph by Ed West caught my eye. It's a response to the murder of Peter Woodhams of Canning Town, in the parliamentary constituency where I reside. In the style of Francis Gilbert, the author seeks to link his own childhood misfortunes to the recent killing. One of most repeated happy slapping quotations - "If you feel bored wen ur about an u got a video phone den bitch slap sum norman, innit" - also gets an outing. West is onto something when he hints that broken social bonds and more instrumental, dehumanising attitudes between people contribute to this type of violence. He's just not sure what he's onto.

There's a couple of basic questions such pundits rarely address. It's taken for granted that situations like the one in Canning Town 'fully justify critical social commentary and considered policy intervention'. Is the government expected to protect us from everything? And how would one propose to do this? It's seldom questioned why the punditry takes a form that is at odds with the criminal justice system - individuals innocent until proven guilty - when pundits like West want to deal with 'types' all the time. Secondly, the comment pages are quick to grab the opportunities available from elevating local, magistrates' courts-style stories into national news. A little more self-reflection wouldn't go amiss.


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