The real ‘State of Fear’


As regular readers of musicbugsandgender will know, I’ve been keeping one eye on developments following the outing of the late Jimmy Savile as a serial sex offender. Most of the opinion and comment via the MSM, alternative press and public comment alike – that I’ve read, anyway – has been broadly speaking, responsible and sympathetic to victims, which only served to show in sharp relief this ill-considered, ignorant  and revolting diatribe from The Huffinton Post’s Brendan O’Neill

‘The reason the Savile scandal continues to gather pace, despite its obviously destructive effects, is because there are two industries that do benefit from it – the media industry and the therapeutic industry.

In the media, right from the salacious tabloids that like nothing better than to panic about paedophiles to feministic commentators on the broadsheets who muse at length about “cultures of abuse”, the existence of an alleged 300 Savile victims is like manna from heaven.

They can wring both titillatingly horrifying stories of woe from these victims (in the case of the tabloids), or hold them up as evidence of a deep-rooted climate of sexism (in the case of the broadsheets), and thus the more victims there are, and the more they are willing to relive their pasts publicly and frequently, the better.’

O’Neill does a disservice to his peers in both the tabloids and quality dailies, here. Of course there’s a degree of sensationalism within journalism; arising inevitably from the inherent tension between the desire to tell a ‘truthful’ story, and competing within an ever-expanding marketplace to engage readers on an emotional level in order to make a sale. The best journalism utilises dramatic devices to do both, and whilst I’d argue that the broadsheets achieve a better balance I’m loath to dismiss the Red Tops en-bloc – as reactionary and inflammatory as they can often be; to discern a lack of caring would be mistaken. If O’Neill’s grasp on the motives of his peers is shaky – not to say cynical – then his apprehension of Feminism’s is more so: mind you, this is a man with form for misogyny and blustering arrogance, as evidenced by the paranoid, wrong-headed invective he directs towards feminists and lawmakers in response to George Galloway‘s infamous ‘every insertion’ defence of Julian Assange.

And he’s not the only one who would like to see the fallout from Savile nipped in the bud. In the comment section below the article, a reader by the name Henry Galt, wrote:

‘Meanwhile, 28gate goes completely unreported, well, everywhere except The Scotsman so far.

Sordid will do nicely. Real manipulation of the masses? Nah, we’ll just leave that one off the table. Too grubby.’

Nobody would suggest that 28Gate is un-newsworthy – indeed, to Beeb-bashing right-wingers it might appear to be, to appropriate Galt‘s expression ‘Manna from Heaven – but to suggest it is of more fundamental significance than Savile (amazed the opportunity to append a ‘gate’ was missed here) is misunderstood to say the least. What’s revealing about Galt‘s comment is his use of the word ‘real’; specifically do dismiss – as O’Neill does, albeit by different means of reasoning – Savile‘s, and by extension, humanity’s victims of sex abuse.
One might imagine that Galt and his merry band of climate sceptics swimming against the tide of prevailing scientific concensus (for all of, what, 30 years?) might feel some empathy for exponents of Feminism, who, in their efforts to expose and combat male violence have played David to the hierarchy’s Goliath for centuries. 30 years? That’s less time than some of Savile‘s victims have had to live with their fear, shame, lack of trust and sense of betrayal; and most pertinently here, with NOT BEING BELIEVED. The insularity of such single-interest obsessives tends to render such parallels invisible, however: if these guys think of themselves as real mavericks, they might want to raise their heads above the water once in a while.
Mention of climate-change scepticism and  manipulation of the masses in the same – virtual – breath however, called to mind the late American author, Michael Crichton and specifically his novel, State of Fear. For the unfamiliar and link-phobic, Crichton‘s novel is premised on a sceptical view of CC akin to Galt’s, but positing CC itself as the political establishment’s red herring – a Lysenkoist fad which he compares to Eugenics in the novel’s afterword. (For my part, I consider myself a CC sceptic – sceptical that is, about the political motives of the ‘pro-‘ lobby and their apprehension of CC thru history. I certainly don’t doubt the reality of the phenomenon).

