Devon: Parish magazine joked that “killing a politician is community service”

The magazine has been accused of ‘bad taste’ (Photo: BPM Media)

A parish magazine has been accused of bad taste after publishing a cartoon in which a priest describes the murder of a politician as “community service”.

The offending item, in the newsletter of the Instow Parish Council in North Devon, features a woman in confession saying: “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. Last night I killed a politician…’

The priest replies, “Daughter, I am here to listen to your sins, not your community service work.

The cartoon was published in the August edition, ahead of the murder of Conservative MP Sir David Amess last week.

He appeared after Councilor Pru ​​Maskell, a conservative from North Devon, gave an interview highlighting the abuses against politicians.

Speaking after Sir Daivid’s death, Cllr Maskell called for an end to “the continued demonization of our MPs on social media and in the press”.

She gave the cartoon as an example, telling DevonLive: “Our North Devon MP Selaine Saxby was the subject of a rather nasty cartoon in her parish magazine which is written and edited by a parish counselor.

“A number of people wrote in the following month to complain, including the local bishop.

More needs to be done to stop the
The publisher said he was “sorry that some readers seem to have been so offended” (Photo: BPM Media)

“Selaine is understandably upset that in the community where she lives another politician thinks this is acceptable to incite resentment towards her and in light of the events of Friday this kind of ‘kill a politician’ language is abhorrent. .

“I also find it disturbing that parish councilors, unlike district and county councilors, seem to have free rein to follow their own agendas and are not accountable for their actions.”

Cllr Maskell also criticized the magazine’s editor-in-chief’s “weak apologies”, accusing him of “trying to justify his actions by questioning the behavior of politicians, essentially saying they deserve whatever they get.” .

Councilor Colin Frajbis, editor of the magazine, which covers Instow, Westleigh and West Yelland, said he was “sorry that some readers seem to have been so offended”.

He added: “In my defense, I would like to stress that the contribution was obviously intended to be a light comment on the feeling of the general public about the too often frustrating and evasive and dishonest behavior of their political masters.

“There’s a reason why, rightly or wrongly, politicians consistently feature high in polls for the less trusted professions.

“I’m afraid I find the accusations of incitement – on the part of some – and others not only deeply unfounded but unpleasantly stupid.

“There was absolutely no intention to offend; but then we live in an increasingly polarized and combative era where even humor is subject to political scrutiny and censorship.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Richard Barker / REX / Shutterstock (12539197a) David Amess The National Service Dog Bravery and Achievement Awards, Ingatestone Hall, Essex, UK - Apr 16, 2016
A man was charged with the murder of MP David Amess last week (Photo: Rex)

However, Cllr Frajbis said he accepted that the design “was an error in judgment in the current atmosphere”.

He said: “The decision was mine and mine alone.

“In light of several reviews and acknowledging my error, I removed the design from the online editions as soon as I could, but couldn’t find out anything about the printed issue – it had already been published and distributed. ”

The row comes after a 25-year-old man was charged with the murder of Sir David Amess, who was stabbed to death during constituency surgery a week ago today.

Ali Harbi Ali reportedly launched the attack on Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, where the MP was stabbed while visitors waited to see him.

The tragedy sparked a new debate on how to keep MPs safe in an increasingly polarized political environment.

Today it was announced that security guards will be offered to elected officials for constituency surgeries.

In the week since Sir David’s death, many MPs have stepped forward to talk about their security concerns and the abuse they face online.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the government’s online security bill would offer all MPs the opportunity to come together to shut down the “corrosive space online where we see appalling behavior “.

The legislation provides tough measures against social media companies that fail to crack down on abusive or extremist content.

But civil liberties activists have warned that the measures could become a “danger to democracy” by affecting free speech and giving the government censorship powers.

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Norma P. Rex

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