Prevent Violence Against Pedophiles

    September 2000

    "Name and Shame" Riots (United Kingdom)


    SEPTEMBER 20, 2000

    At Last, Mr. Straw Has Taken a Sensible Approach to Paedophile Protection. Had the Home Secretary submitted to the demands of parts of the press, he would have been rewarded with favourable headlines and warm editorials in newspapers that New Labour still likes to keep "on side", but he would have put innocent lives at risk. [The Independent]


    New Laws May Fall Short of Campaign Goal But They Should Help Protect Children. By Jason Bennetto. Stung by the scale of the public reaction to Sarah Payne's abduction and murder in Sussex, the Government was desperate to be seen to be taking tough action, but conscious it should not be panicked into introducing measures that would aid further vigilante attacks and do little to protect children. [The Independent]

    AUGUST 31

    Why Language Matters. By Celia Brayfield. We have not really moved on since the days when crowds watched public disembowellings at Tyburn; we simply prefer to see atrocities on television in the comfort of our 21st-century homes. When it is these instincts that drive citizens of a complex society, with diverse cultures, irresponsible media and inadequate language skills, social disintegration is the predictable scenario. [The Times]

    AUGUST 18

    How Lack of Vigilance Leads to Vigilantes.  The tabloid-broadsheet split on the "naming and shaming" exercise suggests that the traditional working-class suspicion of the police and the courts persists, and with this goes the conviction that communities must protect themselves. Unfortunately, there is truth in this charge. [Church Times]

    AUGUST 15

    The Strange Silence of Our Elected Representatives. By Donald Macintyre. A determination to demonise rather than justifiably fear, punish, treat and above all control paedophiles who are strangers to the children they attack may at least in part be the flip side of denying, or at least struggling to come to terms with, the dark truths about the sexual abuse within the family. [The Independent]

    AUGUST 14

    The Vilest Mob Hatred isn't in Paulsgrove, It's in Westminster. By Mick Hume. The Paulsgrove protesters make even easier targets than the men they have been harassing. Nobody can have
    enjoyed watching mothers teach young children to chant "Hang him, hang him". But those in high places glaring down their noses at the vile peasants of Paulsgrove might look a little closer to home to find who is responsible for provoking the outbreak of "mob rule". [The Times]

    AUGUST 13

    This is Where Mob Justice Will End. By Toby Moore. America is still stained by the shame of communities which took justice into their own hands, snatching criminals from prisons and hanging them from trees, often in the same carnival atmosphere that formed an undercurrent to the violence of the mob in Hampshire. [The Express]

    Salem Comes to Portsmouth. By Mary Riddell. The lynch mob will be with us until the Government soothes public legitimate fears. [The Guardian]

    Moral Panic Achieves Nothing. By Joan Smith. Our response to these fears, whose aetiology we do not for the most part understand, is a standard but incoherent cry: something must be done. The consequences are almost always dreadful: the hounding of communists in the US, the murder of innocent people in Guatemala, the suicides of men accused of child abuse in Britain. [The Independent]

    The Sinister Ethos of the Baying Mob. By Dr. Theodore Dalrymple. We saw in Portsmouth the British mob's true vocation for tyranny. Indeed, there were alarming signs in Portsmouth of the potential for real fascism in this country: not the touchy-feely Blairite variety, but the boot and fist variety. [The Sunday Telegraph]

    Inside the Witch-Hunt. By Deborah Collcut and John Elliott. Is there a solution that will ease parents' worries, but avoid mob rule and the innocent being hounded from their homes? [The Sunday Times]

    Child Abuse Double-Think. Mob rule is not the answer but neither is sneering at frightened people. [The Sunday Times]

    Life for Paedophiles Must be an Option. By William Hague. Some have tried to claim that both the public anguish of the many and the mob violence of a few are the result of one Sunday newspaper publishing the names of convicted paedophiles. But we should not dismiss the fact that a third of a million people have signed a petition to change the law. (An article by the leader of Britian's Conservative Party.) [The Sunday Times]

