It's nice to see the Times doing its bit to uphold journalistic standards. Wednesday saw the publication of an article by columnist Roger Boyes on the Jokela school shooting, a piece of journalism as absurd as it is ridiculous. After a deluge of comments on the original article, Boyes today published a follow-up, in which, instead of righting the wrongs of his first piece and engaging in constructive debate, he continues to ridicule Finns and Finland with comments such as:
Finland ranks as one of the happiest countries in Europe. It also has one of the highest suicide rates, the third highest divorce rate in Europe (beaten by Sweden again!) and 56 per cent gun ownership. So that adds up to a pretty complex society, no?
At the last count, the original post had received 192 comments. I don't know whether the Times has decided to stem the flow of comments on the new article, but the one I posted earlier this evening still hasn't appeared. So, for the record, here is my response to Mr Boyes.
Mr Boyes. As, behind your sarcasm, I’m sure you’re well aware, the outrage over your article does not represent an unwillingness on the part of the Finns to discuss the implications (for Finland and elsewhere) of Wednesday’s events, rather it is an expression of dismay at a cobbling together of isolated statistics which, at the Times, apparently passes as serious journalism. As a foreigner here, one’s eyes are perhaps more open to the problems that exist, and those problems should rightly be discussed, but your original article goes no way towards doing this. The young feel disaffected in many countries (not least the UK); they carry mobile and spend hours on the internet; their parents are divorced. What, then, if we disregard your misplaced Kalevala analogies, makes this “a very Finnish affair”? Whether you have visited Finland in the past is beside the point. It is the specious nature of your comments that has caused offence, not the fact that you ask valid, necessary questions.