Hysterical reaction to ‘harmless old buggers’

David Gordon picks up on an article by Ulster born Leo McKinstrey in the Spectator this week which is interesting for a number of reasons – not least the media hysteria around the Michael Jackson trial (reg needed). In essence, McKinstry argues that, in the rush to protect children there has been a massive loss of perspective. He argues that Michael Jackson’s not guilty verdict has virtually been set aside by many commentators, hooked by the bizarre nature of his behaviour.

Today even cricket coaches are warned against giving lifts to their young charges for fear of arousing suspicions, while teachers are told not to indulge in any physical contact whatsoever. Because the hysteria has reached such epidemic proportions, we now have social workers, therapists and psychiatrists encouraging children to come forward with allegations against those in authority, often with the promise of substantial compensation. We even have the ridiculous concept of ‘Recovered Memory’, where a course of counselling is supposed to help victims of abuse to recover deeply suppressed memories of past abuse.

As any therapist with true humanity knows, the nightmare of abuse lives with the victim every day; it cannot be driven into the recesses of the mind. And then there are the police, who appear to suspend the usual rules of criminal justice when it comes to embarking on one of their trawling exercises against former staff in a children’s home or a school. All this does no service in the battle against real child abuse. By making the definition of abuse so wide, by seeing danger at every turn, by putting the most sinister gloss on every act of affection, all rationality has been lost. A sense of proportion has been replaced by one of panic and vindictiveness.