So there’s an historian suggesting that the victims of Jack the Ripper weren’t in fact regular prostitutes. Fair enough and why not, both fun and informative to chew over the old evidence and see if minds should be changed. Then we’ve got those parallels that people try to draw with the present. For what would be a right on and woke column about such without referring to modern day murders of sex workers?
Every GCSE student knows that sources can be open to interpretation and that there will always be particular groups invested in keeping those interpretations fixed. With the Ripperologists, it almost certainly comes down to good old misogyny: the belief, seen in one contemporary letter to the Times, that these were “bad” women who deserved their fate. Rubenhold’s book quotes the judge in the 2008 “Suffolk Strangler” case, who instructed the jury considering evidence against the serial killer of sex workers to put aside their “distaste” at the victims’ “lifestyles”, an extraordinary echo of the same sentiment, 120 years after the Ripper murders.
Which is a particularly idiot argument, isn’t it? For what is it that the judge has done? Stated, baldly, that these are murdered human beings who deserve justice. Put aside any other views you may have of them, their lifestyles, their mode of earning a living. Grant them the justice their ripped corpses demand.
This is misogyny, this is “bad” women who deserve their fate?
The Lord preserve us from bad arguments but then without such some would have no arguments at all, would they?