Mick Hume, writing in The Times, April 11, 2008:
Two hundred years ago the respectable classes paid a penny to enjoy the sexual and violent antics of the insane at Bedlam. Today people make do with mocking a Dewsbury estate to make them feel superior. And just as Bedlam inmates were said to suffer from “moral insanity” - a character defect rather than an illness - so we now seem convinced that what separates these people from us is not economic but “moral and emotional poverty”.
It has even been suggested that somebody staged Shannon's abduction to raise money - a “plot” based on a storyline in the TV series Shameless, about a roughhouse family on a Manchester estate. But Shameless is just soft prole porn for civilised Channel 4 viewers. Now we have the “live” show to laugh and leer and splutter at.
And here's Beatrix Campbell on CIF:
Karen Matthews has acted appropriately throughout: she was waiting for Shannon at home; she contacted the police as soon as she had exhausted all the obvious locations. And yet, our eye is drawn to her poverty, numbers of partners, cans of lager going into her household. Everything about Ms Matthews' life has been up for scrutiny.
There has been talk of domestic violence. I can think of several high-profile "human interest" tragedies in which the domestic violence endured by a middle-class woman has been successfully screened from public knowledge.
Karen Matthews has been subjected to a Today programme interrogation that appeared to position the mother as the perpetrator: Sarah Montague asked her seven times about her lifestyle. Her patronising preoccupation was how many men there have been in her life, not her judgment about them. Has any other, apparently blameless mother been so sweetly assailed?
She did say "apparently" blameless, I suppose.