Of all the injustices in the case of missing Madeleine McCann, the one that outraged me the most (and outrages me still), is the parents' demand that only their side of the story can be legally published and distributed. And it outraged me that they embarked on a vendetta, not only to silence the former detective who searched for their daughter, but to destroy his life.
Let's clear up one of the nasty myths created by Team McCann. And I refer specifically to those witnesses for the team, who travelled to Lisbon to cuss a book they claimed not to have read because it is beneath them. Weird how McCann supporters use NOT reading as a sign of their moral and intellectual superiority. So let me set them straight.
Goncalo Amaral's book The Truth of the Lie, is not filled with childish playground insults, nor is it filled with cold, hard, brutal allegations. GA recounts the investigation not only as a detective, but as a compassionate human being. Goncalo is much too talented a writer, and of course legally aware (he has a Law degree) to write the kind of garbage the McCanns imply, it is obvious from page 1, that he is a gentleman and a scholar. If even one of the McCanns' allegations were true, why do they not produce the offensive lines as evidence?
But I'm going to take a big auld left of left turn here, and move onto Freedom of Speech, because once again my blog is bombarded by those issuing warnings and threats to myself and John Blacksmith to curb our language. Well actually I'm not sure my turn is left of left, because being politically correct is where I and the Labour Party part company. I demand the right to offend! And just like anyone who practices that right, I will reap the consequences.
I'm afraid I have zero sympathy for those who claim to be mortally wounded by words. Especially those privileged white middle classes, who want to enjoy their privileges without being criticised, eg. politicians and former suspects. For those having their homes repossessed and queuing at foodbanks, a neighbour calling them a auld trollop is the least of their worries. Karen Matthews for example, had she been a bit brighter and had shed loads of money, could have sued every UK tabloid. True, she only had 3 weeks, but Gerry and Kate were lawyered up and raking it in by Day 3. Who knows what the outcome would have been if she had had several million at her disposal?
But this is about Freedom of Speech. Must stay focused! I am passionately opposed to those who would go through dictionaries with a black pen, believing that if certain words and phrases are redacted, we would all live happily ever after. Oblivious to the fact that forcing people to be politically correct, under duress, leaves a lot of tensions simmering. Just thought, I'd throw that in.
The thing is, writers, artists, poets, musicians have been dodging censors for centuries. They can and do find ways and means to get the message through. Happily those doing the censoring have always been far too ignorant to spot them. But while I'm freestyling, I get away with it, because I am one of those fuzzy liberals who won't commit to anything. If Jim Gamble gets me in the dock, my first response will likely be, 'Is a cup really a cup?'
Whether I stumbled into it, or the fickle finger of fate intervened, this case became a personal battle for me against the backdoor way in which Gerry and Kate have used the fate of their child, to add further to the arguments of those who would strike black lines through the English language. As if obliterating words will obliterate everything those words stood for. Those dumb enough to release their inner psychopath online, will receive exactly the same treatment they would in the real world. Some will challenge them, some will support them, but most will shun them. The extreme paranoids will lock themselves away in panic rooms, which given their sensitive natures may be the best place for them. My own blog demonstrates the power of laissez faire, it has found it's own level, the psychos have upped their game or crawled back under a stone. The sane are winning, I hasten to add!
Whilst harsh words can indeed cause any one of us to go ouch, so what? As Marx said, (Groucho, not Karl), If you don't like those views, I've got plenty of others. I interpret that as, if those ones offended you, wait til you see what's coming next. Ban words, ban phrases, ban views, and others will replace them, language is a living, constantly growing organism, it evolves as we do. Those wielding black pens, might just as well be wielding quills and inkpots for all the effect they will have on the 21st century dictionary, regular, urban or otherwise.
Ninety nine percent of us, don't sue people who offend us, not just because it is a pathetic waste of money, but because we can't be arsed. Suing people for financial damages is the preserve of the wealthy, funds have never been available, even via Legal Aid, for the impoverished to make such claims. While the well heeled offended battle it out in the Courts, the rest of us couldn't give a monkeys, though we might tune in for the juicy bits. A successful libel action has never turned anyone into a hero, in most cases it has left them reviled. Even the fabulous and much loved Oscar Wilde, managed to turn the public against him.
No-one needs a Court of Law to fight their case or defend themselves. In this age of rapidly growing technology, we all have, at our fingertips, the means to put forward our side of the argument. The McCanns especially, who have contact lists full to bursting. But they don't even need that, the media world is now a level playing field (which is why I also feel I need to up my game lol), they can put out blogs just as I do, they can contribute to their Facebook page, as themselves, they can speak to the press directly, not through a source or a spokesman. They can show their real sides to the world, just as GA has, and let the world judge for themselves.
Even with all the legal victories and financial awards the McCanns received in the early days, and with Carter Ruck on constant watch, the parents' reputations are more damaged than they ever were. Ergo, the idea that a libel win against Goncalo Amaral will repair their reputations is ludicrous, with every libel claim they have made, suspicion of them escalates.
