Children of the Damned

Dalrymple writes in the new Salisbury Review on the BBC’s Jimmy Savile affair. (Pay the low subscription fee here to read the piece. Join the ongoing discussion of the scandal in the Law, Crime & Justice section of the Dalrymple forum.)

The curious thing about the public moral outrage…is that you would think that it occurred in a land of sexual delicacy verging on prudery, a country in which children were carefully protected from knowledge of the facts of life and everything that surrounds those facts until a comparatively advanced and mature age.

This is not the country that I recognise.

He explains the public’s outrage as due to a sense of guilt at how children are raised:

The pattern of child-rearing in Britain often seems a toxic combination of overindulgence and neglect…

…Let me take one important activity: eating. It is said that a fifth of British children do not eat a meal with any other member of their family or household (often a more accurate term than family) more than once a week…The child never learns that satisfaction of appetite is other than a solipsistic activity, and that often he must control his inclinations for the sake of others and of sociability. He learns no self-control; on the contrary, his whim is his compass, controlled only by force majeure

The factor that links much social pathology, indeed, is an absence of self-control. It is not merely that in Britain more than anywhere else parents fail to inculcate it; our popular culture, so-called, celebrates absence of self-control as almost the highest good, treats it either as ridiculous or as an enemy to be combatted, as a form of treason to the self. If you open almost any popular magazine you will see pictures of insolence, crudity and patent lack of self-control celebrated as if they were admirable, sophisticated and worthy of emulation. The late James Savile was an early proselytiser for this ‘culture’: not so much a dumbing-down (though it was certainly that as well), as a coarsening-down.

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  1. Pingback: How the British view self-control as a form of treason to the self | Theodore Dalrymple daily dose

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