The language of rape, sexual assault, 'nonce', paedophile, 'wrong'un' and 'pervert' have been fully weaponised into a uniquely scurrilous form of social contagion, prejudicing an entitled public's groupthink into believing their unreflective instincts have the same gravity as due legal process.
Since 2003, the term rape, alongside terrorism, has been repeated in the mainstream media in order to effectively hypnotise a captivated British population into presuming any unknown male is likely a rapist. Coincidentally, there were many new laws introduced in the New Labour government's Criminal Justice Act of that year, passed to facilitate those newly expanded categories of offence.
The stories of the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky affair and the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre in New York would have fed into the ever media-responsive reactions of Tony Blair, Alistair Campbell et al. A result of this hypnotisation was to further toxify the term rape, hitherto very rarely used, into the lingua-franca of mediated demonisation. Henceforth, accusations from John Leslie to Jim Davidson, Ronaldo to Alec Salmond flew, extending the crime of rape to any unsatisfactory alleged sexual encounter or identity-politicised individual.
In related events, paediatricians would have their premises paint-spattered or worse by outraged, tabloid-wielding adults, assuming - possibly without thinking too deeply - that this was the professional premises of groups of paedophiles. Police, populist politicians, lawyers and campaigning media editor/owners won through this system (until they found themselves accused) - while insufficiently risk-averse men and their friends and families found themselves demonised in a rolling, state-supported attack on traditional masculinity.
In early 2023, seven men were found guilty of the kidnap and murder of a man they wrongly suspected of raping a teenage girl in Lancashire. Christopher Hughes was found dead near a road in Skelmersdale after being stabbed over 90 times. The 37-year-old from Wigan had been abducted on a street and bundled into the boot of a car before being driven to his death. The court heard during the trial how Christopher had been pursued by the gang, who all knew each other, but wrongly suspected him of the knifepoint rape of a teenage girl behind a post office in Wigan. A former boxer, he was driven to Skelmersdale where he was stabbed to death.
On the evening of the murder, Dean O'Neill-Davey, Andrius Uzkuraitis, Erland Spahiu and Erion Voja had tried to hide Christopher's body. The group had attempted to bury Christopher's body on wasteland, but were disturbed by police cars investigating a road traffic accident nearby. They abandoned their disposal and his body was found at the foot of an embankment four days later.
As with members of the public screaming 'Nonces!' at everyone from Prince Andrew to likely culturally uninformed immigrants in hostels and seaside hotels, this vigilante behaviour is demeaning for the perpetrators and sometimes fatal for their victims. With 66,000 out of 68,000 allegations of rape per year receiving No Further Action from the police, should we consider ourselves lucky we don't also have 66,000 vigilante lynchings per year to deal with?
The language of rape, sexual assault, 'nonce', paedophile, 'wrong'un' and 'pervert' have been fully weaponised into a uniquely scurrilous form of social contagion, prejudicing an entitled public's groupthink into believing their unreflective instincts have the same gravity as due legal process. The actual victims here are not only the families of the seven men imprisoned for life, but also those of Christopher Hughes - the innocent victim of a vigilante execution, seemingly whipped up by gossip and presumption. By Sean Bw Parker
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