Thursday, 15 July 2010

Manhunt or witch-hunt?

I wasn't originally intending to comment on this one, but since no less a person than the Prime Minister has seen fit to throw in his (rather ill-informed) two-cents' worth, why shouldn't I?

What drove Raoul Moat to act out his grudge rather than - as most people do - getting over it and getting on with his life - is something I don't suppose anyone will ever really know. However, the shooting at point-blank range of three innocent people, killing one of them, resulted in the UK's biggest and best-publicised manhunt of recent years, and undoubtedly the most expensive -running up a bill of millions and involving, it's been said, a quarter of all the armed police in Britain not to mention the latest sophistication in heat-seeking helicopters and heaven-knows what else. Given that he evaded this massive combination of resources for a whole week, in the glare of nationwide publicity, it's hardly surprising that he's attracted a certain following: the police have not emerged from the whole thing exactly covered in credit. It was always on the cards that the eventual outcome was going to be either a shoot-out when cornered or a suicide and I guess we should all be grateful that no more innocent lives were lost. Nevertheless it all seems a little bizarre especially in view of the several murders and shootings which occurred elsewhere at the same time and which rated hardly a column-inch mention let alone a manhunt.

Obviously his family and close friends will have seen a different side of him to the one portrayed in public and are fully entitled to pay their respects as they see fit. I'm not a devotee of Facebook and don't really care one way or the other about a 'tribute' group. That said, in a free society people are entitled to express their opinions - however flaky or distasteful - and I'm glad that the site has so far resisted the attempts reportedly being made by the goverment to censor it. He's not a martyr and it's idiotic of anyone to try and turn him into one by suppressing legitimate discussion of what actually went on over the last couple of weeks.

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