Working to fix the formatting of my new book involves uploading it to see what it looks like, fixing a bit, then uploading again and so on and so on...During the times that it's uploading, I thought I'd take the opportunity to write on here about something that riles me to hell; and riles a lot of other people as well.
In the latter half of the Nineteenth Century foreign visitors to London were constantly shocked at the number of child prostitutes parading in fashionable areas like the Strand. The demand for children was so great that teenagers were often dressed with ribbons in their hair and made to look younger than they were. The demand for children, especially young girls, was not just driven by perversion but by the shocking belief that having sex with a virgin was a cure for all types of venereal diseases. The younger the girl was, the more chance there was of her being a virgin.
Of course, with the rise of the middle classes, attitudes began to change and there were calls to raise the age of consent as well as to provide protection for children. Newspapers and magazines were full of shocking, salacious stories, though it's worth pointing out that many of these focused on an imagined white slave trade to serve the lusts of Johnny Foreigner. WT Stead, for example, the pioneering investigative journalist, who was later to perish on the Titanic, managed to buy a 13-year-old girl, whom he took to France. Nobody in France was interested in the young girl, especially not in the maisons closes, but, to the British public, his point had been proven. A Government Act soon followed.
The Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885 raised the age of consent to 16 and had provisions for protecting young girls from the predations of perverts. It was an unusual Bill, having been passed first in the Lords and then sent to the Commons, instead of the other way round. It was passed in the Commons, but only with an addition by an MP called Labouchere. His pet hate was homosexuality and the Act was passed with the notorious Section 11, which made homosexuality illegal and those indulging in 'gross indecency', in public or private, would find themselves facing a couple of years in prison with hard labour. Not for nothing was it christened 'The Blackmailer's Charter'. The inclusion and passing of the Bill with Section 11 can be seen as part of the middle-class obsession with homosexuality at the time. I, however, have long suspected that it was a more sinister manoeuvre, to deflect attention away from the sexual abuse of children.
If I'm right in my suspicions then Section 11 was highly successful. Have a good dig about into historical scandals and you will be hard-pushed to find any that involve the abuse of children. In fact, it was seen as somehow normal to be interested sexually in pubescent girls especially. Charlie Chaplin was so inclined, and was known to be so, while nothing was seen wrong in 'fancying' young thirteen- and fourteen-year-old girls. Meanwhile, homosexuals like Oscar Wilde, John Gielgud and Alan Turing were pilloried and victimised.
It's still the case that homosexuality is seen as worse than paedophilia. Contrast the treatment of Jonathan King with the blind eye turned to Bill Wyman's affair with a 14-year-old girl or the outpouring of sympathy and support for film director Roman Polanski, who had sex with a 12-year-old girl. The head teacher at the primary school I used to work at, who was sacked and arrested for having child porn on his computer, was shown leniency by the judge at his trial because all of the images were of girls!
Throughout the 20th Century, a blind eye was turned to instances of child abuse. Thousands of children were abused during the Second World War, both those that lived rough among the rubble of the Blitz and the ones evacuated to the countryside. That side of the Home Front, however, tends to get whitewashed out among the misty-eyed reminiscences of the Dunkirk spirit. Thousands of other children in care were sent abroad to be used and abused, right up until the 1970s, by British ex-pats, not by foreigners. Again, however, our media would rather focus on enforced adoptions in Franco's Spain than the scandal under their own noses.
Since the authorities weren't interested, child abuse was something that was dealt with by the local community, usually in the form of a severe beating. My da's 88 and he remembers times, when he was younger, a gang of men getting together to mete out justice to somebody that had interfered with a child. Usually the character was driven from the neighbourhood after his kicking. That was how it was dealt with. Even the police resorted to violence and driving the perpetrator away. Watch Sean Connery's film 'The Offence' to see how the police dealt with kiddie-fiddlers. David Bowie's song 'The Little Bombardier' also deals with the subject. The authorities were rarely, if ever, involved. Even a few years back when the locals found out about their head teacher, Mark Melvile, the immediate reaction of many was to get a hold of him and kick the shit out of him. He was long gone by then, though.
