Wednesday, 24 October 2012
JIMMY SAVILE Dychmygwch hyn: y diwrnod y datgelwyd y sgandal am y cannoedd o droseddau a gyflawnwyd gan Jimmy Savile yn erbyn plant ac na chafwyd eu herlyn na’u cosbi, bod papur newydd yn cyhoeddi’r pennawd canlynol: "Unigryw! Dyn yr oedd pawb yn amau’n gryf ei fod yn baedoffeil, er mawr syndod, yn baedoffeil." Er mawr sarhad i Stryd y Fflyd, ni chyhoeddwyd unrhyw bennawd o’r fath, ond gallai fod yn un o’r datganiadau mwyaf diffuant a allai fod wedi ymddangos yn y sgandal mwyaf gofidus hwn. Mae cymaint sy’n drallodus am yr achos hwn fel ei bod yn anodd gwybod lle i ddechrau, ond gallai archwiliad sydyn o’r ffeithiau helpu i ganolbwyntio’r meddyliau. Adeg ei farwolaeth, anfarwolwyd Syr Jimmy gan y wasg, roedd yr union y math o berson ecsentrig, hawddgar y mae’r cyfryngau tabloid Prydeinig wrth eu bodd yn eu dathlu, ei waith dros elusennau a’i ymgyrchoedd llai hysbys, ac erbyn hyn eironig tywyll ar ran gwedduster cyhoeddus yn yr 1970au a’r 1980au gyda Mary Whitehouse yn creu person o onestrwydd syml. Ac eto …. ac eto ni thwyllwyd neb go iawn, neu do fe? Cyflwynodd Jimmy Savile bôs anodd i gymdeithas, ydyn ni’n aflonyddu ar unrhyw ddyn mewn oed, sengl sydd ag awydd bod yn garedig i blant a gwireddu eu gobeithion? Ydyn ni’n bwrw sen am ddyn sy’n ymweld â phlant sâl mewn ysbyty, sy’n ymwelydd aml â hosbisau a chartrefi gofal, i bob golwg er mwyn gwedduster dynol? Os gwnawn hyn, ydy hyn yn cymryd cam arall i lawr y ffordd i’r math o hysteria sy’n gweld pob dyn mewn oed fel rhywun amheus? Mae dull syml ac effeithlon o sgwario’r cylch hwn ac mae’n strategaeth fyddai’n chwyldroi bron pob maes o amddiffyn plant, o gyflwynwyr amheus Top of the Pops i yfed dan oed. Y strategaeth hon yw didwylledd a gonestrwydd llawn a chyflawn ar draws ein cymdeithas am y pethau sy’n creu mwyaf o gywilydd i ni. Mae’n amlwg bod troseddau Jimmy Savile yn hysbys i nifer mawr o bobl. Roedd y rhai oedd yn cadw ei weithredoedd yn gudd, y rhai oedd yn anwybyddu ei ddioddefwyr, y rhai oedd yn cael eu cyfaddawdu gan y sosiopath ystrywgar, roedd digon o wybodaeth go iawn i’w restio a’i garcharu degawdau’n ôl. Ni weithredwyd ar hyn oherwydd bod cam-drin plant yn rhywiol yr adeg honno, ac i ryw raddau yn dal i fod, yr eliffant mawr pinc yn yr ystafell na allwn ddioddef ei gydnabod. Yr unig bryd y byddwn yn ei drafod yw ar adegau o argyfwng aciwt. Yn Stafell Fyw Caerdydd, gwyddom bopeth am yr eliffantod pinc hyn - alcohol, cyffuriau, gamblo neu ddibyniaethau eraill. Mae’n ymddangos bod paralel aciwt rhwng y modd yr ydyn ni’n delio â’r peth dychrynllyd o gam-drin plant a’r modd rydyn ni’n trafod dibyniaeth mewn cymdeithas, mae ein synnwyr cywilydd yn cau allan unrhyw drafodaeth. Mae’r amser wedi dod i bob un ohonom, dioddefwyr, câr, gwylwyr, hwyluswyr damweiniol a hyd yn oed cyflawnwyr sydd am geisio atal gwneud, i fod yn onest a siarad. Roedd Jimmy Savile yn gweithredu’n rhydd nid oherwydd, fel mae rhai wedi’i awgrymu, ei fod yn bwerus ac yn ddylanwadol ond oherwydd ein bod mor ofnus, nid ohono ef, ond o gydnabod bodolaeth camdriniaeth yn ein cymdeithas. Rydyn ni’n dal i fod yn rhy ofnus o gydnabod yn agored yr hyn mae pawb yn wybod yn breifat, fel gyda cham-drin, bod dibyniaeth yn rhemp ym mhobman o’n cwmpas, mewn siop drwyddedu, casinos, tafarndai, mewn aleau cefn, archfarchnadoedd ac ar-lein. Bydd y ddau ddrygioni hyn yn bresennol bob dydd, pa mor galed bynnag y byddwn yn ceisio eu hanwybyddu, ond ni allan nhw ffynnu o dan sbotolau gwirionedd. Bydd cymdeithas sy’n cofleidio euogrwydd, cywilydd a chyfrinachau’n parhau i gynhyrchu plant sy’n cael eu camdrin ac oedolion dibynnol, ond bydd un sy’n ymladd i’r pen dros wirionedd a gonestrwydd yn llawer iachach oherwydd ei hymdrechion.
