Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Simon Jenkins, Jimmy Saville, The BBC and The Pope

Simon Jenkins, in today's Guardian, writes an article that tries to typify the public's response, and that of some media, to the Jimmy Saville story as a 'witch-hunt' that feeds paranoia. To him there are other far more important issues that deserve the front page headlines...

"In our rush to apportion blame for the actions of an individual, we risk becoming blind to the real issues of the day" 

And he writes of how other 'issues' or stories have been sidelined due to this stories prominence...

Is Jimmy Savile and the BBC the biggest story on Earth? Apparently so. Today the British media placed it above Romney versus Obama, above the implosion of Lebanon and above the birth of the world's largest oil company. Savile was bigger than killer drones in Lincolnshire, bigger than Cameron's prison policy, bigger than the sensational Birmingham terrorism trial."

(though the fact remains that any reader or consumer of news might read the entirety of a newspaper, watch innumerable sources of on-line video news and still see all those other stories) and then Jenkins proceeds to say that nothing good will come of this, because a) Saville is dead and damned b) everyone in Institutions will be now driven to ensure no-one is allowed near a child without a chaperone :

Soon doctors, lawyers and priests will have to practise, like the police, in pairs. Responsibility for our behaviour apparently no longer rests on us as individuals but on anyone whom a lawyer can claim was "responsible" for our contact with others. We are no longer our own masters. This is the royal road to Orwellian hell."
Jenkins is using hyperbole to distract his readers from the fundamentals of what the Saville story really means.

FACT : The abuse of power is at the root of most of the really serious problems we face, be it at the personal level or beyond.....

Those who seek power - be it at the personal level, at the political level or in the office or school - are often psych
ologically damaged (and therefore dangerous) people - while not all will be as harmful as Tony Blair, George Bush or Jimmy Saville, the multitude of those who seek and attain some degree of power and who look the other way, who justify their silence when they have access to evidence that deserves to be revealed, who fear to speak out because they might lose a job or damage their careers are an essential component in the abuse of Power by those prepared to cause harm to others.

Sue Gerhardt's analysis of Tony Blair and George Bush in her book 'Selfish Society' r2010 e-iterates what Alice Miller's 'For Your Own Good: The roots of violence in childhood mistreatment' clearly demonstrated in 1986.

If we really want an empathic, healthily functioning Society in the long term, we, all of us, have to address the way our Society relates to children, to parenting and education, to 'care' and in particular address the fact that Power sees children/people as potential workers, economic units essential for 'growth' and that Power underplays and undermines what we all need for genuine happiness, as we race towards the illusion that wealth (consumerism) generates happiness.

Simon Jenkins unwillingness to admit or acknowledge this is typical of those who prefer to protect the status quo. The tone of his article is dismissive, angry, petulant.

"Those running big organisations, in the public and private sectors, face a lethal pincer movement. On the one side is a rising tide of risk aversion, seeping into every factory, office and profession, stifling enterprise, "reassessing" risk, clogging decision. On the other is a fear of what happens should this process fail. Just as the concept of an accident has slid from legal status, so has the "honest mistake". When Entwistle today admitted and regretted his mistake in not asking in more detail about the Savile programme, his tormenters hardly noticed. Honest mistakes do not exist, being replaced by only the most serious and probably criminal negligence, fit only for the pillory, the stocks or the gallows."

George Entwhistle's honest mistake? ignoring evidence that Jimmy Saville, far from deserving a 'celebratory special' was a nasty, nasty harmful man, and ignoring the fact that the many Survivors of his horrific abuse would be further traumatised by the transmission of that 'celebratory special', and that those who had come forward would once again suffer from being ignored, rejected, not believed.

That was not an honest mistake, that was an act of incredible irresponsibility, and act that demonstrates a profound lack of empathy for all those adversely affected by Jimmy Saville's abuse. The Survivors and their families.

Nothing he has done yet is sufficient to repair this. George Entwhistle has a choice to make. To honestly admit his error, and respond as required or do what so many people in power are prepared to do .... avoid empathy, attend to the status quo, to the agenda of Power.

Just as David Cameron's Coalition Government's actions in cutting funding to services that support vulnerable people, cuts that have caused yet more pain and suffering to thousands of disabled people all over the UK are evidence of a deep lack of empathy for the reality of the lives of other less powerful people.
(I  do not hold Cameron alone responsible - every member of the Government, and all  Parliamentarians are equally culpable unless they counter these particular cuts with all their might, as these particular cuts in funding are 100% un-neccessary.)

Just as the Pope, and many Bishops and Curates, and others around the world who ignored Survivors testimony, or hushed it up to protect their Institutions revealed a profound lack of empathy for those who suffered so much at the hands of predatory priests, at the hands of men and women willing to visit intolerable violence upon children.

(The BBC's sickeningly fawning coverage of the Pope's visit to the UK in 2010 which sidelined the world wide story of intolerable suffering inflicted upon hundreds of thousands, if not millions of children over the past centuries in favour of a celebration  of the Pope parallels the Saville story.... a pattern is repeated..)

We CAN live without Institutions which are populated and controlled by adults who refuse to tackle this behavioural dysfunction head-on. We must.

Any institution that permits this kind of dysfunction for whatever reason, or tries to 'manage a crisis' from the perspective of protecting itself, suggesting that the crisis is the revelation  of abuse, and not the abuse itself - is an inhumane, psycho-pathological entity that does far more harm than good.

If the BBC wants to regain trust, then it must be 100% honest, and man up to the realities, no matter how much it hurts or costs... no matter who amongst the powerful is exposed as an abuser, a facilitator of abuse or an apologist for abusers...

I am furious, yet not at all petulant, when I say:

"Grow up, Jenkins, grow up!"

Let me make something clear here : George Entwhistle is not responsible for Jimmy Saville's behaviour. That responsibility lies with Jimmy Saville - he made his choices. Thus, he removed choice from many young peoples lives.

Entwhistle IS responsible for the
BBC, and therefore for the BBC's response to these revelations, and is equally responsible to ALL the licence payers, and to all of those who have survived Saville's abuse. He is in the hot seat, and he elected to apply for that job.

He may well be on a very fast learning curve. So be it.
He will not be forgiven for failing in his duty as an adult human being. Nor should he be  given any slack. The same applies to Simon Jenkins.

Kindest regards


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