When Peter Rippon made the fateful decision not to allow broadcast of Meirion Jones’ documentary on the alleged sexual abuse of girls at the Approved School headed by his aunt, it was the first full bodied drop of rain in what was to become the perfect storm.
Rippon says that he made the decision because he was not satisfied with the corroboration available for the girl’s story. Last week, with Rippon out of the picture, Newsnight threw aside the remnants of journalistic integrity and flew headlong down the path first detailed by Ronald Summit MD, the California based ‘child sex abuse’ expert who explained ‘why children must always be believed’ when they claim to have been abused. This in turn has become a meme that demands that even 60 year old adults with all the loss of detail that age brings ‘must be believed’ if they claim to have been sexually abused. Never mind that they might get their age wrong, the place wrong, the person allegedly abusing them wrong – they have to be telling ‘the truth’ for were they not ‘an abused child’? Following that path led Newsnight to broadcast an interview with Steve Messham during which he claimed to have been abused by ‘a leading Conservative’. Lord McAlpine’s name was quickly, and incorrectly, trending on the internet – with some judicious help from those such as Speaker’s wife, Sally Bercow – to the delight of all who wish to believe that child sexual abuse is something only practised by high ranking politicians - preferably from the ‘other party’ – or members of the judiciary. The fact remains that you are more likely to be sexually abused by your own Father or other humble family member, than any exotic celebrity, but that doesn’t shift newspapers half as well.
The two Newsnight programmes had neatly hooked into another meme popular on the Internet; that our lives are dominated by shape shifting lizards, Jews, homosexuals and other unpopular figures of the moment. There are no decent people in power, only a motley collection of the afore mentioned, the ‘decent people’ are all to be found condemned to a life at the ‘bottom of the pile’ bound in everlasting silence by a collection of the non existent ‘D’ notices to a life of servitude. It is a nonsense of course; there are as many decent people in power as there are paedophiles struggling to pay the gas bill on minimum wage – but that doesn’t shift newspapers half as well either.
We are now in the grip of a perfect storm – the humble who claim to have been abused are feted and forgiven every inconsistency in their story, the mighty are to be brought down on the basis of gossip and innuendo with no excuses or explanations permitted.
The losers in all of this are those children who have been sexually abused; and who will be in the future. For the entire focus is on suitable retribution for those whose names have been bandied about – ranging from the regulatory; more CRB checks – to the punitive; castration, string him up, drive a stake through his heart – to the positively medieval; heads on spikes outside parliament through to (in Savile’s case) digging up his corpse and tossing it into the North Sea. They all forget one salient fact – that for any of these actions to take place, someone has to at least claim to have been abused by that person – worse, to have actually been sexually abused.
I have yet to see even the smallest suggestion that anything useful might be done to prevent a child being the victim of an abuser in the first place. Only to prevent a child from being the victim of a ‘repeat offender’. Are we really such a primitive society that we can only deal with putting a lock on the stable door after the horse has bolted? Even then, we are only interested in the famous racehorses? What price a child coming forward to try to say that he has been abused by the broken down old nag known to him as Uncle Fred? Would his voice even be heard in this cacophony of gilded revelations?
As a society, we send forth such confused messages to those whose sexual preferences are for the very young – which genetically, I might point out, is a more logical preference than an interest in middle aged women. (For the avoidance of doubt here, I am not talking about true paedophilia but ephobophilia, which unlike paedophilia is not listed as a recognised mental aberration). How is it that a small fraction of human beings, and most often men, can have sexual preferences for objects such as shoes, for parts of the human body such as hair or feet, or for inappropriate partners such as animals or children?
We demand that 13 year old girls be given the birth control pill if they wish, thus reinforcing the view that there is nothing wrong with sex at that age; we offer them the morning after pill if they have declined birth control; we declare that ‘they have made their own choices’ and set them up in a government funded flat when they rebel against their parents wishes and continue to sleep with a hopelessly unsuited partner. Then we work ourselves into a paroxysm of moral outrage when a DJ squeezes their bottom.
We say ‘its not that bad’ in the courts when a 21 year old man sleeps with them, and slap him on the wrist; woe betide him at age 28 if he is still sexually excited by the same things he was at 21. Somewhere around his 27th birthday he is supposed to single-handedly magically transform his sexual preferences. Preferences which we are told, emerge pre-puberty. It is quite illogical.
We have been told for years by the ‘gay lobby’ that homosexual preferences emerge pre-puberty and should not be thwarted. The law was changed on these grounds so that those who could not control their preferences should not be criminalised. Retrospectively no less, which is an interesting conundrum facing those young boys coming forward saying they were sodomised in the 1980s…er, yes, it was wrong then, but it isn’t now, so nowt you can do about it?
I am not by any stretch of the imagination campaigning for the age of consent to be lowered. Rather for a two pronged attack on the problem. Neither of which will sell newspapers.
First, that the age of consent is routinely observed by everyone, governments included. Families especially. Let’s see brothers walk their sisters home again, Mothers watching their daughters with eagle eyes once more – sitting on the internet howling with rage because you’ve just seen a grainy Youtube clip of a DJ ‘possibly’ rubbing the lower back of a ‘possibly’ teenage girl is no substitute you know.
Secondly, I am minded of the early days of Aids. A time when everyone was terrified of Aids victims. When it required a royal led campaign to even shake the hand of an Aids victim. Until someone actually worked out that all the vilification and moral outrage was only going to drive Aids victims underground where they would infect anybody who happened to be passing. Much better to effect a calmer atmosphere whereby those who believed they might have Aids were able to come forward for help and advice. The gay lobby were largely responsible for that change in atmosphere, albeit through self interest.
At the moment, anyone who is aware that they are attracted to the underaged sexual partner, whether just ’underaged’ or a true ‘child’ is only able to access help and advice once they have committed a criminal act against a child. Until then they are supposed to rely on their moral compass and the words of the good book – worked well for the Catholic church didn’t it? There they all were, steeped in the ‘good book’, outlining the moral path ahead on a daily basis for their congregation, and they still couldn’t overcome their sexual urges! How likely is it that those with a ‘lower IQ’, difficulty with their memory, a higher likelihood of childhood brain injury, lower educational achievement, who form the bulk of paedophiles, are going to achieve this standard without help and support?
The media storm of ‘naming and shaming’ offenders is actively working against this approach. It implies that so long as you shame and penalise those who have already committed an offence against a child, you have solved the problem.
I believe the Inca’s stopped handing the gods a child sacrifice in order to effect a change in society thousands of years ago – isn’t it about time we did too?