No easy way to say this…

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There’s no easy way to say this, so I guess I’d better just dive in. Heretic TOC is going to be taking a sabbatical, probably for at least six months.

I need the time. A whole heap of stuff I should be doing has been long neglected and I feel I really must give myself a chance to catch up. In “Heretic TOC gets its mojo back” late last year, I was honestly able to report that the blog seemed to be going very well after a difficult patch. However, I also said time was a problem: “I would love to be spending time on writing books, and articles for academic publications, in addition to time spent on the blog. Right now, though, it just ain’t happening.”

It still ain’t. I don’t propose to take up space regaling you with details of all the projects I have languishing on the back burner – not just writing, but much more. I went into all that with an old friend of this blog, the estimable Leonard Sisyphus Mann, in an email exchange yesterday, and I can tell you my summarised sins of omissions pushed up towards 600 words.

And now, having mentioned LSM, it would be reprehensible not to add that he has a fabulous new blog post fresh out this very day, called “Dr Cantor & the Case of the Extrapolated Equivalence”, a title sure to whet the appetite of the many heretics who have followed the career of Jimmy the Screamer.

I nearly said I would be letting Heretic TOC lie fallow for a while, until it dawned on me that fields are left fallow when the crops are not growing too well and the land needs time to recover. But the “land” is still very fertile at the moment, judging by strong visitor numbers and encouraging feedback in terms of published comments and private emails. I also like to think some of my best work has been recent. Perhaps that is the root of the problem. Back in 2012 I started off with short top-of-the-head opinion blogs, doing one every day with what now seems ridiculous ease. But as you go on you tend to become more ambitious, probing the chosen topics ever more deeply. And that eats up more and more time…

So, after over 200 blogs in a little over four years (this is the 202nd) I need to change course, with almost immediate effect. A while ago, though, I said I would be tackling Ancient Greece as a theme, and I hope to do that soon as a final project before the sabbatical starts. It should be something very special as it will take the form of an interview with a leading scholar who has kindly agreed to grace Heretic TOC with his presence.

All I would add at this stage is my heartfelt thanks for your interest and often wonderful comments (of which 8,644 had been published as of yesterday), plus the suggestion that this would be a good time to think about becoming a regular subscriber to H-TOC, if you are not already signed up, so that future blogs will go straight to your email inbox. This will save the hassle of checking in from time to time to see whether anything new has appeared. That’s fine when there is always something new but could be irritating when there is a long gap between one blog and the next.

As for whether I will eventually return to blogging as regularly as I have until now, I rather doubt it. It’s not that I am running out of things to write about, quite the contrary: there are more and more, not least on account of the turbulent times we live in. On the plus side, my love of writing probably guarantees I will not be able to resist holding forth here again at least occasionally; guest blogs will still be welcome, too, and likewise lots of comments, of course. I will still be here to moderate and chip into the discussion. Also, I hope I will now be able to find time to bring out a Best of Heretic TOC book, with an e-book edition. This is one of those many projects I should be able to switch from the back burner to the front.

 

NEWS ROUNDUP

My blog last time about Milo Yiannopoulos, “Milo gives good (talking) head – usually”, coincided with one of those crazy spells when on-topic news is suddenly fizzing and exploding all over the place like a spectacular fireworks display. Lots of items would be worth a blog on their own, but – consistent with my intention to bow out for a while – I will settle for just acknowledging some of the main British ones briefly here.

  • Towards the end of last month the much heralded hearings of the massively overblown, unwieldy “Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse” (IICSA) finally got under way under its fourth chairwoman, having already frittered away well over £20 million of taxpayers’ money in the two and a half years of its existence. Totally in accordance with this disastrously dysfunctional background, the first hearings focused on events thousands of miles away, decades ago, with the allegedly guilty parties all dead and so unable to defend themselves, and the institutions they represented no longer engaged in the complained of activities, so there are no continuing wrongs that must urgently be put right. The events in question have in any case already been the subject of a massive investigation on the far side of the globe. Could there possibly be any more utterly pointless exercise than expensively going through the entire process again? Some of the survivors (of what admittedly do seem to have been some horrible cases, primarily of callous child exploitation and neglect) said they wanted to see the guilty parties “named and shamed”, even though they were dead. Shamed? Someone should tell them the dead cannot so much as blush. They are quite literally shameless. The barrister Barbara Hewson wrote a good piece for Spiked on how an inquiry should be run.
  • Meanwhile, the police chief in charge of Operation Hydrant, which is supposed to be coordinating a whole string of other named police operations investigating allegations of “non-recent” child sexual abuse, has been showing signs of being just as overwhelmed as IICSA. So overwhelmed, indeed, that instead of redoubling his efforts in the face of hopeless odds, he has done a remarkably sensible thing by admitting defeat. But not on the “non-recent” aka ancient history front. No, apparently we can expect the police to keep on performing more “operations” than the NHS for the foreseeable future. Much more interestingly, the police chief in question has reiterated his remarkably liberal view that mere downloaders of child porn should not be jailed. Simon Bailey, who is the chief constable of Norfolk and lead on child protection for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said forces were operating beyond capacity because of the sheer volume of reports. This follows an NSPCC report claiming as many as 500,000 people in the UK could be involved with sharing illegal images of children online. Bailey said “we cannot arrest our way out of the situation…we must make prevention and rehabilitation a priority”. But this change of tack is surely far too humane and rational for the government to accept.
  • Not strictly news any longer, having been reported last August and somehow been neglected here, the extensive new statistics on sexual, physical or psychological abuse experienced before age 16 in England and Wales, published by the Office for National Statistics, are nonetheless important. This is because, unlike other surveys, these figures have been touted as “the first official estimates of their kind in the world”, conducted by a reputable survey body and based on a properly representative sample of adults aged 16 to 59, rather than a self-selected group, who were recalling their childhood experience. However, it has to be said that, in line with the spirit of the times, the questions asked seem designed to obscure rather than reveal the quality of the experiences in question. It appears to be assumed, for instance, that any sexual touching or penetration by an adult must have been unwanted. Table 9 is quite interesting in this regard, showing reasons why the “survivor” did not tell anyone about the sexual event. Although a number of reasons are set out their meaning is opaque, including quite a lot of responses categorised as “Some other reason”. What you will not find, but which is a definite possibility, is that many respondents did not regard the activity as “abuse” at the time. Another sign of the times is that genuine abuse – physical and psychological – is passed over very briefly in the report.

LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM – WTF?

