With David Cameron getting presented yesterday with a list of names of alleged Tory paedophiles on ITV yesterday, child abuse hysteria is reaching new heights. The whole thing stinks.
The man who accused a senior Thatcher-era Tory MP of abusing him while he was a resident of a north Wales care home has apologised after admitting his claims were based on a case of mistaken identity.
You can imagine how gobsmacked I was when this story first emerged. How closely I read everything that was said – and noted what was not said. Not the ‘Jimmy Savile is a paedophile’ story, the Internet is full of such tales. No, it was the Daily Mail story which caught my eye; how ‘two brave women’ had come forward and identified themselves as being the victims of this paedophile. One word lept out of the print, long before I had got to the relevant sentence. Duncroft. Not just Duncroft, but Wedgewood dormitory. 1965. I consumed every detail. My jaw was frozen to the ground for several hours.
‘There were girls in there who were quite terrified of him‘ – I read elsewhere that ‘girls were hiding behind the bedroom doors’ to escape his attentions. I was mesmerised. And puzzled. For I had never hidden behind a bedroom door to escape his attentions nor anyone else’s attention. I had simply never met the man. Period.
The mud sticks, of course. And this seems to have developed into a regular mudslinging competition. All got up, it seems, by the child-protection industry:
The Jimmy Savile scandal has been held up as proof that child abuse is rife in modern Britain. In every institution in the land, even at ‘Auntie’, as Savile’s old stomping ground the BBC was once affectionately known, children are apparently being preyed upon by warped adults. ‘Sadistic child abuse is rife across Britain’, newspaper headlines tell us. According to the deputy children’s commissioner for England, ‘There isn’t a town, village or hamlet where children are not being sexually exploited.’ And the least safe place, even worse than the Beeb and NHS hospitals, where Savile also allegedly groomed and molested girls, is the family home – it is there where the ‘scourge of abuse’ is most common, apparently.
Is it true? Are loads of children being abused, treated sadistically by people they should be able to trust? No, they are not. The most remarkable thing about the hysterical claims about child abuse being rife is how flimsy they are, how quickly they fall apart when one asks the most basic of sceptical questions. Indeed, the depiction of Britain as a hotbed of sadistic sexual and physical abuse of children has required industrial levels of fact manipulation by a child-protection industry that has a clear interest in exaggerating levels of abuse. The truth seems to be that – brace yourselves for this – generally people are good, and generally the family home and most institutions are safe, even happy places.
It’s the satanic abuse panic all over again:
Do you remember the social worker-led accusations of ‘Satanic ritual abuse’ that ripped families and communities apart in the late 1980s and early 1990s?
From Cleveland to Rochdale, Nottingham to Orkney, tens of children were taken from their parents, sometimes for several years. And why? Because officialdom, aided and abetted by organisations like the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, were all too willing to believe that normal men and women were locking children in caves, making girls pregnant so as to eat their fetuses, and generally indulging in all sorts of horrific practices. All of which was rubbish, of course, as a government report was finally to confirm in 1994. But not until it was too late – for many unfortunate families the damage was done.
Were he still alive, I’m sure Richard Webster would have taken great interest in this latest outbreak of hysteria:
As I wrote in my first article about the Casa Pia scandal seven years ago, the idea that there is a paedophile ring centred on a children’s home, which supposedly supplied young boys to prominent figures and politicians, is one which seems to have originated in Britain. It first surfaced in 1980 in relation to the Kincora working boys’ hostel in East Belfast. It then reappeared in 1991 and formed a significant strand of the Bryn Estyn scandal which would eventually lead to the North Wales Tribunal. In 2008 a similar story became the basis of the Haut de la Garenne children’s home scandal in Jersey.
In all three cases the so-called ‘children’s homes’ turned out in reality to cater mainly for adolescent boys, some of whom (in the case of Bryn Estyn) had criminal records. The allegations which emerged were not made by children but were collected retrospectively from young adults.
In all of the cases there was a core of reality to the stories which emerged; at Kincora, at Bryn Estyn and at Haut de la Garenne, a few young teenage boys were sexually abused by one or two members of staff. But this reality was then overlaid by the fantasy that large numbers of innocent young people had been preyed upon by an evil conspiracy.
In the Bryn Estyn scandal in North Wales this fantasy rapidly became the basis for a righteous crusade to convict the alleged perpetrators. Journalists in particular were prominent in driving the crusade forwards. Whenever investigations concluded that such ideas were groundless, the authorities were accused of engaging in a cover-up. In order to make these accusations credible it was claimed that politicians themselves, or even police officers, were a part of the ‘ring’ they were supposed to be investigating and therefore had an interest in concealing its existence. Similar claims were made frequently during the series of satanic abuse cases which began in California and swept through North America and Britain during the closing decades of the twentieth century.
I don’t spend much time thinking about this sort of thing, but to me it seems that more or less all these claims of child abuse are most likely the product of public hysteria, and a hysteria which is very closely related to the hysteria surrounding tobacco smoke.
When will it end?