Blimey, we have not seen anything like this on the south coast of England for a long, long time…
Yes indeed, just a few hours drive down the coast from me, there is furore in Plymouth right now that is spreading it’s way across the rest of the UK. That furore is breeding anger, disgust, contempt and hatred — real venomous stuff.
As well as being venomous, it is incredibly hypnotic. Let me explain further…
Yesterday, it was all over local and national news, the furore occurring because a nursery assistant by the name of vanessa George appeared in court. She was subsequently charged with sexual assault and the making and distribution of indecent images of very young children.
As you can read with the BBC’s coverage of this story, she was a woman, who had an employed position of much trust, and it is being alleged that she was abusing children within her care. Still worse, 39-year-old Vanessa George is reported to be married and a mother of two. It is any parent’s nightmare.
It’s also a dream for the media, isn’t it?
As well as the anger, disgust, contempt and hatred, there are many other powerful emotions intertwined within this case: fear, guilt, innocent children. Then of course we have the disgust, abhorrence and hatred that people feel towards paedophiles.
This story grabs even more attention due to it’s very unusual nature too. Not only is Vanessa George older than the average nursery worker, she is also older than your average criminal… Most importantly for media appeal… She’s female.
When looking at how contagious feelings are when they are powerful, you can observe the hypnotic principles ringing bells inside peoples minds as they see the coverage, discuss it at work, share the shock and horror and it spreads…
As was pointed out in yesterday’s Guardian online, Michele Elliott, director of the children’s charity Kidscape states that these conditions do make Vanessa Georde a highly visible target.
Just look at Myra Hindley, who assisted her lover Ian Brady in the torture and murder of children in the 1960s, her image was everywhere and known to all… It would not surprise me at all if Vanessa George ends up becoming a nationwide hate figure of a similar ilk.
In the shown press conferences so far, the police have been reassuring and attempting to pacify the nation by commending the families involved for their calm reactions.
However, yesterdays initial turn up in court saw Vanessa George greeted by an angry mob, and the vehicle escorting her was attacked with some ferocity.
We do live in a country that has the notion of “innocent until proven guilty” and that is where we stand right now… Though with the ensuing media circus, how she’ll ever get a fair trial is anybody’s guess.
Think about this though, even if she is innocent, her life in Plymouth is as good as over… Such is the poisonous social taint of paedophilia.
If she is guilty, the country gets embroiled in some joint anger and disgust and we forget to ask some important questions… What motives could have led her to such appalling behaviour? Does she possess a severe psychological abnormality, such as a personality disorder, perhaps following abuse? Is she in fact submitting to a much more powerful influence, as was the case with Myra Hindley. Right now, we have no idea.
To be honest, the thought of paedophilia still makes me feel physically ill. My wife and I whinced in front of last night’s TV coverage. I am not a parent, but if anyone were to abuse my nieces, nephew, or godchildren, I think that in all likelihood, my feelings could turn incredibly violent.
many people would say the same, I guess. Which is what makes it so easy to empathise with the baying collection of people outside the court in Plymouth. They sense a danger in this woman, they perceive a vile moral evil, and they want to get rid of it.
Is the hypnotic effect just a harmony of those feelings, a shared sense of that thing? Does it then grow and become worse because of others helping to escalate it?
It is tough to put a finger on exactly… I think we all need to beware of those feelings though.
If Vanessa George is proven to be guilty, there will be many who will wish her dead. It is incredibly, incredibly tough to snap out of the hypnotic trance state of anger and disgust and refuse to allow those feelings to rob us of our reason.
At some point, we really do need to understand what the reasons are that some people abuse children. We really do not know much about paedophilia, except that it seems disturbingly common.
Why don’t we know more? Paedophilia research is so sensitive that very few people are brave enough to attempt it. I mean, who would? It would seem to be a scientific as well as a moral mystery.
I think that if we just rage onwards and refuse to attempt to understand the problem, are we ever going to learn to solve it and potentially stop it happening in the first place?