THE BLOG
22/11/2013 07:55 GMT | Updated 25/01/2014 16:01 GMT

An Education

"Public school boys have sparked fury after blacking up as the cast of Cool Runnings and vandalising their Derwent college accommodation block," or so reads the opening line of York Vision's latest exposé.

The article also details a "separate incident...causing over £2000 of damage" wherein the students "destroyed a table, allegedly stole chairs, and damaged the brickwork in Derwent M Block."

Without question, the actions of these young men were insensitive, irresponsibile and idiotic; but there is a pervading irrelevance that supersedes this piece's credentials - one that prevents me from giving the authors the pat on the back they might think they deserve.

What does the students' having been privately educated have to do with anything?

From my experience, much of student media stems from some sort of twisted moral charter of not only comforting the afflicted, but afflicting the comfortable.

Boris Johnson recently mused that society had set up the rich as a scapegoat. Of course, it was a thought that was quickly scoffed at by many twenty something progressives, but Vision's article goes some way toward validating his claim.

As for the naming and shaming aspect of this piece, I'm all for it. These morons deserve to be google-searched out of grad schemes until the cows come home, especially Oscar Craven who flippantly dismissed the gravitas of his crime as solvable by "15 minutes worth of cleaning." But are the actions of four individuals enough to shame the remainder of their alma mater? Eton and Radley College were listed as the educators of two of the culprits, which if populist profiling of this story is taken seriously, could generate an unfair stereotype for privately educated kids.

I don't deny that it's possible for a private education to leave someone out of touch, but Vision's turn of phrase would have you think that independent schools are invariably production lines for racist vandals.

Rather expectedly, the publication of this article has inspired a volatile response from both sides of the coin. It only takes a quick glance at the article's comment section to see that there's plenty of passion behind this debate.

The dogmatic left defends their use of ad hominem, because "rich white men" have experienced too much privilege in the past. What was it Gandhi said about an Eye for an Eye?

See, the problem with indulging in this 'workers of the world unite' mentality is that it perpetuates an unnecessary dichotomy within our society. Purporting financial success as taboo or something to be resented is hardly a successful way to encourage social mobility.

And let's dispel any charges of, "for what they've had, they should know better." Having a private education doesn't denote a certain wisdom or de riguer - our incumbent proves that much - any more that a state school background excuses bad behaviour. If the vandals had been educated at inner city comps, would there be some widespread apologism on behalf of broken Britain? Do me a lemon.

Stereotyping is not just an enemy of journalism, but of our society as a whole. Just as there's more to Oxford than The Bullingdon Club, I'm sure there's more to the moral character of a person than where they happened to go to school. Fred Weld might be a stupid kid but his Eton education is at best coincidental.

You want populism? I say blame the parents.