A four-year-old boy with an unusual blemish on his body has been accused of carrying the ‘mark of the devil’ by Britain’s top-selling tabloid paper, The Sun.
The Sun carried the appalling story on their front page earlier this week, with the bold headline – Boy, 4 Has Mark Of Devil, alongside a clearly identifiable picture of the youngster.
The article starts like a prize-winning piece of trash pulp fiction and begins:
“A sinister Satan sign that mysteriously appeared on a four-year-old boy is proving a devil to explain.”
People have speculated that the mark in question looks like it could have been caused by a hairdryer burn or an ‘accident’ with some other household appliance. It could even be, heaven forbid, a birth-mark.
Rather than seek out a plausible explanation, the ‘shocked’ mother reveals with horror that her four-year-old boy has clearly been cursed by Satan.
The mother explains:
“Just looking at it made me shake thinking something unnatural had visited my boy. Something or someone made the sign on him but we just can’t explain how. You see this kind of thing on scary sci-fi films, It isn’t supposed to happen to families like us.”
Claiming they are “desperate for the truth” and “confused and frightened,” the boy’s family have looked into explanations regarding the ‘devil mark’ including that it could be the result of an alien abduction, or the Symbol of Mammon – the sign of the Devil’s first born, reports the Huffington Post.
The Sun’s particularly questionable brand of gutter journalism has been ridiculed and criticized in equal measure.
Critics have suggested that by giving such a vile article the oxygen of publicity and national exposure, The Sun, who appear to take perverse delight in calling the youngster ‘Boyelzebub,’ could actually be causing a threat to the child’s welfare.
The very mention of satanic possession attracts the mentally unhinged like magnets, and if any of The Sun’s more intellectually challenged readers were to believe the four-year-old boy actually carried the mark of the devil, his well-being could be endangered.
The New Statesman reports that fear of satanic possession was one of the motivations for the abusers of Victoria Climbie and asks:
“Should we really be encouraging the idea that children can have devil’s marks, even as a silly season joke?”
The story has sparked a debate regarding journalism ethics with Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston calling for the story to be pulled from the paper and issuing a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission.
Wollaston told The Guardian:
“It is a completely outrageous headline, and to link that with an identifiable picture of a child is wholly inappropriate on every level. This is absolutely not lighthearted. What possible justification can there be for including this child’s face, or for saying this child is marked by the devil? It is the most irresponsible piece of journalism I have seen for a long time.”
Twitter was tweeting furiously with criticism of the decision to publish such a story with one user posting:
“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the Sun it wasn’t a burn from a hairdryer on that kid.”
Another tweeter tweeted:
“Clearly a hairdryer. I’m staggered no one seems to know what happened to him.”
A spokesman for The Sun told The Guardian:
“This was a story provided by the parents, who had already publicized the pictures and story on Facebook. We sought to treat it in a lighthearted fashion, highlighting the apparently fanciful link to the occult. We are conscious of the code and guidance around paying parents. We did not encourage the parents to embellish or expand the story; it came to us, and had already been the subject of discussion (raised by the parents) on social media. It’s also worth noting that no concerns were expressed about the child’s welfare. An unusual mark appears, the mother gets it checked out by a doctor who confirms there is no medical reason why it should be there, and discharges her. Social workers are not involved.”
More than 5,000 people have now signed a petition against The Sun in relation to a story which is so low, it doesn’t so much crawl as slither.
As guilty, irresponsible and pathetically vile as The Sun is for publishing such a story in the first instance, should the mother of the boy take equal, if not more responsibility, for the crime of allowing the tabloid to exploit her son and use him as nothing more than a commodity with which to sell newspapers?