MODERN GOTHIC

This is a version of a comment piece which I posted on Matthew Scott’s excellent blog on 4 December 2014. Scott had written a comprehensive critique of Exaro, which formed part of a series of blogs about this now defunct “fake news” agency . I almost never comment on others’ blogs, but I made an exception on this occasion. With hindsight, it is prophetic. And I am re-posting it on my own blog because it remains topical, given the IICSA’s recent hearings on the Westminster strand of its inquiry. Enjoy!

There is so much intellectual dishonesty in the way these matters have been presented by the media, that it is hard to know where to begin.

The problem with Exaro is that it is cynically recycling old, old stuff, the origins of which seem to stem, at least in part, from ex-NAYPIC’s Mary Moss (now Mary Josofar Valdivieso Fortuno Flores aka Jo Flores aka Jo Galvin) and the now convicted money-launderer Chris Fay – instead of doing any real investigative journalism of the kind which the BBC used to do, back in the day e.g. the Beeb’s programme about the ghastly Peter Righton in 1994.

One of the poisonous legacies of Leveson, and our now cowed mainstream media, is that we now have no decent, old-school investigative journalism: just crass political smears; sensationalist “penny-dreadful” rumour-mongering by the blogosphere (and, let’s face it, Exaro is basically an internet blog), plus the lazy propagation of old urban myths, like your snuff movies, da-dum da-dum. We have no Bob Woodward or Carl Bernstein living in this hour, doing hard-hitting investigations: no matter how much the pygmy scribblers of Exaro might aspire to occupy those great men’s shoes.

Ironically, the reason why deviants like Righton could flourish was a suffocating left-wing political correctness, which prevented the social work profession from challenging them: compare the dismal failure of today’s social workers – schooled in the same blinkered ideology about the evils of “patriarchy” and the critical importance of not being “institutionally racist” – to challenge sustained Asian abuse of girls in Rotherham, and other deprived areas of the U.K., where the Home Office likes to dump certain immigrant, and woefully unintegrated minorities. The evils of patriarchy, indeed!

If Exaro had bothered to read Philip Jenkins’ excellent “Intimate Enemies: Moral Panics in Contemporary Great Britain” (Aldine De Gruyter, 1992), they could not fail to spot the same memes coming round again: Geoffrey Dickens MP’s obsessive homophobia; the tales of decadent Tory perverts getting their rocks off with members of the same sex (this is rather amusing, when you consider that it was the Tories who introduced Clause 28), and the ugly undertow of anti-Semitism.

Indeed, their pointed refusal to distinguish between true paedophilia which, strictly, means a sexual interest in prepubescents, and adults interested in teenagers (the English language has no word for this) enables them to smear any old gay, back in the day, who fancied a 20yo, a 19yo, or an 18yo, as an evil kiddie-fiddler.

Whilst it is not, theoretically, impossible that an elite “ring” of politically savvy pederasts might have raped and murdered hapless minors, just for kicks, this thesis makes far, far less sense than the acknowledged outrages of the terrorist Provisional IRA, who really did conspire to murder innocent members of the British public – and their own community – in the “noble cause” of a united Ireland.  The reality is that sex-murder of minors of the kind that the conspiracy theorists like to ruminate over (why? I cannot begin to comprehend their obsessive fascination with this grim subject) are far more the province of pornographic fantasy, than actual fact.

The fact is that sexual murders of minors are, thankfully, extraordinarily rare. But yet we have been treated to a lurid, titillating sequence of horrors: the drowning in the bath, the MP strangling the twelve-year-old, etc. These are X-rated scenarios designed to shock and thrill, like the recent dystopian Northern Irish TV drama of serial killing called – with all those “Paradise Lost” echoes – “The Fall”.

And so we have lately seen the old nonsense about the corrupted “kitchen-boy” (how very Gormenghast!) in Buckingham Palace, aged 16, hitting the news. Mais quelle surprise.  I recommend people read Leon Brittan’s considered letter to Dickens on this subject – freely available on the Internet – and make up their own minds.

No, no, what, it seems, Exaro prefers is a bizarre middle-class morality play, involving pornographic tales of sadistic degradation, violation and death. Their trouble is: the maverick editor W. T. Stead got there first….in 1885. His legacy lingers on, in the United Kingdom media’s prurient fascination with sexual deviancy in high places. Exaro: you are so nineteenth-century.