I think it was Oscar Wilde who said “There is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about”.
On that basis, things could definitely be a lot worse, as heretics and heresy are constantly in the news these days. What’s different this month, though, is that the talk has not just been about the latest savage sentencing or celebrity exposé or busted paedo “ring”. No, the tone has been a fraction more elevated in the wake of Jon Henley’s story in the Guardian, which raised not just eyebrows but also quite a lot of chatter in interesting places.
Mark Williams-Thomas was probably the first high-profile figure out of the blogs. This guy, it may be recalled, is the ex-detective whose dodgy documentary for ITV on Jimmy Savile finally set ablaze the dry tinder of rumour about the late entertainer last October. He was quick enough, mainly on the word of a woman who has been dismissed as a serial fantasist, to trash Savile’s reputation. But he seemed stunned into disbelief that Heretic TOC had surfaced in a Guardian article. He tweeted, “Is it the real Tom O’Carroll from Paedophile Info Exc…?” There are of course many wannabe T.O’C.s, lookalikes, tribute acts and outright imposters, but Heretic TOC can assure him that, yes, this time it was the real McCoy (or O’Carroll).
And then there was Murdoch-bashing (well, he’s got one thing right) MP Tom Watson, who lost no time in blogging about Henley’s article and reviving his campaign against my former PIE committee colleague Peter Righton, one-time Director of Education at the National Institute of Social Work. If Watson is to be believed, Righton was into a VIP underage rent boy scene back in those days, involving a B&B in the upmarket Barnes district of London. Watson is claiming there is intelligence pointing to a “powerful paedophile network” linked to parliament and No 10 Downing Street. Naturally, in these no-stone-unturned times, Scotland Yard has started an inquiry.
If it is true, I can only say I’ve got a bone to pick with Peter: the bugger never told me about this exciting network, so I missed out on all the fun! Mind you, perhaps it’s just as well, or I’d be in the hot seat now. Seriously, though, as I told the Daily Mirror’s Tom Pettifor when he phoned again a couple of days ago, I had not the faintest inkling of any such shenanigans. As for Peter, I haven’t seen or heard from him in many years, but I wish him well: from our committee meetings, I recall a very affable, jolly, cultured man, of tastes and sensibilities as generous as his ample girth. As for him being a sexually dangerous figure, in my judgment he was no more dangerous than a rather rich gourmet meal washed down with a couple of bottles of vintage claret – pleasures I suspect he indulged in rather more often than steamy sessions in Barnes.
More fun than either the dodgy-doc cop or the campaigning MP, though, is a short YouTube video, shot to express outrage over the Guardian “giving a paedophile a platform”. I won’t spoil it by saying exactly what happens. I’ll just add that it is well worth sticking with, despite first impressions, especially for the spectacular demonstration of the presenter’s wrath. More wrath, too, in an unrelated clip that reveals Adolph Hitler’s towering rage over Jimmy Savile’s downfall. Don’t miss it: this is a classic!
What else? Ah, yes, there was Notorious Paedophile Reads Neuroskeptic. Remember Neuroskeptic? That’s the British neuroscientist blogger who backed Heretic TOC’s Doubting Thomas line on alleged paedophilic deficiencies of white matter in the brain. See Scientific egos as fragile as eggs and The dubious analogy of the ‘extra arm’. After citing the Guardian article, Neuroskeptic says “Now oddly enough, I recently had an encounter with O’Carroll, although I didn’t know who he was at the time. Here’s the tale…” Somewhat inconclusively, he concludes: “Now, as I said, I hadn’t heard of Tom O’Carroll at the time, and I assumed he had a purely academic interest in the matter, as a piece of oversold neuroscience. But now, thanks to the Guardian drama, I realize that…Britain’s most notorious paedophile reads Neuroskeptic….Hmm.”
Hmm? What’s that supposed to mean? That paedos should not be allowed to read about science? Or what? As for a “purely academic interest”, it would be naïve of Neuroskeptic to suppose that anyone’s interest in researching the structure of paedophilic brains is particularly “pure”: it is as much a political project as a scientific one: it is a phrenology of deviance, and its effect, if not the researchers’ conscious intention, will be to further entrench “the paedophile” as radically Other.
OK, that about wraps up this slightly self-indulgent round up of the gossip. Next time, all being well, Heretic TOC will be back to more challenging material. In particular, I have been asked to provide details of my further exchanges with Dr James Cantor on the science of the white matter issue. I won’t be offended if anyone skips this post, as it will be pretty technical. But some, I hope, will relish exactly that: less of the froth, more of the nitty gritty.