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Does Auntie shine out of the Sun's arse?

Yesterday

So, a presenter paid a teenager for sexually explicit images. This has turned into a ridiculous carousel of well known presenters having to step up and say "it wasn't me", sometimes with threats of "STFU or I'll sue you". It's understandable, given that any association of "sex with a child" is extremely career-toxic. So much so that some of them are openly calling for the person involved to ritually slaughter themselves step up and admit to it...for the sake of everybody else.

It seems everybody is bending over backwards to not name the person involved, so it was quite a surprise to see this in my news feed yesterday lunchtime:

Oh, okay, so...
Oh, okay, so...

This was quoting and linking to an article on the Economic Times.
By the time I got there, no mention of any name and at the bottom, this bit of furious backpeddling.

Oh, crap...
Oh, crap...

Given Britain's libel laws, if the named person is actually innocent (spoiler: it wasn't him!!!), then I would imagine he would have plenty of opportunity to sue them out of existence. It's one thing to have random twats saying "oh, it's such and such" on social media (and some of them have been reported to the police), but quite a different thing to be named in an online newspaper, something that is supposed to have some degree of journalistic integrity.

By the evening, it was less obvious in Google. The story still showed up if you searched for that presenter by name, rather than being highlighted like before (the News app highlighted it as a major story). That, of course, is the danger of the internet. An article written on a trending topic will either be shouting into the void, or it'll get amplified everywhere.

As for the person mentioned, I have no idea who the hell they are. And my careful wording is because I'm including screenshots of other sources saying things, but I'm not going to drop names myself. I have no horse in this race, I don't actually care. What is interesting to me is how this story has unfolded, and why...

 

A deeper look

As for what happened, well, this is where it gets quite murky. You see, in the UK the age of consent is not the same as the age of majority.
What this means is that when you turn sixteen, you can consent to sexual relations. You can leave home (or be thrown out if your parents hate you). You can apply for a passport, and you can legally change your name. You used to be able to get married, but that changed in 2022 for England and Wales (does not apply in Scotland, different jurisdiction, so you can marry a bonnie lass at 16! ☺).
At seventeen you can drive and be interviewed by the police without an adult being present.
Eighteen is the age of majority. This means you're now legally an adult, you can vote, you can watch 18 rated material, your minimum wage increases to something that isn't a complete insult (but isn't what proper adults are paid either), you can get tattoos, and you can drown your sorrows in the booze you can barely afford. You can now, finally, get married whether or not your parents agree.

Which brings up the interesting quirk that a sixteen year old can say "brilliant, I'm sixteen now, so stick your dick in me and let's make like rabbits until we pass out from sheer exhaustion" and that's completely legal. But watch a video of somebody else doing it, that's illegal.
Uh....?

This discrepancy may turn out to be important as the law on sexual activity says that one can freely choose to have sex at 16 (and your parents can't do anything about it), while the law on indecent images treats all under-18s as children. It's a mess, and this sort of discrepancy makes things that much more difficult.

Speaking of discrepancies, this whole story has many.

Let's start with the fact that the person was 17 when this took place. He's 20 now. So why is this dirt being slung three years later?

Especially given, by the step-father's own admission, that no laws were broken. He is quoted in the article in The Sun saying "I told the BBC I had gone to the police in desperation but they couldn't do anything as they said it wasn't illegal. They knew all of this".

Is it sleazy and a bit icky? Yup. But on the other hand, if the police say what happened wasn't illegal and the person willingly consented then what's the story here? Are the parents trying to shame this bloke into making a public apology for the mess their son made of their own life? Or, as the paper puts it, "to help save their vulnerable addict child".

Because, let's look at this. You know, I would have literally (and figuratively!) no idea where to go for drugs. It's not something that I've ever needed in my life. I rather suspect that seeking out some shady looking dudes in dark alleys is the quickest way to become a homicide statistic. So, you know, seems to me that the teen may well have already been hanging with the wrong crowd.

Also, come on now, what teenager doesn't receive a load of money and think about a car? When I was growing up, having sex and getting a cool car (and having sex in it) seemed to be the preoccupation of most of the boys I knew.

