Where courts won’t step, media happily leapsPosted: August 13, 2012
Today, the tragic case of a murdered family has been in the news as the trial opens.
Rzeszowski is accused of stabbing his wife, their two children, his wife’s friend and her daughter, and his father-in-law. He tried to enter a plea of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility, which was refuted by the prosecution, and rejected by the court.
And yet, the media seem quite happy to blame his wife and imply that this wasn’t really his fault. Has anyone seen a report which doesn’t include either “driven to”, “couldn’t cope with” or “as a result of”? Has anyone seen a report which doesn’t mention that his wife had told him she’d had an affair? Or a report that doesn’t state the actions were as a result of “domestic problems”?
People wonder why so few are willing to report or press charges in cases of domestic violence. Well here’s a clue. Even in this extreme case of a mass-murder, there are strong hints from the media that this was her fault. This mess could all have been avoided if she’d been a better wife.
Even when the courts are pursuing a murder charge and rejecting the plea of diminished responsibility, the media are there to argue “yeah but…”. This reporting is something I’ve mentioned before, and really isn’t a surprise. But it needs to be stated again. Victim blaming isn’t acceptable. Whether Rzeszowski was in control or not, responsible or not is to be determined by the court. But whoever was responsible – it wasn’t the victims.