Category Archives: depravity

Brooklyn Mephisto

Dalrymple notes that Jeffrey Epstein’s taste for orgies was

only partially sexual in origin. A man in his situation could have paid for any amount of sex, of any kind, in private. What he really enjoyed was corrupting others—and not just others, but prominent and powerful others. He enjoyed playing Mephistopheles, apart from any sexual gratification he may have had on the way.

Dalrymple explains that Epstein

was born into a modest family and pursued no glorious academic career. He was of high intelligence and very ambitious. One might have thought that his achievement of riches (by whatever means accumulated) would have assuaged feelings of inferiority that he felt vis-à-vis those who had succeeded via family connection or the conventional academic route. But great success from humble beginnings does not always, or perhaps even generally, extinguish the flames of resentment, but rather fans them.

It is a relief and joy

to prove that the great ones whose ranks the parvenu has joined are no better than he, that underneath their polished exterior and their inherited or academic distinction is still a person of crude and basic appetites. To implicate them in his depravity gives him a certain power over them: the power of equal standing. Never again will they be able to consider themselves his superior. His apparent generosity towards them is the establishment of the relationship of a blackmailer to his victim.

Dalrymple argues that Epstein’s wish to bring people down to his level, the better to have some hold over them and feel at least their equal, was

an extreme manifestation of a commonplace egalitarian impulse to bring everyone down to one’s own level, if not lower. The pleasure we take in a debunking biography, irrespective of the greatness of the subject’s achievements, is a relatively harmless satisfaction of this impulse, though debunking can become an addiction to the point that we cease to admire any achievement. There is much greater pleasure in pulling people down than in raising them up, besides being something much easier to do. This is why egalitarians hate the privileged much more than they love the unprivileged.

That Epstein seemed to have been able with such ease to befriend and probably corrupt so many of an élite

will have the effect of casting further suspicion on the very notion of an élite. But ye have the élite always with you. There is an élite among anti-élitists.

A disguised form of sadism

Britain’s wilful neglect in the face of crime and depravity

A few years ago, Dalrymple reminds us,

it came to light that police in Rotherham had for decades systematically turned a blind eye to the mass sexual abuse of children—at least 1,400 victims—by Muslim men.

He explains also that his British-born female Muslim patients tell him that school inspectors

never intervened when their parents prevented them from attending school, often for years. On the other hand, white working-class parents were bullied by those inspectors when their refractory 15-year-old daughters refused to go.

Coarseness and vulgarity of thought and of language

‘It sets upon a pedestal promiscuous and adulterous intercourse’: Mervyn Griffith-Jones

Dalrymple writes that in R v Penguin Books Ltd, the prosecutor, Mervyn Griffith-Jones,

seemed not to have noticed that society had changed since his upper-class youth.

Griffith-Jones

opened the case with such pomposity that he became a figure of fun ever afterwards,

and is remembered only for what he said in his opening remarks to the jury:

It does tend…to induce lustful thoughts. It sets upon a pedestal promiscuous and adulterous intercourse. It commends…sensuality almost as a virtue. It encourages…coarseness and vulgarity of thought and of language…It must tend to deprave…One of the ways in which you can test this book, and test it from the most liberal outlook, is to ask yourselves the question, when you have read it through, would you approve of your young sons, young daughters—because girls can read as well as boys—reading this book? Is it a book you would have lying around in your own house? Is it a book you would even wish your wife and servants to read?

The court erupted in laughter, Dalrymple reminds us, and

later, after the not guilty verdict, in a debate in the House of Lords on an unsuccessful motion to strengthen the law of obscenity, one of the noble Lords was reported to have replied to the question of whether he would mind if his daughter read Lady Chatterley’s Lover that he wouldn’t mind in the least, but he would mind very much if his gamekeeper read it.

A real ray of Mohammedan sunshine

A sense of fun

This quality, Dalrymple notes, is not perhaps one of the most obvious features of your Moslem fundamentalist,

though no doubt there are certain sour satisfactions to be derived from contemplating the fathomless depravity of all those who do not submit themselves unquestioningly to one’s strictures.

When whim is law

The victims

Some of the victims

Reflections on the case of Frederick and Rosemary West

The serial killers’ path, writes Dalrymple,

was smoothed by the increasing uncertainty as to the line between acceptable and unacceptable conduct, or even whether such a line exists.

Increasing sexual permissiveness

was taken by the Wests, whose libidos were a great deal stronger than their powers of reason, to entail a complete absence of limits; they told those whom they raped that what they were doing was only ‘natural’ and unobjectionable.

The cellar

The cellar

They operated

in an atmosphere in which, increasingly, self-discipline was not accepted as a necessary condition of freedom—in which everyone’s merest whim was law.

The case reveals

how easily, in the anonymity of the modern urban environment, and in the midst of crowds, people may disappear.

Such disappearances

are made all the easier by a collective refusal—in the name of individual liberty—of parents to take responsibility for their children, of neighbours to notice what is happening around them, of anyone to brave the mockery of libertines in the defence of some standard of decency.

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The evil

The various public agencies—the police, the schools, the social services, the hospitals—proved no substitute

for the personal concern that families were once supposed to have provided, but that, in a permissive climate in which tolerance all too often shades into indifference, many provide no longer.

The failure of these agencies

was not accidental, but inherent in their nature as bureaucracies: the state is not, and never will be, a substitute for an old-fashioned Mum and Dad.

You should be able to do what the fuck you like

The philosophy of life inculcated in Sid Vicious by his mother.

Though quite without talent, Vicious had  ‘the courage of his degradation’.

Though quite without talent, Vicious had ‘the courage of his degradation’

How many divisions has Myra Hess?

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Hess performs at lunchtime concert, Barry Room, National Gallery, 1940

No one thought that, writes Dalrymple, as she played Mozart at the National Gallery.

The quiet heroism of those concerts and recitals, broadcast to the nation, was a symbol, all the more potent because Hess was Jewish, and the enemy’s anti-Semitism was central to its depraved view of the world; and because the music she played, one of the highest peaks of human achievement, emanated from the land of the enemy’s leader, who represented the depths of barbarism.