As to what the BBC should have done? The newspaper is raging about how the Beeb "ignored testimony given 7 WEEKS ago" (same link as prior).
Yeah? And? If this was a BBC person doing icky things in his own home on his own time, then what's that got to do with the BBC? If I were in charge at the BBC, I would tell the presenter that I had received these allegations and that I was turning that information over to the police. Surely it is not the BBC's job to investigate potential wrongdoing that happens away from the workplace, that's what we have police for.
I also would not take the presenter off air. If he is guilty of something, the police will arrest or caution or whatever and then a decision can be made. But to yank people off-air based upon allegations made in a newspaper? Sounds a bit too much like screaming "WITCHES!" to me.
Yes, the guy may be guilty, but one should assume innocence until proven such. We've all seen the reaction of other male BBC names trying hard to distance themselves from this mess. Why were they even put in that position? Like I said, this has been whipped up into some sort of witch hunt.
The BBC have been rather tight lipped about this (which is understandable as anything they do is going to be called out as "the wrong thing" now that the right wing has gotten involved, hell, even bloody Sunak had an opinion), but they did say that the initial accusations that they received were "different" to those published in The Sun.

Reading through that article in The Sun, allow me to quote this part:

A lawyer for the youngster says nothing unlawful or inappropriate happened.

Wait... a lawyer for the youngster, not the presenter? Yup. On Monday, a lawyer representing the youngster denied the story in The Sun.

Which begs the question - are the youngster and step-dad not on speaking terms or something? Is this some sort of family drama that has exploded into a massive pile of fail all around? It certainly seems that this story is a heck of a lot more complicated than it first seems.
Speaking of fail and complications, there are now other allegations against the same presenter.

It may also be worth pointing out that The Sun, being a Murdoch rag, has traditionally had a bit of a habit of slagging off the BBC. So a story like this would be like gold dust falling from the skies.
It is particularly interesting that The Sun is raging about how the Beeb did nothing for weeks, while at the same time they completely ignored the denial of the story by the young person in question here prior to publication. After all, kicking the BBC was just too tempting. Which means that The Sun basically failed to follow anything that even remotely resembles journalistic standards. But, then, it's The Sun. Words like "integrity" have too many syllables.

 

This evening

Speaking of which... This is the top of The Sun's homepage as I write this:
Another name
Another day, another name.

It is also being reported in The Guardian, so I'm guessing we'll be needing nappies and a pooper-scooper at the Economic Times.
It is also being reported (in less sensationalist media) that the person named above is in hospital suffering from serious mental health issues while at the same time the police have concluded their assessment and they are not taking any further action.

So, yes, an older BBC presenter solicited explicit pictures of a teenager. Which may have been immoral, but was not illegal. That's twice this story has dropped in front of the police and twice they've said that.

So what was all this hoo-ha about? A national newspaper determined to wreck a man's life? A lot of voices on social media accusing anybody and everybody in sight? Because of what? A spiteful step-father? An innate Murdoch-fuelled hatred of "the public funded channel"? What?

It turns out that the person named above has been treated for serious depression in recent years.
So rather than understanding that maybe a older married man paying for explicit photos of a teenage boy was somebody who needed help, the "newspaper" (note the scare quotes), blatantly ignored the denial of the youngster in question, clearly feeling that a sacrificial offering burning on a stake was a better approach.
Well, congratulations guys. He's now receiving in-patient care and is expected to stay there for the forseeable future.

If you're wondering why I appear to be somewhat on the man's side here, I have luckily never endured the kind of depression that needs medication, but I have known people who have, and I know that depression can really mess a person up and change their personality and as if that isn't bad enough, the medication needs to be very tightly controlled as that can make things so much worse in entirely different ways.
One person was a sweet librarian type who lost herself in her depression and the medication brought her back, except it wasn't her that came back for she was utterly convinced that she was Jesus. We learned quickly not to point out her feminine nature, as she'd pull her trousers down, notice that a bit was missing, and scream herself unconscious. Now, you might be like "okay, so it's your standard religious nut", but no. She needed to be watched carefully in case she did stuff like trying to walk out an upstairs window, or in front of traffic. And I'm glad I can't swim as that excused me from having to deal with her semi-regular attempts to walk across the pond. Cue one confused holy figure and two drenched and unhappy nurses.
Her husband used to come and visit her, and afterwards sit in the staff room for half an hour crying (which was, like, really awkward). He said that she was not anything like this before her depression took hold.

So, in the case of the named person, yeah, I'm inclined to want to give him the benefit of the doubt. It's clear he has gone astray, but like I said, proper serious depression really messes with a person.

To everybody who wants to scream rude stuff at him instead: There but for the grace of God, huh? It's a shame and a tragedy that mental health is such a taboo.
You have cancer, you're a fighter.
You get over it, you're a survivor.
You have something wrong with your brain? Psycho! Get out of here, you nutter!

