A. K. Chesterton

Here we shall consider the pressure brought to bear upon youth from outside by influences which, whether or not malign in intention, cannot fail to undermine and deprave.

Despite the fact that the Council of Civil Liberties is orientated far to the Left – I recall no instance where it has intervened on behalf of the oppressed Right – the Establishment regards it as a responsible body, worthy of respect. Here is a report which recently appeared in the Guardian: “‘Young children should have the right to sexual relations as soon as they wish to,’ the Children’s Committee of the National Council of Civil Liberties said yesterday. In a document entitled ‘Children have Rights’ the Committee says ‘The right of young people to have sexual relations as soon as they wish to have them is a most important one, and of course carries with it the right to contraceptive information, advice and equipment.’ The Committee says ‘it is unfortunate for children to live in housing conditions which do not allow privacy for such activity.’ ‘All the talk about increasing sexual freedom comes to naught without opportunity for some privacy in the home. To compel a child to leave home, perhaps to attend boarding school, is an infringement of civil liberty.’”

It is impossible to think of a more reckless or deplorable proposition. Society, it seems, is to find the money to pay birth-control experts to give information and advice, and to present contraceptives, to young boys from the age of fourteen – for what grand purpose? That they should arrive at adulthood sated and exhausted, deprived for ever of the wonder and beauty and mystery of a stable sexual relationship? How surprisingly fastidious of the Civil Liberties Committee to desire privacy for such juvenile “love”-making! Perhaps legislation will soon require all residences to have annexes with the notice: “Parents Keep Out.” As for those benighted parents who send their sons and daughters to boarding school, the day may come when they appear before international courts charged with crimes against juvenile humanity! That early sex could be a potent weapon in debilitating a nation’s youth, with the ultimate object of weakening the nation by depriving it of any power of manly resistance, is all too probable. Hence, perhaps, the toleration of its vendors.

Even overseas readers are likely to have heard of the egregious Dr. Cole, who caused a furore in the English Midlands by producing what is said to be a very bad film called “Growing Up.” It was intended to be shown in schools for the purpose of providing visible sex instruction. Dr. Cole was not prosecuted, but one of his helpers, a young woman teacher, lost her job. Her amiable part in the film was to give a physical demonstration of a girl masturbating. When she met with official displeasure and lost her job she became furious. “After all,” she exclaimed, “it was purely (sic) a private matter.” Had it been a “public matter” I wonder in what other ways she would have consented to be filmed. Should that be irrelevant, one would at least like to know who she would differentiate between “private” and “public.” Whatever the answer, it is worth recording that, the liberal sickness being as virulent in the Midlands as anywhere, the authorities had second thoughts, decided that after all the young woman was suited to have educational responsibility and duly reinstated her as a teacher. Her mentor, Dr. Cole, is still traipsing round the country with his obsession.

Then there was the case of the pornographic magazine Oz, intended to be seen and read by adults, albeit adults who retain the pimply mind of the retarded adolescent. The editors of this choice publication, in a bid to extend the range of its readership, decided to bring out a “School Kids’ Edition.” Accordingly, they began to collect muck written and drawn by the smuttiest-minded juveniles who could be fished out of the cess-pools. The result was such that not even the Public Prosecutor could fail to take action. Orders were given for the arrest of the unsavoury editorial gang, of whom the leading spirit was a 34-year-old barrister who would not have needed to practise beneath a judicial wig as his greasy locks, like those of his colleagues, extended halfway down his back. Remanded in custody, something then happened to them which sent the entire left-wing in Britain into an hysterical frenzy. The Prison officials had their gorgeous tresses cut off. It is impossible to exaggerate the shrieks of outrage when this hygienic act became known to the outside world. (Unless I am mistaken, the Home Office, ever anxious to appease the rabble, was quick to issue a directive that in future the hair of prisoners on remand must be treated as sacrosanct.)

The lock-shearing was only the prologue to the swelling theme. Twenty years ago no part of the Yellow Press would have been yellow enough to treat the Oz obscenities with anything but loathing. But times change, and with them The Times, reputed to be the country’s leading newspaper, but now prepared, it would seem, to make the vivid yellow press look demure. The brashest of its columnists, crinkly-haired Mr. Bernard Levin, was allowed to go to town on the Oz case. He addressed himself with a will to the cause of the Abominable Smutmen and delivered a savage attack on the judge who passed sentence on them. There is nothing Master Levin does not know. (Although he has been around for 20 years or more one still thinks of him as a Lower Fourth essayist.) Raise what questions you will, he is there to pronounce the final word on it. He described the Oz trial as “a national disgrace.” After quoting a sentence which had appeared in The Times six months earlier which read: “The young look at their father’s world and see that much of what they say is bogus”, Levin added his own explosive comment.

‘By God they do, too. Dimly, they recognise what lies at the root of sexual repression is commonly repressed sexual envy. That one of the drawings in the School Kids’ Oz depicted a middle-aged teacher manipulating his own penis with one hand and a schoolboy’s buttocks with the other is not a coincidence – and it is not obscene, either. It is a defiant statement that if it is all right for the children’s fathers to tell jokes about the barmaid and the commercial traveller it should be all right for the children to feel sexual desire, and even express it, without their fathers calling the police.’

It can be said in honesty that never in my life have I read such atrocious nonsense. That last analogy is bereft of all meaning, while it would indeed be a gifted reader who managed to track the line of thought between that middle-aged teacher’s foul activity and “Sexual envy.” Moreover, if such a drawing is not pornographic it is a merciful dispensation of Providence that one is not able to delve into the Levin mind to discover what he considers would warrant that description.

Levin himself is of no account in the national scheme of things, but the same cannot be said of The Times, at any rate as long as it retains the reputation, however misplaced, of being the authoritative voice of the British people. While the comment quoted is unlikely to have any effect on children, the filth produced in Oz by them and for them must assuredly rub off on those who are brought into contact with it. Defilement of Britain’s youth is a rapidly expanding process that conforms with the general pattern of national degeneration at all levels, which is both reflected and furthered by contemporary literature, the baser kind of newspaper, the more ignoble clergy (including some at the top of the hierarchy), the so-called “intellectuals,” the theatre, the cinema and, above all, B.B.C. television. That the most brazen and disgusting attempt to corrupt young boys and girls yet made in Britain, the vileness of the Oz publication, should receive The Times newspaper’s cachet of approval surely registers the lowest water-mark ever reached in the British annals of public indecency.

The writer of this denunciation is a soldier of the two world wars and as a journalist and author often has had to report on matters revealing human degradation. I think it improbable that any form of words or pictorial delineation now has power to shock me. What I do find shocking beyond all adequate means of expression is the use of these devices to contaminate children or naive adults’ minds, thereby debasing to sewer-level the standards of private and public life. My anger increases when I suspect the bestiality to be under any kind of official protection. I gave one such example early in this book. Another was the recent experience of a Mr. Knapman, who withdrew his young daughter from a school where homosexuality and masturbation were being extolled in the class-room. He was brought before a Court and sentenced to pay a fine for his “offence.” Whether that magistrate was following a Home Office or Minister of Education directive I do not know. If he was, then something very much more important than one magistrate’s aberration is obviously at issue.

What brings my anger to white heat is the knowledge that the climate of opinion in which it is possible for the degenerative process to work has been induced by evil subterranean influences intent upon destroying not only our own brave old country but the Western civilisation which it has done so much to help to build.

Chapter 6 of A. K. Chesterton’s, Facing the Abyss, 1976

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