It clearly crucifies Kate and Gerry to have this cloud of suspicion hanging over them, but they have always had the power to remove it. As the Portuguese archiving report stated, they lost the opportunity to prove their innocence. Had they returned to PDL for a reconstruction and answered all the police questions, they could have been ruled out from the start and we wouldn't all be here 10 years on. That cloud of suspicion didn't begin with Goncalo Amaral, it began with their own weird behaviour and the circus and money spinning industry they created out of their daughter's disappearance. GA's side of the story wasn't heard until much, much later.
Punishing Goncalo Amaral, does nothing to find the missing child, nothing to repair their reputations, and nothing to convince the public they are nice people. Honest. They weren't asking for GA to be jailed (though that would have been a nice bonus for them), they were asking for the proceeds of book, not filing their claim until a year later when the royalties had mounted up. The punishment they wanted, was for him to be stripped of all his financial assets, and Portuguese Law, such as it is, immediately froze the royalties from his book, the title deeds of his family home and all his earnings which left him unable to defend himself while the McCanns pursued him relentlessly.
For me it is the cruel streak that runs through this claim of Gerry and Kate's, this hounding of the former detective, is premeditated, deliberate, and intended to bring pain and distress. This isn't the result of the runaway train, or moments of madness, they need Goncalo Amaral to feel pain in order for them to feel better. That isn't noble, it's not even moral.
The McCanns appeal to the European Court won't fare any better than their appeals in Portugal. By their very nature, these Courts have to be bang up to the minute, unlike the crusty old wig bedecked British Judges, who have to blow the dust off ancient text books. The world has changed since the McCanns claim began, the ancient elite no longer run the show. A policeman has the same rights as a doctor. Despite being stripped of all his assets, Goncal Amaral could fight back, because the internet made his plight known, and the public responded generously.
The McCanns told their side Madeleine, in their own words, Goncalo Amaral told his, The Truth of the Lie in his own, (far more eloquent) words. How can one be legal and the other not? Or should Madeleine be banned too, because they didn't prove Madeleine was abducted, along with every book in the crime section that mentions crimes not proven? Bear in mind, this would include their very own Summers and Swan. Where does it end?
Whilst others have got on with their lives, Gerry and Kate are still claiming to be victims. Fair enough, their choice. But they still want new Laws to be introduced, that would enable them to sue more people. The thrust of their legal argument with GA can be summed up in two words. Without proof. It is with those two words that they have GA and the entire UK media by the short and curlies. They seem to have taken over from the previous two word chant, 'no evidence'.
Given my absolute abhorrence for the word 'Ban', (censor comes a close second), this war on Goncalo Amaral (bless him), is a war on Freedom of Speech. The McCanns have, without any laws being passed, been successful in preventing the publication of The Truth of the Lie in the UK for over 9 years. How fecking antiquated are we, that two people, can have that amount of power, simply because they have the best lawyers money can buy? Why should a former detective be prevented from earning a living as a writer?
In some bizarro world where the McCanns win, detectives, as an entire profession, will be forbidden, by Law from writing their memoirs - the cads! Former suspects meanwhile, can fill their boots. Punishing GA will send a message to detectives everywhere (especially those close to them), that the Good Lord will rain down upon them with great anger and furious vengeance, should they get a tempting offer from Rupert Murdoch.
Punishing Goncalo Amaral does nothing to find the missing Madeleine, or even to commemorate her. The initial argument that 'no-one would look for her if they believed she was dead' is now moot. After the Scotland Yard digs in PDL (far more in your face than GA's book), is anyone still looking for a live Madeleine? Saying Madeleine is dead without evidence, should not be a punishable offence in the Civil Court, the Criminal Court or the real world.
Most people are offended every day by what others say about them, they are outraged, hurt, distressed, etc, for a short while, but then they move on. They don't spend the rest of their lives seeking vengeance and retribution. At what point will someone say 'yep, this is truly insane'. It's been 9 years ffs, and their child is still missing. Why are they putting themselves through this, why are they putting their families through it? They already face ruinous legal costs, still unknown, why incur more? Now they have started the clock, the minutes and hours are notching up as chargeable units for lawyers and spin doctors. Their motives are grimy, but they are what they are. As for their family and friends, wtf? Especially those who travelled to Lisbon with the intention of seeing an innocent punished. May their Gods forgive them.
Shouldn't someone close be saying that within the next few months, that they might need high priced lawyers, who specialise in something other than libel? I'm trying to be tactful here, but the investigations by the Portuguese and British police, might leave them with an urgent need for, err, say, extradition lawyers? If the circumstances change from a Civil Court to a Criminal Court, the libel won't matter one iota. Ergo, aren't they putting their eggs in the wrong basket. Just saying.