While I am departing again from my usual reluctance to comment on particular cases, the case of Ryan Taylor is both appalling and instructive. Ryan Taylor is a serving prisoner who appears to have been brutally attacked in prison and gravely injured, having been left with ‘severe brain damage’. Dreadful things like this do happen, but what has especially prompted this posting is reflection on the reader comments that have been put on the website beneath the article in the Daily Mirror. There is a range of attitudes – more of a range than there was a couple of days ago   – but many people withhold any sympathy at all. Some are dismayed, but blame Mr Taylor for being in prison in the first place; others imply that the level of sympathy ought to depend on the seriousness of Mr Taylor’s original offence (why?). Yet others again seem almost to rejoice in his injuries. After all, to go online to comment ‘no sympathy’ is not  a neutral position, but  a clear expression of at least qualified approval. This seems extraordinary. It is plain that ‘offenders’ remain one of the very few groups (to the extent that they can be put together as a ‘group’) where hate speak is still considered acceptable and where serious injury is at least accepted and at worst celebrated. Part of the problem, of course, is that since Mr Taylor is ‘an offender’, he is in the minds of many ineligible to be a victim – even though he is plainly both. Since the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board continues to discriminate against offenders, the chances of his receiving adequate compensation appear remote. It will be interesting to see the public reaction if the family seek compensation.

Acceptable hatred?

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