Thursday, 4 October 2012

Savile's Travails

'Great artist does bad things' is not news," writes Suzanne Moore in today's Guardian G2. Savile was not a great artist and known in the business as 'Jim'll Fuck it.'

All this was a very long time ago, as we keep being reminded. Those were the days, my friend, those guys thought they would never end. The terrible thing is, they haven't.

Many years ago, W T Stead, editor of the Northern Echo, shocked English society - still reeling from the Oscar Wilde trials - by exposing the trade in child prostitution in the pages of the Pall Mall Gazette.

Stead, who went down in the Titanic in April 1912, evidently was not one to pass by on the other side when his conscience was offended, unlike some of those belatedly declaring mea culpa over the dead body of Jimmy Savile. Esther Rantzen at least had the honesty to admit: "We all colluded in preserving the myth of Jimmy Savile" - or words to that effect.

The revelations about celebrity Sir Jimmy's sexual proclivities coincided with the disappearance of little Welsh girl April Jones. Anybody inclined to offer Savile's memory the benefit of the doubt, on the basis that you are innocent until proved guilty, is likely to think twice now. All the good he did with his charity fund-raising is going to be buried with his golden coffin. The words "paedophile and rapist" on the plaque commemorating his presence in Scarborough, where he had an apartment, are indicative of the public mood.

Suzanne Moore says Jimmy Savile "gave a lot of us the creeps for decades". I wasn't one of them. The vulgar bling, the absurd hair, the phallic cigar, I just took to be the costume accessories of the Rock 'n' Roll business - bigging yourself up for the cameras. I liked Jim'll Fix It. Never for a second did I imagine that the avuncular chuckling Jim was wondering how to get inside the knickers of the young girls who sat on his knee. His sudden headlong fall from public favour does not gratify me, though I can imagine the derisive laughter from those groomers of young girls in Rochdale and elsewhere, on the receiving end of society's righteous justice. The only difference was that white boy Sir Jimmy was allowed to get away with it.  

Having spent a couple of years in London's East End working on Adventure Playgrounds in the early Seventies and seen what Lord of the Flies little beasts children can be, I don't have any tender illusions about childhood innocence. Remember, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, both aged ten in 1993, tortured and murdered two-and-a-half-year-old Jamie Bulger by the side of a railway track in Liverpool. I saw two young boys, they were friends, having a scrap when one of them, with a swift underarm swoop, jabbed the other in the midriff with the blade of a penknife, drawing blood.

Our notion of what childhood is changes with the times. Long ago, girls as young as the ones fingered and fucked by Jimmy Savile were married off by their families. Arranged marriages of young girls and boys is still prevalent in parts of the world, especially Pakistan. England's Industrial Revolution was partly built by the little hands of childen underground in mines, off the ground in chimneys and on the ground in textile mills, darting between swishing belts of spinning machinery to pick up toppled bobbins. Opposition to Richard Oastler's Ten Hours Bill - to cut the working hours of children in factories - and to get them out of collieries, often came from their families, who needed the money. In Pol Pot's Kampuchea, young Khmer Rouge recruits sent professional  men and women to their death. The same happened in Mao's Red China. Children were the little angels of death. What did they grow up to be, those of them who survived?

The notion of what childhood is now means that what was common in the past is unlawful, and this includes watching kiddie porn in the privacy of one's own home. Society says that voyeurism of this kind tacitly condones the brutality of the actual act. Society is also apt to have double standards about sex in all its hydra-headed aspects. The American writer Camille Paglia has a lot to say about this in her book Sexual Personae. The following is an excerpt from a blog she wrote in 2007. The subject is paedophilia:-

The media makes it easier, as the tabloids often paint the crime in such ludicrously over-the-top and pseudo-emotive terms (monster, beast, rot in hell Moira Hindley, etc), that it actually almost makes a mockery of the seriousness of the crime and makes it harder for people to take seriously.

I do think some of the anti-paedophilia measures people enforce are misplaced and easy to portray as 'over-the-top'. But the misplacement is put out of all proportion, men whine and yelp about how some man, somewhere, wasn't allowed to photograph somebody's child at a football match, or about how a father wasn't allowed to host toddler's gatherings in his house on account of his being a man, instead of highlighting all these times where things went the other way.. where men were given positions of responsibility over children and abused them, where they were allowed to work with children despite having been accused of rape before, where they used the guise of photography to take photographs for their own gratification.

In almost every way our society fails to protect children from paedophiles.. it doesn't over-coddle them and over-protect them. If anything, it underestimates the liklihood of abuse.

Friend, no matter how rich, celebrated or well-connected you are, you don't have a natural right to get off on whatever turns you on. That's not a law of nature, it's the law of the land.

1 comment:

Rhissanna said...
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