Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A little media review

A horrible crime has happened in UK this month: a group of thugs attacked a man, stabbed him twice, poured acid over him and into his throat, and smashed his face with bricks. According to some sources, he lost both eyes; according to some sources, only one. Sme sources estimate burns at 50% of his skin, some 90%, and all of them say he lost his tongue.

Thoroughly unpleasant business. The public naturally wants to know who would do such thing and why. I decided to see what kind of coverage the press provides, and chose as my sample the first Google News grouping of that story that I found by googling acid+attack. The first 20 links that came up.

The actual facts of the case appear to be: a Danish Muslim man of Asian (in the British sense of the word) origin was friends with, or possibly had an affair with, a Muslim woman who was born in Britain and is of Pakistani origin. A group of people (in the loose sense of the word) consisting wholly or partially of the woman's relatives did the deed, seven were arrested, five of those released on bail, then one of those rearrested.

I have an unexplainable gut feeling that origins of the participants are not entirely irrelevant to the way the thing went, and should be mentioned. Let's see how good my 20 sources are at it:

Out of 20:

17 mentioned that the man in question was Danish, clearly the most relevant fact,
16 mentioned that there was a married Muslim woman involved in there,
9 said that the Danish man was Asian (in the British sense of the word), but only 3 said that he was Muslim,
13 mentioned honor, as in "honor crime",
4 mentioned the Pakistani origin of the woman,
3 mentioned that at least some of the perpetrators were the woman's relatives.

Of course you can make the case that they don't need to mention religion or culture, either because this is one of those unfortunate events that can happen to anyone with approximately the same probability, or quite the opposite: that anytime a man gets brutally attacked after spending time with a Muslim woman everybody with two brain cells knows who did it. I am not however sure that I approve of such journalism.

The honorary mention goes to BBC: here and here the only origin or motive detail they offer is that the man was Danish. No mention of Muslims and/or honor at all.

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