Here we are again, looking for the forgotten box left high on the intellectual shelf.
Now, where did we leave it? Ah, there it is. Let’s just reach up and grab it. It’s a bit dusty (but not that dusty, so it can’t have been too long since we last used it). We’ll just crack open the lid…
Ah, yes this is it. Give the contents a quick wipe down and then read what it says: “Hard cases make bad law.”
Remember it now? Doesn’t it all come rushing back: this familiar sense of a government flailing about for any answer that will satisfy the public’s need for justice in the face of an atrocity? We’ve been here so many times before with a populist government eager to introduce draconian rules in the face of an extreme event. This time, they’re already conflating the toxicity of social media with the slaughter of an MP by a deranged man. Yet the latter is the one fact they seem ready to overlook.
So let us just make it clear. Sir David Amess was not killed by rhetoric on either the Right or Left of mainstream British politics. He was not killed by Angela Raynor calling Tories “scum” any more than he was murdered because Boris Johnson once described the average working man as “drunk, criminal, aimless, feckless and hopeless, and perhaps claiming to suffer from low self-esteem brought on by unemployment”. He was certainly not killed by the decades of insults launched across the political divide, any more than he was victim to the centuries of grossly offensive satire that has become one of this country’s great traditions. His death certainly isn’t another token of the culture war and to argue otherwise is plain wrong.