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… localism instead of convergence, identitarianism instead of universalism, short-sighted egotism instead of collaboration, and the calamitous idea of focusing on those considered to be similar while shunning “the other”. I fear the way that so many people hope to defend themselves from the malaise of life, from existential confusion, by choosing a group identity and sticking to it.  – Carlo Rovelli, theoretical physicist, former radical student activist, historian of the philosophy of science

The politics of identity is narcissistic and needy…. It’s all inherently censorious. Because if your political activism is indistinguishable from your natural characteristics or cultural identity, then any criticism of your political activism will inevitably feel like an assault on *you*. This is why student politicos in particular are so insanely cagey about open debate, forever hiding themselves in “safe spaces” and trying to ward off campus anyone who criticises them in the same way monks might once have wielded crucifixes to chase away witches. – Brendan O’Neill, editor of Spiked! in The Spectator

Are identity politics intrinsically as disastrous as Rovelli and O’Neill claim? After all, there could be no politics at all without groups of like-minded people rallying together against others who think differently. These opposing groups have always thought in “Us and Them” terms, if not along lines of gender and sexuality then of social class and wealth. In Britain and elsewhere these differences have been the lifeblood of democracy. Marx urged the working class to unite. This could be considered identity politics because the workers first had to identify themselves as part of the “working class”, a separate entity set against the exploitative “bourgeoisie”. But at least Marx envisioned a society beyond class warfare, based on equality and justice for all. His thinking was grounded in a universal concept of justice, with fairness for everyone, not winner-takes-all. This ideal was betrayed in those countries that took the revolutionary road; but democratic socialism has been more honourably successful.

Like democratic socialism, our vision for the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) in the 1970s was grounded in a universalist ethic. We believed in sexual liberation for all, not just for paedophiles. That is why we supported women’s liberation and children’s rights – the right to sexual expression, of course, but much more as well. It is why we supported GLs not just the BLs who were always by far the largest part of our membership. Even sociologist Frank Furedi has conceded that “PIE and its sympathisers did not simply express a form of liberationist identity politics”. Yes, we initially rallied together around our shared sexuality, as the “working class” once rallied around their labouring status, and as women and gays rallied around their gender and sexual desire; but shared identity was just an organising tactic in the service of a vision – as we saw it – for everyone, not just our own narrow group.

There were those in the gay movement who thought in a similarly constructive, inclusive way. It is thanks to them, and to those who began to identify and organise as other sexual minorities, that the male homosexual identity (gay) made common cause with the female one (lesbian) and those of bisexuals and transgender people, giving us the combined LGBT movement. This is now sometimes expanded to include Q for Queer, the last of which is potentially a capacious vessel for those who don’t fit in anywhere else and don’t quite feel able to come out as anything definite. Wonder who that could let in? 🙂

It hasn’t stopped there, either. We now have a rich alphabet soup, even extending in one formulation to LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, flexural (WTF?), asexual, gender-fuck, polyamorous, bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism”. At first blush it all looks like a wonderfully comprehensive celebration of sexual diversity, a huge range of sexual identities assembled in a great conclave, bringing people together in an identity politics of the best sort, based on solidarity, not division.

But we know different, don’t we? For instance, one elephant most definitely not in the (bed)room is sexual attraction to animals, which could be designated by Z, for zoophilia. Not that I know anyone who fancies sex with elephants, but then I’ve never heard a mahout talking candidly. Anyway, you won’t find Z on the list and P is conspicuously absent from the party too. So are N. and H; and E. Indeed, none of the controversial chronophilias named by Michael Seto and discussed recently here in The seven ages of sexual attractiveness make it to the recognised lists of initials: paedophilia, nepiophilia, hebephilia and ephebophilia all go unmentioned, as does the umbrella term MAP and even the unthreatening Kind. Maybe that’s our fault. Maybe Kind activists should be pushing harder. But to blame ourselves is a bit like blaming Jews for failing to stop the Holocaust: swimming against a flood tide of hatred is sometimes just too hard.

Interestingly, though, a couple of lonely voices – openly gay ones, and not closet Kinds as far as I can tell – have been pressing for greater inclusivity. Putting to shame the “respectable” gays who have climbed the ladder of social acceptability and kicked it down to stop others following, are two brave guys: psychologist Jesse Bering and gay history expert Gert Hekma. Bering, author of Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us, pointed out in an article last month that “LGB people arguably share more in common with the Zs and Ps than they do the Ts, since being transgender isn’t about who (or what) you’re sexually attracted to, but the gender you identify with. Unlike those representing the other letters in this character soup, trans people say their sexuality plays no role at all. Why then are Ts included while other, more unspeakable, sexual minorities aren’t?”

Hekma, for his part, noted in a conference presentation this summer that the proliferation of initials moves our understanding of sexuality away from sexual behaviour towards a terminology of identity and orientation. As such, it echoes a change noted by Foucault from “doing” to “being”: a century or so ago, the sodomite became the homosexual, moving from a legally defined act to a medical concept of an identity. A main idea of sexologists at that time was that the identity of the homosexual should be accepted but the behaviour should be prevented. It was a variant on the Christian theme: accept the sinner but not the sin.

Homosexuality has long since moved on from that limitation, but a proliferation of marginalised variations are candidates for moving into the space thus vacated. Hekma mentions a whole range of fetishes. “The list is endless,” he says, “Have a look on grindr and tumblr for the dozens of sexual fetishisms.” He points out that in its most accepted variation the continuously expanding list of initials as yet excludes “the major classical perversions” (BDSM, fetishism, paedo-, necro-, copro-, zoophilia). He argues in favour of taking them into the fold, including paedophilia. Such an inclusion could hardly occur without legitimising paedophilic fantasy at least. As Hekma says:

The point many people miss on questions of sexual variation is that fantasies are central and most desires need not be enacted in immediate reality but they often happen in indirect and imaginary ways. Sexual preferences can be staged.

This politics, emphasising identity over behaviour, and especially over behaviour in the real, non-fantasy, world, arguably offers an advance worth having. It may be that the Virtuous Pedophiles could succeed in having “virtuous”, or not-acted-upon, paedophilia accepted as VP on the initials list if they chose to go down that road. It could be a staging post to greater acceptability, as it was for homosexuals. But, in order to succeed, this form of identity politics would seem to depend for its success on denouncing us Kinds – we who do not agree with “virtue” but have it thrust upon us anyway, through draconian laws and policing. As we know, the VPs appear all too keen on this divisive style, and it pays off for them. It is no accident that Jesse Bering has expressed his support for the VPs but not for the Kind views espoused by more radical activists.

Divisive identity politics has featured strongly here at Heretic TOC recently too, at least in the comments. One contributor, under a bewildering variety of names (Why? It just looks schizophrenic), has been not only virulently anti-feminist but also militantly pro-hebephilic and just as aggressively against every other kind of sexual minority and even those in the “normal” mainstream. For him, even heterosexual teleiophiles – adult men attracted to adult women and vice versa – are just perverts because adults’ “natural” preference (for males at least) is for the freshly nubile girl, at the very start of her reproductive potential.

