This was my FaceBook status update, a couple of weeks ago, the evening after the morning that I wrote a blog, which garnered a very angry comment, clearly opposing the viewpoint I had expressed in that day’s post:
People can and will and should be able to say whatever the hell they please on any subject on which they care to express themselves. I'm all for it. I positively encourage comments to my blog, and I have never deleted a comment, despite disagreeing with many of them. I also rarely engage with commenters that I disagree with, not least because I have the main floor and it seems rude to take over the comments too. I would say one thing... I would say this: My blog has my name and my likeness on it, and everything I say, I say under that banner. I do not hide behind any kind of pseudonym and nor do I choose to cloak myself in any kind of anonymity. We should all stand up and be counted, particularly if we believe so strongly in something that we decide to write about it with uncompromising vehemence in a public arena.
Yesterday, I wrote about Ian Brady and his current appeal to return to the general prison population. My views are not, I think, particularly controversial on this subject. As a general rule, my views tend to the liberal, and this, I thought, was an interesting exception. In fact most of the comments I received, on FaceBook and Twitter, where these things are generally talked about, were positive and broadly in agreement with my sentiments.
On the whole, I’d be tempted to conclude that commenters were, perhaps, a little more condemnatory of the penal system and the press than I would tend to be. I would conclude that, as a whole, those who read my blog were more in favour of tougher sentencing than I am, more in favour of press embargoes and blackouts than I am, and more likely to invoke a higher power to deal with the Moors Murderers in the eternal hereafter than I would be. So, perhaps I was more liberal in my thinking than I, at first, thought.
One of my commenters, and he has every right to comment, and is welcome to his views, stands a very long way from my position in almost all things. I admit to being a little surprised that he appears to feel that he is broadly in agreement with my opinions on this subject. I have no problem, however, with the fact that he makes his own argument and signs his name to it.
The penal system, the law, justice, was a subject upon which I might have been expected to be rather more liberal, and some people might have been surprised that I wasn’t. Of course, there are reasons for that, and they are personal, but I’ve talked about them before on the blog, not least in Whatever Happened to Naming Names.
I was expecting someone to pull me up on this, one or other of my more or most liberal friends, probably. I wasn’t expecting this on Twitter from Dr Karen Evangelista, @BaronessVerney; I do not know her, but she is clearly somewhat invested in this debate and its outcome:
FAR FAR FAR too much assumption and speaking (often wrongly) on behalf of British Public - of which you have NO right.
I would have preferred a fuller comment, and I would have preferred it to have appeared in the comments section of the blog. I invited Dr Evangelista to do so, but, so far, have had no reply, on Twitter or anywhere else.
I would have liked some explanation of Brady’s psychiatric history or current mental health status, despite the fact that it’s my understanding that he hasn’t allowed the staff of Ashworth Hospital, where he has been a resident since 1985, to carry out psychiatric evaluations, although, clearly, it has been possible to observe him.
So far as I can ascertain, Dr Evangelista has not examined him, but she does appear to have read his book “The Gates of Janus: Serial Killing and its Analysis”.
I would love to see any and all evidence for what the British public thinks of Ian Brady. I wonder what research has been done on this subject, by whom, and whether the results are available to the general public. Dr Evangelista clearly has some insight into this, and I’d be very grateful if she’d share it with us.
Oh, and while I’m at it, I’d like to apologise for any misunderstanding that I, in any way, speak for the ‘British public’ when I believe I represent only one opinion, in this or any other matter, namely, mine.
I will continue to blog, and, I’m afraid, I’ll continue to blurt out all sorts of opinions that I might go on to contradict as I get older and wiser. Who knows, perhaps Dr Evangelista will have a hand in my education, and yesterday’s blog will become tomorrow’s virtual chip paper. All she needs to do to make that possible is turn up and offer a persuasive argument, and, according to her Twitter profile, she’s more than qualified to do that.
Again, I have decided not to post a picture of Ian Brady on this blog. Today’s line-up consists of the children sexually assaulted, tortured and killed by him. They were, from left to right: John Kilbride, Lesley-Ann Downey, Keith Bennett, Pauline Reade and Edward Evans, who were aged between ten and seventeen years old when they were murdered between 1963 and 1965.