Saturday, 8 August 2015

Big smack for Jack

Huge controversy over the opening of a Jack The Ripper Museum in East London. Those for it and those against it are slugging it out, abuse is being hurled in all directions, the museum windows have been smashed, and the owner is lying low.

Supporters say it's informative and sympathetic to the victims. Opponents say it's misogynist rubbish and local residents were hoodwinked about the nature of the museum.

Needless to say, most of the protesters haven't actually been round the museum, but they feel free to criticise it and demand its closure.

The critics maintain that when the museum was first announced to the locals, the idea was to "recognise and celebrate the women of the East End", showcasing 150 years of social history including the Match Girls Union, the Suffragettes, and the Bengali women who fought racism.

Residents say they were shocked to find the original plans had been scrapped in favour of a museum about an infamous 19th-century murderer of female prostitutes.

Well, I rather think the protesters are going a bit over the top. Yes, a museum about women of the East End, especially feminist women, would have been excellent. But is a museum about a woman-hating murderer such a dreadful alternative?

The museum's owner, Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe, denies it's celebrating or glorifying the murderer. He says it's very much from the point-of-view of the victims.

Since almost nobody has actually checked out the museum's content, who can say what angle it takes and whether the protesters have valid arguments or whether they're going ape-shit over a contrived outrage?

Surely anyone with any sense of fair play would at least properly investigate what they're fuming at before making such a public song-and-dance about it. But such scruples seem to be a thing of the past.


  1. scruples? what are scruples?
    nobody knows the word anymore! much less uses what it implies.
    well. that's a blanket statement if i ever made one! LOL.
    but i'm with you completely here about the little museum.

    i suppose the guy is just trying to make a living and wants his share of the tourism dollar. or excuse me. pound.

    and also ... the thought crosses my mind...
    there are SO MANY other more important things they could use their protesting energy on i think.
    after all. jack and the ladies are LONG GONE.
    to take on a little obscure museum seems so puny and irrelevant to today.
    kind of makes me recall that line in the movie 'on the waterfront.'
    when marlon brando was asked "what are you rebelling against?"
    he replied... "what'cha got?"

    over here for me it would be to change the horrific 'factory farming' practices that everybody so blithely ignores so they can continue to scarf down their CHEAP hamburgers and bacon while those animals are suffering an unimaginably torturous existence until they're finally slaughtered.
    and the slaughter houses are handled in horrific ways for the most part.
    now THAT'S worth a protest in my book.
    where are all those protesters about that?

    it's so interesting what silly things get people stirred up these days. when they happily ignore some really major issues.
    issues that might make a difference for people AND animals AND the planet.

    oh. LOLOL!!! have i opened enough cans of worms here in another overlong comment?
    i guess i need to be standing on that little box in the park in london.
    i love you nick! let the games begin!
    oh... and p.s.
    in case you didn't go back... i meant I was the complainer. NOT YOU!!!
    i left you a reply. :)

  2. Tammy: Indeed, there are much more important things to be protesting about. Like all the British victims of FGM, or the huge gulf between male and female wages, or the widespread rape culture. Or as you say, factory farming. I've been a vegetarian for 40 years, that's my protest.

    As for the phenomenal amount of energy wasted on trashing celebs....

    Ah, Speakers' Corner, a wonderful institution. Opinion in all its 101 varieties. I used to go there regularly at one time.

  3. Did they ever even find out who Jack the Ripper really was?

  4. Bijoux: No, he was never identified. In fact it's not known if it was one killer or several, or even which murders were the work of Jack the Ripper and which weren't. The name "Jack the Ripper" originated in a letter from someone claiming to be the murderer.

  5. Problematic with this whole concept was that Jack the Ripper never existed and also to focus on these tortured and slaughtered women as if unusual and unique when it still occurs every single day.

    I thought this article in the Guardian addressed my initial reaction quite well.


  6. www: Good point that this sort of male violence goes on all the time and wasn't just a shocking one-off. It was only unusual in that one man was thought to have murdered not just one woman but a number of women.

    I read Deborah Orr's article but I thought she was way over the top. She purports to know exactly what's in the museum although she's never been there. She says the owner is "exploiting a series of vile crimes" but you could equally say that the original plan was "exploiting" an interest in feminist history. She says the victims "deserve to be remembered with respect"; well, maybe they are, if we knew what was actually in the museum. A very one-sided piece, if you ask me.

  7. It makes me curious as to what is actually in the museum.

  8. You said “. . . As for the phenomenal amount of energy wasted on trashing celebs. . .” you should add 'the phenomenal amount of money' wasted as well. How much of the taxpayers money is being spent on paying five different police forces to investigate the supposedly dirty deeds of Sir Edward Heath? What is the point? Haven't they noticed that he is no longer with us, he's an ex-person, he's demised, and not in a position to defend himself.

    That money would be better spent on cancer research, or helping poor children have a better life and future.

    Let the idiots have their gruesome Ripper museum. You have a free choice, if you don't like it, then don't go and visit it. Let the ghouls go and revel in it if it keeps them off the streets!