I prefer not to dismiss ideas merely because they seem strange. That would be very much at odds with Heretic TOC’s heretical mission. So, I will concede there is a case to be made that throughout most of human pre-history it might well have made sense for girls to start having babies as soon as they physically could, and that a man’s preferred choice of sexual partner would reflect this. Infant mortality was likely to have been very high, and a whole range of perils including disease, attacks by predatory animals and occasional famine would have made it impossible to sustain or grow the population without full use of every year in the female reproductive cycle. Evolution must have favoured early reproduction or we would not be here to ponder the ways of our ancestors. So, it seems inevitable that for hundreds of thousands of years what we now call hebephilia would have been, along with ephebophilia, the most natural of sexual orientations for males. Having said that, our culture and social needs are very different today. Civilised society has moved on from pre-history in many ways that are a great improvement. None of us, of whatever orientation, can justify our sexuality solely by reference to a long gone past.

A bigger problem with this contributor’s ideas than the mere logical weakness of his argument, however, is the divisiveness of his hebephilic identity politics. According to this way of looking at things,  hebephilia is the only good and virtuous way of loving. Paedophiles and ephebophiles, even bog standard teleiophiles, are perverted in this account, driven solely by selfish lust.  It is a peculiarly nihilistic “politics” because it systematically trashes every possibility of political alliance, which is the way real politics gets done. It gratuitously makes enemies of everyone. In any case, there is no clear  taxonomic split between hebephilia and paedophilia, nor between hebephilia and ephebophilia: the overlap between these categories is considerable, as discussed here recently. Just as there is no “pure” race, such as the Aryans, on which the Nazis based their delusions of racial superiority, there are no pure unalloyed sexual orientations either. We may identify as solely hebephile, or whatever, but the majority in any orientation category are mongrels with a range of tastes.

Again, though, the weak logic behind the contributor’s truculence is less significant than the attitude itself. It is divisive, as already noted, and it is also self-centred, expressing not so much a group identity as an individual one: it is a politics of one person against the world, which is not a practical politics at all, but more a cry for help or a scream of rage against everything being so complicated and confusing these days. As such, it echoes O’Neill’s view, above, of those censorious modern students who are so “narcissistic and needy”.

As for why things have taken such a turn, and what might be done about it, those are perhaps stories for another day.

 

KING OF THE STING IS STUNG

Yo! Great news! The bastard has got his come-uppance at last! Mazher Mahmood, aka the Fake Sheikh, former star undercover reporter for Rupert Murdoch’s UK newspapers, especially the Sun and the now defunct News of the World, is facing jail for tampering with evidence in the collapsed drugs trial of pop star Tulisa Contostavlos two years ago. Following a two-week trial at the Old Bailey, a jury today found the 53-year-old “King of the Sting” and his driver guilty of plotting to pervert the course of justice.

It’s all over the news, including this Daily Telegraph report, and nobody could be more delighted than me, not least because I was a victim of his lies myself, a story told in When Heretic TOC met the Fake Sheikh, written in July 2014 soon after Judge Alistair McCreath publicly concluded that Mahmood had attempted to persuade a witness to change his evidence and then lied about it under oath.

In my case, Mahmood tracked me down to a naturist resort in France, where he pretended to be not a sheikh but a sheikh’s aide, tasked with the role of checking out the resort to see whether it would be possible for his boss to take a discreet naturist holiday there. His real mission, though, using a very “underage” looking female reporter as an accomplice, was to tempt me into some sort of indiscretion. Maybe they hoped I would proposition her. When that failed they simply made up lies and another accomplice took a photo with a long lens that made it look (falsely) as though I was standing naked with a young boy and chatting him up. Mahmood even had the gall to write up the story in his autobiography, claiming it as one of his successes. See also my follow-up story, The strange case of the brilliant ‘bimbo’.

 

HEWSON HAMMERS ‘ABUSE FUNDAMENTALISTS’

I guess most heretics here will be aware by now that yet another fiasco has struck the bloated, unmanageable “independent inquiry into historical child sexual abuse”. After losing no fewer than three chairpersons, the inquiry now has to deal with the departure of a key figure who had been holding the wreckage together – counsel to the inquiry Ben Emmerson QC, who resigned at the end of last month.

Fewer readers, though, may be aware that the excellent barrister and commentator Barbara Hewson penned a stinging piece on the subject for the Daily Mail under the headline “This fiasco of a sex abuse inquiry is totally out of control…and has to end NOW”.

The most stunning aspect of her analysis is that unlike the politicians, or most of the media, she has dared to criticise the so-called “survivors”. The inquiry, she says, “has always been dogged by rancorous in-fighting between different camps of ‘survivors’ of historic sexual abuse.” She says prime minister Theresa May did not anticipate when she decided to set up the inquiry two years ago in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal, “just how extreme many of the campaigners demanding an inquiry were.” Not pulling any punches, she writes:

I call them ‘abuse fundamentalists’. Some of them are avid conspiracy theorists, recycling tall tales from the Eighties era, when panic about alleged Satanic ritual abuse was at its height….They have all been traumatised, they claim, and everything that is wrong with their lives today is somebody else’s fault. [There is] a vocal lobby who seem as impervious to reason as religious fundamentalists. Unless you submit to their world view — a fixation on the idea that society is riddled with shadowy VIP paedophile ‘rings’ shielded by an evil Establishment omerta — they will viciously condemn you as an apologist for paedophiles.

And there is more! Well worth reading in full.

Hi, this is Charles. I’ve been a naughty boy…

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Like Chris Denning, about whom I wrote last time, Charles Napier was a very bright spark – witty, charming, the life and soul of the party.

Even the judge who sentenced him to thirteen years just before Christmas admitted that as a popular (not feared) young prep school teacher in the 1960s and 70s Charles for the most part charmed the pants off his mainly pre-teen pupils, whatever his principal accuser, cry-baby journalist Francis Whine (sorry, Wheen), might claim.

I will return to his accusations, taking them seriously along with much worse allegations that Charles appears to have made no attempt to deny. He told the court he had been “completely out of control” and was “desperately sorry” for his actions. To my mind, incidentally, these were significant expressions of remorse, but that didn’t stop the media quoting a police chief who asserted he had shown “no remorse”: damning opinion is apparently to be preferred over facts even when the latter are right there in plain view. Also, the judge appears to have given Charles no credit for his expressions of regret. All that surfaced publicly, so far as I can see, is that he would have got twenty years but for the fact that he pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

For the moment, as with Chris Denning, I am going remember the better side of the man I knew. I met Charles when I joined the executive committee of the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) in the mid-1970s. He joined the organisation at the start of its London operation, some months before me. Like his friend the late Peter Righton, who was also one of the first PIE committee members while working as Director of Education for the National Institute of Social Work, he has been presented in the media as an elite paedophile, and possibly part of a sinister ring of perverted high-ups.

