Monday, 15 October 2012

Jimmy Savile: a tragic lesson for everyone

As the allegations of sexual abuse mount, it’s becoming increasingly apparent to a shocked nation that one of their most beloved television stars, the late Jimmy Savile, was in fact a paedophile. The television documentary a few weeks ago by former police detective Mark Williams-Thomas finally blew the cover on the other side of Jimmy Savile – the side the general public rarely got to see. Since then, of course, more and more of Savile’s  victims, who until now had been too scared or simply not been believed, have come forward to tell their stories. Currently there are 340 complaints to the police, and the number is increasing!

Now the question being asked is “why didn’t someone do something earlier?” Why has it taken so long for the truth to come out? It’s becoming increasingly clear that people who worked in the BBC had their suspicions of Jimmy Savile. Some even went so far as to raise matters with their superiors, but nothing was done. Savile was such a high profile and highly influential celebrity, who did so much for charity, that his image seemed impregnable. He was knighted by the Pope and by the Queen.

Victims of sexual abuse often take a long time to pluck up the courage to open up about what happened to them. Feelings of fear, guilt and shame plague them for years. If they were molested when they were young, they may not even have understood what happened to them at the time. Only years later do they realise that they were abused. There is the fear that if they tell someone that they might not be believed. Then there’s the worry of what others might think of them. So it’s not surprising they open up after considerable time.

As the details of Savile’s predatory behaviour emerge, he appears to have been the worst kind of offender, using his celebrity status to maximum effect to prey on young vulnerable girls. But there were clues. In his interviews, especially the ones toward the end of his life, there were ominous hints about the dark side of his character. He wanted to be like King Solomon with a 1,000 wives. In another interview, recorded in a restaurant in Leeds, he talks about sharing a meal with a young girl he finds very attractive and can’t help lusting over. Although I can understand the general public being fooled, I find it difficult to believe that those who knew him on a personal level didn’t suspect anything.

My feeling is that people close to him did have serious fears, but chose to ignore them. They went along with the accepted consensus that he was a lovely man, who did a lot for charity, and was fond of children but nothing more than that. He was perhaps a little eccentric, but aren’t other celebrities too? They didn’t realise that this was a deception that Savile was spinning himself.
The BBC rightfully deserves criticism for not investigating allegations of abuse by Savile much earlier. However, as Fr Lucie-Smith in the Catholic Herald explains, there is all too familiar tendency in human beings to deny shocking offences when confronted with what they know to be wrong. Drawing parallels between the Savile case and recent instances of child abuse within the Catholic Church, he says “things that are too awful to think about do lead people to bury their heads in the sand.” He adds:
“When the German government in the mid-1930s turned against German citizens of Jewish extraction, no one, or hardly anyone, protested. They pretended Kristallnacht somehow had not happened. They went on to ignore Auschwitz. By then they had a massive stake in denial.”
It often takes a lot of courage to go against the grain of accepted consensus and speak out against evil.

This leads me to my next point, which is the media coverage of this story. Isn’t it hypocritical that on their front pages, newspapers like The Sun are scolding the BBC for being a “cesspit” of immorality, yet the very same papers rely on highly sexualised content to sell their products? It was after all the media that created the celebrity figure of Jimmy Savile, colluded with him while he was alive, and it is now the media tearing up every shred of his reputation while he is dead. There is the smell of hypocrisy all around.

The British media often indulges in paroxysms of self-righteous rage. Yet it is better to realise that evil exists everywhere and in everyone, not just in aberrations like the late Jimmy Savile. Sadly the concept of sin has largely gone out of the window in our modern day society of moral relativism. If sin and evil are not fought closer to home early on – within everyone on of us – it is no wonder they can grow and have tragic consequences as in the case of Jimmy Savile.


Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hello Jl,

It is shocking to read this post. A reputed man, highly decorated by the Pope and the queen, behaves in the most despicable manner and setting a very bad example to the society. I don't understand why this man was not apprehended and punished before he died. It is found that the Church also doesn't punish such offenders.

It is clear the western standards of morality has gone down considerably. Bill Clinton had an affair in the White house but he became president a second time. Michael Jackson bribed and got out of the court case. The Australian prime minister is not married but living with a man. Madonna has made it a habit of marrying and divorcing. There are too many high profile people who are committing such crimes and getting away with them.This is a clear case of deterioration of moral standards.

It is praise worthy that you took time and trouble to highlight the evil nature of this famous man.

I will catch up with your other posts soon.

Best wishe,

JI said...

Hi Joseph,

I think everyone is shocked by this man's behaviour. He was a regular tv personality, and no one ever suspected he could do such mischief. Now all his dirty deeds are finally coming out as more and more of his victims speak out.

Yes, it is true that there is very little morality in the western world today; and it seems to get worse year by year. There are good things about the West, however, but it's the worst aspects of Western culture people are copying unfortunately. That's a pity.

I do know a lot of child abuse happens in India too, but it is not well known. Most child abuse happens within families.

Best wishes,