21 Minutes and some Serious Reflections

I have 21 minutes to post and maintain my target of posting every day. I had gone off on one, writing a difficult post about something I read on LA’s blog. Unfortunately I keep wandering off the point.

Here’s the question – if somebody does something bad (and for the moment I won’t discuss how bad they are, or if they really were bad) do they deserve to be dismissed from their jobs, have honours and awards stripped from them and have record contracts annulled?

Or should we leave it to the public to decide? After the Brexit debacle I’m not sure we should ever leave anything to the public again.

And, if they have been convicted, should they be additionally punished? Do you believe  that the legal system is about revenge or rehabilitation?

I liked Gary Glitter in his 1970s heyday. I still quite like his music, though, like me and Glitter, it hasn’t aged well. These days he is known for much more than his music career.

I also quite liked Rolf Harris. He did some decent songs and he’s a good painter. He has such a likeable persona I actually still find it difficult to dislike him now. Sorry if that makes me appear a bad person, but I am, above all, a simple and a truthful man.

It’s very confusing when a childhood hero becomes a villain. I would still buy a Rolf Harris painting if I was offered one. I mean, I’d be a fool not too, the prices have gone way down and it’s clearly a good time to buy.

However, all joking apart – how much punishment is justified, and, in some of the more recent cases, how much indignation is really justified over an inappropriate tweet or word?

37 thoughts on “21 Minutes and some Serious Reflections

  1. Helen

    It is indeed an interesting question. One I have pondered from time to time myself. Eg after the BBC programme where viewers voted Horatio Nelson the greatest Briton – presumably not because of his adulterous ways.

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      Yes, there are so many historical figures you could object to on the grounds of morality. I’d hate to be in charge of building one of those lists – nobody ever agrees. How do you balance up the competing claims of Rupert the Bear and Winnie the Pooh, for instance?

      1. quercuscommunity Post author

        I know what you mean – he was not as characterful as Pooh. I used to follow him in the papers and my great-grandmother used to read to me from annuals I now know would be wartime ones – soft card covers to save paper. It’s amazing what you remember, isn’t it?

  2. Alphie Soup

    I’ll address the Rolf Harris part of your post as I grew up Down Here, being entertained by his TV programs and songs.
    Sexual abuse of minors is a serious offence, Harris has been convicted under the law.
    Personally I was disappointed when his past was revealed. He was a talented artist and entertainer; I still enjoy his songs and recall the humour in his TV programs.
    As for the removal of honours and contracts, that is a vexed question. And the public making a decision!! I don’t think that idea would work…

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      Yes. Part of me feels bad about his crimes, and part feels bad because I’m looking for the good in him. I’d have no trouble locking him up for life if it wasn’t for the good times on TV. This makes me feel hypocritical.

  3. tootlepedal

    Someone recently very kindly sent me some articles I had written in a student newspaper when I was young and stupid. I thought that i was awfully smart then but I wasn’t. Now I’ve had to stop speaking to myself. On the other hand, if people had told me at the time that i was a pillock, I might have changed my ways sooner than I did. The trouble is nowadays that it is possible to make a lot of money and influence people by being that sort of smart pillock.

    Should we hold things from the past against people. Yes, if they have not changed or if they only apologise for upsetting us not for what they said or did, but no if they have changed and become better people.

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      A very sensible perspective.

      The trouble with the internet, apart from rewarding juvenile stupidity (and I expect we’d all be guilty of that) is that it makes it easy for people to dig up old transgressions, but only if it’s something you said. So stupidity will be punished where real crimes will not.

  4. Laurie Graves

    Excellent questions! Where do you draw the line? Unfortunately good artists are not necessarily great human beings. I don’t have any answers really, but for me an artist’s actions have to be terribly egregious for me to cut him or her off.

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      I’m going round in circles in my head – if you cut artists some slack, are you establishing a principle that the law is applied differently for different people?

      1. Laurie Graves

        Or, is it possible to condemn the actions yet admire the art? I really don’t know, Quercus. I suppose it all depends on how horrid they were. And did they repent or soften as they aged? J.B. Priestly, a writer and thinker I admire, made some terrible statements about the Irish. Very, very disappointing, and I will admit that his luster has faded for me. You have brought up an important issue, one that I really don’t have an answer for.

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      I spent an evening with Stuart Hall in a bar in a Blackpool hotel once. He was the life and soul of the party, to the extent he was a bit irritating. Never realised how things would develop.

  5. LA

    Obviously, you know how I think this is getting ridiculous…eliminating anyone who may or may not say or do something or act….we might as well be puritans again

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      I guessed that would be the case. It’s an interesting subject, but after several unsatisfactory drafts I whittled it down to this. I like discussion, but I don’t want to have a full scale argument going on. You made the wise decision, as emotions are obviously high at this time.

      1. LA

        I wrote a couple weeks ago about this (it was called Savage) I’m getting very tired of my daughter saying we’re supposed to “ban” someone because of certain things…I don’t know how we approved these morality police all of a sudden. I think next week I’m posting a disclaimer that I might occasionally watch or read or listen to someone who may have once said something inappropriate but I’m going to try to separate art from artist…because I think we need to be real careful about deciding what is and isn’t art…

      2. quercuscommunity Post author

        We had a case recently – calls for a comedian to be thrown off an ice dance show because of something he said on Twitter several years ago. It hadn’t been funny or appropriate at the time and he had apologised and moved on. But some people specialise in raking up things from the past.

        Eric Gill is a good example of this sort of thing – great artist, appalling pervert with a diary habit.


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