    AUGUST 12

    If a Paedophile Moved in Next Door, What Would You Do? By David Robson. Simply to condemn the women of Paulsgrove as lowlife hysterics is to bury our heads deep in the sands of hypocrisy. [The Express]

    Britain's Witch Hunt Stopped. By Rachel Donnelly. This is the issue facing the police, politicians and the probation service. They are being asked to balance the demands of parents to have access to information about paedophiles living in their area, and the protection of children, with the rights of offenders who have served their sentences to rebuild their lives. [The Irish Times]

    Condemn Mob Law, Then Resolve Justified Fears About Paedophiles. There can be few newspaper campaigns to have failed so comprehensively and on so many fronts as the News of the World's "naming and shaming" of paedophiles. [The Independent]

    Soft Judges, Mob Rule. We cannot know exactly what Rebekah Wade, the new editor of the News of the World, hoped to achieve when she launched her "naming and shaming" campaign. But we now know exactly what consequences her campaign has had. [The Telegraph]

    AUGUST 11

    Horrid Crimes That Require a Sane Response. New legislation should not be rushed through; nor should it increase the likelihood that released offenders elude supervision, nor risk unleashing in communities strong emotions that will do more harm than good. [Church Times]

    Anxious, Angry and Ugly: What Paulsgrove's Passion is Telling Us. This, then, is the real meaning of social exclusion. Thousands of estates have been allowed to become dustbins for the rest of society, out of sight and, until a moment like this one, out of mind. There are dangers here, and not just from those who abuse children. [The Guardian]

    Why I am So Scared of Paulsgrove Woman. By David Aaronvitch. That's Britain for you. Across the channel they got the French Revolution, liberté, égalité, fraternité (and a bit of head-chopping), and all we got were the Gordon Riots and mobs stoning Catholics. So when working-class women and their children take to Portsmouth's streets, it isn't in support of the NHS, or to demand better nurseries, but out of a desire to hang, burn or castrate some of their neighbours. [The Independent]

    AUGUST 10

    The Innocent Suffer When the Mob Rules. By Peter Gammon. Even worse are the children as young as six and eight, shouting: "Hang him, hang him." What are we coming to when children are encouraged to shout such things by their parents?  (An article by the president of the Police Superintents' Association.) [The Express]

    The Tabloid Riots. To include children in such disorderly gangs, as many protesters have, is a corruption of their innocence. To set out to intimidate individuals, whether or not they have previously committed a crime, is to abuse the rule of law. To have begun a vicious, publicity-driven campaign, knowing that such behaviour could be the result, is an abuse of a free press. [The Telegraph]

    AUGUST 8

    This Country Makes No Sense. By Deborah Orr. It is those who claim the most virulent anger and display the most graphic need for vengeance against paedophiles who ensure that children such as Sarah cannot be sensibly protected from them. [The Independent]

    AUGUST 6

    The Lesson of Peter Grimes. By Geoffrey Wheatcroft. 'We shall tame his arrogance!' screams the angry crowd. 'We'll make the murderer pay for his crime.' And they set off in pursuit of the man they think has killed a child. Peter Grimes is always a gripping and chilling opera, but the superb performance at Glyndebourne last week took on fresh layers of meaning. [The Guardian]

    AUGUST  5

    Mobs Will Not Make Our Streets Safer for Children. Parents have a right to demand safe streets for their children. Turning them into places of mob rule will not do that only better policing and law enforcement will. [The Express]

    After Sarah. By Mark Lawson. A recent book revealed that President Clinton keeps in his Oval Office desk a "Richard Jewell file", containing cuttings about a case which he believes to demonstrate the potentially lethal irresponsibility of the media. As "naming and shaming" is directed against British paedophiles and mobs storm the homes of those thought to be a threat to children perhaps the editor of the News of the World and all residents' associations should put a Richard Jewell file in their desks. [The Guardian]