Being a humble peasant myself, I never moved socially in such elevated circles, if they existed. But Charles undeniably has an upper class pedigree. He is a descendant of King Charles II of England, no less, via Lady Sarah Lennox, the king’s great-granddaughter, who married General Sir Charles James Napier. Gen. Napier commanded the British army in India in Victorian times and was famous in those days for conquering Sindh in what is now Pakistan. To this day the general’s statue is a towering presence in Trafalgar Square, London, occupying one of the four plinths. There have been leading figures in the family’s recent past and Charles has a half-brother, John Whittingdale, who is currently the Conservative MP for Maldon and Chelmsford East.

So Charles was posh. His racy sports car spoke of a penchant for swagger and swank, while his handsome mien and gracious manner suggested the hero of a bodice-ripping romantic novel. One could easily imagine him as a dashing officer, as his forbear the victor of Sindh must once have been, with all the young ladies swooning over him.

He was cultured, too, and clever. Not for nothing was he appointed to a senior role with the British Council in Cairo. But for his career being a “chequered” one, with several falls from grace over boys, he could well have become head of the entire outfit, and thus in effect the UK’s official cultural ambassador to the world. He was also a talented actor and singer in amateur productions. Above all, like Charles II, the Merry Monarch, he was lively and had a tremendous sense of fun: even Wheen admits that his young “sir”, Mr Napier, was a dazzling, exciting figure.

Not that his jolly japes were just for the kids. Back in the days when telephone answering machines were a novelty, subscribers had to make their own “please leave a message” tape recording. Most of us simply announced our name and number and invited callers to leave a message at the beep. Not Charles. His tape started something like this:

Hi, this is Charles. Sorry, I’m tied up at the moment, but if you’d like to leave a message…

In the background you could hear why he was tied up: there was a fearsome thrashing sound followed by yelps of ecstatic “pain” as Charles was punished by a stern dominatrix (one of his fellow thespians, no doubt) telling him he had been “a naughty boy”.

Well, plenty of people would say he got that right, wouldn’t they? The judge last week obviously thought he had been really, really naughty, in fact properly wicked.

Should we agree with him? It’s time to face the facts insofar as they can be gleaned from dubious mainstream press reports. Those accounts, it should be pointed out, were dominated by the perspective of just one individual, and I don’t mean the judge or a really traumatised victim. I refer instead to the man I have already dubbed the principal accuser, Francis Wheen, now deputy editor of the satirical magazine Private Eye, who has been banging on about Charles for decades. It was apparently Wheen’s testimony that led to the arrest in August last year of the man who had been his teacher at Copthorne School.

Way back in 1996 Wheen had a piece in the Guardian (28 August) headlined “School for Scandal”. He wrote:

Charles Napier was my gym master at prep school – and a very good gym master too, always willing to lend a hand (quite literally) as the boys practised their back-flips and head-stands.

From time to time he would invite his favourites into a small workshop next to the gym, where he plied us with Senior Service untipped and bottles of Mackeson before plunging his busy fingers down our shorts. Although I rejected his advances, I continued to help myself to beer ’n’ cigs from his secret depot when he wasn’t around. It never occurred to me to report him to the authorities. Why? Because he was the authorities.

Complaining about a teacher was as unthinkable as refusing to participate in a cross-country run. Anyway, no 11-year-old boy wishes to parade his sexual innocence: Napier warned me – and many others – that by refusing to cooperate we were merely demonstrating our immaturity.

“X lets me do it you know,” he said, naming a class-mate of mine. For weeks afterwards, X sneered at me for my squeamishness.

Several very similar rehashes of this account were published in later years, the latest being only this week in the Daily Mirror.

But there have been subtle changes, too, as time has passed. On BBC TV news on the evening after sentencing, Wheen spoke in scandalised tones about having been taken aback when Charles abruptly shoved a hand down the front of his gym shorts. Now I’m not about to accuse Wheen of lying, or even exaggerating. After all, this latest version presumably corresponds to the contents of his official witness statement to the police, so it’s not just a dashed off bit of journalistic hype.

But dashed off articles often have one great merit: the words spill out in a relatively unguarded way. Whereas his recent, written-with-the court-in-mind, pieces emphasise the sexual total innocence of the boys, his earlier, more casual work tells a rather different story. In another Guardian article in 2005, for instance, he admitted that at his prep school “there was a fair bit of leaping in and out of beds in dormitories, comparing notes, and general exploration”. He also mentions a physics master at Harrow, his later public school, who caught a couple of boys in sexual action and warned them “I don’t mind mutual masturbation, but I draw the line at buggery.” And that, he said, became accepted as a sort of unofficial school rule. Note the admission, too, in the 1996 article, that at least one boy sneered at Wheen’s “squeamishness”. How innocent does all this sound?

As it happens, I wrote to Wheen back in the nineties, challenging what I thought was his overly harsh view of Charles. This was based on my reading of the situation, which now appears to have been incorrect, that Charles had his hands down other boys’ shorts, if they were willing, but not Wheen’s because unlike other boys Wheen “rejected his advances”. In other words, it seemed the boys would have been aware of what went on in Charles’s “den” and were free to join in or not, as they chose.

In my letter, I said:

I am completely in favour of resources such as Childline and other means through which children can challenge bullying and abusive behaviour by adults, including parents. Having said that, I cannot help feeling you have been unfair to Charles, not so much in what you say he did but in the opprobrium you pour on him regardless of the fact that he actually seems to have done very little.

Wheen could have put me right on that, but chose not to. He responded to my brief initial approach with at least one short letter of his own, but I do not recall any further communication.

So, all in all, I remain sceptical that the molestation of which Wheen complains so bitterly had much to do with the force of Charles’s authority and the boys’ inability to refuse his wishes. I think it was more positive: no one was forced to spend extra-curricular time with Charles. They were drawn by the exciting allure of being with a popular – let’s not forget that word popular – teacher and getting up to all sorts of outrageous illicit things, including the cigarettes and booze.

