Monday, 10 January 2011

The Last Straw?

Jack Straw says, in the wake of the conviction of two men of Asian background for multiple rapes and sexual assaults, that "there is a specific problem which involves Pakistani heritage men... who target vulnerable young white girls" and predictably two camps form, one rejecting his claim while the other backs it fully and wonders why he didn't speak up earlier. The problem is that the facts are in danger of becoming lost, at least among the supporting faction.

The judge himself had said he did not believe that the crimes were racially aggravated, so what is it that makes Jack think he is more knowledgable about this case than the judge? Young men were "fizzing and popping with testosterone", he suggests, but girls from the Pakistani community were "off limits", leading them to seek other outlets for their desires.

Which seems to me to be ignoring the facts that Abid Saddique and Mohammed Liaqat, the two recently convicted men were members of a gang, several of whom had been convicted earlier, at least one of whom (Graham Blackham) was white. The gang certainly targeted vulnerable young girls, but the victims cannot be identified for legal reasons, and any potentailly identifying information must also be withheld for the same reason, and I haven't seen any mention of their race except for Mr Straw's comments, so I suspect that the "white girls" reference was just unwise speculation on his part. In any case it was the vulnerability of the victims, and not their race, which led to their being targeted.

I wonder why Jack suggests that race had anything to do with it. Whatever his motive it would be nice to think that his outburst will not fuel racial tension.

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