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23 Aug, 2021 09:04

MSM reporting of Plymouth shooting: Black people kill because they’re black, white people kill because they’re misunderstood

MSM reporting of Plymouth shooting: Black people kill because they’re black, white people kill because they’re misunderstood

British mainstream media has been playing the blame game over the Plymouth shooting, pointing the finger at the police, social media, and the gunman’s misogyny. But, just because he is white, there’s no mention of his race.

Following the Plymouth shooting in which Jake Davison, 22, killed five people, including his own mother and a three-year-old girl before turning the gun on himself, much has been made about what motivated him. In the wake of such a tragedy, those living in its immediate shadow, and the public in general, naturally want to know not just what happened but why it happened. Who was the real Jake Davison? What drove him to such violence? Could his shooting spree have been prevented?

In the absence of a perpetrator to interrogate, probe, prod and “learn lessons” from, convenient truths are hard to come by, which is why we should all be thankful that the MSM and social media are on hand to fill the informational void by doing what they do best: playing the blame game.

Take columnist and talkRADIO jock Julia Hartley-Brewer for instance. A cursory glance at her show’s Twitter stream last week revealed a good cross-section of shoot-from-the-hip opinion bursting forth from Britain’s great unwashed and experts alike. Suggesting that social media had a role to play in the tragedy, ex-Met detective Peter Bleksley said in an edited interview with Hartley-Brewer that in future the police will have to check individuals’ social media accounts before granting gun licences.

The only people in the UK that should have firearms are the police and the armed forces,” Bleksley argued, which elicited some online whataboutery from those who felt that farmers, gamekeepers, hobbyists, for example, would be unfairly punished if stricter gun laws were introduced.

Invariably, the ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’ line has been doing the rounds since the shooting. Many more murders in the UK are indeed committed with knives than guns, not least because of the UK’s strict gun laws and the difficulty involved in obtaining legal weapons. 

Some observers have noted that Davison would have done the same thing with a knife had he not had a gun at his disposal. But would he? 

The UK’s last multiple fatality ‘knife-enabled’ incident involving a single assailant was in June, 2020 in Reading, in which three people died. It was perpetrated by 25-year-old Libyan refugee and self-confessed jihadist, Khairi Saadallah. From the moment he was arrested right up until he received a whole life sentence in January this year, there was never any doubt that the crime was terrorism-related.

But was terrorism a contributing factor behind Davison’s attack? As a self-confessed ‘incel’ or ‘involuntary celibate’, social commentators have been quick to suggest he may have been radicalised online by the deeply misogynistic, alt-right incel movement, and thus should be considered a ‘terrorist’. Terrorism, however, is a criminal act intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public – with a view to changing government policy to suit terrorists’ aims and objectives – not grind a personal axe.

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On his Reddit account, Davison, who had flirted with bodybuilding, said he “hated” his mother Maxine, a cancer survivor whom he blamed for his virginity, while on YouTube he described himself as a “f**king fat ugly virgin.” Such public pronouncements of nihilism and deep-seated hatred towards a parent patently indicated a troubled mind. 

Yet incels and those sympathetic to their woman-hating cause would have us believe that Davison’s inability to get laid is somehow a plausible excuse for the worst mass shooting in Britain involving an active gunman since taxi driver Derrick Bird killed 12 people, and then himself, in Cumbria in 2010. Along with the Hungerford and Dunblane massacres, the Plymouth shootings rank as one of the worst firearms-related murders in modern British history.

Nevertheless, for all the blame being foisted on social media, the police, Davison’s sex life (or lack thereof), cultural milieu, and familiar murder-suicide modus operandi, there’s one possible causal link that’s conspicuously missing from the mainstream discourse: race.

For all their usual bluster, no hotshot MSM columnist has dared mention that maybe, just maybe, Jake Davison shot and killed five people in cold blood on the night of August 12, 2021 because he was white. Yet had he been black you can guarantee that everything from the disproportionate number of single-parent families in Britain’s black community, drill music, rap videos, African war zones and the like would have been cited as causes, primarily to add a provocative racial context to the crime. 

Coupled with this, extended code, visual imagery and a host of other media tricks of the trade would’ve been employed to frame the crime not as a British or societal or even mental health problem but a racial one. Linking crime with black people is an itch the media has been scratching ever since popular migration from the Caribbean to the UK started in 1948 with the arrival of HMT ‘Windrush’.

Twenty-five years of journalism has taught me that the media will shoehorn racial identity into crime reporting with glee, conjuring up insidious references to cultural background, physicality, sexuality, skin colour, IQ, immigration status and a host of ‘othering’ factors – but only if the perpetrators are black or brown. Every time some poor kid is killed in a gang-related attack involving black youths, race comes into it – not as context but as causality. With the help of the media, racists thus programme credulous whites into believing that black people do what we do, because we’re black. But when white men kill, somehow it’s because they couldn’t get a girlfriend or were lonely or misunderstood or the wife didn’t pass the ketchup.

Following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recent plan to publicly shame criminals into “fluorescent-jacketed chain gangs” – a move The Guardian’s Martin Kettle called a “racially freighted remark” – Rod Liddle had this to say in The Sun: “In addition to wearing fluorescent jackets, the offenders should also be forced to sing spiritual songs from the American Deep South. Then we’ll know they are badduns, as we pass them by, from the chorus of Ol’ Man River.

Johnson’s dog-whistle policy, and indeed Liddle’s Sun hackery, is of course aimed at Twitter users who have Cross of St. Georges or mutts as profile pictures. These people need regular scraps and bones thrown at them, lest they start to think that the red wall or Brexit or the culture war or whatever this week’s distraction is, is just that: a distraction from the real problems ordinary Britons face.