  9. Keith: Very true, investigating Edward Heath, who as you say is dead and can't defend himself, is an amazing waste of money. What's done is done and I can't see how these investigations are going to help the alleged victims in any way. Colossal amounts of money are spent in Northern Ireland investigating murders and crimes from decades ago, with very little to show for it.

  10. This is probably off-topic... but probably more interesting than the Ripper museum -

    I think there have been battles to save it.

  11. Blimey.. forgotten how to do links!!!

  12. Scarlet: Interesting. Although I lived in London for many years, I'd never heard of the Cross Bones Graveyard or the idea that it was a prostitutes' graveyard (apparently pure supposition with no supporting evidence). I've never heard of special graveyards for prostitutes, so it seems very unlikely. And if it's just an ordinary (if overcrowded) graveyard, I wonder why Southwark Council and the locals attach so much importance to it? There are much more interesting graveyards, like Highgate Cemetery.

  13. I don't agree with you.

    It's the glorification of the slaughter of women, who were already vulnerable and as has been pointed out, this continues today.

    With these kinds of murders, the focus is all about the perpetrators and the hideous violence they dole out. The museum becomes a shrine to male violence, the women the helpless victims, the horrible mutilations that were carried out, probably as they lay dying.

    It's hard to see how it would be any other way. Especially, given the name. They could have chosen any number of names. They did not.

    Cheap thrills on the back of violence against women. Nope. I'll pass.

  14. Rose: You make a persuasive argument. That may very well be the flavour of the museum, though as I say as yet hardly anyone has been round it so it's impossible to know. Certainly if it puts the emphasis on male violence rather than those subjected to it, and the various campaigns trying to end it, then that's thoroughly objectionable.

  15. it's the lying that takes the biscuit. He wouldn't have got planning permission for a Jack the Ripper museum, because it's well-known that plenty of locals are pissed off at the squads of tourists tramping past their front doors on Jack the Ripper tours; the "Women's museum" idea picked up on the local controversy when the various feminist archives in the area closed and were taken over by the LSE Library in central London. In part this is a backlash locally against the developers who play games with the rules; this looks like a particularly blatant example. I do wonder, though planning law may not allow the council to require a developer to stick to the original business plan (a museum is a museum for anything, a shop can change from a candlestick-maker's to a baker's without planning permission), whether this isn't close to criminally obtaining financial advantage by deception.

  16. Autolycus: Interesting point about whether the changes amount to a breach of planning law/ planning permission. If an application for a butcher's shop turned out to be a porn shop, presumably it could be shut down? If I were the local council, I think I'd retaliate by being super-strict about health and safety and any other regulations the business is obliged to adhere to.

  17. Nick, I'm no expert, but that particular example would be a special case, because as I understand it, a sex shop per se requires special planning permission/licensing, and so do the people operating it (that's what drove organised crime out of Soho). But there's nothing in planning law to stop a valued local specialist shop becoming just another cloned chain clothes boutique or Poundland. Years ago, my mother got very het up about the sale of a local haberdasher's, of a kind that doesn't exist any more, but there's nothing you can do when money talks to the landowner and the customers just aren't there to pay for the lease.

  18. Autolycus: I'm old enough to remember the kind of haberdasher you're referring to. And yes, it's a shame so many of those useful specialist shops have been driven out of business. Like hardware shops and shoe repairers and dry cleaners. But as you say, if the customers have gone elsewhere, what can you do?

  19. Yes, I suppose one would need to view the museum before protesting but the very name is controversial. If it's from the point of view of the women then a more suitable name could have been found surely?
    What if someone decided to open a Yorkshire Ripper museum?

  20. Liz: Yes, there must be a more suitable name than the existing one. And as you say, somebody needs to go round the museum and tell us exactly what the emphasis is. I notice that their website says "The Museum takes a look at the history of women in the East End in the Victorian era and discusses why so many women had little choice in their lives other than to turn to prostitution." If that's actually what the museum does, I wouldn't object, but does it?

  21. Having looked at their gift-shop items on the website, I must say I do object to T shirts and mugs that say simply "Jack the Ripper" and show a splattering of blood. Normalising murder and violence as just another take-home souvenir.

  22. Update: Tower Hamlets Council says it "has no control in planning terms of the nature of the museum.

" However, it will be investigating whether “unauthorised works” have been carried out at the premises.

  23. This article includes details of what's in the museum:

  24. People go on rampage here against books, movies and facebook posts without having pesonally read or seen any of the stuff agaist which they agitate. This is par for what we call the lumpen elements to vent out some surplus energy and life simply goes on after a couple of days of some blood letting.

  25. Ramana: Oh, they do the same here. People are constantly getting worked up about things they have no personal experience of, only what they've heard or read somewhere. Don't they realise how stupid they look?

    Funnily enough, all the protests about the museum seem to have faded away. As you suggest, maybe it was just a couple of days of bloodletting.