How do you tell the difference between a predatory paedophile and an ordinary bloke making a drunken pass?
Personally, I would have thought the answer was obvious. Take the two most egregious recent examples children’s entertainer Jimmy Savile and prominent Liberal MP Cyril Smith.
Both were widely suspected within their work circles of being creepy sexual predators who used their celebrity and their charidee work to gain access to their vulnerable targets. Smith’s vile predilections were an open secret not just within his own party but also to the police who had received at least 144 complaints from his victims and who once stopped him on the motorway to find a stash of child porn in his boot. The only reason he was never brought to justice was because of a high-level cover up orchestrated by senior politicians. Something similar happened at the BBC, where senior management turned a blind eye to Savile’s sordid activities because, thanks to shows like Top Of The Pops and Jim’ll Fix It, he’d become so central to the BBC’s popularity he was too big to fail.
But it’s not as if there was any shortage of clues: the enormous caravan, for example, that Savile kept parked nearby for his quick liasons; his habit of wearing tracksuit trousers, the more easily to whip them on and off; the way, walking through a children’s hospital, he would on occasion seize the nearest child and stick his tongue down her throat; the fact that he was given a bedroom at three children’s hospitals and his own keys to high-security Broadmoor mental hospital; the fact that he was widely known among hospital staff to be a predatory paedophile, with at least one staff member having witnessed him repeatedly raping a mentally ill-patient…..
Now compare and contrast the recent series of prosecutions which the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided in its wisdom were definitely worth pursuing.
They include: disc jockey Dave Lee Travis; children’s entertainer Rolf Harris; Coronation Street actors Bill Roache and Michael Le Vell; celebrity fixer Max Clifford; It’s A Knockout presenter Stuart Hall; deputy speaker Nigel Evans.
Only one of these cases has resulted in a successful conviction – Stuart Hall – prompting a former Director of Public Prosecutions, Lord Macdonald of River Glaven, QC, to observe that prosecutors need to “keep a cool head” when approaching historic abuse cases. “What the CPS need to avoid…is going on a mission and losing perspective. This particularly applies to historical cases which have garnered a lot of publicity.”
Lord Macdonald is weighing his words carefully here, almost to the point of sitting on the fence, as lawyers do. But this is as close as we’re probably going to get to anyone from the judicial establishment admitting the scandalous truth of what has been going on in the CPS in the wake of Savile: it has been conducting a witch-hunt against whatever celebrities it can find with a vaguely murky sexual past in order to cover up its embarrassment over its historic failures (ie Savile and Smith) and also to appease the mob vengeance mentality of certain sections of the hysterical public.
By “certain sections of the hysterical public” I mean particularly the resurgent feminist movement and the politically correct left generally. I’m not saying that conservatives aren’t equally disgusted and appalled by the likes of Savile and Cyril Smith (whom Liberal leader David Steel wanted to knight, by the way, and whom Nick Clegg praised on his 80th birthday “You were the beacon for our party in the 70s and 80s and continue to be an inspiration to the people of Rochdale). But what conservatives generally lack is that “all men are rapists” ideology which is at least partly blame for this run of vexatious and probably pointless prosecutions.
It’s this same attitude, by the by, which was responsible for the hounding not so long ago of the Liberal Democrats’ party chairman Lord Rennard. Rod Liddle put his finger on the problem here in the Spectator.
Rennard has been investigated by the police, at an enormous cost tothe taxpayer, who found after seven months of digging around nothingwhatsoever to charge the bloke with. He has also been investigated — atenormous cost to the Lib Dems, ha ha — by a QC who also foundinsufficient evidence that Rennard had been possessed of ‘indecent’intent in his undoubtedly cumbersome behaviour towards a few women. Andyet none of this is sufficient to shut up his accusers, because asvictims, as they see themselves, they cannot possibly be wrong. That isthe ideology. It is enough that they have complained: they must bebelieved, they must be right. That is the ideology. And the party,desperate to prove that it is as one with this warped ideology, suspendsRennard because he will not apologise for something which he believeshe hasn’t done and which two investigations suggest he has little toapologise for.
