I wake from a very lucid and well organised dream of meeting a group of people, all of whom had adjusted well to the loss of the sight of one eye. It stemmed from hearing the words of PC David Rathband, the policeman shot by Raoul Moat. He was amazingly philosophical about his injury, which will probably leave him blind. The hysterical saturation news of the Moat affair has neglected David Rathband, as it has neglected Chris Brown, the man he murdered. The media presentation must bear part of the blame for the perverse sympathy for Moat that is emerging. Rather than seriously reflecting on the way they cover killers (here is a brilliant Charlie Brooker vid of a forensic psychiatrist arguing convincingly that they should not be rewarded with national fame), the durr-media are now turning their smear-guns on the police. The police are prone to serious errors, but I personally do not feel that Moat is up there with Tomlinson or the Green Gathering.
Yes, the police did make errors. They did not take the warnings from the prison seriously, and they could perhaps have made better use of Moat's uncle and brother, and Tazering someone with his finger on the trigger is not really a very bright idea. We should excuse them from failing to make instant use of Gazza, who by all accounts was pissed as the proverbial fart. On the other hand, if Gazza really knew him, or if Moat venerated Gazza, they could have sobered him up and brought him into play next day.
The failure to use non-professionals is a standard weakness of professions. Same goes for my profession. We like to keep things standard and tidy. Amateurs are a bit of an unknown quantity. Even so, lessons should be learned.
What we have to learn is that the world is not able to be neatly categorised into good and bad people. We are all complex mixtures of useful and non-useful behaviour patterns. The police service, like the medical and journalistic professions, is not good or bad; it is a mixture of both. The difference is that medicine and the police look at what they do after a significant event; journalism seems to consider itself above such introspection.
Above and beyond the professions stand the persons. Moat was a murderer who should be forgotten. PC David Rathband is a star, who should be remembered.
PS I am not alone in finding the media coverage at fault.