As US President Lyndon B. Johnson famously told his White House press secretary Bill Moyers, “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best coloured man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

Liddle and his ilk help their countrymen to turn out their pockets every day, such is the level of snide commentary aimed at defaming black people, simply to make poor white folks feel good about themselves and keep their pals in office. Once branded a ‘national disgrace’ for writing cack-handedly about how black boys are paying the price for growing up in households without their dads, he’s not alone in perpetuating racist stereotypes. Fellow travellers from Katie Hopkins to Richard Littlejohn to Spectator stablemate Taki to Johnson himself have denigrated black people in print for years, but they’re just the tip of a racist iceberg going back decades.

Despite Liddle’s interest in identity politics and crime, and the fact that serial killing, mass murder and familicide in the UK are almost exclusively white phenomena, you won’t find Liddle looking at such crimes through the lens of whiteness or Eurocentrism. This is odd, as one would expect Liddle to show more than a passing interest in the relationship between white men and violence, given that he received a police caution in 2005 for common assault on his then pregnant girlfriend, Alicia Monckton.

Granted, white people in Britain commit all sorts of crimes because, hey, they make up 87% of the population – so it’s obvious they’re into all manner of shit. But whenever I read about some bloke killing his wife and kids (perhaps after throwing the mother-in-law into the mix for good measure) or murdering his ex, or concocting some noirish homicide plot for the insurance, or yet another ‘prolific’ paedophile is busted, the dramatis personae is nearly always white. While murders and serious assaults involving black males are typically underpinned by economics, those involving whites often display a psychosexual or sociopathic dimension to them; but bizarrely, Fleet Street finds itself uncharacteristically gripped by political correctness when it comes to such a glaring observation.

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Britain’s most prolific serial killer, Dr. Harold Shipman, killed an estimated 250 people, about 80% of which were elderly women. As is often the case when it comes to ‘white on white’ multiple murders, Shipman killed himself. But yet again, no white social commentator ever asks to what extent race, culture, religion or any of the factors typically ascribed to black people plays a role in white on white violence. 

Arguably, certain types of crimes have a narrative arc that comes with the territory. Take last year’s ‘Woodmancote murders’ involving Kelly Fitzgibbons, 40, her partner Robert Needham, 42, and their girls Ava, five, and Lexi, three, who were “found dead with their dog” in yet another murder-suicide. The Sun, typically, ran several family album snaps to illustrate the story. Ditto the New York Post last week, which reported on two recent murder-suicides, again featuring photos of smiling mums and dads, each holding their children, both families apparently killed by the father before he took his own life.

The way these murders are presented by the UK and US mainstream media are as genuine human tragedies – otherwise happy families torn apart by the boy next door or pillar of the community model dad. Murders involving black people, however, invariably run with the mugshots of the assailant(s), thus creating a far darker, sinister image of the ‘career criminal’. Arguably, mugshots are a feature of typical gang-related homicides because the killers are so often caught; and because black people seldom commit suicide or target their families or large numbers of strangers as part of a murder plot.

The ethnic background of victims is also something Western media has a problem with. Following the murder of Sarah Everard in March this year, the story enjoyed blanket coverage in the British press. Undoubtedly, as the prime suspect in Everard’s murder was a serving police officer, a factor that led to a vigil attended by the Duchess of Cambridge and subsequent violent clashes with the police, gave the story added piquancy. But compare this with the double murders of sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman just a few miles across London, a shocking crime that was punctuated by two police officers facing disciplinary charges for sharing selfies of the crime scene. Media coverage was markedly lower. Could this be down to the fact that Everard was, in tabloid parlance, a ‘pretty blonde’ whereas Bibaa and Nicole were women ‘of colour’?

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Despite the press maxim, “if it bleeds, it leads,” editors will say, off the record, that even the most heinous stories are at the mercy of readers, viewers and listeners. In other words, the cynical view is that primarily white audiences can only ‘relate’ to ‘white stories’, otherwise they’ll switch off and ultimately affect the media’s bottom line. But blaming market forces is a copout, and one that some unexpected voices have claimed is more about racism than revenue.  

Back in 2006, the then-Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Blair rounded on the press for what he saw as racism in the media’s reporting of crime. “I actually believe that the media is guilty of institutional racism in the way they report deaths,” he told a meeting of the now-defunct Metropolitan Police Authority. “That death of the young lawyer [Tom ap Rhys Pryce] was terrible, but an Asian man was dragged to his death, a woman was chopped up in Lewisham, a chap shot in the head in a Trident murder – they got a paragraph on page 97. With one or two exceptions, clearly Damiola Taylor was one, the reporting of murder in ethnic minority communities appears not to interest the mainstream media.

This was an unprecedented attack on Fleet Street by a senior public figure – and one that saw Blair soon fall out of favour with the press. But at the time many black people, myself included, gave Blair props for calling the media to account for its track record on race. The mainstream media does a fine job of pointing the finger at others, but struggles to stick a finger up its own backside and examine what’s going on with its own organs.

Perpetuating racial stereotypes on the one hand, while cutting the worst white offenders slack on the other isn’t just inequitable, disingenuous or shoddy journalism. It’s deeply disturbing because it suggests that ‘privilege’ can be afforded, at least by the media, to even the worst culprits in society, just as long as they’re straight, white males. If this isn’t the case, then I’m happy to be proven wrong, but I shan’t hold my breath.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.