Contrastingly, there’s nothing ‘faddish’ about the matter of child sex crime, or about crimes of violence in general, come to that: the problems they present are perennial and devastating. Another writer of intelligent Sci-Fi, Steampunk author China Miéville, touches upon sexual violence in his novel Perdido Street Station: thru the device of the Garuda, a non-human race with laws and customs in contrast to the human city state of New Crobuzon. he introduces a definition of rape as a crime under an umbrella determined ‘choice theft’. His is a definition quite different to the problematic, historical definition of ‘rape-as-theft’, rooted in property law, which, unlike the latter correctly identifies it as a psychological weapon of mass destruction. This definition has especial resonance in reference to the systematic sex abuse of kids, where domination thru violence – sexual or otherwise – during formative years so often complicates their positive self-determinative abilities in later life, impacting on self-esteem and an ability to make positive choices and form successful relationships.

Which brings me back around – and if you’re still with me, my thanks for your patience – to the Huffington Post article. Far from ‘The Savile scandal … further dent[ing] social solidarity’, as O’Neill would have it, his (Savile‘s) 40-year reign of terror is both a consequence of, and compelling evidence for, a lack of healthy social solidarity. That men of high social and professional standing; men who have achieved most, if not all of what supposedly constitutes success in our societies and yet, in order to consummate that success are driven to manipulate, terrorize, rape and – if forensic evidence uncovered at Haute de la Gaurenne shows what it appears to show – kill our most vulnerable, most precious citizens, our children is deeply unsettling. It is not hyperbole to suggest that what their behaviour illuminates is a psychic vacuum in the collective consciousness which men – and women too on occasion – are prepared to kill our future in order to fill. In this respect at least, there is a valid parallel with CC, insofar as it’s the selfish actions of the most privileged of world citizens that threaten to impact the future of the human race the most. The shame is that too many of said privileged few seem more intent on mining the climate of fear and uncertainty for political and financial capital, rather than presenting meaningful solutions. Treating our women and children better would be a good place to start, the better to promote social solidarity and responsibility.
The big story about 28Gate, unlike Savile, is that (and you might want to whisper this, for fear of bringing down a tornado of wrath from climate scientists of every stripe) there’s no story. So the BBC has adopted a ‘pro’ editorial policy on the reporting of climate change – BIG DEAL! In case you’ve been watching/reading with your critical faculties disengaged for all of your adult life you’ll surely have detected that every news channel and publication has its own characteristic political stance and editorial policy to match. If you only read publications/watch programmes that cater to and reinforce your extant predjudices (which far too many people do, sadly – and if you’re one of them, more fool you) then your propensity to comment likely exceeds your qualification to do so. Personally, I feel confident that, with a reasonably objective estimation of their respective biases, I could peruse the details of the same story in either The Daily Mail or The Guardian, say, and arrive somewhere within the ballpark of the truth. The near-universal anti-female/anti-children bias consistently adopted by society and its institutions rarely gets the level of mainstream coverage it deserves and in spite of the publicity afforded in the aftermath of Savile; O’Neill, Galt and too many others still argue for denial. I, on the contrary argue for open debate – which must start with the premise that we have a problem
To give a rough and ready estimate of the scale of what we’re up against in the UK alone:
Population = 63,000,000; female population = 31,500,000; no. of victims of sexual assault = 10,500,000. That’s just females and just in the UK. As we’ve heard in testimonies by victims from Haute de la Gaurenne and Bryn Estyn, there are a significant number of male abuse victims too; and if the numbers here are shocking enough, the toll of casualties from war-torn areas such as Bosnia and The Sudan is, by any estimates far higher…
Not surprising then, that Susan Brownmiller was moved to describe rape as: ‘… a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear.’ The implication is less that all men are rapists, than the notion that – even those of us who aren’t – by refusing to acknowledge and challenge the violence in our culture are perpetuating it; are thus perpetrators by proxy who continue to enjoy the dubious benefits of the gender inequality that is both cause and effect. Paraphrasing Brownmiller to acknkowlege the existence of male victims and female perpetrators would make for, if anything, an even bleaker picture; a picture that the O’Neills, Galts and Galloways of this world would rather we didn’t pay much attention to.
This is a climate in desperate need of change.

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