Tuesday, 23 October 2012
Imagine this; the day that the scandal over Jimmy Savile's hundreds of unprosecuted and unpunished crimes against children was revealed, a newspaper publishes the following headline: "Exclusive! Man who we all strongly suspected to be paedophile turns out, amazingly, to be pedophile." Much to Fleet Street's shame, no such headline was published, but it might have been one of the more genuine statements that could have emerged in this most troubling of scandals. There is so much that is distressing about this case it is hard to know where to begin, but a quick examination of the facts might help to focus the thoughts. On his death Sir Jimmy was deified by the press, he was exactly the kind of loveable eccentric that the British tabloid media loves to celebrate, his work for charity and his lesser known, and now darkly ironic, campaigns for public decency in the 1970s and 1980s with Mary Whitehouse created a persona of simple down to earth integrity. And yet...and yet no one was really fooled, were they? Jimmy Savile presented society with an awkward conundrum, do we harass any single adult man who has a desire to be kind to children and make their wishes come true? Do we cast aspersions about a man who visits sick children in hospital, who frequents hospices and care homes, ostensibly out of human decency? If we do, does this take us another step down the road to the kind of hysteria that sees all adult men as suspect? There is a simple and effective way to square this circle, and it is a strategy that would revolutionise nearly every known area of child protection, from dubious Top of the Pops presenters to under age drinking, and that strategy is one of full and complete openness and honesty throughout our society about the things that shame us the most. Evidently Jimmy Savile's crimes were known to many, many people, there were those who covered up for him, those that ignored his victims, those that were compromised by this manipulative sociopath, there was enough actual knowledge to arrest and jail him decades ago. It was not acted upon because child sexual abuse was then, and to some extent still now is, the great pink elephant in the room that we cannot bear to acknowledge, we can only bring ourselves to discuss at times of acute crisis. At the Living Room in Cardiff, we know all about these pink elephants, be they alcohol, drug, gambling or other addictions. There seems to be an acute parallel between the way in which we deal with the horror of child abuse, and the manner in which we discuss addiction in society, our sense of shame shuts all discussion down. The time has come for all of us, victims, addicts, loved ones, bystanders, accidental facilitators and even perpetrators who want to stop, to get honest and to talk. Jimmy Savile operated freely not because, as some have suggested, that he was too powerful and influential, but because we were too afraid, not of him, but of acknowledging the existence of abuse in our society. We are still too afraid to acknowledge openly what everyone knows privately, that as with abuse, addiction is rife everywhere we look, in off licenses, casinos, pubs, down back alleys, supermarkets and online. Both these twin evils will be present, each and every day, no matter how hard we try to ignore them, but they cannot thrive under the spotlight of the truth. A society that embraces guilt, shame and secrets will continue to produce abused children and addicted adults, one that fights tooth and nail for the truth and honesty will be that much healthier for its struggles.