It seems to me Wheen has been in a massive sulk all these years because he couldn’t be in the gang on his own terms. He said Charles called him a baby for not joining in, which made him feel “inadequate”. Gosh, how awful! That bruise to the delicate young Wheen’s ego must be worth a 13-year stretch on its own! But isn’t it time this grand-daddy of all cry-babies finally grew up and moved on after nearly half a century of wailing? Maybe, indeed, he should remember his school motto:

Pervincet Vivida Virtus: Lively manliness conquers all. (Albeit diplomatically re-translated as “All can be achieved by hard work” after they started taking girls!)

Oh, and another thing. As he is so keen on giving “historic” offenders hell, I presume he won’t complain if he is now nicked for stealing Charles’s property and sentenced to the maximum penalty: seven years for theft!

As for a far more serious complaint that Charles, “forced” a boy to “perform a sex act on him” I again find myself sceptical. That would not be the Charles I knew. He had a conscience and could not have brought himself to do anything in the face of a child’s reluctance. He might have gone so far as to exhort and cajole (bad enough in itself, to be sure), but not to threaten or force. He did not pester Wheen, after all, once the embryonic journalist had made his displeasure clear.

Yes, Charles was grossly irresponsible in his use of cigs and beer to “groom” his young charges. Yes, he knew that children could not in law give sexual consent however willing they were. And, yes, among the complainants there are those who say they have suffered depression and even suicidal feelings as a consequence of what Charles did.

Had he been caught and punished with a prison sentence for his prep school offences back in the 1970s he could have no complaint.

Is it right, though, that he and others should be judged today, after decades have passed and in a much more harshly punitive atmosphere? These days, it is said, there is a better understanding of the long-term harm caused by adult-child sexual encounters. So, if this is recent knowledge (not that we need accept its accuracy), how was Charles supposed to be aware of it in the 1970s? Should he and others be punished now with far greater severity than they would have decades ago on the basis that they didn’t have a reliable crystal ball in those days? Is that fair?

Ought there to be a statute of limitations?

Barrister Barbara Hewson recently argued in favour of such a statute.* To me the case seems unanswerable. Mores have changed so enormously in less than half a century that bringing Charles to “justice” this year was hardly any different from posthumously putting Thomas Jefferson on trial for keeping slaves, including his own personal child sex slave (Sally Hemings, aged 14). Should the author of the U.S. Declaration of Independence and that country’s third president be dishonoured and have his grave desecrated, as happened recently in the case of Jimmy Savile? It would make just as much sense, or as little, as the hounding of poor Charles.

Also, the further removed a trial is from the alleged offences, the more ills can be dubiously attributed to the original acts. One of Charles’s victims is said to have been suicidal “later in life”. But over the course of decades many of us suffer all sorts of misfortunes that might make us suicidal. We might have lost money disastrously on a business venture, been through an acrimonious divorce, be depressed about getting fat and diabetic. In such circumstances it is all too easy to claim that you wouldn’t have made a foolish investment, or married the wrong woman or fallen prey to overeating but for this thing that happened at school. It’s possible, to be sure, but many other factors may have been more determinative. You don’t – or shouldn’t – condemn a man to a 13-year prison sentence on such a nebulous basis.

But the frenzied blood-lust that has seized the media, the masses and even the courts in the wake of the Savile debacle will not be sated or satisfied by rational proposals for a statute of limitations. Raising the idea is like having pointed out mildly, in the midst of the French Revolution, that not all the aristocrats being trundled to the guillotine were necessarily very bad. The present mood of deluded indignation demands a universal “Off with their heads!” response, be the transgression great or small.

Perhaps, in the circumstances, Charles Napier should reflect philosophically on the fate of another of his ancestors – not Charles II but that king’s father, Charles I, who lost his head in the English Revolution. At least the good people of England are not literally going in for decapitation these days – not yet, anyway!

*The link is to Part II of an article titled “The cult of victimhood and the limits of law” in The Barrister. Part I is also relevant to historic cases.

STOP PRESS: THE ESTABLISHMENT FIGHTS BACK

The Queen’s New Year honours have just been announced and I see I have been overlooked yet again. Unbelievable! 🙂

What makes it even worse is a damehood for that horrible bitch Esther Rantzen. Sorry for the sexist language, ladies, but had she been a bloke the word would have been bastard or shit, which is hardly an improvement. Not only did she refuse to shake hands with me in the BBC reception room as we waited to go on air for the TV discussion show After Dark about a decade ago, she also set her Rottweiler (bitch) friend “June” on me – a screaming “survivor” and ex-prostitute whom I found most discombobulating. She was so loud and in-yer-face aggressive it was hard to think or talk straight. It took all the diplomacy I could muster just to ward off the imminent threat of June giving me a Glasgow kiss. As that city happened to be her home town and she was built like a battle tank I fancy she’d have been good at it.

The Guardian today said this latest honours list was intended “to focus on those who help vulnerable children”. Hence the damehoods for ChildLine founder Rantzen and also for Joyce Plotnikoff, “who has revolutionised the way courts treat child witnesses”. And there was a CBE for Kate Lampard, “the independent overseer of the NHS investigation into Jimmy Savile”.

Much more interesting, though, was a damehood for Fiona Woolf, who was forced to resign from the government’s overarching child abuse inquiry recently. Victims’ groups had protested that she was an unsuitable chair because of her links with Tory peer Leon Brittan, a friend and neighbour, whose role as home secretary in dealing with allegations of child abuse in the 1980s “is likely to be scrutinised”, as the Guardian inscrutably put it.

It may be remembered that yet another dame, Lady Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, was the first person appointed to head the ill-fated abuse enquiry and, like Woolf afterwards, was shown the door by the victims’ lobby. Butler-Sloss was forced to stand down because her late brother Sir Michael Havers had been attorney general in the 1980s and his actions would have been subject to investigation by the inquiry.

Now, in a sign of an establishment fight-back matching the new honour for Woolf, and even topping it, Butler-Sloss has gone public with some very pointed remarks about the danger of handing over too much control to the victims.

She has said she fears the government will never be able to find an experienced figure to run the abuse investigation, but that victims should not think they can do it.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 today she said for victims to be deciding who should be the person chairing the inquiry “creates real problems”.

She said:

You are going to need someone who knows how to run things and if you get someone with an obscure background with no background of establishment, they will find it very difficult and may not be able to produce the goods.

She agreed that the normal processes of sifting of evidence, and neutrality between accuser and accused, might go by the board if the victims were allowed to dominate.

Quite so, your ladyship!

The heinous crime of truth-telling

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Two men awaiting sentence in Britain’s latest child sex scandal face an exceptionally steep fall from grace. Unlike the stars whose celebrity sparkle has been so abruptly snuffed out in the last twelve months, following the torrent of allegations about the late Jimmy Savile, this pair have made their name not as mere entertainers but as pillars of the establishment and icons of probity.

