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January 20, 2006

Beware the Jabberwok!

The hysteria in the Press over the discovery that a teacher with a conviction for a sexual offence, committed with a 15 year old girl he later married - when she was a year or so older - gives almost the impression that every school is populated by potential paedophiles and that every child attending them is at risk of sexual assault. As was pointed out in a Radio Talk show on my way to work, this is a vast exageration of the problem, and most children are far more at risk from other far more lethal events than they are from any paedophile teacher. As ever, the real target here of the mass Media is not the paedophiles, but the Education Secretary and there is nothing that sells newspapers like a good political scandal. A pity that the result will be an even more draconian solution from the politicians to a problem that seems to me to be blown out of all proportion, and a population living in fear of molestation.

It sometimes seems that "sexual offenders" have become the new "witches" in the ongoing hunt among certain classes to find someone to blame for all the problems in society. In the 16th and 17th Century (and in some African and third world countries today) it was "witches". All one had to do to be branded one was to have a wart or a birthmark in the wrong place, to have fallen out with someone who subsequently managed to injure themselves or to get sick - easy enough in that unhygenic age! - or to be old, alone and unloved and suddenly you were responsible for all the ills in the village. Off to the stake and the purging pyre with you! In fact, it sometimes seems that even daring to question the perceived prevalence of this issue in any sort of "public" forum makes you a suspect "witch" as well. If viewing a particular type of pornography is viewed by the "moralist/protectionist" lobby as being the same as committing the act, one can only suppose that voicing doubt about the manner in which the "Witch Trials" are conducted and the "evidence of crime" that is employed is anything to go by, questioning the conduct of these "trials" is fraught with the peril of being accused of the crime oneself!

It does seem strange that in an age obsessed with "Human Rights" a murderer can be considered "rehabilitated" if they admit their fault and demonstrate contrition and reform, but someone accused of any sexual impropriety may find themselves permanently barred from any number of activities because they are on an indelible "Register" for life. This paranoia extends to parents being forbidden from filming their own children in the bath - sick, paedophile imagery of naked children according to the Whitehall nannies - or of school plays or nursery school pageants because the images might provoke someone to have a paedophile orgy on the images. What about someones "right" as a parent or grandparent, to enjoy photographs and videos of the highlights of a child's development? What of the supposed offenders right to rehabilitation and to being spared "cruel and unusual punishment"? Surely the sort of mind that can conceive the idea that every parent or grandparent photographing their children in swimming costumes, on stage or in the bath as potentially "perverted" are the really sick and perverted minds? Surely it is they who desperately need to be locked away and treated since only a truly disturbed mind can turn something innocuous into a vision of sick perversion!

Following their logic through to a natural conclusion, no man should ever be asked to change a baby's soiled nappy! Who knows what might result from his being confronted by soiled baby backsides!

Yes, there certainly are some very sick individuals out there in the real world, but the Whitehall/Westminster response so far has been to criminalise everyone who touches a child, who tries to discipline a child or who may, at some stage have to work with children, rather than to find some effective means of identifying and dealing with the real offenders. The "vetting" process for those who work with children is one of those amazing pieces of bureaucratic form filling which actually serves almost no useful purpose other than to put anyone off actually putting themselves forward to work in any number of youth and youth related organisations. Every organisation which has anything to do with children's work now has to have a "Children's Officer" and "Children's Policy" and pay through the neck to have everyone who has even the remotest contact with any child vetted. And yet, the Government itself, in fact a Cabinet Minister no less, manages to by-pass the system and approves the appointment of not just one, but several of these supposedly evil and dangerous predators to posts in schools. It does make one wonder!

