steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

On the Dangers of Exposure to the Sun

A day after the Attorney General warned newspapers against prejudicing a fair trial by publishing gossip about Chris Jefferies, The Sun leads with the story of a woman in her thirties who'd been bothered by him in a library and found him creepy. Indeed, 'creepy' is a word that comes up repeatedly in accounts from the various neighbours, acquaintances and ex-pupils the press have managed to dig out. For example, when he was an English teacher Jefferies used to have blue hair. That's creepy, apparently - although I can think of at least one Clifton-based, blue-haired teacher of English right here on my friends list who's not creepy in the least. Another pupil said that Jefferies was "obsessed with death" because he used to teach them about the Holocaust. If so, all English teachers are obsessed with death - at least, going by the school experience of my own children. (Jefferies was also "particularly fascinated by Victorian murder novel The Moonstone" - which certainly casts deep suspicion on anyone who enjoys detective fiction. Except that, er, it's been a while, but I don't remember there being a murder in it.)

I enjoyed Cracker as much as anyone, but neither the press nor the police have that great a record in the area of psychological profiling, and it doesn't take long for slightly 'odd' people to have their oddnesses (as opposed to evidence) used against them. Witness Stefan Kiszko and Colin Stagg, an obsession with whose oddness meant that the murderers of Lesley Molseed and Rachel Nickell took a combined total of 48 years to bring to justice. (Kiszko in particular could have been cleared very early if the police had taken the trouble to discover whether he was capable of producing sperm. As it was, he died in prison.) In the present case it's the press rather than the police doing the Robbie Coltrane act, but it's pretty unedifying. The days when we'd blame the local eccentric woman with a couple of cats for the latest murrain aren't so far behind us.
Tags: bristol, current affairs
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