Friday, 4 July 2014

Jake the peg diddle diddle

The Rolf Harris conviction for sexual abuse leads me to ask a question. Does 'evil' or wrong-doing wipe out any 'goodness' we have once seen in an individual? I ask this not to 'forgive' Harris but to address a significant ethical question. Do we like or enjoy Rolf Harris's songs any the less because of his conviction? Are they indeed different when we listen to them.

I have had Jake the Peg buzzing round in my head for days now. It won't go away, and as I conjure up the image of Harris performing it I still smile - perhaps now a kind of guilty smile. We are told there are two sides to Rolf Harris - one being the dark side. But does the dark side really diminish the joy of the light side?

Cilla Black I think summed it all up when asked to comment on the news of Harris's conviction. "I'm disappointed." Yes and I am disappointed too. We have been let down by another 'hero'. We build people up and put them on a pedestal and expect the epitome of goodness. Yet, the truth is they are human with human frailties. Nothing excuses what he did, but does it really diminish his art? I understand the portrait he painted of the Queen has gone missing - nobody seems to know its location. All that is very odd and frankly hypocritical if they have hidden it away because of the conviction. If it was good enough to display before the conviction then it must surely be good enough after.

Rolf Harris is not the only artist to have had a hidden murky side. There has been speculation that Lewis Carroll was a paedophile. It is of course difficult to answer such speculation. But does the possibility render his work unreadable?

It might be said, indeed it has been said, that what makes Rolf Harris' crime worse is that he abused his position. Well all paedophiles do that. It was opportunistic - so too is much sexual abuse.

Now I want to be clear I am not asking for us to render Harris' crime to be less than it was. It was appalling. I am just wanting to know if it really renders everything he did 'bad'. I am still thinking about the answer.

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