Saturday, 6 October 2012
When a history of advertising in the 21st Century eventually comes to be written, special mention should be given to the alcohol industry's appropriation of the word 'responsible', and the hidden ideology that goes with it. In cinema adverts, full page features in newspapers and the sponsorship of popular TV shows, we are gently reminded to drink alcohol responsibly, whilst being bombarded with powerful alluring images of the good times it supposedly brings. The critic Roland Barthes argued that an object is mythologised when the politics and history attached to it is replaced with a sense of 'naturalness'; the word responsibility has surely become the alcohol industry's great mythologising tool. The subtle subtext, always unspoken, but by implication unmistakably there, is that once the product is purchased, the responsibility lies completely with the consumer, and that the alcohol content, pricing, promotion, advertising and packaging are not factors in the equation worthy of considering. It is if these elements of the discussion have been erased completely, and the drinker must now live up to society's expectations and try to behave. No one, of course, would advocate anything less, we all have a personal responsibility to act in a law abiding manner and be sociable to our neighbours, but the trick with responsibility is to shunt any of the burden of it off the shoulders of the alcohol industry and retailers. There is a sound reason for this as well, when seen from the point of view of the industry; Alcohol sales are worth billions in the UK, but the actual cost to society, the massive, massive clean up job that we have to take 'responsibility' for, comes to the princely sum of £21 billion a year. These eye watering figures are something that the alcohol industry is working very hard not to have to be associated with, the subtext to their insincere pleas for moderation make more sense in the light of these kinds of sums; they are less a plea for sanity in a world gone mad with alcohol, and more a disclaimer - 'we've asked people to drink sensibly, and if they don't it's hardly our fault is it?' Alcohol retailers and manufacturers are only showing the most cursory signs that they are willing to make and sell this powerful addictive drug more responsibly. Heineken, embarrassed by the cider brand White Lightning stopped producing it last year, and Tesco and Co-op in Ipswich, with the backing of local police, have ended the sale of super strength lagers. All of this is to be commended, but it is a tiny step along a road to recovery for Britain during a time which more and more shocking revelations are coming to light. In a recent article in the Independent newspaper Jeremy Swain, Chief Executive of Thameslink, a leading homelessness charity, said that his charity's clients were harmed more by super strength lager than by heroin and crack cocaine. He said: "We are not talking about people dying at 68 or 69. We are talking about people dying in their late 30s," highlighting the absurdity that one can of 9 per cent Carlsberg Special Brew contained 4.5 units, whereas the recommended daily intake for a man is 4 units. Buy one can of super strength lager, and automatically, you aren't drinking responsibly, but what of the brewer? How, in the face of such facts, can Carlsberg or any other producer of such dangerous products preach responsibility towards the consumer, when they have acted in such a reckless manner, if not causing then certainly facilitating untold misery? They manage to do it through another term that is worth its weight in advertising and marketing gold: choice. Equip consumers with enough choice and they can make their own minds up without being patronised by governments, doctors and do gooders, choice was a preferred phrase of the smoking lobby until recently too. Choice will only be a term that can be meaningfully applied when people are made aware on the packaging of beers wines and spirits that they are buying a powerful addictive drug that has been aggressively marketed at them, that it is an aggravating factor in the vast majority of violent crimes, features in most of the NSPCC's recorded cases of child abuse, and as latest figures suggest, causes an additional 22,000 deaths per year.
Friday, 5 October 2012
I'm thinking of setting up a spiritual group at Living Room Cardiff for all those suffering from what Eric Fromm describes as 'the unbearable burden of alonness'. I e-mailed my friend Jim McGovern in Philadelphia this morning just to seek out his opinion and to ask whether he had any literature that might be of any use to me. Below is his reply: Loneliness The cringing desire not to be alone. Loneliness can seem all pervasive. Behind it and next to it, everything else is subsidiary. We can talk the talk of Universal Oneness and God always being with us and so on and so forth…. But this Oneness does not sit across from us as we eat our meal. Sharing our joys or our sadness-es with it, seems terribly remote. We cannot reach out and touch it in the middle of the night…. The Enlightened speak of the illusory nature of our physical world - that reality is in our metaphysical unity with all of humanity and even nature Tell that to the child or woman or man curled up in a depress-ed ball because they have no real mortal human being to connect with or talk to. And thus we put up with the drama and pain and anguish and maybe even abuse of a partner with whom we just cannot get along…. We refuse to accept the abject discomfort of being alone. Stop in a nursing home and see human beings who’ve been shunted to the sidelines of life…folk that no one comes to see….or maybe they come on Christmas or Easter only…. Sitting in a corridor, in a wheelchair, staring at your eyes as you walk on by hoping, pleading, begging for even a glimmer of recognition, of connecting …of some kind of assurance they still are and that they still matter…. All the lonely people – they come from everywhere, from all walks of life… But like all people, lonely or not, they live, they live, they live and then they die…. And who is to know, but perhaps the field levels out then. Perhaps the escape from the mortal flesh brings with it the escape from the illusion of aloneness….and maybe even those that were so lonely, are even more enthralled with being an unencumbered part of the Universal One because it is so far away from the cold lonely corner of their mortal days. Perhaps. Perhaps I’ll make good on my idea to take a poetry group up to one of those nursing homes. Perhaps it is one resolve, that will somehow not dissolve. ----- i'll try again at that nursing home that keeps ignoring my calls my book is a kind of generic 12 step guide. i also have a 9 step program for berevement i'll send you when i write from home. peace always, jim mcgovern