Just when you think that heads are going to roll, you discover that it’s worse: whole bodies are about to get burned. And in the world of relentless sexual abuse allegations, it looks like the Jimmy Saville thing – colossal and incriminating as those first claims were – was merely the trigger.
A while ago, when it all kicked-off, I, like many people, predicted that things were going to get a whole lot worse. Now they are, now they have, I do not feel pleased to be right in any way. If you’re revelling in it, grow up. Think about the real victims here. The victims who are being abused right now as you read this, and the future-victims who might be living a normal life now, but are soon to be swamped by revulsion and fear from predatory attackers in positions of trust and responsibility. You hate it, I hate it, but it’s happening and we can’t deny it. There will be people reading this who were the victims of abuse, and, if statistics can be relied on — they can’t, but go with me — maybe even people reading this who have abused. Children who are wholly innocent now won’t be in the days and weeks to come, and no matter what we do to prevent this shit from happening, it’s not something that will ever end. Surely, that fact alone should give you nightmares and make you think before you start spreading the muck on Facebook and Twitter.
A couple of years ago, it seemed that the so-called lucky kids of the first decade of the year 2000 had nothing to rally against or call their own, and that they never would. Now they have something memorable, they’ll really wish they hadn’t. Shockingly high unemployment levels and general cultural and economical malaise as enemy-number-one? It’s not a good thing and none of them will ever boast about being unemployed to their children, so interested in what growing-up was like back when we didn’t know what would happen to computers when three 0s appeared. Their parents had the cool-factor of the 60s and 70s to pretend they didn’t think were cool, and their — the kids in question, not their parents — older brothers and sisters had the transitional political era of the 1980s as seen in This Is England. Yet there they are, with this, and unfortunately, it ain’t just a lack of jobs and high-street shops shutting that the new-millennium teens can now shamefully lay claim to in many years to come. When they look back and discuss what was happening in their youth and early twenties, they’ll also be able to say that it was the time when the rumour-mill went absolutely fucking stratospheric, beginning with dodgy journalism and MPs expense claims and ending in…who knows what? It’s hard to guess how much more mess might come to light…how much more controversy and false lies on Twitter and in the papers. There’s no doubt about it, either: what Phillip Scofield did on ITV was daft and naïve and bizarrely off-key — even for a man who once spent a worrying amount of time with a toxic-waste-yellow gopher… — but what’s just come to light about the North Wales police during the 1990s carries much more weight, and, unlike a few minutes on national TV, it’s not about to go away, nor can it be erased from YouTube.
Steve Messham is one man who, last night, upon my reading the latest news online, I feel really sorry for. Timid-looking yet doggedly determined about making public his cause, when Messham — himself a now-famous victim of child abuse and the focus of serious media scrutiny recently — came forward recently to make claims against Tory MP Lord McAlpine, the internet went crazy with speculation. That’s nothing new, of course, it’s just that this time, thanks to the subject matter, people really started to get behind it in a unified, belligerent, politician-hating way that was something truly remarkable: students, married men, housewives, IT professionals, creatives and amateur bloggers alike. Everyone wanted in. Cue lots of name swapping, and blogs claiming that, without question, the information contained within their pages spoke of real truths against high-ranking paedophiles, many of them allegedly Conservatives of the Thatcher era. Except we all know that that’s not the case — them being the real truth and only truth, I mean. While it’s fair to say that there could potentially be some truth behind the allegations, right now, too many people are playing a dangerous guessing game. Now out of control, what started off as a single thread of misery has now metastasized into a senseless monster, and it’s very sick and hungry indeed.
According to what Steve Messham has just announced via countless news portals, the photograph of Lord McAlpine which he recently viewed was not the same image of a Lord McAlpine that he was shown during the 1990s by North Wales police. Read that sentence again, because it’s bound to cause confusion on its own: hard to believe, isn’t it? Conspiracy theorists will, without doubt, say that this is a cover-up: that Lord McAlpine was and is involved, somewhere along the line, and that if he isn’t the man responsible then he will know without fail who is. And the really worrying thing is that, this time, it’s hard to say that it’s not tempting to believe (note that I said it’s hard to say that it’s not tempting to believe, not that I do actually believe it — there is a tremendous difference). Number 1, you have to ask yourself, how does a police force get something so immensely wrong in the first place? Maybe it’s understandable if just one person was in the room with Steve Messham at the time. Perhaps, if you consider that human beings are imperfect and make mistakes and go to bed too late and drink too much alcohol and do way too much cocaine, the wrong name was given and that was it – simple human error like anyone could make, regardless of intelligence or information. But we all know that police departments aren’t run like that. They just can’t be — you need at least one officer to make tea, and another to clean the toilets. But seriously, surely, at some point in this process, another person came across the fact that the wrong name had been given. Even if we imagine, for one seriously improbable moment, that this was not the case, surely the conversation with Steve Messham and the officer in question was recorded or possibly even later assessed? If so…how come nobody happened to pick this little problem up infinitely sooner, or nobody came forward to say this was the case? If not…why the hell not? Like most people, I’m not a fan of many politicians, but no matter what they’ve done to piss-off the common man and woman since the dawn of time, I know one thing alright: not one of them deserves to have his name dragged through the mud because of one ridiculous error. If it is an error. Whatever this thing is. If I’m honest, I just don’t know what to believe any more…first we need to know more, and only once we do can we begin to move forward.
So, what with all the finger-pointing and the dark rumours, where does that now leave us? Blaming Steve Messham for not double-checking and doing the police’s work for them about this photo? Blaming the police for…numerous incompetencies? Blaming the BBC for broadcasting information without doing more research? Blaming technology for dispersing diseased intellectual — or not so intellectual — rubbish without rules or established guidelines to protect people? There was a time when we were focussing on the most important thing – the victims in all this, however old they are now, however much it’s hard to see them as children, subjected to profound, utter horror. But now, I’m beginning to feel really uneasy. With every day that passes, too many people seem to be forgetting that fact and playing this thing like it’s some kind of game or a way to gain notoriety. Except it’s not. Lives are being ruined and have been ruined since you started reading this article, since you got up this morning, since you just went to go and put the kettle on. If you’re blogging about this subject, please, be responsible with what you are saying, because not everyone is able to think for themselves — some people follow what everyone else is saying and don’t think twice. Ask yourself before using your readership as a way to set fire to countless reputations: do you really want to be speculating in an uninformed way about things you don’t really know?
And there-in lies another grisly problem. Everything I know I know because of the internet. Which means knowing isn’t really knowing any more, is it?
End note: at the time of writing, I know the information contained within this article to be right and correct.