I’m no fan of Ken Livingstone. But I’m angry the London mayor’s off-colour comments have cost him £80K. And cost London even more; the lawyers are laughing, as usual.
OK, so comparing a doorstepping Jewish journo to a concentration camp guard wasn’t the wittiest of insults. But should a casual barb delivered between individuals – one of whom works for a newspaper strongly anti-Livingstone – cost so much judicial and professional time and money, when the journo could simply have shrugged it off?
Religionists are notoriously sensitive to insults; it’s another area demonstrating Muslims, Jews, and Christians are just different words for the same mindset. But the real problem here isn’t with the scribbler’s Jewish background; it’s a problem with journalists in general.
Journos today have vast power; the ability to control what millions of people see in the morning. But increasingly – in Britain, it dates precisely to Rupert Murdoch – this power is wielded without responsibility. They’re quick to dish it out – to twist words, overegg interpretations, slant events – but rarely strong enough to take it.
In this case, the punishment is vastly out of proportion to the crime. With this thought policing and trial by media initiated against one individual they disagreed with, perhaps the Standard should think about who the real Nazis of this story are.
Why is Livingstone’s trial a front page story? Because it involves a journalist being criticised – and the one thing journalists just can’t take is criticism.