Another day, another reason to rant at the Express’s Dunblane article…

Sorry to keep harping on about this, but the more information I find on this story the more I find it completely and utterly ridiculous.

Thanks to torytroll and chick yog, we can now see pdf’s of the offending articles as they appeared in the newspaper, which are available to download here and here. The first one clearly shows that the Dunblane story was indeed the headline story on the frontpage of the Scottish Sunday Express. For me this is bad enough in itself, but I want to look at the second page more closesly. In particular the small section at the bottom of the page, which paints a much more pleasant picture about the other children who survived the massacre than the main article above it.

The small headline for it reads ‘Tragic Pupils Leave Bad Times Behind’, a far more accepting and kind a headline than ‘ANNIVESARY SHAME OF DUNBLANE SURVIVORS‘, which marked the introduction to Stewart Weir, Mark Mullan and those others considered ‘the offenders’.

So, what have these untouched, stoical darlings been getting up to in their teenage years, which makes the drunken, aggressive and sex-mad antics of the others seem so so bad?

Well, from the looks of things…drinking and having sex.

Here’s a snippet by Paula Murray on one of the ‘good guys’, Matthew Birnie:

He has posted pictures of his eighteenth birthday celebrations
but makes no mention of the tragedy thirteen years ago. After his birthday he said: “Eighteen at last! Unleashed to the world of legal drinking.”

Surely if Paula wanted she could have turned Matthew into some kind of lout, insinuating that he drank at an illegal age, dared to ENJOY himself at his ‘birthday celebrations’, and grown a shabby beard, which is about as offensive as getting ink plastered on your back, as Mark Mullan did (i.e. not).

And what of Robert Purves, another survivor who ‘done good’?

Robert Purves, who was shot in the arm, is now enjoying student life at the University of St Andrews, where he is studying for a psychology degree. On his page, he features the catchphrase: “Sex is not the answer. Sex is a question, ‘yes’ is the answer.”

Now please, somebody tell me, how is this different to this in the first article:

Others boast about discovering sex.

Both effectively saying the same thing, but both represented in a completely different light. One is ‘enjoying student life’, the other is made out to be wrong for mentioning sex. It is interesting to note that the first article doesn’t mention which person is doing the boasting, yet my point is this: you cannot represent boasting about sex as a bad thing the one minute, and then later on on the same page make it out to be part of student life the next. It is just plain hypocrisy.

I’d like to finish by quoting once more from the piece, this time Matthew Mirnie’s father, Steve:

“I’d say that part of the act that they are positively moving on is that they don’t really want to go back.”

Nail. On. Head. The fact is, in both articles, what is quoted by Murray, despite how she represents it, is all positive – it shows a group of young people who are moving on, trying to live perfectly normal lives in spite of what happened all those years ago. And despite being represented as the antithesis of each other by Murray, what appears on their social networking pages is by and large quite similar.

The only difference I can see is that whilst the former uses slang, contractions and the odd bit of swearing (which as Stephen Fry reminds us, is no bad thing), the latter uses pretty standard English. Surely, this can’t be the main reason that a portion of the survivors can be demonised, whilst the other portion can be deified?

Can it?


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