Who believes that no one ever looks the other way when abuse occurs?

We are told that various public figures, such as Edward Heath, could not have committed any of the crimes as they were surrounded with security. The police or security forces were present so such behaviour could not occur. If the police were not there; then secretaries, assistants, and chauffeurs were always present or nearby. Their presence would have made it impossible or at least extremely difficult for such acts to occur without anyone noticing. If they had noticed, then they would have reported it, leaked it to the press, or spoken about it.

If they had seen it would they have reported it?

On the surface, the defence sounds robust, plausible, and believable. If the principals had committed these acts, then others might have known. We are confronted by four possible options.

  • They reported the abuse but no one did anything.
  • They looked the other way and never spoke of it.
  • They were complicit in the abuse.
  • They saw nothing.

If they were not complicit, then they would have had to have looked the other way. If they looked the other way, knowingly that is they were not duped, then they lacked integrity. The argument is that if you look the other way you are corrupt by the sin of omission or wilful blindness. You are looking the other way to avoid having to render judgement. The argument to support this is that if person were to see such behaviour, they would have reported it.

The powerful have private lives that are well protected by law or threats.

We know that public officials often have private lives that appear to escape scrutiny. We also know that security officers and personal employees will display a loyalty to their employer or patron at the law’s expense. We know that John F Kennedy had extramarital affairs despite having Secret Service protection. In the UK, we know that security forces intervened to thwart the potential exposure of Cyril Smith. The security services also seemed unable or unwilling to confront powerful people over allegations of child sexual behaviour. We know that Lord Armstrong justified his failure to confront Leon Brittan over the allegations of child sexual abuse as it would be “bad for the government”.[1] He put the party loyalty before the safety of a child. Thus, it seems strange to insist that people who depended on Heath for their livelihood would risk everything just to raise a concern that would not be investigated. We know from the BBC report on Savile that there was a culture of fear. One can only imagine the level of fear that politically powerful figures, ones connected to the political establishment, could generate.

Even if you raise it, who will believe you? Who do you tell in a corrupt regime?

A further point to consider is that even if the underling raised the concern, would it be believed. As the BBC report indicated, the culture was such that people looked the other way and just dismissed the possibility of abuse. Some did not even investigate. Others simply excused it almost like an entitlement. Savile was a star and he was a bit of an odd fellow. What are you going to do? He is just “mucking about.” If this is the attitude in the entertainment industry what would be the attitude in the professions that wield the state’s coercive power? A lowly employee is going to think twice if they think of reporting the incident. The lowly political person will know how vindictive politically powerful figures are. Without exception, the political powerful are also vindictive people who always seek to punish their enemies often seeking revenge for slights from decades earlier.

Caught in a shower having sex with a child and still ignored

Even without the fear, are they likely to be believed by anyone who could do something about it the possibility of raising a concern, a concern that would be unlikely to be believed? Even in the United States we know of Jerry Sandusky escaped punishment even after he was caught in the shower with a child.[2] Mr Proctor’s claim seems questionable at best and extremely naïve, if not disingenuous, at worst. It is eminently possible for Mr. Heath to act as alleged. The allegation, therefore, has to be investigated before it can be disconfirmed.

I never saw him do anything so he must be innocent…. He was only helping the kids in the shower…. No one ever said anything….. I never asked and no one told me….. It was a private party….. They were someone else’s guest….. I thought they were someone’s nephew…. They were helping someone from a disadvantaged background…..

Defer to the powerful or face the consequences.

The excuses and rationalizes just roll off the tongue. Anyone can and does rationalize any and all behaviour that they see or display. For some, it might be rationalized as better them than me. For others, it might be a secret thought that they brought it upon themselves. Another is that those in power should be granted special favours or perks. The list is endless and history has shown that the more horrific acts can and have been excused or overlooked when it suited the powerful for the public are easily cowed or trained to be deferential to their superiors especially in the UK. One only need to consider the savaging that Jeremy Corbyn has received for even daring to defer in a way that appeared less deferential.

[1] See Lord Armstrong’s statement here: He added: ‘At the present stage… the risks of political embarrassment to the government is rather greater than the security danger.’ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3172775/I-won-t-child-abuse-MP-Fury-Mrs-T-s-Cabinet-chief-defends-failure-act-senior-Tory.html

[2] Jerry Sandusky was eventually arrested, tried, and convicted for sexually abusing children. However, the incident in the shower did not immediately trigger his suspension or arrest. (It occurred in 2001, he was not arrested until 2011.) His status within the Penn State football programme and the standing of the Penn State football programme within the University and within the community protected him. Surely, an ex-PM would garner the same, if not more, deference and protection. http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/03/25/jerry-sandusky-i-was-just-fooling-around-when-caught-boy-in-shower/ For an overview of the case consider: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Sandusky

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About lawrence serewicz

An American living and working in the UK trying to understand the American idea and explain it to others. The views in this blog are my own for better or worse.
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