Stop this salivating over celebrity paedophiles

spiked editor Mick Hume's Notebook in The Times (London).

Mick Hume

Mick Hume
Columnist

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  • Here are the news headlines.

A 60-year old man has been released from prison, after serving three and a half years for having sex with some teenage boys between 20 and 30 years ago. Meanwhile in the United States, the trial continues of a 46-year-old man accused of putting his hand inside a teenager’s underpants. Coming up: more sleazy historical tales about Jonathan King, and every last tawdry detail from the Michael Jackson trial. Plus all the sport – and if there is time, a bit about an earthquake and a general election . . .

If there is one thing that our culture appears more obsessed with than football and celebrity, it is paedophilia. So there is no bigger story than celebrity child abuse. All of the gross salivating over the King and Jackson cases is a symptom of a deeper malaise. There are a few perverts with an unhealthy interest in our children. But many more normal people seem to have a morbid fascination with child abuse these days.

Why? There is nothing to suggest that paedophilia has become more commonplace. Instead, it is as if the spectre of the paedophile has been turned into a focus for all of our fears and anxieties.

Paedophile-hunting has also become a rare opportunity to claim a moral consensus. Perhaps we cannot agree about what is right or wrong on anything from abortion to drugs, but we can all accept that kiddie-fiddlers are evil. Celebrities can now get away with just about anything, except being accused of child abuse.

Only those on the repulsive King’s payroll could seriously suggest that he is an innocent man. Yet his case, and the reaction to it, raise some questions about where things are heading. King was sentenced to seven years in jail, after a large police operation over incidents alleged to have happened up to 30 years earlier – incidents which nobody had complained about or tried to cover up at the time. Now there are cries of outrage that he should have been released at all; at least one newspaper wants him locked up for life. Taking their lead from the Government’s catch-all sex offenders register, it seems that many would now put King’s offence of seducing star-struck teenagers on a par with the violent rape of a little girl in her own bed, reported in Essex last week. And the Jackson trial has repeatedly been compared to that of O. J. Simpson – as if allegedly fondling a teenager really was the same thing as allegedly hacking two people to death.

It is hard to see who benefits from this increasingly shrill paedophile panic. Like other journalists, I received prison letters from Jonathan King. I binned them. That is also what we should do with the leaflets and pamphlets we keep getting from child protection charities, poisoning the human well with warnings that our children should beware of grown-ups they trust, and that we should keep a suspicious eye out for any adults being friendly to our kids. It’s sick, and Something Should Be Done About It.

  • I am not a big believer in conspiracy theories.

I think that probably, on balance, the Jews did not stage 9/11, the Royal Family did not murder Diana, Princess of Wales, the Americans did not fake the Moon landings and Dirty Den did not assassinate JFK. However, I am starting to suspect that the Conservative Party front bench may be a secret conspiracy to re-elect Tony Blair. In recent weeks, as the Government has floundered, some speculated that Michael Howard might even win. But the farcical way that Howard Flight was hanged, drawn and deselected for making unguarded remarks about tax cuts confirms that the Conservatives are hopeless. They could win only if the public becomes so disillusioned and cynical that turnout drops below 30 per cent. Come to think of it, perhaps that is what the Tories are secretly conspiring to achieve . . .

  • Reports of people buying anti-racist/bullying/whatever wristbands from counterfeiters and on eBay confirms that these fashionable displays of compassion are less about charity than moral self-flattery.

I recently suggested launching an anti-wristband wristband, but hopefully there will be no need now that Mr Blair has been pictured wearing a white one for the Make Poverty History campaign. In the eyes of self-respecting youth, that should surely make them as achingly unhip as the new Jonathan King CD.

Mick Hume is editor of spiked
This article is republished from The Times (London)

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

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