Monday, 16 April 2012

Aristocrats joke around with gun

Last month I blogged that police are just another gang, children fooling around with guns. Today a similar story has emerged with regard to another privileged, state-supported group in society. Who is Pippa Middleton? I had to ask myself this question today when I saw this tweet:
I thought the name sounded familiar - perhaps a BBC newsreader? But no, apparently she is the sister of the Duchess of Cambridge, who is married to Prince William. Middleton was in Paris for some mock-18th Century Versailles-style parties with various aristos. While she's driving around the city of lights in a German convertible, the driver decides to point a gun at paparazzi. What larks! Er...yes, but they're paparazzi, mate. That means the whole world can see what an asset you are to society:
Let them eat lead.

In a gift for newspaper copywriters, this incident comes shortly after deadly shootings in Toulouse, exposing these more privileged gun-fans to accusations of 'bad taste'. The Sun report, which has a further three pictures, points out that even waving a fake gun publicly in Paris carries a potential custodial sentence.

From our point of view, we are interested in what this story reveals about the normal workings of power. The non-coverage by the BBC does reveal something about how that channel's pro-aristo, pro-state bias and self-censoring norms persist despite its sometimes radical, investigative history. For other organisations, I guess the potential revenue from covering the story, and any prestige from claiming the public interest high-ground, outweighs any bias they too have towards the powerful. Step outside the British media and the coverage becomes marginally more explicit. But let's not assume that bias and censorship has disappeared. Here's NBC:
The report is keen to tag this as a 'strange incident' straight away, immediately precluding the possibility that this is normal, if usually hidden, behaviour.  And is it really 'unclear' who the men in the car are? Or do the Sun know exactly who they are but prefer not to say?

NBC's sources claim that police don't know anything. Whether that will change is moot, but notice how the report, on no evidence whatever, that the gunman 'may'facing questions from police. How do they know? He could be over the border by now. The effect is to reassure the viewer that the gunman will face the legal consequences, while in fact there is no guarantee of that. Despite covering the story, they don't want us to get too angry about it, or know the names of suspects. The bias is still there.

No one is asking why these people didn't realise that their act would be interpreted as bad taste in the light of the Toulouse shootings. It's a terrible gaffe, but with such bad timing one assumes it did not even occur to these people that the two incidents would be connected in the public mind. Its as if these people believe they live in a rarefied strata of society that has nothing to do with the fall out of recent foreign policy that the rest of us have to deal with. The incident in Toulouse - if they were even aware of it at all - was probably filed away as beneath consideration. The grubby world of plebeian gun-crime has nothing to do with them. These people are proud to be able to brandish guns in public, as you can see. It is their birthright and their pleasure. It's interesting that despite the BBC non-coverage, this is public knowledge now. The Crown's PR people will presumably be doing whatever damage limitation they can right now. Expect a contrite-sounding public apology from Middleton soon. Aristos will keep their guns hidden for a while. But the power behind it carries on regardless.

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