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Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Sunday School Tendency

There was a time (mine) when you could grow up under the impression that high up on the list of  Morally Important were such things as never telling a lie,  not swearing, walking upright with your shoulders held back, repressing impure thoughts and emptying your bowels daily. Stick to those rules and you were spared both Guilt and Damnation. Failure to do so would bring Shame and Torment.

And you think Muslims have got problems. You should have gone to a Methodist Sunday School.

Bit by bit you do get over these things but always clumsily. Brought up in the Sunday School Tendency, you tend not to have many social skills. Later in life, you may join the Anti-Sex League.

I can still remember the first time I said "Fuck!" aloud (in a classroom at Bromley Grammar School for Boys). And I am still a bit shocked by the fact that the world's most successful people - artists, writers, politicians, businessmen, high clergy - seem to have missed out completely on Sunday School. Completely and utterly. I'm shocked.

Our newspaper editors know that there are a lot us easily shocked and though they themselves are not the types to wear hairshirts, they know that there is money to be made by appealing to the Sunday School Tendency. They know that our shock can be turned into envy and jealousy. And they know that we will not be satisfied until we have seen the mighty fallen, preferably with a little help from the Metropolitan Police (forget the bribe-taking and the evidence-fabricating; they are our Defenders of Morality and Decency. They may kick you in the groin but all of them, without exception, empty their bowels daily).

This is why we end up unable to distinguish serious crimes (Jimmy Savile if we are to believe what we are told) from minor offences or less (maybe Chris Huhne, maybe Vicky Pryce, maybe Cardinal O'Brien, maybe Lord Rennard) or simple boorishness (Andrew Mitchell who swore at a policeman and who, had the policemen not sexed up the story - as if it needed sexing up - would now be condemned to everlasting darkness).

We can't distinguish because we are still caught in childish fantasies about what it means to be Good. We think it means being  Goody Goody. And thus we end up thinking that if a Goody Goody proposes it, it must be all right to fire state-of-the-art missiles into the villages of poor peasants in far away countries. We empty our bowels daily and don't give a shit about other people's lives.

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