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Britain... Indig-Nation. Obscene Press Feeding Frenzy Over Celebrity Hanky Panky

The British press are having a field day. They adore a good scandal. The more surprising the participants, the more delight they exhibit as their feeding frenzies outside courtrooms and all over the mainstream news testify. And when the details about gropes, bonks and cuddles get revealed, even more joy spreads through their ranks as their outrage intensifies into an orgy of indignation ostensibly proclaimed on behalf of a shocked British public. Imagine their collective squeals of joy when they discovered that not one but three otherwise highly popular celebrities, all with 'cleaning-living', 'butter-wouldn't-melt-in-their-mouths' personas, were all going to be tried in different courts, on the same day! What sort of collusion must there have been between the Department of Justice responsible for scheduling these trials and the baying packs of wildly excited press representing their profit-motivated newspapers and magazines. Plenty of titillating details about victims and perpetrators alike will increase readership and viewing numbers. How they love it... but of course, remembering at all times, while on-camera, to portray a shocked and disapproving countenance.

Now I am NOT saying that rape and child abuse is in any way acceptable - whether by celebrities who felt they had the power to give 'favours' to star-struck girls, by priests who abused the trust imbued by their godly approval (nice gods), or by any other member of society slaking their distorted and self-indulgent thrills at the expense of someone else, especially a child who can't fight back or understand what is happening. But I am saying we shouldn't run wall-to-wall news coverage about it. It's painful for the victims, and if not convicted, totally unfair on the celebrities whose lives will never be the same again.

And let's hope a modicum of common sense will prevail in the courts' decisions. Where a celebrity might have misread the signals from a girl who appeared to 'let him do it', we men need to ask ourselves the question, what would we have done under the circumstances? Indeed what did we used to do? When Grombler was a far younger and unmarried man, if she looked convincingly older than 16, she was fair game to try to impress with our air of confidence and attempts, usually resultless and unconvincing, at male fortitude (at least we've stopped using clubs and dragging conquests off to our lairs... although I read an account of Aborigines doing just that in the 19th century). Perhaps, emboldened by a couple of drinks, we'd have tried a 'move' or two. Slap or repulse = bad. No reaction = keep going. It's what men do, and have been doing for a million years. Are professional prostitutes who might 'expect' that sort of thing, the only women we're allowed to touch provocatively and without invitation (not by our wives of course - and before you wonder, Grombler never has)? Are we all to be condemned for wandering hands? And by condemned, it would seem if trial by Press is anything to go by, that means not only imprisoned but having our reputations destroyed (or made) forever. If Dave Lee Travis or the others get off, they will always be reviled as people who 'don't respect women' - never mind it all happening 40 years ago and their sex-drives no doubt having shriveled in the meantime. Abusers they were, and abusers they will remain.

So what's in it for the alleged victims? It's unlikely, but some may be lying to gain publicity and maybe money (compensation, 'kiss and tell' commissions etc). Some may be nuts and think it happened, but it didn't (there are cases, no doubt very rare, of daughters putting their fathers in prison based on dreams they fervently believed were real). But some will have been abused - and in varying degrees of damage to their self-respect and mental health. Clearly where mental anguish has genuinely been suffered as a result of an attack, a crime was committed and justice must be forcefully served - celebrity or not. But let's help victims deal with it in private, not splash their experiences across our pages and screens because we love to see celebrities meet their comeuppance. And let's also make sure we get the offences into perspective - for the age in which they occurred, with all its comparatively lax moralities. For example, we can rightfully be indignant about gay prejudice, but it wasn't very long ago that it was illegal in the UK to be openly gay, and gay-bashing was a popular sport in some circles, with a blind eye turned by the police. Indeed laws against gays still exist in some countries - Ugandans (the bastards) are about to pass laws to lock up gay people - for life! Protest here.

My worry is that victims may be thinking - these people are a danger to society and need to be stopped. They may or may not have been a danger to society 40 years ago - but surely they can't be considered a danger today. So what else might be in it for victims? Retribution? 'Start the healing'? I doubt it will. Stopping celebrities today from believing they're immune from the law? Perhaps. But whatever the reason, let's try to spare a thought for the accused - innocent or guilty - for the way our press is licking their lips at their predicament and the amount of money they will make as detail after detail is revealed to their titillated audiences.

And while I'm having a go at the appetite of our journalists for indignation, how come the French don't give a damn about their president bonking an actress? Why should we care. Is it because we inhabit an Indig-Nation?


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