Pity the horses, but not the murderer

Zoe Williams, in today’s Guardian, on the mawkish obsession with the horses and other pets which belonged to the family believed to have been murdered by its indebted father a couple of weeks ago in Shropshire, who shot not only his wife and daughter but also his horses and dogs, before setting fire to his house and killing himself:

We persist, though, in seeing a certain nobility in the man who destroys everything to avoid “shame”. Sure, he must have been crazy, but in a nice way. He has his priorities the wrong way round, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t treasure these lives that he took possession of so freely. As the Sun (or rather, “a source”) said of Foster: “In the end his state of mind must have been, ‘If I can’t have all this, nobody will’. He adored his wife and daughter so he must have been in a terrible mental state to do what he did.”

It makes no sense, this stuff: to talk in one sentence of a dog-in-the-manger motivation so idiotic and immature you’d balk at it from a toddler; and then in the next breath to attribute an emotion as deep and encompassing as adoration to this petulant, wanton, arrogant man-child. Other newspapers have scented the act with an Egyptian grandeur, as Foster interred himself, pharaoh-like, with all his “belongings”, his wife and pets and offspring, in the rustic tomb that was so soon to be repossessed.

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