And so we come to the 1970s; a strange time when we look back on it. While we'd all been scared to death by the Moors Murderers and Tufty was on TV telling us not to talk to strangers, there were actually lobby groups, receiving government money, pressuring for sexual relations between adults and children to be made legal! This was part of the general backlash against Freudian ideas that started in the late 60s and looked to free everyone from their inhibitions. It spawned Free Love, Page 3 girls, Emmanuelle, Deep Throat and tits being seen on the telly. Unfortunately, things went a bit too far and folk started to question every Freudian taboo, no matter what the consequences. Things that many back then saw as 'liberating' would now be seen as what they were: exploitation. Look up the OZ trial; can you imagine if such a trial took place today? Would we have pop stars, TV and film stars, intellectuals etc. all coming out in favour of the magazine's editors? I doubt it. But they did in the 1970s!
As we know now, the 70s was a hey-day for all manner of perverts, while our authorities either ignored things or actively covered them up. With the new, 'liberal' agenda almost condoning these perversions, it's hardly surprising that a blind eye was turned. Not everyone, however, was happy with these new 'freedoms'. There were still 'old-fashioned' types that didn't want an anatomy lesson in their morning paper and that definitely didn't think that there was anything at all 'normal' about an adult having sexual relations with a child. Still, it was something that ordinary people didn't debate; if it happened then a good, old-fashioned beating would ensue.
Looking back at the 1970s, and even into the 80s, our authorities - the judiciary, social workers, the police and even the media - did absolutely nothing about child abuse. Whether this was because nobody reported instances it's hard to say but I would imagine that after the horror inspired by Brady and Hindley the police would be contacted a lot more than they used to be when any such crimes took place. The fact is that, as it had been throughout the 20th Century, nobody in authority was interested. It was a case, as it always had been, of people taking the law into their own hands. The perpetrator would be kicked to within an inch of his life and then sent packing. That was how neighbourhoods dealt with it; it was also how organisations dealt with it, albeit often forgoing the beating.
It is well-known now that churches, youth organisations, businesses etc. all dealt with the problem by the simple expedient of getting rid of the perpetrator. Such organisations are now having to deal with the consequences of what happened all those years ago. The ubiquitous Summer Camps of France and the USA have all but disappeared as stories emerged of children being sexually abused thirty or forty years ago. Youth organisations throughout the world have had to apologise for not dealing with the problem adequately, while churches worldwide are being dragged through the courts by people that were let down by these institutions when they were children. The State is involved as well, with stories coming out of horrific abuse, and even murder, in children's homes and young offenders institutions. And it seems as if we've just scratched the surface and there is a lot more horror to come.
And so we come to the point of my diatribe. The Peeppul with all their 'Big Jock Knew' and the rest of it seem to expect everyone to believe that Celtic should be dealt with as a special case. The fact is that the club dealt with the situation in exactly the same way as everyone else did. That, of course, doesn't excuse things, but if Celtic is to be castigated then so is practically every organisation dealing with children back then. Whether or not Jock Stein dealt with Torbett by rag-dolling the bastard and kicking him out is irrelevant. As we already know, the authorities didn't deal with the issue of child abuse and even covered it up, so Torbett was dealt with in exactly the same way as every other paedophile at the time.
Many of The Peeppul have been vocal in their support of Lynsey Sharp, calling for everything to be 'brought out into the open'. I quite agree. Let's get everything out in the open. For example, did Torbett, as is rumoured, work at Rangers? And what about all the other stuff...Westminster paedophile rings, the covering up of the crimes of Jimmy Savile, Cyril Smith and others, the inquiry into the Dunblane shootings being kept under lock and key etc. And what of the rumours that royalty have been involved in the sexual abuse of children? And why haven't we heard anything else about the inquiry in Northern Ireland? Our media was all over it when they were looking into Nazareth House; so why has it all gone quiet?
The truth is that The Peeppul are just showing their bigotry and desperation to deflect from their own club's cheating and fraud. It is a filthy slur against Celtic and Jock Stein in particular. And, just as the authorities didn't act on child abuse for well over a century, they refuse to do anything now about this bigotry, prejudice and slander.