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Home > Culture and Society

Me, Me, Menezes

26 August 2005

As everybody knows, the one thing that traumatised survivors of terrorism really, really want is publicity. Just that little slurp of the spotlight, that initial on-the-spot fleeting exchange with a wild-eyed reporter, is enough to rouse a sleeping beast slavering for attention. They're quite literally panting for press. A few strangers staring at their bruises and bandages in the street isn't quite enough - they need the eyes of the world on them. Especially after all that gratifying initial fuss has died down, and they're facing the unspeakable horror of a future of being left alone to quietly get on with the normal lives they now cherish that much more.

As for the secondary victims of terrorism - say, more-or-less innocent individuals gunned down by twitchy police - well, they seethe with envy from beyond the grave. Envy of the genuine, front-line victims who were totally minding their own business in the country of their totally legitimate birth, and not hanging around mending tellies when they should have been in Brazil. The
dregs of the inevitable collateral damage in the heroic war on terror just won't lie down quietly and accept that theirs is most definitely the silver medal in the Outrage Olympics. There he is again - look! Selfishly monopolising the front pages, just because it happens to be entirely newsworthy that a large and
expensive enquiry is going to be held into his totally unavoidable and inconsequential death. Me, me, me. That's what he'd say if he wasn't dead.

It's only right that The Sun should redress this long-skewed balance thus: put that Brazilian headline-hogger in his place by trumpeting that 'the 52 victims of the 7/7 bombings must NEVER be forgotten'. The families are worried that the deaths of their loved ones are being overshadowed - they are, because a Sun
journalist asked them, 'Aren't you worried that the deaths of your loved ones are being overshadowed?', and it occurred to them that yes, they were a little worried. Some of the families remained in denial, saying 'just leave us to grieve, you vultures' before hanging up. It is indeed tragic to perceive how
all the fuss and bother about the IPCC enquiry has made them feel they cannot openly mourn their loved ones. 'It's almost as if her son never existed, with all the media and public attention focused on this other bloke,' said a source close to a source close to one grieving mother's ignorant, gossipy neighbour.

The paper then interviewed everyone else in London, and sure enough, they were with them all the way. 'Sadly,' said man-in-the-street Jack Heeley, 70, 'the public sympathy is going for the people that died... because the spotlight is on the Brazilian guy. The original victims are being forgotten.' Yes, Jack - it's true that public sympathy has been proven to be a finite element. Good working-class people are having to spread their meagre human feelings to cover the lost heroes of Iraq, the starving in Niger, that poor baby who may be cruelly allowed to die just because doctors are too bone-idle to resuscitate her, the 52 victims of the bombings *and* that dodgy bloke who got himself shot. Eking
out that compassion like so much Utterly Butterly. Why should the families of the bomb victims be humiliatingly forced to compete for public sympathy? It's not The X-Factor, and anyone who would make that comparison is sick. *Sick.*

Of course with their shite-awful sales at the moment, The Sun could be accused of cynically manufacturing some scurrilous non-news that would upset and baffle all sorts of people. Not the honest hard-working kind though, obviously. But the malleable talking London heads didn't quite herd themselves into the right answers. Much as the struggling tabloid tried to edit them into submission on the page, they all seemed to stubbornly agree that the over-exposed de Menezes thing was a tragedy in its own right, not somehow competing with the related yet separate tragedy of the 52 bomb victims in some ghoulish sympathy-sprint. No, they seemed to be intent on having some kind of reasonable perspective. Bloody attention-seekers. The Sun says: put them all
in a boat, and ship them out!



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