    Debate Not Vigilantism is Needed in Response to Paedophilia. Clearly, random vigilante publishing was not the answer. If its objective was the protection of children, then it simply failed. [The Guardian]

    The Welcome End of a Shameful Campaign that Subverted the Rule of Law. "Our nation is responsible and educated enough not to resort to vigilante attacks," said the paper last week. Events proved this confidence gravely misplaced. [The Independent]

    Folly of Campaign was Obvious from the Start. By Tom Leonard. Fears that it would lead to vigilante attacks and encourage sex offenders to go underground were soon proved correct. [The Telegraph]

    Rebekah Gets Her Riot. It should not have taken a riot to show Miss Wade why it was wrong to publish the names, photographs and whereabouts of convicted child-sex offenders, branding them all as "fiends", "perverts" and "monsters in our midst". [The Telegraph]

    AUGUST 4

    The Real Shame is That Police Must Protect Paedophiles. By Nick Hopkins. The decision by the News of the World to expose child-sex offenders has put police in an impossible position. [The Guardian]

    AUGUST 2

    How Does Naming and Shaming Paedophiles Help Their Victims? Ursula is dealing with many families at the moment who, she reveals, are living in terror of being named. Among them are those have served time and have been rehabilitated but the fear that haunts them now is that if their past is exposed, then all the work by the offender, his family and the professionals will have been destroyed. [The Express]

    AUGUST 1

    Blaming, Not Shaming. By Ros Coward. Of course, I agree this campaign is misguided; it will drive paedophiles into hiding, where the possibility of monitoring is lost. But I am equally appalled at the contempt which this same liberal press is meting out on the people and communities involved in such campaigns. [The Guardian]

    JULY 31

    Rebekah Wade's First Campaign as Editor of the News of the World Assessed. By Roy Greenslade. I am certain that Wade has not acted from base commercial motives. She clearly believes she has done right by her readers. Her fear  our fear must be that an innocent will suffer. [The Guardian]

    The Home Office is to Blame for the Paedophile Panic in Britain. By Mick Hume. Yes, I want to be thought of as a good parent. But I object to the demand that I demonstrate my goodness by publicly joining a conscript lynching party. [The Times]

    JULY 26

    Taking Liberties with Naming and Shaming. By Simon Jenkins. I may have no time for sex offenders, but I am a card-carrying, relativist liberal with an archaic addiction to the rule of law. Criminals should, if possible, be reformed rather than just kicked in the groin. That said, I do confess to a weakness. If one thing makes me see red it is politicians and the press milking a rare personal tragedy for all the hysteria it can yield. For these people, I say, no punishment is too severe. [The Times]

    JULY 25

    Mob Mentality is No Way to Tackle Sex Offenders. If ever there were a truth learned at great cost it is that taking the law into our own hands is always a mistake. [The Express]

    JULY 24

    Naming and Shaming Sex Offenders Will Not Help Our Children. It is irresponsible for the News of the World to defend its action as upholding law and order and protecting children. It will do neither. [The Independent]

    A Nasty Piece of Work. In her paper's leader column yesterday, Ms Wade stressed that she did not want any "vigilante acts" or violence against those whom she identified. Meanwhile the leader column raged: "No more freedom for the fiends". If Ms Wade is really against displaying animosity, her choice of inflammatory language is inexplicable. [The Telegraph]

    Editorial Cartoon

    Portsmouth Mob Rule. By Steve Bell. [The Guardian]


    Has Naming and Shaming Gone Too Far? A forum where you may post your views. [BBC]


    "Parents say they are fighting for their children's safety." [BBC]

    Related Links

    Full Coverage: Paedophile "Name & Shame" Campaign [Yahoo!]

    Paedophiles. Wire service news from the U.K. [Ananova]

    Special Report: Child Protection [The Guardian]


    © 2000 Heather Elizabeth Peterson
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