They are a judge and a public prosecutor. The crime in which they conspired together and which has already destroyed their high-flying careers and good name is apparently considered – judging by the outcry – the gravest sex crime that can be perpetrated in modern society: they have told the truth!

As readers in the UK will be aware, I refer to Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Robert Colover, QC, and His Honour (now Dishonour!) Judge Nigel Peters QC, who, jointly and severally, did knowingly, wilfully and most guiltily commit an act of truth-telling in Her Majesty’s Court at Snaresbrook last month, contrary to the Inappropriate Truths Act, which has an existence in the minds of child “protection” lobbyists as real and substantial as any government legislation.

Colover has been suspended from prosecuting sexual offence cases pending a review by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), while Judge Peters’ comments are being investigated by the Office for Judicial Complaints. The seriousness of the case could not have been made clearer than by Prime Minister David Cameron, no less, who made it his job (in a notable constitutional development!) to pronounce judgement in the case himself. Handing down his verdict, the Prime Minister told the press the CPS was ”absolutely right” to label Colover’s comments “inappropriate”.

What, then, was the nature of this terrible truth-telling? This is not for tender ears, but it was this: in a case in which 41-year-old Neil Wilson was given an eight-month suspended jail sentence for sexual activity with a child, the prosecutor and judge both “blamed the victim”. They made the well substantiated claim, which has not been publicly rebutted on factual grounds, that the girl who was the 13-year-old “victim” was a more than willing participant in the sexual acts.

The girl reportedly looked older than her actual age and told the man she was 16, which is the age of consent in the UK. Wilson met the schoolgirl when she asked him to buy cigarettes for her while she was playing truant. She stripped out of her school uniform and performed oral sex on him.

In accusatory language Heretic TOC would not support, but which appears to have been backed up by the facts of the case, prosecutor Colover, said in court, “The girl is predatory in all her actions and she is sexually experienced. There was sexual activity but it was not of Mr Wilson’s doing; you might say it was forced upon him despite being older and stronger than her.”

Well, quite! Resistance would have been useless! The poor man was practically raped! The judge in effect agreed, saying that “On these facts, the girl was predatory” and had been “egging on” the defendant. He said his lenient sentence took account of this.

With a prosecution like that, it may be thought, the fortunate Mr Wilson hardly needed a defence lawyer, and indeed none was quoted in any of the reports I saw. What prompted this rare (these days, at least) outbreak of commonsense in court is as obscure as it is welcome, but Heretic TOC needs only to congratulate the Judicial Dynamic Duo!

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Observant readers will notice a gap of several lines (and some stars) after the last paragraph. I am just attempting to prove to myself than I can still write a reasonably succinct blog when I really try. The one above, at well under 600 words, is far shorter than many of my recent efforts, which have ballooned to thrice this length, and more. However, like poor Mr Wilson faced with his striptease Lolita, I still find myself powerless to resist going a bit further than I perhaps should. I must therefore place myself at the mercy of you, dear readers, as my judge and jury in this matter, and hope you will be as forgiving as the two QCs at Snaresbrook Crown Court!

One announcement I feel confident you will forgive:  a few moments ago, as I write, I was informed over the airwaves by the BBC that the latest celebrity show trial in Britain has ended in a verdict of Not Guilty. Michael Le Vell, actor in Coronation Street, one of the nation’s longest-running and most popular TV soaps, has been cleared of a number of CSA charges, including rape. I haven’t followed the case closely but I think it was one of those “his word against hers” allegations, with no corroboration. If that is so, the jury were right to settle for nothing less than a proper standard of proof.

And another bit of good news you may not have caught yet: Richard Dawkins has been making waves by saying he and other children in his school peer group had been molested by a teacher but “I don’t think he did any of us lasting harm.” Peter Watt, director of child protection at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, immediately went public, in effect to contradict him, insisting on the usual dogma of life-long trauma. An advocate of “listening to the victim”, he clearly did not have ears for this one!

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And now a bonus blog, offering a few reflections on the case of the Judicial Dynamic Duo:

1)      The girl was 13, which in English law is significant in terms of consent. If a girl below this age consents to sexual intercourse, any man who has sex with her is liable to be charged with rape, because her consent counts for nothing. But if she is over 13 and under 16 he can only be charged with the lesser offence of “sexual activity with a child”. This is because her consent is in effect taken into account as real and it acts as a mitigating factor. This being the case, the public outrage over acknowledging the active role of the child in the Snaresbrook Crown Court case flies in the face of the law. The competence of many young people under 16 to make important decisions in their life is also acknowledged in English law in what is known as “Gillick competence”, following the case of Gillick v. West Norfolk & Wisbech Area Healthy Authority, 1986. The highest court in the land, the House of Lords, ruled that those under 16 could give consent to medical treatment as long as they had sufficient understanding and intelligence to appreciate what was proposed and to express their own wishes. Lord Scarman identified the principle that parental rights yield to the young person’s own right to make their own decisions if they have this “Gillick competence”. Significantly, the medical treatment in question can include advice on contraception for sexually active youngsters. As the admirable lawyer Barbara Hewson recently noted, “It has been Department of Health policy since the 1980s that underage teenagers choosing to be sexually active should receive contraceptive advice and treatment, in confidence. Sexual health charities working with young people have been telling policy makers, for years, that the existing age of consent law does not deter those underage teenagers who are sexually active. And the UK’s teen pregnancy rate is one of the highest in Western Europe. Yet if one of these ‘Gillick-competent’ teens is involved in a criminal case, these uncomfortable facts are conveniently forgotten.”

2)      Have there been precedents for the Judicial Dynamic Duo’s approach? Definitely, but it’s been a while. In 1993 an 18-year-old babysitter who tried to have intercourse with a nine-year-old girl after climbing in her bed was freed on probation by a judge who described the child as “no angel”. Judge Ian Starforth Hill was unsurprisingly castigated for this remark by the appeal court. Even more notorious from a protectionist point of view were the remarks of Judge Brian Gibbens in a case 10 years earlier, that of William Watson-Sweeney, who admitted having sexual intercourse with a seven-year-old girl. The judge was clearly sympathetic to the defendant, a former soldier, twice wounded in action, who had a drink problem. His Honour made an unfortunate remark to the effect that people could get themselves accidentally into all sorts of problems in life. This emerged as the following headline in The Times: “Sex with children could happen to anyone accidentally, judge says”. Imagine how that would go down today, especially regarding intercourse with such a young child! Not that the “intercourse” was more than minimal: the penis needs only to slightly enter the labia to qualify. The judge pointed out that the child’s virginity remained intact.

