Stewart

This is Stewart Murray Wilson.  He has been in prison for a long time for committing a huge number of sex crimes against a large number of people over a long period of time.  He is an example of a person in the criminal justice system who is probably criminally mentally ill.  He cannot be reformed, and he will always be a danger.  The announcement that Mr Wilson is to be released from prison, even under incredibly strict conditions, has created a lot of anger, especially in the community he will be released into.

You could write on a lot of issues concerning this man, but I just want to cover one small thing, and say for the record that Stewart Murray Wilson is not a beast he is a person. 

The media in New Zealand have constantly reported this man as the Beast of Blenheim.  If you go to Google images for this man you get this:

If you hover over the pictures you get the first line of the article that the image comes from.  Here they are then, from top left to bottom right:

  • ‘BEAST OF BLENHEIM’
  • The man known as the ‘Beast of Blenheim’
  • Remorseless Beast of Blenheim
  • Convicted rapist Stewart Wilson
  • Opposition to ‘Beast of Blenheim’
  • Stewart Wilson
  • The man dubbed the ‘Beast of Blenheim’
  • The Beast of Blenheim

He is not a beast.

 He is part of us. 

A horrendous part of us, but a part nonetheless, and something we need to acknowledge and deal with.  How does a society deal with its most estranged?  By turning them into animals, or by admitting they are human?

The New Zealand media has failed across the board to create an arena for a proper debate about this man, and the very serious question of how we deal with the most serious threats to our society.

I have decided to make a complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority.  Because TV3 seems to be a worse offender that TVNZ I am complaining about them, but – to be honest – almost all media in New Zealand are guilty of this crime.

I have  chosen this clip, out of many that could be chosen, to lodge my complaint: Whanganui Protests Beast of Blenheim.  Here is the content of my complaint:

I believe that continually referring to Stewart Wilson as the Beast of Blenheim is inaccurate, denigrates, and is irresponsible.  The programme I have used as a specific example is only one case out of many.

Standard 5c states that “News must be impartial”.  Leading news stories by introducing a criminal by their inflammatory nickname is not impartial reporting.

Standard 7 states that “Broadcasters should not encourage discrimination against, or denigration of,any section of the community”.  Clearly the nickname “Beast of Blenheim” denigrates.  In the article I have cited above one of the people at the public meeting talks about Stewart Wilson being put in a gas chamber.  TV3 is not responsible for the opinions of this man, but in allowing him to be denigrated, and turned into an animal by consistently referring to him as a beast, I believe that this news service is allowing these kind of comments to be more acceptable in society, and could even encourage this man’s life to be endangered.

Standard 8 asks broadcasters to make sure shows “are not presented in such a way as to cause panic, or unwarranted alarm or undue distress.”  Obviously the release of this man does cause quite warranted alarm and distress, but the labelling of this man as a “beast” heightens this alarm in a way that lessens the possibility of reasonable debate about a serious issue.

Last time I took action over something (I sent a letter to the Education Minister) I did not even receive a response.  I don’t mind if people don’t agree with me, but a failure to engage and explain is letting down democracy rather badly.

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4 thoughts on “Stewart

  1. We do need to learn to deal with people with mental illnesses much better than we do. That said, we also need to protect our children (and ourselves). This is a difficult question. But calling the man a beast? Yeah, that crosses the line from impartial journalism.

  2. Those are some intelligent points you make… I happen to agree with you, that he is a reflection of society’s darkest, innermost soul… I honestly think the media dumbs the intellectual argument you make down for the masses and simply calls him a beast because it’s the safest way of presenting the news and the one to cause the least offence while gaining the most popularity.

    I think it’s also a “we’re so much better than him” response… Can you imagine the reaction from the public if a newsreader said he was a reflection of ourselves?

  3. Who cares about crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s? Don’t take out any of the emotion from this situation, i don’t hear the victims offering any forgivness towards this criminal.
    You can quote standars and legislation all you like but for many they would prefer to just bring in the death penalty and save taxpayer money. would any of the victims be awarded with the cost’s associated with keeping this criminal? would any of those be awarded a nice 2 bedroom state house if needed?…

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