In yet another round of the ‘thing-not-actually-responsible-for-killing-blamed-for-killing’ game which must have been going on since the sabre-toothed tigers died out, it appears that some of the sillier of our daily newspapers have decided that a computer is guilty of a particularly despicable crime. If you are of a nervous nature, I should point out that this doesn’t mark the start of an all-out war, in the manner of the Matrix or the Terminator, but rather an all-too-easy attempt by the people who had more than a little to do with the crime to deflect their due measure of criticism.
To keep it simple, only one man is responsible for the death of Ashleigh Hall and, despite what the media might have you believe, that isn’t Charles Babbage for helping to invent the computer, or Tim Berners-Lee for the establishment of the world-wide web, or even Mark Zuckerberg for his vision of a simple to use site that helps you keep in touch with friends you don’t often see. No, that is Peter Chapman. The sex offender who murdered her.
But if you are the editor of a daily newspaper, thinking that maybe the story of a man killing a woman doesn’t sound interesting enough by itself (what’s wrong with you, really?) and looking for something to ‘spice it up’ a bit, there is an obvious answer. If you could turn your attention away from the computer for a moment and focus your ire in the direction of Merseyside Police, you will find that they knew all about Peter Chapman, because he was on the Sex Offenders’ Register and subject to police monitoring until they lost touch with him. Strangely, they then waited until a month before he killed Ashleigh Hall to mention it to other forces.
So, there is your scandal for you, right there. The people we have charged with looking out for us, caught out in jaw-dropping levels of incompetency and attempting to cover their backs by deflecting the media’s attention towards social networking sites instead. Of course, the brave campaigners for justice among our newspapers wouldn’t be stupid enough to fall for that, would they?