Increasingly the Daily Mail / Mail on Sunday can be relied upon to help the citizens of Oceania/UK express their two minutes of hate everyday. They did this earlier in the week by linking the tragic manslaughter of six small children to almost everyone who claims benefits in this country. And a few months ago, their columnist Richard Littlejohn decided to take a potshot at primary school teacher who had decided to change gender. The teacher, Lucy Meadows, committed suicide not long after. Remember, this is the same Mr Littlejohn who used the occasion of two children and their auntie dying on Christmas day to have a rant about how long the emergency services close motorways when there are accidents in which people have been hurt and possible scenes of crime to investigate.
But this column is not about the Daily Mail or its readers (and I fear to read the comments that have been posted under the article above). Instead I want to focus on Paris and the role to which she has just been appointed. Here are some facts:
- She is 17: she is a girl. (And so I hope all those who are pouring scorn on her this morning remember this). Indeed it was her birthday on 4/4/13... she is only just 17
- She was appointed after a rigorous selection process which sifted out the other 163 applicants
- Her job will last for a year with a package of £15,000 part funded by the Police & Crime Commissioner’s salary.
- Paris is expected to take up the role in the summer (so she is not yet even in post)
- She currently works for Swale Borough Council as an apprentice within the Commissioning and Open Spaces department
- Ann Barnes, Kent Police and Crime Commissioner said: ‘I’m delighted that Paris will be working alongside me to build a bridge between the world of young people and policing..."
- She is just 17!
- Were some of tweets unwise? Yes.
- Do these tweets mean that she is a homophobic racist with a drink & drug problem? No.
- Does she represent many girls of her age in the language that she uses? Probably yes (although I don't follow the tweets of 16/17 year old girls)
- Should a bit of vetting and social media pruning happened before her appointment was confirmed and announced? Certainly so (and hindsight is a wonderful thing)
- Will she learn from all this and be growing up quickly this weekend? I think so, and I hope she has bags of support from her friends, family and now employer.
- Will the county of Kent and the rest of the UK give her chance to make a difference to policing and crime services? I really hope so!
But I urge people to cut her a bit of slack (to repeat again: she is just 17), let her learn from this and then give her a chance (with support from Ann and others in the Kent PCC's office) to do her job - and do it well.
UPDATE: "I do regret it" Paris talks about her tweets to Channel 4 News
UPDATE 2: What I learnt over the weekend.