This is what one of the women, Bridget Harris, alleges happened.Remember — alleges. It was ten years ago, after all. In a hotel, aftersome ghastly and I daresay pointless Lib Dem meeting, the two of them –Harris and Rennard — were left talking at a table. According to Harris,fatso Rennard put his hand on her knee, so she moved away. Later heasked if the two of them should finish their coffees in his room. Andthat, readers, is it. As a come-on, I have to say, ‘Shall we finish ourcoffees in my room?’ seems to me on the sedate side, compared to: ‘Howjalike your eggs in the morning, leftie chick — fertilised?’
When you put it that way, it’s pretty hard for anyone but the most vindictive harridan not to feel sorry for Lord Rennard. And the same certainly applies to poor Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans. All right, so the man likes a drink, but that’s not a crime. Yes, he’s gay but that’s not a crime either. And, yes, it would appear that on occasion when he has had a few he is wont to make a clumsy pass at men he fancies – even to the point of shoving his hand down their trousers.
Does any of that constitute a crime worth the considerable expense of a prosecution by the CPS? In what way are the interests of the public or justice being served here? Isn’t the normal thing for a man to do when a Deputy Speaker shoves his hand down his trousers either to laugh it off (if he finds it unwelcome) or acquiesce (if he doesn’t)? Since when was such embarrassing but generally harmless behaviour any of the State’s business?
Here’s the thing about sex: it’s weird, rude, unpredictable, irrational, private, different. If it weren’t those things we’d be doing it all the time, in the streets, at work, wherever. But because it generally takes place behind closed doors and because it’s an activity set apart from routine and socially regulated human experience the ground rules are much messier and more complicated than they are say, for how to behave when you go into the shop to buy some cigarettes, or, how you reply when someone has invited you to a dinner party.
Inevitably this leads to confusion and uncertainty. Sometimes you might make a pass at someone and be embarrassingly rebuffed; sometimes it’s greeted with enthusiasm. And sometimes you don’t make a pass at someone because you think they’re not interested, only to discover years later that they wished you had and that if only you’d done so your lives might have been completely different. This is complicated still further by the fact that often, when you’ve found yourself in sexual situations you’ve been drinking. And still further by the fact that notions of what does and doesn’t constitute acceptable courting behaviour vary through time.
For example, in the 1970s there’s little doubt that mores were more louche and loose. So much so that the makers of the James Hunt/Nikki Lauda biopic Rush decided they’d have to play down the sexual attitudes of the Seventies era because if they didn’t modern audiences would find them simply unbelievable.
This, of course, is one of the major problems of the recent string of prosecutions brought against celebrities for things they may or may not have done in the Sixties and Seventies. Sexual behaviour was much more upfront, back then; men were much more chauvinistic; public bottom-pinching, even breast grappling, were not considered sexual assault – as they would be now – but were considered so normal as to be celebrated weekly on the Benny Hill Show.
The only people not to get these obvious truths about a) the complexities of human behaviour and b) shifting social attitudes – and the sheer wrongheadedness of judging one era by the standards of another – are those in the feminist movement particularly, and on the cultural Marxist left generally. For them, it’s a key article of faith that society is a phallocentric construct in which men are the perpetual oppressors and women the eternal victims – and that the only way of remedying this is through the intervention of the State.
By rights these shrill, embittered harridans ought to be confined to the margins – shrieking angrily to one another in their private Twitter forums and on their campaigning websites, but rightly dismissed by all sensible people as an hysterical, unhinged, socially divisive menace.
Instead, their warped, depressing and essentially anti-human vision of the world is being backed by the full weight of the State. This cannot augur well for the future of freedom in Britain. The cultural Marxists are winning.