If you’re living in Britain at the moment, it can’t have escaped your notice that paedophilia is the flavour of this generation’s angst. Or should I say, a previous generation’s angst.
I’ve already posted on one high profile case (as well as the media’s lily-livered reaction to it): the DJ and entertainer, Jimmy Savile. Tonight, it would appear that the BBC current affairs programme “Newsnight” will – if it doesn’t find itself looking down the barrel of a super-injunction – reveal that a senior politician from the Thatcher era was allegedly involved in similar activities. What’s more, it would seem that this person is still alive.
The Twitterverse is going pretty barmy with the rumours at the moment, as the Twitterverse tends to do in such matters. But I do wonder if we shouldn’t take a wider look at what’s happening here. Over the past few days, I’ve read about 650 instances of abuse in 40 boys’ homes located in North Wales; astonishing allegations of a paedophile ring close to the heart of a previous government; celebrities various arrested and bailed by the London police; and a general and growing sensation of something very ugly.
Paedophilia is most definitely ugly: an attack by the strong and imposing on the most defenceless of all our citizens. This sudden raft of revelations is clearly a cry for justice: that Jimmy Savile appears to have been so “prolific” is, for example, an undeniable way for an emotionally awful boil of such characteristics to be utterly lanced once and for all.
But bringing to light paedophilia as a crime of previous and supposedly responsible generations also fits another curiously appropriate purpose: that of attributing terrible acts to such generations which, however agile and cunning their political arts under normal circumstances, cannot ultimately escape a finally ignominious fate and vigorous condemnation from their very own offspring – both figurative and literal.
It’s almost a challenge from beyond the grave: these politicians, celebrities and makers and shakers of all characteristics might have managed to conserve their reputations as far as history was concerned – but try and beat this rap if you can.
So if I am right in the psychology of this, even a little, even a mite, where Thatcher and her reputation for Iron Lady could not be properly besmirched by political discourse – essentially because those who supported her saw value in precisely those elements which her opposition so violently criticised her for – they most certainly can be damaged, and perhaps in the near future fatally for Cameron & Co, by such profoundly unsettling allegations about the establishment’s behaviours in the distant but still imposing edifices of the past.
In summary, revealing crimes of paedophilia is a perfect way (whether subconsciously or not) to forcefully hit back once and for all not only at the perceived sexual abuses of a prior generation but also their far more prosaically sociopolitical ones: a perfect way to hit back for those of us who are hurting because of what our parents’ generation has done to this world – a world we are now to do little more than survive in; a perfect way to hit back for those of us who feel society has become a heartless machine – a machine whose humanity is now so very visible by its manifest absence.
Update to this post: today, November 3rd, Tom Watson has published a terrifying series of observations, on the basis of information only a politician of his integrity is ever in the position of having honest access to. As he rightly concludes:
I wish I could fight the case of everybody who has been abused by a paedophile who has so far got away with it, but I can’t. That is a job for the police. Up and down the country private grief is being stirred by these stories. I cannot help in each individual case, but the police and support services can, must and will. If you were abused a long time ago and want justice now, go to the police. It is not too late.
What I am going to do personally is to speak out on this extreme case of organised abuse in the highest places. At the core of all child abuse is the abuse of power. The fundamental power of the adult over the child. Wherever this occurs it is an abomination. But these extreme cases are abuse of power by some of the most powerful people. Abuse of trust by some of the most trusted. It is a sickening story, but one which – like the truth about Jimmy Savile – is now going to be told.
I strongly advise you to read his article in full. As with the hacking scandal, this strikes at the very soul of a very British way of doing things. Whilst communities were destroyed in the name of distant and abstruse economic policy, these politicians were untouchable. But even an establishment as powerful and navel-gazing as the British clearly has been – well, it cannot resist forever the tidal wave of ordinary people’s disgust.
Whilst political argument and discourse acted as a barrier to closer examination, there was nothing we could do.
But there always comes a time when good people like Mr Watson get to have their say.
A moment and opportunity to truly re-examine our profoundest and most hurtful memories.
All power to him, then. All power to the people.