But the truth is that the brain is the most complicated part of our bodies, and may well be the most complicated organic thing on this planet. It's what makes us us. It's what has allowed us to form societies, to experience love for the sake of being in love, to create abstract things such as language and mathematics. To be able to look at a few blobs on an image generated from an array of telescopes (that our brains conceived and built) and start discussing the accretion disc around black holes so ridiculously far away that we simply don't have the ability to go and visit... well, okay Dr. Becky yes, me not so much.
But the thing is that such amazing complexity carries with it so many ways it could malfunction. Depression is a thing. Dementia/Alzheimers are things. Strokes, Parkinson's, CJD, MS, BP, epilepsy... the list is scarily long.
And people who seem to have it all together may turn to weird or unusual behaviour as a sort of outlet. That doesn't make it right, but what we need is understanding and compassion, not more scapegoats. If nothing else, this sorry mess will be a clear warning to anybody else - we won't help, we'll vilify you.
That's not helpful, that's not how it should be.

Note: I deliberately didn't include autism. It is, technically, a neurological disorder, but a decent number of people with autism see it as a difference rather than a disorder. Given that it's neurotypical versus neurodivergent, it gets into a lot of discussion about what 'normal' is. I mean, left handed people aren't right handed (duh!) so if being right handed is typical, then 10% of us (including me) are handed-atypical. Does that make us wrong? Broken?

 

My penultimate thought

Not to put too fine a point on it: Fuck The Sun.

Who the hell are they to moralise anybody given that this is the rag that published (publishes? do they still do it?) that infamous British institution known as "Page Three Girls" so a certain type of man could have his daily dose of "fwoar!".
That is to say, big pictures of scantily clad women (some of which looked barely of legal age) on the page you see when lifting the front cover page, in a national newspaper. This was just seen as completely normal.
As a child growing up in the '80s I'm quite aware of page three's habit of sexualising school girls - including a series in 1988 which actually printed underdressed women in bits of school uniform (like a tie nestled between the boobs) alongside photos of those same women as children wearing their actual school uniforms). What the actual hell?

And no, I'm not making that up. It took literally thirty seconds of Google to find me this, and, yeah, even though a lot is blanked out for modern sensibilities, it's just as horrible as I remembered.

So, who is The Sun to be having a go at anybody for anything pervy when page three is " mmmmmm booooobies! " and blatant objectification of women?

 

My final thought

Thirty five grand for some explicit photos? Good grief, I'm in the wrong job. I'd have to bust my balls for about two years to make that sort of money. But, then, nobody has ever looked at me and said anything resembling "fwoar!". The usual comments aimed in my direction invariably include the word "weird", and last I knew, that didn't pay...

What would I buy with thirty five grand? Easy. One of those heat exchanger gizmos for my bedroom, and for the kitchen a little wood burning stove. Not an Aga (too damn big) but something like that. And some insulation. I'd also like to double-glaze the living room, but not in a way that means replacing the old style windows with some nasty plastic modern crap.
Sorry. I'm just really really boring.

But, hey, if anybody wants to GoFundMe a little wood burner for the kitchen, go for it. ☺

 

Harvest

They brought in the wheat yesterday. It usually happens sort of around Bastille Day, which is on Friday so it's pretty much on target, just three days early and I think hat might have complicated things to do with humidity and the nighttime air.

The crop on my land was brought in about two weeks ago. I think it might have been barley, but to be honest I wasn't really paying attention.

 

 

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Gavin Wraith, 12th July 2023, 21:45
>You have cancer, you're a fighter. 
>You get over it, you're a survivor. 
>You have something wrong with your brain? Psycho! Get out of here, you nutter! 
 
That about sums it up. Sixty three years ago my younger brother threw himself under a train. While at school he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Nobody knew what caused it. He had electroconvulsive therapy, which was a temporary help. The only thing that has changed since then is that advances in technology has shown that schizophrenia is associated with physical changes in the brain. Actual treatment, and social attitudes, do not seem to have changed much. While his doctor was on holiday my brother made his way out of Fulbourn hospital (near Cambridge) and crossed some fields to the nearest railway line. His first doctor, at Dumfries hospital, was so disturbed himself that he would only converse with you sitting backwards in his chair so as not to face you. Mental illness is such a taboo topic because mentally ill people are scary. I know. The same with epileptic people, you are on edge in their presence because fits can strike with little warning. It is uncomfortable to live on the edge of a precipice. 
 
Rick, 12th July 2023, 21:57
The precipice might be a little less dark and scary if others were willing to shine a light. 
Anon, 13th July 2023, 00:54
I looked at that blog. Ok, it's from 10 years ago. But I'm still shocked. Mostly at the "oh, here she is when she was 13" part. Even by the values at the time, that's just creepy. 
 
