Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Presumptuous mourning

Libby Purves puts her finger on something I was thinking about this weekend. Buying the paper on Saturday morning, I noticed the headline on the Mirror, which said, in relation to the murder of Rhys Jones, something like We all mourn with you under a picture of Rhys's grieving parents. Well, I wasn't.
As with the death of Princess Diana 10 years ago, when a mass hysteria fell upon the nation and competetive grieving was the order of the day, there seems to be a similar need for the media in general to demonstrate their own involvement with the story - to personalise the tragedy into how it affects them.
Well, I'm not a part of Rhys's death. Nor are the editors of the Mirror, nor are the majority of those leaving cellophaned flowers and toys where he died. It seems to me to be incredibly presumptuous to shoehorn in an ersatz mourning for someone we never knew, and who we would never have thought about had he not had the tragic misfortune to be gunned down in Liverpool. I'm not trivialising the pain his parents are suffering - on the contrary, I think that the obsessive need to include oneself in other people's grief looks more like egotism than genuine sympathy.

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