Tower of Babble

Grenfell Tower, London, UK


Conservative MP Daniel Hannan has some bracing and true words about the recent tragedy — the Grenfell Tower fire this past week. As in the UK so in the States when it comes to exploitation and manipulation of the victims, public, and their emotions. From CapX:

Do you remember the tragic story of Jacintha Saldanha? You don’t? It was huge at the time. Jacintha was a nurse at the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to her first child. She got a hoax call from two Australian radio presenters pretending to be the Queen and the Prince of Wales, and put it through to the relevant ward nurse. When the news broke, Jacintha, who had had a history of depression, committed suicide by hanging, leaving two teenage children.

You remember it all now, don’t you? The public outrage, the Twitter mobs, the boycotts of the radio station, the death threats against the two presenters, the repeated attempts to bring them to court. Five years on, I hope you can see that these public campaigns were utterly inappropriate. Had the call not resulted in a suicide, no one would have regarded it as anything more than a juvenile prank. The presenters could not possibly have foreseen that their wheeze would end in such a horrible tragedy. Their lives, like those of Jacintha’s family, were ruined over a freak accident.

No one dared say so at the time, though. That would have meant stepping into the path of a lynch mob. A death changes everything. Different chemicals stir in our brains. Reason gives way to emotion. After such horror, someone has to be at fault. The blame, according to some curious inbuilt emotional scale, must be proportionate to the tragedy.

We are still at that stage in the aftermath of the Grenfell horror. Obviously, we need to find out what went wrong, and assess whether other places are at risk. If there is evidence of criminal negligence, of course that negligence should be punished. But the discussion over the past two days has gone well beyond these things. The country is bellowing for a scapegoat big enough and monstrous enough to bear responsibility for such an outrage. The idea of a tragic accident simply won’t do.

We have turned the idea that we are and should be insulated from any and every tragedy into bloodsport. Politicians, sometimes from good, but misguided, sometimes from bad and guided motives reflexively exploit and manipulate these tragedies to seize more control. The media — guided mostly by profit (I love profit, but it is not an inherently virtuous concept) and not by any common good has sextupled down on the axiom “if it bleeds it til emotions leads”.

I have no idea how to stop the trend if people won’t stop and think or wait until their emotions wane then there’s not much to be done except look on in horror.

1 comment to Tower of Babble

  • Somebody gets shot, and it’s all gun owners’ fault and they must be disarmed.
    A gay person gets beaten up, and it’s proof that all conservative straight people are homophobic and must be shunned.
    A woman gets raped (or even makes the accusation), and it’s proof that all men are responsible for “rape culture”.
    Someone on Wall Street bends the rules to get rich, and it’s all capitalism’s fault and we need socialism.
    And on and on and on.

    Collective responsibility for individual actions is one of the Left’s best means of tearing down Western civilization. Pick out a few bad apples, pretend that the rest of the bunch is just as bad, and rinse and repeat until you’ve got people convinced that the whole thing needs to go.

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