When people do terrible things, it can be hard for external observers to understand why. While it’s easy to rush to judgement, it’s vital to take into account the context in which hateful acts are committed.
Perhaps we’ll never know what was going through the minds of Luke Salkeld, Andy Dolan, James Tozer and Jill Reilly when they decided, in response to the deaths of Ceri Fuller and his three children, to compose an article trawling through the Facebook status updates of the grieving mother left behind. Tempting though it is to speculate on what led to such a vile act, few will be able to comprehend the spite, inhumanity and lack of compassion that could lead a team of journalists to encourage their readership to draw pointless conclusions from ambiguous personal exchanges. More incomprehensible still is the willingness to cast aside all efforts to ensure that, given the unbearable loss suffered by Ruth Fuller, no one should be publishing nonsense “news” that in any way intimates that what happened could have been her fault. In the face of such mind-blowing hatefulness, it is easy to conclude that Salkeld, Dolan, Tozer and Reilly are complete and utter bastards, without an ounce of compassion between them (but with a keen eye for the price of the Fuller house). Nevertheless, rather than simply singling out such people for our contempt, it’s worth putting it all in a broader setting.
None of us know what it’s like to work for the Daily Mail, and to be asked, on a daily basis, to put the promotion of misogyny and prejudice ahead of any basic consideration for fellow human beings, no matter how great their suffering. You could argue that, within the context of Daily Mail-land, the whole thing is part of the culture. This doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t despise the Mail and all it stands for. But perhaps some people within the Mail have reached a point where they don’t know, or have forgotten, how to be human. I wouldn’t care to speculate on the inner lives of such people, or to trawl through their status updates. And, just for the record, I don’t imagine any of us care about how much their houses are worth, less still the houses of those who have lost so much and whom they treat in such a shameless manner.