Was it the fault of Barnes or Brown?

Posted: April 10, 2013 in K J Foxhall Blog, Media
Tags: , , , , ,

This one is in ‘Lotus Magma Off the Cuff’ too.

A story that caused quite a stir this week in the legal world, along with everyone else in the UK it seems. It was about the young woman who couldn’t keep her mouth shut, but is this abnormal for a 17 year-old in today’s world – not really.

The obsession to document everything online is not wasted on the youth either as it seems that everyone is doing it. Personally, I don’t refer to Facebook as a social networking site but more of a place where I can vent, hence why I call it ‘Rant Forum’, however there are still media laws in place to help us watch what we say. Twitter may be a massive pool of posts but it will not hide you when you decide to say something still considered to be ‘over the line.’

Paris Brown I should imagine can now testify to this.

For those of you who don’t know who she is, or what I am on about, Paris Brown became the new media casualty several days ago during her 9 day employment as youth police and crime commissioner. Here is some background information on how this all began taken from the BBC website:

“A 16-year-old girl has been appointed youth police and crime commissioner (PCC) for Kent.

Paris Brown, from Sheerness, will work alongside Kent’s Independent PCC Ann Barnes representing young people across the county.

Paris was a student at the Isle of Sheppey Academy and is currently an apprentice at Swale Borough Council.

Ms Barnes said the youth PCC would receive £15,000 for the year, part-funded from her own £85,000 salary.

The appointment of a youth PCC was one of Ms Barnes’s main manifesto pledges in the campaign ahead of her election as Kent’s first PCC in November.”

I know some of you are probably thinking just by reading the above that this was a recipe for disaster to begin with – well you are right! With only a few days into her employment it was discovered that young Paris made a few untoward comments on Twitter between the ages of 14 and 16 years old. These comments involved her admission of drug taking, her sex life, digs at homosexuals and several other comments.

To be more precise (and I use that term loosely when referring to the Daily Mail), here is an excerpt from the Daily Mail with more details about the posts:

“Is this foul-mouthed, self-obsessed Twitter teen really the future of British policing? Youth crime tsar’s sex and drug rants

  • Paris Brown, 17, boasted about her sex life, drug taking and drinking
  • In one Tweet she wrote: ‘I really wanna make a batch of hash brownies’
  • And she also said: ‘Everyone on Made in Chelsea looks like a f****** fag’
  • Appointed to change perceptions of young people
  • Keith Vaz MP says she must be removed from her £15,000 post immediately.”

I remember when I was at school (which wasn’t that long ago I would like to add), if you came out with a racist comment or something against a persons’ orientation, you would surely be beaten up, however now it seems like one can get away with it now….well unless you are Paris Brown of course.

Over the last few days we have witnessed Ann Barnes standing by Paris who was sobbing behind her at a press conference. I have yet to make my mind up whether she was sobbing because she was genuinely sorry, or because she got caught. We have also been told by Paris’ mother since these posts came to light that Paris has several friends who are homosexual and/or a different race.

Yesterday however we were given the news that Paris Brown had stepped down after only being in the post for 9 days.

My initial reaction was ‘good, actions have consequences, no person or organization deserves their reputation to be tainted by someone who cannot keep their comments to themselves’.

When I read the comments reacting to this news it did contain mixed views, and most were actually stating that Paris was a victim of media ridicule, Ann Barnes had not done the proper background research on Paris before hiring her, therefore a young girl’s future has been ruined.

This may be so but let us not forget that Paris Brown is almost a legal adult and should have really known better. Granted she did not know at 14, 15 or 16 that she would be placed in a post such as this, and at the same time it is easy for someone older and more experienced to say ‘you should have deleted the posts when you accepted the job’, but that is all part of growing up and I think many of us have learned the hard way.

Whether Paris Brown was the victim of public vilification, or whether Barnes who allegedly has put Paris into the media snake-pit, should have been more responsible for vetting candidate backgrounds, considerable embarrassment has been caused to Kent Police and the role of the PCC. Many are saying that Barnes should follow in Paris’ footsteps and hand in her resignation as well, but overall I think both can take away lessons from this.

Ms Barnes, vet your candidates better and perhaps imply to them that their social media accounts will most likely be watched or that a full background check is going to be done; AND

Paris – delete those posts, it’s not cool, it’s not sick it’s downright stupid.  If you wish to go into a professional career, you need to act professional and you are not a child any more.

However as conciliation, because everyone is so obsessed about posting everything online, chances are it won’t be long before this story submerges into the social media oblivion and it was as if it never happened.

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