i Editor's Letter: Britain today!


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The Independent Online


You know those front pages where editors choose a shocking image of a victim or suspect in a terrible crime with a "Broken Britain" type headline? I know you do. Largely, we avoid them, feeling endless manufactured outrage is bad for our souls, if not our sales.

Some days that outrage is not at all manufactured. Today, there are any number of stories about which we could have applied that treatment .

There is the horrifying image of Emma Winnall, the 93-year-old great-grandmother, so badly beaten while lying in bed at the end of April that she died yesterday in hospital. What can anyone say usefully about such a story, other than to despair at such brutality towards the defenceless?

Then it emerged that Mick Philpott, who lost six of his 17 children in the Derby house fire has been arrested, along with their mother Mairead, on suspicion of their murder. That's as much as we can comment on that case. There is only the feeling of sadness compounding tragedy.

If those two stories somehow left you unmoved, then there is the depressing tale of the obnoxious Tube ranter Jacqueline Woodhouse, jailed for 21 weeks for racially aggravated intentional harassment on London's Central Line in January. Britain today!

One absorbs these stories in a haze of disbelief, finding our own society incomprehensible. But, out of them, a little clarity: they are so shocking because they are still so unusual, so abhorrent, so "other". It is to be hoped that at least they make us stop and think about the way we care for our very young and very old and treat people of a different colour or creed. And perhaps they spur some of us to do something proactive. It is the only way to make sense of them.


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