14 July 2010

My right to sympathy

I was troubled to read that our PM has declared that we should have no sympathy for Raoul Moat, the alleged murderer who took his own life after leading the police on a merry dance. I can understand the fact that politicians live and die by the polls, and that sometimes they have to make simplistic populist statements, but I just can't agree with this one!
"There should be sympathy for his victims and the havoc he wreaked in that community.
"There should be no sympathy for him."  BBC News Website
I'm not condoning Raoul Moat's behaviour in any way. His alleged actions are completely abhorrent and sickening to me, but are we naive enough to think that it was as simple as 'bad people do bad things' and that 'bad people deserve no sympathy'? David Cameron is an intelligent man, and I struggle to believe he really thinks in such a simplistic way.
I also find it hard to believe that Cameron feels he has the right to instruct anyone else as to those with whom they should and shouldn't sympathise! For instance, what about the family and friends of Moat? Are they not allowed to sympathise with him and his situation? What about people who, for one reason or another, identify with Moat? Are they not allowed to sympathise?
My point is that sympathy is something that is freely given from one human being to another, for personal and complex reasons. It is not the place of anyone to direct another's sense of sympathy to another. Especially an approval-seeking politician. I don't condone the Facebook groups and campaigns that have been launched in support of Moat. I think these may have been Cameron's intended target (he uses the phrase public sympathy), but in the quote above, he makes a rather sweeping statement. What I do promote is the right of the individual to feel sympathy for anyone they choose, regardless of David Cameron's opinion on the matter. It really is nothing to do with him or anyone else!

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