The tragedy of missing Madeleine McCann seems no closer to ending than it did three months ago. During this time the media personification of the parents has alternated between saint and sinner – sometimes seemingly at random. For the most of it, in Portugal, the McCann parents have been looked at as (at best) negligent parents while (again, for most of the time) in the UK the middle class, white, professional, religious status of the parents has ensured they have been seen as saints who are undergoing a terrible ordeal. This changed recently, when for a short period the tabloids smelt more blood and in the wonderful manner of the press changed allegiances, barely stopping short of calling for their execution (mentioned previously). Given the natural order of the universe, the “truth” probably lies somewhere between the two extremes and I certainly have my own personal opinion. I should stress at this stage that my opinion is based on nothing other than gut feeling and the information made available by the press, so I have no intention of going into detail about it.
Before I go on, I would also like to point out that one of the main search terms which is driving traffic here recently is a variation on the words “Kate McCann Guilty Violent Murderer.” Given that this is generating a LOT of traffic, I can only guess at public opinion on the matter.
I digress. Risking eternal disfavour by the Great Antero Vipunen, I actually read the Sun newspaper today. I know. I am sorry. I will try not to do it again. In it, good old Archbishop John Sentamu writes a piece titled: We Must Have Faith For Maddie
Despite the overt religious tones in which the the piece is written, this is a largely secular humanist bit of writing with the basic theme being that the presumption of innocence is the bedrock of the legal system. For example, he relates this parable:
In 359AD a trial took place where a local governor, Numerius of Narbonne, was accused of raiding his own coffers. There was little proof but that didnâ€™t stop the whispers and accusations. Still, the prosecutor was convinced the governor was guilty and said as much to the judge, the Roman Emperor Julian. At his trial, the governor denied the charges and the case was due to be dismissed.
The prosecutor was furious: â€œOh, illustrious Caesar,â€ he raged, â€œIf it is sufficient to deny, what hereafter will become of the guilty?â€ Emperor Julianâ€™s response has been repeated in countless trials for the past 1600 years: â€œIf it suffices to accuse, what then will become of the innocent?â€
And, for once, I find my self in total agreement with the Archbishop of York. Scary.
Sadly, despite the valid comments the Archbish makes and the fact the Sun newspaper of all papers prints it, there are a few things which still make me uncomfortable about it. I agree whole heartedly that as a society we should reinforce the automatic presumption of innocence.
Now, with this in mind, have a flick through the Sun news paper (or any media output over the last, say, day) and see how many examples there are where a person accused of a crime is assumed to be guilty. It is a regular occurrence. Take poor Robert Murat for example – due to his past he was largely assumed to be guilty of anything people wanted to accuse him of. He had no support from the various churches, he had no support from rich idiots. He had to defend himself against the court of public opinion.
Not so for the McCann parents. The cynic in me is screaming this is entirely down to their perceived image as “successful” white professionals – anything which implies this part of our society can harbour evil seems to damage the national psyche. In the same edition of the Sun which calls for the return of innocent until proven guilty, OJ Simpson is pretty much called a murderer several times. Is this hypocrisy?
Anyway, enough ranting about this obvious state of the world. Dr Sentamu concludes his article with something that produced mixed emotions:
Our focus must again be upon the love of the parents for their lost daughter, for their hope that they may one day be reunited with her and for their faith that she is still alive.
These must be our watchwords â€” faith, hope and love. For as St Paul once wrote, in the end it is these three which remain: Faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Wonderful words, and I too hope she is alive and unharmed. The adult in me is aware that this hope is pretty much doomed to be dashed against the rocks of reality, but I would like it to be so.
Sadly, and again this is cynic in me now, the plight of poor Maddie has shown that despite all the prayer in the world (and the wishes of his representative on Earth, the Pope), the Christian deity will not intervene to save even one life, nor will s/he take action to return a lost child to an apparently grieving family. From this I can only draw one of three conclusions:
- God exists but is evil or totally uninterested in the human race, with no intention to get involved in any of our affairs.
- God hates Christians.
- There is no God.
It is up to you which option you go for, but I know which one I think is true…
[tags]McCann, Madeleine, Kate, Kate McCann, Maddie McCann, Sentamu, Archbishop of York, Society, Law, Rights, Liberties, Philosophy, Robert Murat, Gerry McCann, The Sun, Tabloids, Media, UK, Culture, Civil Rights, Trial, Crime, Murder, Dr John Sentamu, Church of England, Catholics, CofE, Roman Catholic, Pope, Portugal, Police, Atheism, Humanism, Faith, Hope[/tags]