Madeleine McCann would be seven years old today. All across Britain there are other little girls celebrating their seventh birthday – and it is a matter of supreme indifference to all except those related to them.
Not Madeleine though, for she, unwittingly, belongs to all of us.
She had no say in her celebrity. It was foisted upon her young shoulders; by her parents, by a willing media, by the pyjamahadeen.
Over the course of the past three years, she has shifted from being the essential icon for missing children everywhere, to being the badge of office for the Righteous on both sides of the ‘free speech’ debate. No newspaper article touching on libel is complete without a mention of ‘Our Madeleine’.
Today, on her birthday, a thousand blogs and forums will fire into life – this one too – with their version of the truth as handed down in the great Internet scrolls.
“I read it somewhere – I agreed with it – Therefore it is the truth”
It is the mantra of our age. An age when we dismiss the Holy scriptures from myriad faiths – “written a 100 years after he died – he wasn’t there, how can he know” “Hearsay” “I can point you in the direction of something that says the complete opposite” “We have no proof” – and yet we cling, fanatically, to anything written on the Internet.
“There is someone out there in cyberspace, I know not who they really are, but they have written that with which I agree, verily I shall follow them. It is written therefore it shall be repeated; and any attempt to stop me repeating it shall be dismissed as censorship. I demand the right to repeat my ‘truth’ as found on the Internet.”
And yet, and yet – it is only ‘my’ truth that shall be repeated. A conflicting opinion must be squashed, vilified, removed from the Internet. Its espouser silenced, fired by their employer, hunted down, identified, exposed, and yeah ducked in the village pond – if they float we shall know we were right and burn them at the stake.
For free speech on the Internet is not a universal right, it is only for those who hold the ‘truth’, the Internet ‘truth’, the ‘truth’ that they read somewhere.
‘Our Madeleine’ has spawned a thousand forums adorned with her image, the mysterious child who vanished. They fight, as did the medieval crusaders, under banners that proclaim their allegiance. The abduction. The murder. The neglect. They hold prayer meetings; they read from their cut and pasted versions of the Holy truth, the edited versions of the Internet ‘case files’. The half truths, the speculation, the gossip, the discarded theories, of a botched investigation in progress. Halted prematurely. Halted before Madeleine’s fate was discovered.
She will go down in history, will Madeleine. In 100 years, nay in 500 years, there will still be groups of people gathering late at night to practise McCluedo, the ancient art of gathering scraps of information, translated from the Portuguese, into Spanish, into English and back again, losing a little, gaining a little, each time, and held proudly aloft as evidence of the wickedness of those who believe an alternative version.
Madeleine is not the icon of missing children, nor is she the standard bearer for free speech; she is the spirit of our age. The ephemeral ghost of the lost art of allowing an alternative opinion to be voiced.
Ancient man gave us the Bible because we needed something to believe in, something to fight over. Something to feel righteous in supporting. Something to feel righteous in rejecting. A reason to kill and maim, torture and torment, bludgeon and silence, those who rejected our ‘truth’. Now we have the Internet Scrolls.
Happy Birthday Madeleine. It is surely only a matter of time before May 12th becomes a Bank Holiday. Madeleine Day. When excited children open their Madeleine presents; and exhausted Mothers cook the annual Madeleine feast. When entire families gather in their chosen sub-forum and dutifully intone ‘Our Madeleine, who art in…….we don’t actually know’, and the collection plate is handed round to support the bandwidth of the High Priests of our version of the truth.
It is surely only a matter of time, too, before someone is killed in the name of ‘Our Madeleine’.
- Tweets that mention Madeleine McCann today. — Topsy.com
- May 13, 2010 at 01:14