Sunday, January 19, 2014

An age of liberty

Those of us who lived through the 60s and 70s knew of a time before political correctness and equality of opportunity were even dreamt of. We said and got away with things that today would land us in hot water.

I’ve had this discussion with my daughters on several occasions and tried to make it clear to them that I am not condoning what when on in those days. That is just the way it was.

There was banter in the workplace and men would make remarks to their women colleagues that today would be regarded as wholly inappropriate. For the most part though, that is all that it was, just banter. Even in those days, we knew not to take things too far although there were obviously those who would try and push the boundaries to test the limits. Instinctively, the majority of us  knew which ladies would “play game” and how far to go without causing offence. For the most part, the women concerned were of mature age and able to defend themselves.

In some work places though things clearly got out of hand and so it was the case at the BBC. Recent revelations highlight the extent to which the so called stars were able to get away with actions that would have made even the most liberated of us wince. There is a world of difference between  harmless banter and blatant sexual abuse especially when it involves young vulnerable fans – many who were under aged.

As shocking as it may sound, it came as no surprise to us to find out that these things went on at the BBC and that they were largely  unchecked by management there. The Corporation at that time probably thought it was being trendy and that a certain amount of promiscuity was part of the ethos. Only now, in hindsight, are the leaders red faced about what went on and the way a blind eye was turned to it. The actions of the stars then might not have been condoned but they were tacitly accepted as part of the norm.

Fifty or more years later, the victims of these unacceptable acts are now able to tell their tales and be listened to. In the case of Saville, the possibility of retribution has passed but for Stuart Hall etc, the accusations are being heard in court. However, the handful of  people that have been charged are merely the scapegoats. You can be certain that many thousands of so called stars got away with what would now be regarded as inappropriate behaviour and their cases may never come to light. It is also likely that the smart lawyers of the accused will riddle holes in the accounts of the complainants and get their clients off.

Eventually, the events of the 60s and 70s will be laid to rest. The lessons of the past will have been learnt and hopefully not repeated.

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