Thursday, May 09, 2013

Why Barbarah Hewson has lost touch with reality

this by Barbara Hewson has made me so angry.

Here's why:

"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."

What does age have to do with anything? Everyone gets old, does being old mean that you should no longer be responsible for the crimes you have committed? Jimmy Savile is dead, he never got to pay for his crimes - YES... CRIMES, because that's what they were and he would have known it. Having sex with someone, mollesting someone, doing something to someone against their will is a crime. Having sex with someone beneath the age of consent, even when consent is clearly given, is a crime.

"Now even a deputy speaker of the House of Commons is accused of male rape. This is an unfortunate consequence of the present mania for policing all aspects of personal life under the mantra of ‘child protection’".

Neither you nor I know if he is guilty but every victim should feel that they are able to seek legal justice and every person accused should be given the opportunity to prove their innocence. Your job is not to speculate on if someone is likely to have broken the law, it is to prove or disprove.

"We have been here before. England has a long history of do-gooders seeking to stamp out their version of sexual misconduct by force of the criminal law. In the eighteenth century, the quaintly named Society for the Reformation of Manners funded prosecutions of brothels, playwrights and gay men."

Oh those terrible Do-Gooders, going about the place doing good. How dare they. We are not talking about Oscar Wilde here! Comparing outdated laws against homosexuality, which have since rightly been changed, to perfectly reasonable sexual consent laws is just stupid.

In the 1880s, the Social Purity movement repeatedly tried to increase the age of consent for girls from 13 to 16, despite parliament’s resistance. At that time, puberty for girls was at age 15 (now it is 10). The movement’s supporters portrayed women as fragile creatures needing protection from men’s animal impulses. Their efforts were finally rewarded after the maverick editor of the Pall Mall Gazette, WT Stead, set up his own secret commission to expose the sins of those in high places.

After procuring a 13-year-old girl, Stead ran a lurid exposé of the sex industry, memorably entitled ‘The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon’. His voyeuristic accounts under such titles as ‘Strapping girls down’ and ‘Why the cries of the victims are not heard’ electrified the Victorian public. The ensuing moral panic resulted in the age of consent being raised in 1885, as well as the criminalisation of gross indecency between men.

The Social purity movement was flawed because of religion and religious morality. However they were right to suggest that the age of consent was far too low. You are mixing up women and children here. Some children of 10 may have hit puberty but not all will and even those who have are unlikely to be mature enough to give informed consent regarding their bodies and sexuality. This is why the age of consent should remain at 16 - there are too many variables to support a drop to 13. The Social purity movement resulted in a lot of debate about prostitution and sexual exploitation which was much needed. Anyone who is forced into something is in a fragile position and though some feminists might believe that prostitution should be a viable economic choice for women it predominantly involves the exploitation of women. Of course women need to be protected by the law. Children need to be protected by law. People need to be protected by law.

"By contrast, the goings-on at the BBC in past decades are not a patch on what Stead exposed. Taking girls to one’s dressing room, bottom pinching and groping in cars hardly rank in the annals of depravity with flogging and rape in padded rooms. Yet the Victorian narrative of innocents despoiled by nasty men endures."

This is not about the BBC. This is not about comparing terrible abuses. If a person feels that they have been violated then they have a right to seek justice where the law has been broken. I do not want to live in a society that thinks I am a piece of meat that can be manhandled every time I step outside my door, or even behind closed doors. Why would anyone think this is an acceptable way for me to have to live? I don't want to be groped in cars, I don't want my bottom pinched. Who in their right mind would promote this as an acceptable way to treat people or stand by and idly let it continue?

What is strikingly different today is how Britain’s law-enforcement apparatus has been infiltrated by moral crusaders, like the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC). Both groups take part in Operation Yewtree, which looks into alleged offences both by and not by Savile.

Expecting women to be able to go about their daily lives without being touched up, manhandled, violated, raped and sexually abused is not a moral crusade. As a mother I will be teaching my son not to touch up, manhandle, violate, rape or sexually abuse women. Does that mean I am on a moral crusade? Thank goodness for organisations like the NSPCC who help children who are being violated, why would someone not want these children to be helped?

These pressure groups have a vested interest in universalising the notion of abuse, making it almost as prevalent as original sin, but with the modern complication that it carries no possibility of redemption, only ‘survival’. The problem with this approach is that it makes abuse banal, and reduces the sympathy that we should feel for victims of really serious assaults (1).

Just because you are unable to feel sympathy for victims of abuse doesn't mean that others don't. It is precisely because of people like you that we NEED these pressure groups. We need to fight people like you who want to normalise abuse, who appear to want to allow people the right to violate other people's bodies and to take what isn't theirs. Suggesting that they seek to expose abuse only so they can keep going as an organisation is just ridiculous.

But the most remarkable facet of the Savile scandal is how adult complainants are invited to act like children. Hence we have witnessed the strange spectacle of mature adults calling a children’s charity to complain about the distant past.

Seriously? You think that crimes have a shelf-life? That people should just get over whatever abuses they have suffered? Just pull themselves together and allow their abusers to get off scott free not to mention that they will probably continue to abuse other people just like Savile did? If anything - when victims are seen to be taken seriously it encourages other victims to speak up.

