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Britain’s got talons: just how cruel are we?

By Tom Chatfield  

Transfixed by the public eye…

Novelist Maggie Gee, in her essay for this month’s Prospect, takes a long look at an especially knotty social question: just how cruel are the British people today? On the one hand, she explores the “tide of sympathy” that the media seems perpetually primed to unleash over particular kinds of public tragedy—Jade Goody’s untimely death, the prime minister or the leader of the opposition losing a child. On the other hand, she teases out a certain “excessive curiosity tinged…

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