3)      An even more fascinating aspect of the Watson-Sweeney case was reported in an appendix to a Home Office report some years ago. The defendant pleaded not guilty to rape on the grounds that the child – aged seven remember – had consented to sexual intercourse with an understanding of what that entailed. Remarkably, the court accepted that the girl’s statement that “she knew what mummies and daddies did in bedrooms” was sufficient evidence of her understanding of the true nature of the situation. (From Setting the Boundaries: Reforming the law on sex offences, Vol. 2 Supporting Evidence page 136, Appendix D2, Literature Review of Research into the Law of Sexual Offences Against Children and Vulnerable People, by Caroline Keenan and Lee Maitland).

An activist who is actually active

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Meet Jed Justice, an activist who is actually active, unlike many of us these days, including me, who tend just to moan about the way things are going rather than engaging directly with political and legal processes to right egregious wrongs. Jed submitted a detailed comment this week in response to All the world loves a lover?, Heretic TOC’s blog on the Jeremy Forrest case. He plainly has fire in his belly. This case of a teacher sentenced to five and a half years for a consenting relationship with a 15-year-old girl, even though the couple want to marry, had plainly incensed him, and rightly so.

So he has done something, as his comment relates. Rather than leaving this in the backwaters of an old page from last month, I have decided to feature it as a guest blog. See below. Before coming to that, though, I should add that Jed has an activist Facebook page which includes, amongst other interesting things, the 2012 Dutch documentary film Are All Men Pedophiles? – a title with great resonance for us following the revelations from Phil Tromovitch featured here last week. I haven’t seen the film yet and would be interested to hear from anyone who has.

Jed Justice’s Facebook page also features the excellent work of barrister Barbara Hewson, who was introduced here in Hail, an improbable age of consent heroine! in May. An update is that Hewson gave a superb interview on Channel 4 News (8 July). My thanks go to Tina Willis for alerting me to this. Hewson said there should have been no prosecution of elderly TV presenter Stuart Hall, whose sentence for “historic” offences of sex with minors was savagely doubled in length yesterday following a referral to the appeal court by British government law minister Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General.  Hewson also stoutly maintained that the age of consent should be reduced to 13, which is the age it had been before it was raised to 16 in 1886 in the midst of a national moral panic whipped up by the press. Good for her!

In the Stuart Hall case, incidentally, the Attorney General had successfully argued that the time Hall would actually serve in prison could legitimately be made longer by ordering that sentences for separate offences should run consecutively rather than concurrently. Consecutive running is precisely what the judge had ordered in the Jeremy Forrest case. It is a really-kick-’em in-the-balls option which has long been available in English law but in my recollection (I was a court reporter many years ago) is used much less than concurrent sentencing (but note the “totality” principle in sentencing guidelines referred to by Jed Justice below). Thus the judge’s Maximum Jack approach in the consensual Forrest case was clearly way out of line, characterized as the case was by many mitigating rather than aggravating factors.

“Give ’em grief” Grieve did at least manage a bit of even handedness, though, in what has plainly been a busy week for him. Grieve was personally in court leading a prosecution against a juror for contempt of court. The juror reportedly wrote on his Facebook page ahead of the trial that he was looking forward to his chance to “fuck up a paedophile” after learning he would be trying a sex offender. While prejudice (in this case a juror alleged to have literally prejudged a trial, or publicly given the appearance of doing so) against paedophiles is not merely acceptable but pretty much obligatory in the UK, the Attorney General presumably felt he had to keep up the pretence that everything is being done to ensure fair trials for all.

So much news! And I haven’t mentioned half of what’s going on even just here in the UK. But it’s time to move from injustice to Justice – Jed Justice.

JED JUSTICE WRITES:

Sorry I’m not a criminal lawyer. Believe me, I wish I was. The next best thing I can offer is, I e-mailed Jeremy’s solicitor, Phil Smith, 6 days ago to ask him many questions concerning the possible grounds for an appeal against the sentence (besides making my own feelings clear). No reply yet.

I had not envisaged the viability of a possible appeal against any of Jeremy’s convictions but I asked Phil Smith about the post-conviction / pre-sentencing shenanigans. I typed:

What mystifies many of us most of all, however, is that Jeremy was advised to waive his rights under the extradition agreement and plead guilty to charges of ‘sexual activity with a child’. He is now officially branded an evil monster alongside Roy Whiting and Ian Huntly [sic; actually Huntley – TOC], in Orwellian terms an ‘unperson’ stripped of his former public identity, and disqualified from teaching children, for the rest of his life. Was this necessary?

TBH the angle of Jeremy’s guilty plea being extracted by foul play, corruption, or undue influence of some sort, and this invalidating his conviction, had escaped me; yet it was staring me in the face all the time! Not that his sentence would have been dramatically affected had he only been convicted for ‘abduction’: applying the principle of ‘totality’ (in accordance with the sentencing guidelines), the judge was minded to give him at least 5.5 years anyway, for his total criminal conduct.

However, the ‘big rush’ doesn’t add up. Had the judge deferred sentencing for at least a week, the probation service would have had time to submit a pre-sentencing report, and the judge himself might have benefited from this, given the complexity, controversy and sensitivity of this case.

The report might have confirmed that Jeremy’s state of mind was terrible, and his marriage was dead in the water, at the time his pastoral work (otherwise known as ‘grooming’) with X who cannot be named, began. They were both vulnerable. The judge failed or refused to recognize this. (Is this not how many intense – and enduring – relationships begin? In my humble experience, “You were there for me when I needed you” counts for a lot and earns loyalty.)

I will raise the poster’s specific point with Phil Smith but don’t hold your breath.

[TOC: In a comment on Heretic TOC made on 2 July in response to All the world loves a lover?, Aztec71 wanted to know whether the legal procedures had been rigged unfairly against Forrest when the crown court was temporarily  converted into a magistrates’ court.]   

I became heavily involved in this case, having started from a position equivalent to the rest of you, i.e. sharing your outrage at the injustice and the nauseating hypocrisy of self-proclaimed sanctimonious child saviours who abuse their positions of power to punish young people for their insolence in rebelling against victim ideology.

As Tom said, X is indeed a victim of abuse, by the State, not Jeremy Forrest. She told me as much herself, when she described her abuse to me on 5th July [TOC: my emphasis added], having told the world somewhat of this in her interviews for The Sun newspaper a few days earlier. (BTW that’s the first time in over 30 years that I have called The Sun a newspaper. Split narrative indeed!)

I asked X whether she had submitted a victim impact statement as the person who was supposed to be the primary victim. She had. In her statement, she repudiated her victim status and extolled the virtues of her ‘abuser’. The judge dismissed it as irrelevant and showcased her mother as the victim instead.

