People in glass houses: The Paris Brown Story

Paris BrownIn recent weeks we’ve seen a very public humiliation of a 17 year old girl from Kent. Paris Brown, chosen to be the Youth Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent, has been torn apart in the right wing media following revelations about tweets she sent when she was between the age of 14 and 16.

Mail on Sunday Front PageNow, I’m not saying that I’m defending the content of her tweets. They were, and are, deeply offensive and I personally feel that her ultimate resignation was the right thing to do. It was the right thing to do on several counts. The main ones I can think of are that repairs some of the damage done to the position and any negative impact this has on attitudes to it, it stops the onslaught of distrust towards young people in general, and it saves Paris somewhat from the right wing media attack on her.

What this particular situation has done is to encourage a discussion around whether younger people should be involved in such roles. We’ve got the right wing media preaching how younger people shouldn’t be in positions that involve policy of this level based on the sweeping view that they’re immature and unable to advise on important issues. But, this just stinks of hypocrisy. I’m sure if we trawl through the past year’s news we’ll find many cases where adults have acted in a way which has let the office that they fill down. The difference here though is that Paris is an easy target and one that will make headlines.

It’s easy for us all to think “oh she was too young” but that’s a dangerous place to be. Young people should be encouraged to come forward and to contribute to a society which will ultimately be theirs in the future. Why shouldn’t young people have a say on things that happen now when the consequences could shape all of our futures?

As I said earlier, I don’t defend the content of the tweets, but I will defend any young person who becomes the target of such attacks from the media. Paris should be allowed to go forward and shape her own future and I’m sure she has learnt the hard way. The media should be encouraging young people and recognise that this particular incident is no different to the adults who make mistakes too, albeit that the adults should really know better.

The next time you hear someone saying how stupid Paris is, point out to them that there are many more adults reported in the media for making similar mistakes.