Saturday, August 17, 2013

Celebrity paedophiles and Operation Yewtree

Last autumn in the UK a TV documentary was aired containing a number of allegations that a recently deceased (2011) famous DJ and TV presenter, Jimmy Savile, had sexually abused a number of girls over the decades. The allegations were particularly shocking because he had not only been a household name here, but had worked extensively with children, teenagers, hospital patients and prison inmates (through his media work but also volunteer work in hospitals and prisons). On the other hand the allegations weren’t surprising to many, not only because rumours had circled for years that he was ‘not quite right’ but because some people had been saying that Savile was part of a wider network of elite child-abusers, who were managing to get away with their abuse thanks to the veil of fame (i.e. the public – until recently – just couldn’t contemplate that a famous person could be a child-abuser) and having friends in powerful places.

It’s plausible that elite powerful people are often engaged in child abuse.

I don’t really have much to say about this theory that those in the elite networks of power are frequently involved in abusing young people and children, other than I think it has a certain plausibility. There are two possible motivations. Firstly that when people get into positions of power (e.g. wealth, fame and political connections) their appetites for ordinary sexual pleasure get jaded quickly, as they have access to any number of sexual experiences that they could desire (particularly during the pre-AIDS permissive ‘60s and ‘70s) and they have to move on to more extreme and forbidden experiences in order to get the same kick of excitement. That many people who climb to the tops of the trees of power may also be somewhat sociopathic only lends to the plausibility of this, as they perhaps don’t care at all if they hurt or traumatise people in search of pleasure. Secondly, there is a theory that paedophilic abuse may be used as a mechanism of control by those in the structures of political power. In other words, that it’s a sort of honey trap, of the sort that we know the intelligence agencies have used before. If you are within the elite power structures and you can lead some rising political or media star into abusing a young person, and get evidence of it, you have a very powerful grip of control over them in terms of potential blackmail. Child abuse is one of the very few things that can now end, for example, a politicians career (exposure of lying, financial skulduggery, marital infidelity etc are no longer necessarily career-destroyers). 

Examining the possibility of elite child-abuse should not ignite hysteria about men in general

Having said all that, I have no conclusive evidence that this is going on, but I think its well worth researching. However, equally, even if this is going on, I see it as a phenomenon of a tiny elite, and should NOT fuel a paedophile hysteria amongst the general population. 

Returning to the case of Jimmy Savile: after the TV documentary was broadcast, hundreds of further witnesses came forward to the police alleging that they had been abused by him, usually when they where children or teenagers, some of them boys. At the same time the police began to get allegations that other famous male celebrities had engaged in various forms of sexual abuse of young people. They formed an investigation called ‘Operation Yewtree’ to examine these allegations. I don’t have the greatest faith that the police are going to act in the most professional, objective and trustworthy manner in investigating such claims. On the one hand, their politically correct indoctrination means that they are primed to see abuse everywhere. On the other hand if they genuinely uncovered evidence of abuse amongst those in positions of REAL power (e.g. politics, royalty) I’m sure they would have their arms twisted to ignore it and instead concentrate the public’s attention on male celebrities. 

Anyway, the main point I want to make in this piece is that these abuse allegations are getting the public confused about what way or may not be going on. We need to stop and think very clearly and rationally about abuse allegations and draw some clear lines between categories. 

We need to make some rational distinctions between accusations and proven guilt, between paedophilia and pederasty

Firstly, we should obviously be cognizant of the right of everyone to be considered innocent until proven guilty. Some famous men are having their reputations dragged through the mud by the media before their case has even been brought to court. This is deeply unfair. 

Secondly, I think we need to distinguish between abuse which is genuinely paedophilic (i.e. abusing those who have not yet reached puberty, or are only in the very early stages of it) from that which is pederastic (i.e. having sexual relations with those who are teenagers/have gone through puberty). The former is surely worse than the later, and we shouldn’t let the more hysterical voices on this subject forbid us from making this distinction. 

Sexy young women are forgiven for sex-crimes in a way that men aren’t

Thirdly, I think we need to realise that most people are somewhat irrationally over-sensitive to allegations of abuse against middle-aged to older men. Its been noticed by many that women, particularly younger and good-looking women, seem to get a very easy-ride by the public when it comes to allegations of child/young-person abuse. If a sexy young teacher is caught having sexual relations with an under-the-legal-age boy, people treat it as forgivable, a joke or even something desirable. If the exact same situation occurred with a man, particularly one who was middle-aged and viewed as ‘un-sexy’, he would be aggressively condemned (e.g. the tabloids would do their best to whip-up a storm of indignation over it, and would publish comments suggesting that he should be violently punished). I think that when people are making up their own minds about how bad they think a particular crime is, their emotions play a big role. In other words they search their feelings about it, and the more disgust they feel, the worse they assume the crime is, and vice versa. This leads people to unfairly let sexy young women abusers off the hook, whilst condemning older male abusers irrationally harshly. Most people don’t think thinking of older men as having sexual feelings, and perhaps many feel disgust at the very idea. This disgust then gets conflated with people’s assessments of how bad they feel any potential ‘sexual abuse’ crime is.

People conflate their disgust with older-male sexuality with their emotional assessment of how bad a sex crime is.

I want to return now to the heart of the issue. I think not only is there a biased judgement against older men when it comes to allegations of sexually inappropriate conduct with teenagers only just under or over the age of sexual consent, but that men who are more powerful get judged less harshly than those who are ordinary or powerless. For example, if the public hears about an ordinary man who has an inappropriate relationship with someone just around the age of consent, they condemn him more strongly than if he is a fashionable, wealthy rock-star, for example. In other words, people – in the words of men’s writer Steven Moxon – police men vigorously on a hierarchical scale: both men and women assume that rich/powerful men should have access to women, whilst poorer/low-status men shouldn’t. This is often an unconscious evaluation, but nevertheless, look for it, you will see it occurring a lot. 

Lastly, all emotionally-close relations contain the possibility of one or both parties becoming emotionally hurt, regardless of the age of those involved. Even relationships which break-up when both parties are adults can lead to people brooding on them for years, nursing an emotional wound or sense of injustice. Sometimes the pain is justified, sometimes its blown out of proportion and warped over time through selective or faulty memory. This means that we need to tread lightly in any evaluation of how much hurt was caused by any historical relationship. We should also not be quick to condemn sexual relationships between older men and younger women (or men) if the younger party is of legal age and in a position to make an informed choice. 

1 comment:

Richard Ford said...

A brilliant bit of triangulation. We have many elements at play here. Feminism, disgust at older bodies and conspiracy theory. Cleveland had all of these elements too. I like the way that you reverse the conspiracy element so that conspiracy thinking now points to innocence and not guilt.

I hope that this makes sense.