Thursday, 13 December 2018

Someone has been convicted

of a dreadful crime but we can't tell you about it? There was the news on the front page this morning. Apparently this has been reported "all over the world" but not here. Really?
And yes of course the paper is appealing the decision because we have the "right to know". Do we? 
Perhaps we do in this case. I know who it is and what s/he has been convicted of - and I also assume there will be an appeal.
Now please don't misunderstand me. I have always believed that the courts should be open. People should be able to go in and out and observe what is going on.  Evidence should only be given behind closed doors in a very narrow range of circumstances.
That way we can seek out information if we need to know or, perhaps, want to know.
But do we have a right to know? 
There are murders we never hear about. They are almost always domestic. Unless there is something unusual about them or it is a "slow" news day many crimes of domestic violence which result in death never reach the media. 
There is fraud, often major tax fraud, which doesn't reach the media either. Taxation officials don't want it out there - and for good reasons. 
There are endless other things which don't get reported - because there is no "right" to know. If there was the media would be clogged with such reports. There would be no space for anything else. If someone really wants information then there are, for the most part, other ways of getting it.
And, I have said this before, if someone is convicted of an offence then all too often his or her family is convicted along with them - even friends can suffer.  Is that right? Is it right that young children should be subjected to the humiliation and hurt that can flow from the conviction of a family member? 
Over twenty years ago I was involved in helping two "street kids". They should have been at school but they came from very poor backgrounds where their parents were drug addicts, alcoholics and prisoners. They couldn't handle the treatment they were getting at school and they were at huge risk of heading the same way themselves. 
But there was something about those two boys. They found each other and they stuck together and they wanted to move on. I have to be honest and say that, at the time, I didn't think they would make it. They did but they had to move to another part of the country and they had to do things the hard way.  I saw one of them a few years back. He is married - to someone who knows his background. He doesn't drink. He doesn't smoke. He and his mate own their own thriving business. They have built a good reputation for hard work and honesty. 
    "I couldn't have done it Cat if they knew what my dad did. Everyone would think I was going to be the same."
He's right. 
It's something we need to think about.

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