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Friday, May 28, 2010 

Which came first?

Did Stephen Griffiths tell the police that he thought of himself as a "crossbow cannibal"? Or did he somehow see a copy of the Sun, which described him as such on its front page, and decide that was what he should say his name was in court?

Either way, the Sun doesn't come out of it well. Either it's so well-briefed that it knew what was being said in the interview room, before seemingly even the Crown Prosecution Service did, or the alleged killer himself was so struck by their coinage that he felt that is what he will almost certainly be known as from now on, regardless of whether he's found guilty or not.

It could of course also be neither: Griffiths might be so mentally ill that he no longer knows what's happening to him, although if that was the case he might well have been sectioned rather than apparently remanded in custody.

In any case, the charges being brought has done nothing to bring an end to the far more grotesque speculation going on in the tabloids, which seems determined to portray him as just the kind of weirdo loner who was an accident waiting to happen. He's variously accused of swallowing an alive baby rat whole, of having, amazingly, "dozens of photos of serial killers on his walls and heavy academic books on murder", just the sort of things you wouldn't expect someone doing a criminology PhD to have, and, of particular note, a mother who "dressed sexily". As for the Mail, it's baffled that someone who went to a grammar school and then to a top university could descend to the depths of living in a dingy flat studying criminology:

Despite a fine start in life, the criminology student soon became obsessed with the history of serial killers and descended into a seedy, internet-addicted existence in a housing association flat.

Quite. How deeply depressing that someone so presumably bourgeois should allegedly turn to a life of degradation like all those other murdering plebs.

If it turns out after all this that Griffiths is in fact innocent, it will hardly be thanks to a media that seems ever more determined with every case to prove the accused guilty by virtue of not being completely average and normal. It seems you don't have to watch and attempt to help the most vulnerable in society in order to stop serial murderers, but actually just flush out and persecute the "oddballs". And as we know, that's worked so well in the past.

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"... soon became obsessed with the history of serial killers"
- studying to be a tabloid journalist?

Perhaps after seeing the the Sun headline he was just being sarcastic.

Antisthenes: Well, that was my other thought. You can see it variously as either sarcastic, arrogant, self-promoting or worrying, but regardless the Sun must be both delighted and troubled.

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