Blogging twice about The Mail in a single week is something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy, but here we are. It's Sunday, and that means prime time for the right-wing press to hypocritically vent at an unfortunate hate figure. And for 7th April, that most unwelcome of spotlights has fallen on one Paris Brown (pictured), Youth Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent. Her crime? The Mail thunders "Is this foul-mouthed, self-obsessed Twitter teen really the future of British policing? Youth crime tsar's sex and drug rants".
With the chutzpah only The Mail could manage, they attack Paris for "foul-mouthed rants" and "disgusting outbursts", as well as tweeting about under-age drinking, "feeling horny", mucking about at work, and using playground language to describe immigrants, travellers, and gay men. Big deal. Paris Brown turned 17 three days ago and I expect is as daft and dumb as me, you, Daily Mail hacks, and everyone else was at that age. So what. Paris should have been more circumspect considering her Youth Commissioner role but luckily, her boss, Anne Barnes, has taken a measured approach. "I think that if everyone's future was determined by what they wrote on social networking sites between the ages of 14 and 16 we'd live in a very odd world", she says. Pity Keith Vaz couldn't help shoot his mouth off and give this attack some credence. Still, for Paris this is a most salutary schooling in online personality management, and I hope she can bounce back from getting mugged by one of Britain's biggest bullies.
Bullying, for that is what this Mail story is. The story is nothing more than a creepy shakedown of a young woman barely out of school. You have to ask what kind of man is prepared to scour the personal Twitter feed of a 16 year old for anything that smacks of salaciousness, and what sort of paper would employ him to do so. Let's not beat about the bush: it's sick. In fact, what makes it all the more disturbing is the tone of the tweet below sent from Paris's official account yesterday afternoon:
Just had a photoshoot with mail on sunday now off to speak to one of their journalists! Weathers lovely! @annbarneskpcc eventful week :)
— Paris Brown (@YouthPCC) April 6, 2013
If that doesn't sound like someone unaware of the ambush The Mail was about to spring, I don't know what does.
It's been an appalling few weeks for Mail "journalism". First we had the tragic suicide of trans woman Lucy Meadows, apparently due to a Richard Littlejohn article. And last week the the death of six kids was turned into a moral crusade against what remains of social security. Today's attack on Paris Brown is not because the paper particularly cares about casual racism - it, after all, has done more than nearly any other publication to stoke its fires. Rather it's zeroing in on yet another favourite hate target for the tabloid press: the young.
Everything Paris is accused of ticks the core readership's panic boxes - drinking, drugs, sex, anti-social behaviour, violence, disrespect. The Mail have done their damnedest to portray her as a feral teen that could be your child (why mention the value of her parents' home?) And she even lies too. On the one hand "Miss Brown claimed that she chose to put on hold plans to do A-levels to take up the year-long post" but then "in another posting she told of her intention to work as a holiday rep on the Greek island of Kavos or the Spanish island of Ibiza, both renowned for their hedonistic, party atmosphere." If a young woman like Paris, ostensibly from a nice middle class home, can end up as some latter day Lady Libertine, then there is no need for Mail readers to extend sympathy or understanding to the million or so layabout youths drawing the dole, and the even greater numbers trapped in insecure, low paid work. How unlike them at their age, who were able to get work straight from school, work hard, raise a family and own their own home. If only the youth of today followed their example, Britain would be a much nicer place to live in.
A front page attack on a 17 year old is cowardly and despicable. But in The Mail's mad rush from scapegoat to scapegoat, and as the economy stubbornly sticks in the doldrums, it will excel itself in producing two, three, many Paris Browns. What another awful low in the history of Britain's gutter press.