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DIDGE - The View From Down Under

An Aussie’s ridgy-didge view of world affairs and popular culture.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Sensitivity for delicate matter gets lost while the media gorge on sensationalism


This week convicted child molester Brian Jones was released back into society. The home that he was to have lived in was plastered over the media, and now new accommodation is being looked for. The commercial television stations had a field day with headlines like: “Parents fear for children as paedophile released back into community”.

The last photo of Mr Jones was taken over a decade ago, so many media outlets seized on the whole paedophile in community, but what does he look like? angle of the story. At least it was the last public photo of Mr Jones until the Herald Sun snapped a shot of him and plastered it on their front cover (pictured to the left, I have covered up his face.)

The paper’s editor had this to say:
“He has now been removed from that house where he was photographed by the Herald Sun. We publish his picture not to encourage vigilantes to attack him, but to show people what this sexual predator looks like so they can protect their children.”


And how exactly does knowing what he looks like better protect children? Hey look, it’s that paedophile! Son, you better put your penis back in your pants.

I know what he did was absolutely appalling, but does that give the media the right to screen pictures of his new home and what he looks like - and does it accomplish anything positive? What do the protesters and vigilantes hope to gain? I would think the best outcome in this incredibly difficult situation would be for Mr Jones to live out the rest of his years quietly and without incident. Since he has a history of repeat offending of course he should be monitored like crazy. But if he has honestly changed, then that’s to the good of society and for Mr Jones. I just don’t see how plastering his face over the media is going to do any good except sell newspapers for the Murdoch’s. And there are reports suggesting that this media frenzy could make him attack another child.

Now, I know how these things can be twisted. What Mr Jones did is absolutely abominable. Sexual attacks of any kind are some of the worst things that can happen to a person, especially vulnerable children. It’s sickening, it’s depraved. He was released back in the late 80s and reoffered soon after. I sincerely hope with all my heart that Mr Jones never attacks another child. But it isn’t like he was just released all on his own without any checks. His parole conditions are extremely tight. He has an electronic monitoring device on his ankle, must abide by a curfew, and cannot leave his house unaccompanied. He is also taking medication to repress his sex drive.

I pity Mr Jones’ pathetic life. The molestation of children is one of the most depraved things someone can inflict upon another human being. But I also feel the need to speak out against the coverage the media has provided. I don’t see how publishing current photos or accommodation serves to help anyone in this most terrible of matters, and only adds more shameful evidence that the media (the tabloid newspapers and television channels) feed off of and disrespect matters of huge sensitivity just for a quick buck.

Bracks defends 'Mr Baldy' move
Premier Steve Bracks said yesterday he felt "very comfortable" about the handling of the release of pedophile "Mr Baldy" - who was housed within a kilometre of five schools upon release this week. Mr Bracks defended Corrections Victoria, saying if it decided to place Brian Keith Jones in his street he would back their judgement.

Don't hound him, says psychiatrist
The maelstrom of public attention surrounding the release of Brian Jones could drive him to reoffend, a forensic psychiatrist warned yesterday. Professor Paul Mullen said the risk in such cases was that the released prisoner could be left feeling so hounded and alienated that he would reoffend out of rage.

Young Minds Magazine: PAEDOPHILES AND THE LAW
Terry Philpot explains why calls for a Sarah's Law are fundamentally misguided and offers some rather more constructive ideas for how best to protect children from those who would abuse them. *Great article*

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