The NSPCC and the Metropolitan Police Force a joint report into Savile’s alleged offending in January 2013, called Giving Victims a Voice. It states: ‘The volume of the allegations that have been made, most of them dating back many years, has made this an unusual and complex inquiry. On the whole victims are not known to each other [sic] and taken together their accounts paint a compelling picture of widespread sexual abuse by a predatory sex offender. We are therefore referring to them as “victims” rather than “complainants” and are not presenting the evidence they have provided as unproven allegations [italics added].’ The report also states that ‘more work still needs to be done to ensure that the vulnerable feel that the scales of justice have been rebalanced’.
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 victimisation (2).

Jimmy savile is dead. None of the victims are going to ever see proper justice handed out to their abuser, he was able to get away with crimes for so many years because his victims did not think they would be believed. Now we are taking victims more seriously it is more likely that other victims will speak up earlier and sexual predators like Savile will be stopped. Of course more work needs to be done so that victims of all abuses can feel like they will be taken seriously rather than automatically assumed to be making it up.

The acute problems of proof which stale allegations entail also generates a demand that criminal courts should afford accusers therapy, by giving them ‘a voice’. This function is far removed from the courts’ traditional role, in which the state must prove defendants guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

Victims should be believed and supported. The accused should be given the opportunity to prove their innocence. At the moment so few rape and sexual abuse cases even reach court in the first place.

What this infantilising of adult complainants ultimately requires is that we re-model our criminal-justice system on child-welfare courts. These courts (as I have written in spiked previously) have for some decades now applied a model of therapeutic jurisprudence, in which ‘the best interests of the child’ are paramount.
It is depressing, but true, that many reforms introduced in the name of child protection involve sweeping attacks on fundamental Anglo-American legal rights and safeguards, such as the presumption of innocence. This has ominous consequences for the rule of law, as US judge Arthur Christean pointed out: ‘Therapeutic jurisprudence marks a major and in many ways a truly radical shift in the historic function of courts of law and the basic purpose for which they have been established under our form of government. It also marks a fundamental shift in judges’ loyalty away from principles of due process and toward particular social policies. These policies are less concerned with judicial impartiality and fair hearings and more concerned with achieving particular results…’

Oh bollox - take a look at the figures for how many rape and sexual assault cases actually make it to court, then take a look at how many accused rapists are actually found guilty and then tell me that judges are attempting to achieve particular results. Aside from that, when Arthur Christean was writing about Therapeutic jurisprudence he applies it to the accused NOT the victim. That the accused is given support and help to change their behaviour. In an ideal legal system the victim would receive help and the guilty person would be rehabilitated.

The therapeutic model has certain analogies with a Soviet-style conception of justice, which emphasises outcomes over processes. It’s not difficult, then, to see why some celebrity elderly defendants, thrust into the glare of hostile publicity, including Dalek-style utterances from the police (‘offenders have nowhere to hide’), may conclude that resistance is useless. But the low-level misdemeanours with which Stuart Hall was charged are nothing like serious crime..

Stuart Hall admitted indecently assaulting 13 girls, aged from 9 to 17. These are not serious crimes? Wow, thanks for that. Oh and guess which crime got to lie on file? Yes - the rape charge.

Touching a 17-year-old’s breast, kissing a 13-year-old, or putting one’s hand up a 16-year-old’s skirt, are not remotely comparable to the horrors of the Ealing Vicarage assaults and gang rape, or the Fordingbridge gang rape and murders, both dating from 1986. Anyone suggesting otherwise has lost touch with reality.

Robbing an old lady of her pension in the street is in no way comparable to the great train robbery either but one would hope that the person robbing the old lady would be given some kind of punishment if found guilty or if they admitted their guilt. The only reason you mention the Ealing Vicarage rape is because the victim was a virgin and the daughter of a vicar, and there you were complaining just a few minutes ago about moral crusades. And anyway - why are you getting your knickers in a twist about crimes from 1986? Don't you know that was 27 years ago? I am sure the victims are over it by now - do stop persecuting their assailants!

Ordinarily, Hall’s misdemeanors would not be prosecuted, and certainly not decades after the event. What we have here is the manipulation of the British criminal-justice system to produce scapegoats on demand. It is a grotesque spectacle.

Ordinarily you say, well isn't it good that what we view as ordinary is changing so that victims can feel that they are being taken seriously? A scapegoat for who? Can you scapegoat yourself? Stuart Hall knew what he did was wrong, he entered guilty pleas. Are you suggesting that after his guilty plea the judge should just let him off because he's old? Don't worry - I am pretty sure that's going to happen anyway.

It’s interesting that two complainants who waived anonymity have told how they rebuffed Hall’s advances. That is, they dealt with it at the time. Re-framing such experiences, as one solicitor did, as a ‘horrible personal tragedy’ is ironic, given that tragoidia means the fall of an honourable, worthy and important protagonist.

So you are saying that they said 'no' but he carried on anyway and that's 'dealing with it'? In my eyes it makes it so much worse. And stop being silly about the semantics.

It’s time to end this prurient charade, which has nothing to do with justice or the public interest. Adults and law-enforcement agencies must stop fetishising victimhood. Instead, we should focus on arming today’s youngsters with the savoir-faire and social skills to avoid drifting into compromising situations, and prosecute modern crime. As for law reform, now regrettably necessary, my recommendations are: remove complainant anonymity; introduce a strict statute of limitations for criminal prosecutions and civil actions; and reduce the age of consent to 13.

Ah ha! Here it is. Silly me, we must stop people from being victims, tell them to modify their behaviour so they don't get attacked because it's their fault if they do, right? And on top of that you think lowering the age of consent to 13 will mean that fewer poor old men will be persecuted because their victims will be over the age of consent so it won't matter so much, even if they have said 'no'?

You are an idiot.

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