Who gets our compassion?

jess

Felicia threw herself under a train two days after writing her last tweet.

angelamanda

Was für ein Glück, denken manche, dass der Todd kommt und einen davon befreit, nicht gelebt zu haben.

See what I did there?

Today (May 19th) Amanda Todd’s beatification comes closer with the music tribute to her in Ottawa. My guess is that some paraplegic person will get up and dance, half the audience will start speaking in tongues, then a bright ray of light will shine down upon Carol Todd and she will ascend to join her daughter at God’s right hand. Simultaneously, all the people who have seen Amanda’s kiddy porn performances will be struck blind. Or something like that. It’s the End of Days.

This unnervingly religious ceremony closes yet another chapter in the book. The legend is succinct – Amanda was a tragic victim who was destroyed by a set of circumstances, but mainly by the actions of a cruel, evil online predator. Her bravery and resilience are an inspiration to us all. Hallelujah.

Would it be best to leave it at that? After all, no matter how true or untrue the history is, it’s opened up the whole problem of teen online existence…..well, you know the drill by now.

The current mythology of the Amanda Todd story sets an odd, perhaps dangerous, precedent. Here’s why.

Over time, the central part of the story has become Aydin Coban, but that is all smoke and mirrors. Many people stand to gain from piling almost the entire blame on the shoulders of one man. He is the Anti-Christ to Amanda’s Virgo Immaculata.

The RCMP. Note that they did nothing at all. If true, all the alleged crimes of Aydin were discovered by the Dutch police working with their counterparts in Europe and the USA, yet the RCMP were quick off the mark to act as if they had sorted it all out. Even if they were in reality stymied by Amanda’s production of ‘new material’, the blackmail aspect diverts all attention away from that. It diverts attention from all their failings.

The schools. If all the blame is laid on a blackmailer, no teacher, no principal, will suffer. No school board will have to wonder quite how or why they let Amanda drown in the system.

The parents. If Amanda was killed by a predator, then the family dysfunction can be ignored. The effect on Amanda of being shunned by her own mother can be ignored (and yes, the wonderful Mother Todd did maliciously ostracise her own daughter). The effect of being permitted to run wild can be ignored.

The social services. The British Columbia Children’s Hospital are not at fault if it was all the fault of a predator.

No-one needs to think about the effects of weed-smoking on a mentally challenged young girl. No-one needs to really be concerned about the effects of underage sexual relationships on a vulnerable kid like Amanda. No-one needs to have nightmares about their kids flashing their tits for likes on Omegle. Because it’s all down to one man’s trickery.  One tiny mistake.

And all of that is dangerous, because all the real problems surrounding the Amanda Todd case will be brushed under the carpet once more.

I have watched carefully how the Amanda Todd legend is treated at all levels. It is astonishing that even in academic circles, the mythological version persists and any attempt to question important issues is rapidly met with censorship.

Why has the Amanda Todd story become so different from the actual truth?

It’s interesting. We seem to live in times when everyone wants gender equality, people want to eradicate sexism, people want fairness. Yet the Amanda Todd story stands out as an example of archaic ways of thinking that do damage.

People gave their compassion to Amanda because she was pretty, she wasn’t black, and she was female, middle-class. That made her sacrosanct. Tradition tells us that this particular type of girl can’t tell lies, can’t break the law, can do no wrong. So instead of trying to understand why Amanda Todd did what she did, instead of (yet again) coming to terms with teen sexuality and all the problems that brings, instead of trying to understand just how to cope with girls doing what Amanda did, tradition dictated that there has to be something else to blame.

It’s an attitude that is prevalent in the media. Research has shown that that teen girls are by far the majority of teen-on-teen cyberbullies, yet that is obscured by saying that it’s some horrendous shame that it’s girls who are mostly the victims. But girls are the majority of victims because cyberbullying is rife amongst girls. Tit for tat abuse.

What does this tribute to Amanda Todd really mean? The kids will love it. The suspicious White Knights will love it (the prevalence of Amanda-worship among older men is worrying to say the least). Most people will love it. But there will be a small minority of kids who won’t love it. Put yourself in the position of some of these kids. Amanda was bullied, unloved, unhappy. And how did she escape that? Through self-harm and suicide. Through death, she became an inspiration, she was loved, she became an angel, she is in a better place. Very risky. Then put yourself in the position of some of the other kids who are desperately struggling to keep going. What worked for Amanda? Flashing tits, an online sob story, and death. Not hard work or perseverance.

And what does it mean for male suicides? Male victims are conspicuous by their absence in the media. Again – look at YouTube and try to find the male equivalent of the Todd phenomenon. Look at how several recent male suicides in equally tragic circumstances get barely a mention. Yet again – boys are expected to stfu, keep it quiet, and just off themselves with no publicity.  And what respect does the world give to the boy self-killer? No symphonies for them, even though they outnumber the girls almost 2 to 1. Does the world value boys? Nah, not unless they’re tough.

Really – people need to choose their inspirations very carefully. Amanda’s route to sainthood is attractive. Don’t believe me? Try looking at all the copycat ‘my stories’ on YouTube.

The attempt by the National Arts Centre Orchestra to glorify Amanda Todd is disgraceful. It’s disgraceful in that it sets Amanda Todd’s death above all others. It’s an insult to all the other mothers and fathers who have lost children. It’s a disgrace in that it goes against expert guidelines from the Samaritans:

Significant worldwide research demonstrates links between media portrayal of suicide and copycat behaviour among vulnerable people”.

“Remember that there is a risk of copycat behaviour due to ‘over-identification”.

Vulnerable individuals may identify with a person who has died, or with the circumstances in which a person took their own life”.

  1. Leave out technical details about the method of suicide…..
  2. Language matters. Avoid dramatic headlines and terms such as ‘suicide epidemic’ or ‘hot spot’.
  3. Include references to support groups…..
  4. Treat social media with particular caution and refrain from mentioning websites or networks that promote or glamorise suicide.
  5. Avoid dramatic or sensationalist pictures or video.
  6. Young people are especially vulnerable to negative suicide coverage. Do not give undue prominence to photographs of a young person who has died and avoid repeated use of images such as galleries.
  7. Try not to give a story undue prominence, for example with a front cover splash.
  8. Don’t brush over the complex realities of suicide and its impact on those left behind. Remember that people bereaved by suicide are often vulnerable and are more likely to take their own lives than the general population.
  9. Speculation about the ‘trigger’ for a suicide, even if provided by a close family member, should be avoided.
  10. Use statistics with caution. Check with Samaritans or the relevant national statistical agency to make sure you have the most recent data and are comparing like with like.

But most importantly for me: ‘Be careful not to promote the idea that suicide achieves results.’ What better result than sainthood, becoming an angel, being at peace, worthy of a symphony?

And just to close. Do we have compassion for our old friend PeyPey?

The little Kitten deserves compassion. Christ, she needs compassion. I expect she’ll get in touch and spout something like ‘I ain’t no victim’. Maybe she isn’t. But we should care about her, even if she doesn’t fit the proper criteria.

Anyways. There’ll be no more posts for a while.

As a slight addendum. WordPress tells the author the most popular online searches for Amanda Todd, so that more traffic can be dragged in. Carol Todd never ever quite cottoned on as to why Amanda was so hugely Googled. Here’s today’s list, which is typical:

amanda todd boob uncensored 8
amanda todd flash chest video 3
amanda todd flash video 3
amanda todd pics 3
webcam stickam child 2
amanda todd boobs 2
has amanda todd’s flash been removed 2
amanda todd’s boobs 2
amanda todd uncensored pics

Laters.

 

 

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