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From Nick Cave to Kate McCann, it’s time we judged parents a little less

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From Nick Cave to Kate McCann, it’s time we judged parents a little less

Post  Max on Sat May 06, 2017 7:22 pm


https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/may/06/nick-cave-to-kate-mccann-time-judged-parents-less


From Nick Cave to Kate McCann, it’s time we judged parents a little less


Parents of missing children are demonised by a public needing to reassure themselves it could never happen to them


Hadley Freeman

Saturday 6 May 2017 09.00 BST


This is a story about missing children, and what happens to those who are left behind. Last week marked the 10th anniversary of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, a story told so many times it has taken on the form of a litany: Praia da Luz, the tapas restaurant, the open window. Madeleine vanished, but she is ever-present in the public consciousness, whereas thousands of missing children are just that – wholly missing.

There has been much hand-wringing in the media over this disparity: was it because Kate and Gerry McCann are white and photogenic? Or because Madeleine was blond and cute? Or because she vanished in a country where journalists also take their cute kids on holiday? To which the answers are yes, obviously, but this is to miss the point; the argument should be not that the McCanns deserve less attention, but that other missing children should get more. In an interview last weekend, Kate McCann said she felt “guilty” and “embarrassed” about the £11m spent on the search for her daughter. The only people who should be embarrassed are those who sneer that there should be some kind of cap on the amount of sympathy, or a time limit placed on a parent’s hope. In recent weeks, the tabloids have been eagerly publishing spurious decades-old sightings of Madeleine, seen crying for her mother in the company of “suspicious men”. It is hard to see what any of this is supposed to achieve, beyond torturing the McCanns.

The common take on the McCann coverage is that middle-class newspaper readers related to them and so cared more about the story than, say, that of Ben Needham, the British toddler who vanished in Kos in 1991. And yet in both cases the parents were instantly vilified: Kerry Needham for being working class, Gerry and Kate McCann for being too self-possessed and attractive. The parents of missing children are often demonised by a public that need to reassure themselves that this could never happen to them. Those parents were feckless, foolish, bad – not like us, the good parents. If anything, the relatability of the McCanns made them even more terrifying, and thus more necessary to condemn.

When Nick Cave’s 15-year-old son Arthur died in 2015, after falling off a cliff while on LSD, parts of the media were so keen to blame his father they became self-parodic. Much was made of the singer’s previous drug habit, as though no other parent on the planet had ever taken drugs, while the Times tutted that Cave had “an obsession with death” and watched “super-violent” films with his children. (The paper later removed the article from its website.)

In an extraordinary interview in American GQ, Cave recently said: “I don’t want to give too much oxygen to the matter of responsibility because it raises a point that only someone who knows nothing about parenting, drug-taking or bereavement would suggest.” Even so, he added: “You can find yourself indulging in all sorts of irrational and self-destructive thoughts – self-pity, self-blame – because they form a direct connection to the small but present part of you that just wants to die.”

I have written a lot about missing or dead children: Etan Patz, the six-year-old who vanished in New York in 1979, and whose face haunted American parents in the 80s; JonBenét Ramsey, the six-year-old beauty contestant found dead in her home in 1996; Noah Pozner, the youngest victim of the 2012 Sandy Hook shootings. All very different stories, all connected by a vilification of the parents by a public so terrified of anything like that happening to them. A police officer once described it to me like this: “You know that moment when you lose sight of your child in a shopping mall? Imagine that feeling lasting for 30 years.” But there is no need for anyone to pull an Andrea “as a mother” Leadsom here; anyone can feel that fear, as if your arm has been ripped off your body and your heart pulled out after it.

The cynical take on Madeleine McCann is that she is gone for good: why are we still talking about this? “Her parents need to accept their share of the blame and let her go,” one notoriously bilious columnist wrote. There is a condescension towards parents of missing children and their magical thinking, their desperate hope that the family will one day be reunited. But it’s their critics who are engaging in the worst kind of magical thinking, believing that if they turn bereaved parents into the demonised Other, they will protect their own children. All they are doing, really, is revealing that they know the terrible truth: that this could happen to any of us, and we would never stop looking.





Max
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Re: From Nick Cave to Kate McCann, it’s time we judged parents a little less

Post  bb1 on Sat May 06, 2017 8:27 pm

But it’s their critics who are engaging in the worst kind of magical thinking, believing that if they turn bereaved parents into the demonised Other, they will protect their own children.

Yes, that's exactly what the Perfect Parents are doing, Max, and it's hideous to behold.

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Few will weep tears for Amaral, seeing an angry man locked up in his own bitter and baseless theories
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Re: From Nick Cave to Kate McCann, it’s time we judged parents a little less

Post  bb1 on Sat May 06, 2017 8:30 pm

This is another good piece:

http://www.bgpglobalservices.com/happened-madeleine-mccann-2/

Quote:

The thought that Kate and Gerry McCann had anything to do with the death of their daughter, whether being directly responsible, or covering up an accident, is as far as I am concerned frankly preposterous. Although many believe this, as far as I am aware, there is not one shred of credible evidence, either direct or otherwise to indicate that this is even a remote possibility.

There are many reasons for saying this. Firstly, and importantly, there is no family history that would point in any way to this. I also do not believe that anyone with any sense believes that they killed Madeleine deliberately, so this leaves a tragic accident. Even if such an accident had happened, is it feasible that they would not immediately seek assistance and call for an ambulance?

Are we saying that they coldly decided that Madeleine was dead and then put together an elaborate plan to dispose of her body? Did Gerry McCann simply walk down the road with his daughter’s body and dispose of it, and then calmly go out for dinner. This is ridiculous in the extreme. Also, have they then maintained this pretence for so long, the simple answer is no. And as for it being a conspiracy between themselves and any or all of their group of friends, this stretches credibility beyond belief.

The farcical conspiracy theory that the last photo of Madeleine was photo shopped, the spurious and often inaccurately reported forensic findings, the irrelevant behaviour of the cadaver dogs, Mr and Mrs McCann’s perceived demeanour, as well as many other totally immaterial points, just fuel this uninformed and often offensive conjecture. The simple answer is, there is no information, let alone evidence to indicate their involvement in any way. Should they have supervised their children more closely that night; that is not for me to say, but regardless of the answer, it does not assist the investigation in any way.


It's long, and best read at the link.

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Few will weep tears for Amaral, seeing an angry man locked up in his own bitter and baseless theories
. -Neil Tweedie, Daily Mail, of the McCanns' tormentor Gonzo.
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Re: From Nick Cave to Kate McCann, it’s time we judged parents a little less

Post  lily on Sat May 06, 2017 9:30 pm

Thanks for the link Bonny.  Will read that later. smile
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