The lessons of History

A couple of decades ago, I was studying 9th and 10th Century Anglo-Saxon History when I came across a curious snippet. Under the reign of Athelstan (924-939), first King of all the Angles and the first to rule over a unified England with similar borders to today, there was a law, which does not appear in this brief selection, stating that no child should be left alone with a priest. That the parent of the child, or a Reeve, particularly if the child were a boy if memory serves, was always to be present. In short there were strict laws concerning priestly conduct. Why? Because even 10th Century monarchs knew about human nature and the effects of enforced celibacy. There were even strict penalties for Priests or Monks who ‘carried off Nuns’.

Now it seems the Catholic church is reaping the whirlwind for not just decades but potentially centuries of institutionalised child abuse and internal cover-ups. Good luck with those claims for ‘compensation’ though. The Catholic Church is land rich and owns vast archives but as far as I’m aware doesn’t have that much ready cash floating about. So any claims paid will result in a fire-sale of some very nice ecclesiastical real estate. The Pope can beg for God’s forgiveness all he wants, but it’s not God who wants the compensation.

The whole circus reminds me of one of my Dad’s favourite jokes (Although it was probably his father’s favourite as well), which goes thus;

A Catholic priest is hauled up in the Magistrates court for sodomising an under age choirboy. He’s about to put in a guilty plea when the Magistrate takes one look at the plaintiffs and the arresting officer, bangs his gavel (Ouch) and says. “Case dismissed.”
The arresting Police officer looks aghast; he’s literally caught the errant priest with his cassock around his waist, humping hell out of an eleven year old boy in the Sacristy. “Your honour!” He protests.
“I said; case dismissed.” Repeats the Magistrate, firmly.
“But, but why?” Asks the Policeman.
“Haven’t you heard that Choirboy sing?” Asks the Magistrate.

Well, it used to make me laugh. It’s like the whole casting couch phenomena that has all the #MeToo movement up in arms. In the working class circles from which I originate these things were well known from when I was a boy five decades ago. Priests buggered choirboys. Actors, hardly paragons of morality, often traded sex for a part in a movie or a show via casting couch culture. Single sex schools were known hotbeds of various under the age of consent vices. Various forms of sexual perversion is rife in prisons. Why? Because any port in a storm. That’s why.

Politicians often have mistresses (Even John Prescott). It was and is a careless parent who trusts these people too much because those who aspire to positions of power do so because that carries an implied licence to have sex with anything of woman born. Those with large sexual appetites will always be and have always been this way. We know these things to be true because we hear the rumours and read about the court cases.

The only thing that still baffles me is why everyone is so goddamn surprised. This is not to say that authority figures should not be trusted, but, only to a point. They are not Gods, simply slightly more ambitious and less restrained versions of our more mundane selves. And we all know how bad we are.

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