For whatever reason, X broke off contact with me after the above date. [TOC adds: This was possibly on advice from a solicitor, who may have judged that support, however much appreciated, from someone with a radical Facebook page might backfire.] Had I the chance, I would have asked her what I and others could do to help in her efforts to overturn the indefinite prohibition on her having any contact with Jeremy. No wonder the child saviours don’t want their cruelty in the name of child protection to be exposed. I have since learned that serious efforts are in process but the authorities are dragging their feet.

Secondly, I would have asked her where she stands on this malarkey of not naming her. Being under 18, she might not be at liberty to waive her anonymity, and might even get into trouble for naming herself!

I progressed from anger to action, joining two of Jeremy’s support groups (I don’t know if there are any others). To my complete surprise, I found myself in conversation with X and two other sources close to Jeremy (big names don’t usually bother replying to mere mortals, at least not to me).

This is both a privilege and a curse; the latter because my keener awareness of their pain is emotionally distressing, not to mention frustrating. I don’t have the time and resources to do this as properly and promptly as the job requires. How much worse must it be for Jeremy’s family and X herself? Every day that passes with no change to the status quo is another day of her continuing distress and suffering. She, her biological father and Jeremy’s parents are standing together as one but they don’t deserve to stand alone in their struggle against the might of the State; they deserve active public support.

In the Facebook search engine, type “Jeremy Ayre Fan Club” and “We Support Jeremy Forrest”

Twitter: @Jed_Jones #freejeremyforrest #jeremyforrest (the latter is mostly hostile, where reside potential lynch mobs of the feminist taliban; tweet there at your peril)

[TOC adds: Jed Justice also sent, as Heretic TOC comments, two emails he posted to Forrest’s solicitor in what is presumably his actual name, Jed Jones. I found these very interesting. See comments following All the world loves a lover?]

Hail, an improbable age of consent heroine!

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Heroes, or heroines, do not come much more improbable than lawyer Barbara Hewson. Who would have thought that this champion of women’s rights, with a reputation to protect as a successful, high-profile advocate in leading cases, would suddenly throw caution to the winds and call very publicly for the age of consent to be lowered to 13, as she has done this week?

It’s a British story, and it has been all over the media here, replete with predictable reactions, including “shock” at the large London law firm where she is one of many barristers, who are all self-employed members of the “chambers”, or law practice team. It all kicked off with an article by Hewson in the lively libertarian online journal Spiked, to which sociologist Frank Furedi is a regular contributor: see After Savile: Policing as entertainment, mentioned here recently.

Hewson’s article, like Furedi’s, arose from the Savile “scandal” last year and Operation Yewtree, the massive police attention to “historic” so-called child sexual abuse that has been going on ever since, with seemingly almost daily arrests, especially of aging celebrities such as the entertainer Rolf Harris, the former pop star Gary Glitter, the DJ Dave Lee Travis, the comedian Jim Davidson and the PR guru Max Clifford, all of whom deny any offence. TV legend Stuart Hall, by contrast, recently pleaded guilty to offences which Hewson, with an admirable sense of perspective, dismissed as “low-level misdemeanors” involving teenagers.

She began her article in a starkly combative fashion:

I do not support the persecution of old men. The manipulation of the rule of law by the Savile Inquisition – otherwise known as Operation Yewtree – and its attendant zealots poses a far graver threat to society than anything Jimmy Savile ever did.

She goes on to compare the present moral panic with the one in Victorian England which led to the age of consent being raised from 13 to 16 in 1885. Turning to the present scene, she says the so-called abuse relates to relatively trivial matters routinely exaggerated by pressure groups such as the NSPCC.  The NSPCC and the Metropolitan Police Force, as reported here at Heretic TOC, produced a joint report into Savile’s alleged offending in January, called Giving Victims a Voice. It was noted here that this report outrageously treated the allegations as proven facts. Now Hewson lends the considerable authority of her legal standing to this point:

Note how the police and NSPCC assume the roles of judge and jury. What neither acknowledges is that this national trawl for historical victims was an open invitation to all manner of folk to reinterpret their experience of the past as one of victimization.

Quite. She says that the acute problem of proof which stale allegations entail also generates a demand that criminal courts should afford accusers therapy, by giving them “a voice”’, an infantilizing function that undermines judicial impartiality and fair hearings.

Hewson concludes with a trio of proposed law reforms: remove complainant anonymity; introduce a strict statute of limitations for criminal prosecutions and civil actions; and reduce the age of consent to 13.

Typifying the mainstream media response, the Daily Telegraph ran a column by another lawyer, Malcolm Underhill. Regarding the proposed age of consent reform, he wrote:

This suggestion must rate as one of the most foolish proposals on the issue of child welfare that has been laid before the public. If the proposal is adopted by Government, such a change would be a green light for paedophiles, sending the completely wrong message.

I love the “If the proposal is adopted by Government” bit, don’t you? Ha! We should be so lucky! Alas, one maverick lawyer’s speech does not a government policy make. But it’s a start. Meanwhile, the reality is that the craziness in the UK goes on, and is getting worse by the day. Remember, this from If cardinal sinners and lordly lotharios float your boat… , a Heretic TOC blog in March?

… can it really be…yes, it’s one of the nation’s favourite TV soap opera stars, charged with “child rape”. Plus one, two – no it’s three – God it’s gone up to four; bloody hell it’s FIVE musical maestros from one of the most famous music academies in the land: all of them facing the music for vilely fiddling with their violin students!

Guess what the figure is now for those music teachers? I was shocked by five of them being in trouble. Well now (or at the latest count), there are thirty nine, yes, THIRTY NINE, music teachers under investigation at that academy, Chetham’s school of music, plus one other, the Royal Northern College of Music, both in Manchester.

Enough already! Enough of this lunacy for one day!

Enough, too, in a way, for Heretic TOC, who now finds himself obliged to make an unwelcome but very necessary announcement. I love writing this blog and if I had the time I would gladly post a thousand words or more every day rather than roughly twice a week, which has been the usual rate since this “not the dominant narrative” started just over six months ago. Sadly, though, my time is coming under more and more pressure. I have a variety of other projects in hand which are too frequently being left on the back burner. This cannot go on. Accordingly, I have decided to post only once per week, or possibly only twice per month, from now on. This might even be a relief for readers struggling to keep abreast of all this heresy! With posts becoming somewhat less regular, though, it will become harder to know when a new post has arrived. Accordingly, for the benefit of those who have not already done so, I would suggest becoming a “follower” of the blog, so that you get an email each time a new piece is posted. All you need to do is press the “Follow” button in the brown bar across the very top of the page, just to the right of where it says Heretic TOC.

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