Besides, why should someone suffer objectification just because of what they (don't?) have in their pants? "You don't have a Y chromosome? Then you're a second class citizen and have no rights." What a load of absolute bulls**t. (Rick - not sure what your policy is on expletives in the comments.) 
 
For the record - yes, I do have a Y chromosome. But I have NEVER 'objectified' anyone. (I did have a huge crush on Lex from Jurassic Park when I was about 14, but that wasn't objectification. It's also not creepy because she's only a year younger than me.) 
 
There was a film shown on BBC the other night called "Miss Behaviour". About how the 1970 Miss World contest was 'sabotaged' by 'militant feminists' (the words of the powers that be at that time). Or without the Orwellian doublespeak, "disrupted by a bunch of women who were sick of being treated like sex objects and second-class citizens and decided to do something about it". I was shocked to find out that, for example, if a woman wanted to open a bank account back then, she had to have written permission from her husband, or if she wasn't married, her father. To my Gen X mind, that kind of thing is unbelievable. 
 
Moving on to mental health, I think the best comeback to "it's all in your mind" is "if someone has a broken leg, would you tell them 'have you tried not having a broken leg?' No? Didn't think so.". 
 
I say that as someone who's had mild depression (fortunately not serious) and PTSD, panic attacks etc. I've also had friends who've had breakdowns. Nobody takes it seriously. 
 
So yeah, when someone asks how I'm feeling I usually just say "getting by, you know?". Because replying with "actually some days I kinda wish I never woke up" doesn't really set the mood. (Don't worry, I have absolutely no plans to top myself, there's too many people that would miss me.) 
 
As for psychotic? Well, maybe if I knew I had a terminal illness and only had 28 days left to live, I might start working my way through that list. (Don't worry Rick, your name isn't on it.) But as I don't have a terminal illness and I'm planning on living a lot longer than 28 days, just remember this: 
 
1. Some people are alive only because it is illegal to kill them. 
 
2. Sometimes you just have to remind yourself... "it's not worth the jail time." 
 
(Well... that escalated quickly.)
Rob, 13th July 2023, 16:21
I read in one of the News reports that this young person and their parents were estranged, so yep, not on speaking terms, which just raises even more questions about why the parents were so bothered about this /now/. 
 
There was also the question of who was paying for the young persons lawyer, given it was a big city firm, not a local "high street" practice. 
 
As for depression, I've had my own bouts. I'm on meds, but still have times when I really wish I could hide in bed all day. I really feel for the guy; high profile job with all the world watching you. Not a position I'd want. For why the beeb might be interested about what he does in private, I guess it's the usual thing about not bringing your employer into disrepute.
Rick, 14th July 2023, 00:19
Johnathan Pie sums it up perfectly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLFKcYphPCM
David Pilling, 14th July 2023, 12:43
Johnathan Pie... fair enough.  
 
Paradoxically one thing to come out of all this is that privacy laws are greater than they once where in the UK. I was not a reader but exposing celebrities was once the bread and butter of the News of the World. 
 
Sometimes the media seem to operate on the principle of rubbing your nose in things - a few days of blanket teasing about celebrity wrong doing "ooh go on you want to know", which was unwanted and tedious. Now they swing to the other point of view, "you've hurt this person". Did you learn the lesson. 
 
Politicians usually trot out the private life defence, "just because I've treated my nearest and dearest badly does not mean I would do the same to complete strangers". 
J.G.Harston, 14th July 2023, 13:35
What really screws my mind is all the media and "co-stars" screaming for the accussed man to out himself - WHILE HE WAS IN HOSPITAL AFTER SUFFERING A BREAKDOWN!!!! How shitty can you get?
Rick, 14th July 2023, 14:44
Yes, quite shitty, but also entirely selfish. 
 
As I understand it, their primary reason for wanting the man to step up and identify himself was in order to stop random members of the public from saying that it was them... 
Rick, 14th July 2023, 14:52
Anon - this entire thing escalated quickly. :( 
 
I think, to be honest, pretty much everybody on the planet has days when they would rather play dead than get up and face the world. Sometimes you put on a brave face but what you really want to do is tell everybody to sod off and be alone.  
<cough>Situation normal for us introverts!</cough> 
 
Seriously though, stuff happens and it's NOT okay, yet we're all expected to BE okay. Because don't bring your home problems to work. Don't talk about how you feel under the weather, in fact don't talk about how you feel at all. Etc etc etc. 
 
So where does one turn when the only people who want to listen are the ones paid to do so? 
Rick, 15th July 2023, 23:37
The Sun again, making up stories again... 
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/jul/15/james-cameron-denies-rumors-titan-sub-film-oceangate

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