A woman is dead.
Her husband is a widower, her children are motherless, her colleagues and friends are mourning.
The vast majority of the profession to which she belonged is mourning, because we recognise that it could have been any of us.
And yet, and yet...
There's something unspeakable about certain of the tabloids, you know the ones I mean, the ones who use this
to decide how they are going to cover an atrocity, who are today saying "don't politicise this". Quite apart from the fact that everything's political
, when a politician gets assassinated in the act of being a politician by a man with known extreme political views who actually screams those political views while he's killing her... I honestly think it's not that big a leap to say that this was a political act.
Certainly no less political nor as big a leap as EVERY SINGLE TIME a black or brown person does something, leaping to blame it on Islam.
Certainly no less political nor as big a leap as saying someone has a history of mental illness like that's an explanation, when it's well proven that mentally ill people are far more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators of it
Certainly no less political nor as big a leap as positing mental illness as a shield from political opinions, like mentally ill people can't, or aren't allowed to, have political opinions.
The guy who killed Jo Cox has been described as "polite" (because shooting, stabbing and kicking a person while screaming "Britain First" is awfully polite) "not a violent man" (apart from that whole shooting, stabbing and kicking a person while screaming "Britain First" thing) and the inevitable "a loner who kept himself to himself" (because everyone who needs some alone time is to be feared and mistrusted). Despite the fact that he subscribed to an apartheid magazine, spent time on fascist websites, and made a gun using instructions he obtained from a Nazi book club that he splashed lots of the very little cash he had on, here are some words that much of the mainstream media are shying away from using:
Choosing not to use those words when they are clearly appropriate is just
as political as using them, especially when in the act of carefully not using them you instead cast aspersions about the mentally ill.
This happened less than seven miles from my house.
This happened less than seven miles from where I was manning a street stall last weekend espousing the very views that the shooter hated.
I may not be entirely objective about this. That said, there are things we could do.
- We could enshrine it in law that every time a newspaper prints a lie, they have to put the correction in the same size font on the same page, or if it's a lie about someone with a protected characteristic, they have to take up TWICE as much space for the apology as they did for the lie.
- We could make political adverts subject to the advertising standards agency, so that when they broadcast provable lies, they have to stop doing it, or at least be fined.
- We could make it so that rather than "balance", the thing broadcast journalists have to strive for is truth
- We could, as individuals, say "no" when family or friends or colleagues say something bigoted and wrong, rather than letting it slide to avoid fuss.
We could, but I bet we won't.
I look at what happened yesterday, and I look at some of the reactions to it, that she deserved to die, that all politicians deserve to die, that this was all staged for a poll boost for remain, and I wonder what we're becoming. As Sarah said on twitter the other day, before this even happened, this is our 1930s moment, and we're failing. How far down the slope do we have to slide before someone puts the brakes on? I wish I knew. I really wish I knew.
I mourn for Jo Cox.
I mourn for politics in Britain.
I mourn for the open, friendly, welcoming, generous country I used to think I lived in.
I want that country back.
Jo's family are raising money for three charities - the Royal Voluntary Service
, Hope Not Hate
, and the White Helmets
. If you can afford to, please give something