Thursday, July 15, 2010

Moat and Beams

A lot of people are getting excited about the unhealthy cult of martyrdom that is growing around the late Raoul Moat, in particular its expression on Facebook.

The comments are mostly immature, frequently illiterate, and almost invariably confused. There is nothing inherently wrong in pitying a man who simply failed to cope with the hand that life dealt him, leaving him a pathetic small-time loser with big muscles and a festering narcissistic sense of grievance. There is a great deal wrong with condoning his murder of one person and maiming of two more, as if his troubles somehow justified these crimes. So far, so pathetic.

It's nothing new, though. From Robin Hood, through Dick Turpin and his ilk, to Ned Kelly, to Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde, the Krays and many more a spurious glamour has often attached itself to people who are at root anti-social and frequently thuggish. A faux aura of adventure was ascribed to the IRA a few years ago. Jolly rebel songs were sung in the pubs of the Kilburn High Road to celebrate the latest triumph of blowing the legs off a typist or two or shooting a man in front of his wife and children. There is never any glamour about the brutal and ugly reality of violence.

The best thing to do about the Facebook hagiographers is to read a few of the comments, shake your head gently, and move on.

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Posts are pre-moderated. Please bear with us if this takes a little time, but the number of bores and obsessives was getting out of hand, as were the fake comments advertising rubbish.