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A tale of two 17 year olds.

April 11, 2013


A tale of two 17 year olds.  Jack Cornwell VC (top) and Paris Brown (bottom)

There has been an minor avalanche of media coverage of Paris Brown, the former Youth Crime Commissioner for Kent. Ms Brown was controversially appointed by Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Anne Barnes who was acting off her own bat and not following the established procedure of consultation with other county youth organisations. Ms Brown resigned over what have been described as ‘offensive’ tweets, after only a short time in the post.

Much has been made by newscasts and television talking heads of Ms Brown’s tender age, 17. Up to a point I agree with them, most of us have done silly things at that age. However, being 17 doesn’t preclude someone from doing the right thing, or excuse them when they do the wrong thing.

I really don’t care about the content of Paris Brown’s tweets, I may not agree with her views but she should have the right to say them. Where Ms Brown has made a mistake is that she should have had the nous to understand, or been advised to understand, by those more knowledgable than her, that she was now in the public eye. This would have been especially useful advice to give her, since there had been questions raised over the nature or process of her appointment.

The chorus of people saying ‘unfair, she’s only 17’ are correct up to a point, but because they try to imply that there is a ‘youth-related-moral-get-out-clause’, those pushing this view tarnish those 17 year olds who are not potty-mouthed braggarts mindlessly willy-waving to the world. What about those 17 year olds who defended this country, who defended freedom often at the cost of their lives, what about Jack Cornwell VC for example?

The stories of Paris Brown and John ( known as Jack) Cornwell could not have been more different. Whereas Ms Brown has probably had access to an extended educational system that gave her every opportunity to learn, Jack Cornwell left school at 14 and got a job with a brewer. Ms Brown has, via Twitter, given one of her recreations as getting drunk. Instead of alcohol, Jack Cornwell joined the Scouts and won a special good conduct award for freeing a young girl who had got stuck down a drain.

There doesn’t seem to be any history of heroism in the resume of Paris Brown. Ms Brown applied for the job as Youth Police and Crime Commissioner, which was very well renumerated for someone of her age and experience. Jack Cornwell, even though he was underage, tried to join the Navy in 1914 and the start of World War I.

And so the non-similarities go on. Eventually Jack Cornwell managed to join the Navy in 1915. He was operating a naval gun when he was mortally wounded during the Battle of Jutland, he was aged 16 years and 5 months. For his actions, Jack Cornwell was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. For her actions and her words, Ms Brown has been made the subject of public ridicule.

Not all 17 year olds are the same, as can be seen by these two examples. Jack Cornwell’s sacrifice deeply moved the traditional working class community in Little Ilford from which he came. His actions were remembered by the community with a school, a pub and a community centre being later named after him.

It is very easy to see that Jack Cornwell was the product of a cohesive, patriotic hard-grafting working class community. He would not have been a hero if he hadn’t been taught that there were things, such as his nation, that were greater than himself. Paris Brown, on the other hand, appears to have been brought up in an environment where she, and those like her, are indulged by parents and schools, and where there is no higher power, no higher ideals and no concept of selflessness.

Sadly, the community that produced Jack Cornwell is long gone. Islamisation of the Newham area, which the local authority encouraged, has afflicted Little Ilford and the rest of East London very badly. Those members of Jack Cornwell’s community who could get out, got out to safer areas. What is left is but a shadow of the vibrant hard-working, patriotic and brave people who produced Jack Cornwell, and the community centre that was named in his memory now hosts Islamic Friday prayers. We cannot stand idly by while our young people are so badly served by those that are supposed to be educating them, and fitting them to take their place in adult society.


John Ward the conservative blogger from Kent has a lot of background on this case, enhanced by his considerable local knowledge of the politics of the county of Kent.  Start here for his take on the Paris Brown case.

The life of Jack Cornwell VC


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