Saturday, 16 November 2013

Roy Harper

And so the media have decided to release the news of yet another rock star whose been charged with "historic" sex offences. But this time it's Roy Harper, a man I trust, a man I respect, a man I've worked with, and a man I feel the need to defend. 

Fifty years ago, Senator McCartney, in the chilly heights of the Cold War, decided that certain Americans with left wing tendencies should be accused of being un-American. In a polarised and paranoid world where black was black and white was white, those who believed aspects of communism were ideologically sound could be accused of undermining the very ethos of free America. 

No-one wanted to argue. If you argued, someone would pull the plug on you. And it was a relatively easy thing to accuse someone of. Certain types of people made rather good communists, or so they said. Gay people, for example, were perfect spies - they were used to deceitful behaviour. Bohemians, academics and actors all came under the spotlight. Those who had beef with their neighbours now had the perfect way of retaliating. No one ever got into trouble for making a false claim, but even the innocent would always be tarred with the commie brush. 

Arthur Miller's Crucible drew a startling parallel to events in Massachusetts in the late 17th Century, this time involving women suspected of practicing witch-craft. Another indefensible crime, and under the cover of mass hysteria, the perfect way to settle an old score. 

The curious difference in the current mayhem is that most of the crimes coming to light were supposedly committed 40 or 50 years ago and that the victims only seem to come forward when their abusers step into the limelight. 

Take Roy, for example. He releases a new album, goes on a tour, and immediately gets arrested for kiddie fiddling, almost as though his victim had forgotten about her terrible ordeal until she realised her abuser was coming into some money. 

The argument that always gets rolled out is the one that says these rock stars were so powerful that the law couldn't touch them until Jimmy Savile got busted. We conveniently forget about Jonathan King and Gary Glitter hitting the skids years before, and, in the case of Roy Harper, that  it's now two years since Savile. Plenty of time to decide to make a complaint. 

Obviously, I'm not defending paedophilia. Terrible things happen to young people and those who are guilty of doing terrible things must be punished. What strikes me about the 60s generation, however, is that they were all experimenting with boundaries; taking drugs, using contraception, being gay. Most of what they did was illegal but some of the strict rules and regulations they were kicking off against have subsequently been relaxed. I'm not sure anyone could have predicted then what would have been legalised by the year 2000. Change was in the air. The stuffy morality of war torn Britain was collapsing. In the 60s anything went, and some or those young girls throwing themselves at rock stars knew exactly what they were doing and what they wanted... 

The age of consent varies from county to country. Who's to say, for example, that the Spanish are wrong to draw the imaginary line at 14? Or the French at 15? Or many African nations at 12? Most people, if pushed, will claim to have lost their virginity before the age of 16. When I was 16, the age of consent for gay men was 21. Numbers. Just numbers. 

There are surely shades of grey within black and white, and I was absolutely horrified to go on twitter to find the obligatory and titilating  "trial by media" cranking up... These people don't care about the victim. Phrases like, "ugh, that's gross" completely undermine what she is supposed to have gone through. Instead of waiting for the justice system to do its job, every one develops a theory, and Roy is branded a baddie on the strength of a Daily Mail headline. Everyone has a reason why they're more upset than everyone else. Everyone knows someone who was felt up by the accuser.

Whether Roy is found innocent or guilty, his reputation will always be tarnished and his career will be effected. People will say there's no smoke without fire. They're already going through his song lyrics looking for clues. But is this fair? Does anyone deserve to have their life sifted through by the media before the courts sift through it all over again?

If the Michael Le Vell trial has taught us nothing else, it's that the media doesn't always get it right. There are mitigating circumstances. There are scores being settled. There are deluded people in this world. 

If we refuse to acknowledge any of this, I suspect the time has arrived to arrest every last living male celebrity from the 60s and 70s. We can ask the questions later on. In the meantime the world will be a great deal safer! And, quite frankly, whilst Syria's in disarray, people are vanishing in Sri Lanka and tens of thousands are without water in the Philippines the most important thing right now is that we rid the world of 70 year-old perverts! 

1 comment:

  1. I agree whole heartedly with your views and analysis of current " Witch hunting ", Like you I cannot and will NEVER condone peadophilia but I do believe there should be a Statute of limitations in some instances. What truths or facts can people remember from so long ago and also there appears to be no retribution against in some cases "LIARS ", but the innocent accused have their lives blighted for ever.

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