Mur­der of Jo Cox a shock­ing at­tack on democ­racy

Bray People - - OPINION -

THE shock­ing mur­der of Bri­tish MP Jo Cox last week is an ap­palling at­tack on democ­racy that de­serves the strong­est pos­si­ble con­dem­na­tion.

It is also a symp­tom of the cul­ture of spite and vi­cious ha­tred that has be­come a pa­thetic and grotesque part of our po­lit­i­cal cul­ture.

Last week was the 25th an­niver­sary of the day the In­ter­net ar­rived in Ire­land, a de­vel­op­ment that was sup­posed to foster a new era of ed­u­ca­tion and un­der­stand­ing in a glob­ally con­nected world.

To a large ex­tent it has but thanks mainly to the growth of anony­mous so­cial me­dia, it has also pro­vided ped­dlers of un­e­d­u­cated ha­tred with a plat­form through which name­less/face­less key­board war­riors can freely stalk and ha­rass every­one from pop­stars and politi­cians to the vic­tims of rape and ter­ror.

It has brought a new and ex­tremely un­pleas­ant side to pol­i­tics the world over.

This can be seen from the vit­riol and thug­gery of a small mi­nor­ity of anti-wa­ter charge pro­tes­tors in Ire­land, to the per­se­cu­tion of gays in Rus­sia; the de­mo­niza­tion of Mus­lims and the dis­gust­ing treat­ment of refugees flee­ing the hor­rors of Syria and Afghanistan.

Ask your­self this. With­out our new po­lit­i­cal cul­ture of hate and mis­trust would we have seen the rise of Don­ald Trump in the United States or the likes of Nigel Farage in the UK?

The bru­tal slay­ing of Jo Cox, an act that has rightly hor­ri­fied the world last week, is the lat­est and one of the most aw­ful ex­am­ples of our nasty new cul­ture.

Yes, the man sus­pected of killing the tal­ented and re­spected young MP – rob­bing her chil­dren and hus­band of a mother and part­ner – has a his­tory of men­tal ill­ness but it seems clear he was mo­ti­vated in his aw­ful ac­tions by fas­cist, lu­natic ram­blings he found on­line.

What does it say about the dark depths of our new po­lit­i­cal cul­ture when a man whose fam­ily claim he had no his­tory of vi­o­lence or even any real in­ter­est in pol­i­tics, can be mo­ti­vated to bru­tally slaugh­ter a politi­cian by the trash he finds on­line?

Thank­fully, Ir­ish pol­i­tics has not de­scended to this ap­palling level but there has been an un­pleas­ant sea change in how we deal with our politi­cians in re­cent years.

Joan Bur­ton’s treat­ment in Job­stown dur­ing the wa­ter charge protests is in no way com­pa­ra­ble to the ut­terly ap­palling fate that be­fell the tragic Jo Cox.

How­ever, it is a symp­tom of this new, nasty as­pect of po­lit­i­cal life and dis­course in this coun­try.

Many of our politi­cians have also been the tar­gets of hor­ren­dous and un­jus­ti­fied abuse – even rape and death threats – in re­cent years. It is a dis­gust­ing trend that badly needs to be stopped.

MP Jo Cox – by all ac­counts a most ded­i­cated ser­vant of democ­racy and the down­trod­den – was hor­rif­i­cally cut down as she went about her most im­por­tant job, look­ing af­ter the needs of her con­stituents.

The fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­pal of democ­racy is to re­spect the opin­ions and rights of all. Sadly that is some­thing many peo­ple – most who would pro­fess to be democrats – seem to have for­got­ten.

It is a shame­ful in­dict­ment of the world we live in that it has taken a young mother’s mur­der to re­mind them.

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