Is it just me, or does anyone else have the feeling that veils of deception are being shaken and slowly lifted? There seems to have been a stream of truths emerging over the last few months, perhaps even longer than a few. Organisational deception, so deception on a mass scale. The amount of energy, of collusion that it must take to conceal a truth is massive; monstrous. I’m thinking about the allegations of phone hacking at the News of the World – which ultimately brought down the paper. The shameful scandal of doping in Lance Armstrong’s era of the Tour de France. The abhorrent sexual abuse of children, young girls mostly, by Jimmy Savile. How many more scandals are out there, waiting to be uncovered?
I watched the BBC Panorama programme the other night, the BBC’s own investigation into the Newsnight programme. Not because I wanted to weigh up the rights or wrongs within the BBC – I really hope that the main story of how the abuse was covered up for so long isn’t lost in the examination of the BBC itself – I wanted to see what people who were looking back were saying, examining their own part in the events at the time. It is in these answers that we get vital clues on how veils shroud the truths. A number of those who were interviewed were asked why they didn’t report what they saw or what they heard. “It didn’t occur to me”, “It would have made no difference”, “He (Jimmy) would have denied it.” “There was no evidence, no proof, only rumour.” All these complicities that mask the truth… and when the rumours continue, there’s a certain normalisation that takes place, so that after a while, doubtless those around perhaps just shrugged their shoulders and muttered “That’s Jimmy”.
Were times different in each of the deceptions? The 1970s, when Savile was enjoying huge celebrity status, held different attitudes towards sex and sexuality. I think the moral code of society was different – you certainly no longer get bikini clad babes draped over cars at the Automotive Shows these days, where you did in the past. Were times different in the Armstrong Era? There was certainly a lot at stake for winning teams, but I’d argue that no more than today’s Tour. Perhaps it was a fallout of the Gordon Gekko, ‘greed is good’, although that was a decade before. As for the News of the World, that moral compass is also so skewed, but the rise of celebrity culture, coupled with a boom in 24 hour news, perhaps drove the behaviours on. I’m not trying to justify anything, but just muse and understand.
I am minded of one of my favourite quotes, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” Soren Kierkegaard.
Perhaps with this understanding, we are entering a new dawn of moral consciousness. Perhaps those that have suffered will be given new freedom to live their lives, forwards.
The BBC’s own report on the Panorama programme (focussing on the cover up at the time):
Don’t let it become a review of the BBC. I don’t think these were the real highlights.