Sunday, 11 November 2012
The Psychopath Test & Conspiracy Season
I've just greatly enjoyed reading Jon Ronson's book The Psychopath Test (a birthday present, I read it from start to finish on Friday while flying to Ireland and back to teach comics at the school whose old boys include Michael 'Ryanair' O'Leary, Paul 'U2' McGuinness, Nick 'Apprentice' Hewer and James 'James Joyce' Joyce). It is, as the subtitle says, a Journey Through The Madness Industry, and I challenge anyone to come away from it without thinking they've got half a dozen of the mental conditions he looks at. I certainly seemed to be scoring disturbingly high on the Psychopath Test itself (though, reassuringly, it is suggested in the book that if you're worried you might be psychopath then that's an indication that you're not).
One of the areas looked at is Conspiracy Theories (in the book it's people who think terrorist incidents like 9/11 and 7/7 were faked by the government), which is a subject that's been very much on my mind in recent weeks in the wake of the Jimmy Savile child abuse stories which continue to unfold.
It's often said that the internet is full of nutters with ridiculous theories, and I'm delighted to say I mostly manage to avoid them, the worst of my encounters with those of a Trollish disposition being folk holding contentious opinions about Doctor Who, which I'm more than happy to take with a pinch of salt. But when you start Googling the theories about what is going on behind the scenes in the child-abuse stories you read some stuff which is either terrifying or mental. It may be malicious nonsense, it may be mischevious fantasising, or most worryingly some of it may hold a grain of truth. I confess, after a fortnight of reading these articles floating in the ether, I am none the wiser. Here are some of the ones that have stuck in my craw.
Jimmy Savile was part of a Paedophile ring which included leading Tory politicians of the Thatcher Government. This was first reported in a magazine called Scallywag in 1997, which made it clear that one of the accused was "A man who bears the same surname as a prominent Conservative supporter" which it is suggested referred to the (now) late Jimmie McApline, hence the mistaken naming of (now) still alive Lord McAlpine, and the resignation of the (former) Director General George McAlpine.
Many people have published lists of the names of people involved, this being one of the most retweeted, including the incorrect McAlpine, alongside a late Morrison, and highly contentious L, L and P.
This is all, apparently, connected to the Haut La Garenne Childrens Home in Jersey (where, I learn, Bergerac was filmed), and to the massacre of 16 children in 1996 in Dunblane. The enquiry into the Dunblane was, according to the News Of The World, covered up by the Masons.
Then you get deeper into Conspiracy Theorist territory and you find this guy, who is not afraid to / as misguided as to (delete where applicable) list the most unbelievable names. If the names on this list are actually guilty of any of the things they are accused of, then never before has the phrase "everything you know is wrong" been more spot on. Gordon Brown? Gerald Kaufman? Leon Brittan? Tony Blair? Michael Portillo? Ted Heath? This I find beyond belief. Although we can't expect Labour politicians to be exempt, as this website devoted entirely to convicted Labour party paedophiles has dedicated itself to pointing out.
Which begs the question, if all those Labour paedos are in prison, why aren't all the alleged Tory paedos there too? A chilling answer is suggested by this article detailing the deaths of 12 former residents who died in suspicious circumstances (The same list and details are to be found on other sites with better spelling, grammar and layout).
All of which leaves one feeling disoriented and a little pessimistic. After all, just when it looked like the Bryn Estyn story was going to be blown wide open last week when a former abused resident "named and shamed" on Newsnight, we then get the man who's (wrongly) named immediately denying the accusation, the accuser being pilloried and demanded to apologise (he was even dismissed on the BBC this morning as a "weirdo" by that highly regarded looker David Mellor), and heads roll at the top of the BBC. We remain no closer to the truth being revealed. In fact we're further away from it. A worst case scenario would be that every person named on any of the lists above suddenly comes out and claims they weren't involved but, instead, it was someone with the same surname who's now, conveniently, dead.
If you read stories in the coming weeks about dead paedophiles Alan Portillo, Lionel Britten, and Jeremy Kaufman, remember where you heard it first.
For the record, and to leave on a cheerier note. Jon Ronson's The Psychopath Test is a cracking read, and I commend it to the house.