What does seem to be a rather worrying development in all this is that some of those on the so-called Sex Offenders Register are there for having at some stage accessed pornography of a certain type on the internet. They have not in fact committed any act which would be prosecutable in a court, but that does not seem to matter to the Whitehall-Westminster Witch Finders. To look at images they deem inappropriate is to be declared a "Witch"! Not only that but there seems to be no appeal and certainly no remission once accused. One has to ask how they would know, and it transpires that a considerable amount of money and effort is focused from our very scarce police resources, on monitoring certain web addresses and capturing the URL's of anyone who visits them. After that it seems that a dawn raid on your address is inevitable and a period of extreme embarrassment ata police station is then followed by a lifetime of restriction. That has deeply worrying implications for our entire justice system, smacking as it does of the sort of "justice" meted out by Judge Dredd and his fictional ilk.

Even more worrying is that this hysteria has created an atmosphere of fear among parents and children and is stunting the development of responsible attitudes among the young. Because they have no experience of taking care of and looking out for themselves they are increasing reaching adulthood with no concept of responsibility for their own safety. Now that may be something the Whitehall nannies want - after all it gives them more and more reason to argue that the "State" (read Civil Servants and "Protection Lobbyists") should have complete control over every aspect of everyone's life. This is certainly where the Health and Safety mania is going!

The hysteria over sex offenders teaching in schools - and I would be prepared to put some hard earned money on a bet that it is no more than five at most - is masking several other and far more serious problems. Children are of the order of seventy times more likely to be injured or killed in a road accident than to be molested at school. They are a hundred and fifty times more likely to be bullied and at least a hundred times more likely to be offered drugs, yet none of these issues get anything like the attention and don't attract anything like the penalties. Selling a child drugs is likely to get you five years at most, killing one in a road accident probably no more than eighteen months or a fine. So why is sex seen as something so peculiarly unique as an offence.

In part I suspect it arises from a very puritanical approach to anything to do with the human procreative organs. Yet here too, we have the ultimate contradiction between the youthful activities of those now imposing their "moral code" on the world, and the world they say they are trying to create. On the one hand they assign "rights" and on the other impose "restrictions" dictated by their own "moral" code which they apply strictly to everyone but themselves. They deny that there is a "Higher Authority" or a God given Code of Conduct, yet seek to impose an even stricter version of the base codes in many religions than the religions themselves expect.

Look closely at any statement emanating from the Moral Righteousness Political lobby and you soon begin to notice a trend. It is always wrapped in a "moral" stance, but the effect of what is proposed always draws more powers to the proposer and steals yet more freedom of choice and action from the individual. A good example is the mantra that "guns kill people!" Yes, they do, but generally not on their own and the banning of the ownership of handguns in the UK was precisely the sort of hysterical reaction certain lobbies thrive on. Instead of putting in place the proper vetting and checking procedures for gun ownership, they banned their ownership outright - and gun crime has soared as a result. Nor is this the only area in which the hysterical responses to a relatively small number of incidents which have become the latest focus of the "righteous guardians of public morality". The Jabberwok is loose among us and his Jabberwokian double speak is meant to intimidate and confuse, to frighten and subdue, and once he has subdued and frightened his victims they are as putty in his hands as he strips them of their rights, their independence and their ability to think for themselves. A recent commentator on this blog quotes the situation faced by a teacher recently. It is educational and instructive and it certainly makes one wonder what sort of world we have allowed the Press, the Politicians, the "Issue" lobbyists and the Civil Service to create. As I said, the real irony is that these are the same bunch of left-wing loons who spent the 60's and 70's smoking marijuana, talking about "free love", screaming for "freedom" from the morality of their parents and blockading universities because they didn't like what the teachers and lecturers said or did. Freedom of expression, action and thought is obviously, in their sick minds, only for those who agree with them and their vision of the world.

Beware the Jabberwok, he has you in his sights!

Posted by The Gray Monk at January 20, 2006 01:36 PM

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I've just seen Points of View (broadcast after midnight of course) and a lot of people wrote in to protest that the BBC's coverage of that teacher who has been married to his former pupil for 19 years was as bad as the tabloids. Their apology was a bit lame really and I don't think they'll apologise on primetime TV.

Posted by: The Postulant at January 21, 2006 01:21 AM