Mob Morality Again 214


Nobody has more contempt than me for the House of Lords or for cronies of Tony Blair. But I shall not join in the pillorying of John Sewel over his private life. If he wants to take cocaine and spend time with prostitutes that is entirely his own business. Britain’s periodic outcries over private morality are contemptible. There is no legitimate reason why the activities of consenting adults in their own homes should be of concern to the rest of us. Not the least unpleasant aspect is that those journalists and politicians who whip up such witch hunts are for the most part hiding secrets about themselves. That in 2015 we still have not come to terms with the most ordinary sexual desire or formulated a more rational policy response to use of narcotics, is unfortunate.

I expect if I dug around I could find a lot of things to dislike Sewel for, in terms of the policies he has supported. But to attack political opponents over their private lives – assuming the necessary factors of adults and consent – is low.


214 thoughts on “Mob Morality Again

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  • technicolour

    Jon, I suppose what I’m concluding is that it is rotten to exploit other people’s deprivation for your own ends, and I think that reaches its apex in the ‘sex industry’.

  • Jon

    Technicolour, I agree. The task of progressives is to reduce the numbers of exploited people selling sexual services to zero, or as close to that as possible. For people on the Left I think these conversations go hand in hand with reducing poverty of all kinds: Jeremy Corbyn has recently saying that poverty should not exist in modern-day UK, quite rightly. I think bolstering the welfare state in the right areas would reduce some sexual exploitation automatically.

    One of the things I didn’t get to mention in my last post was something I noticed when reading some posts on Twitter. I shouldn’t have been surprised there’s three conflicting views here: straightforward abolitionist, and two versions of decriminalisation. The first kind of decriminalisation is critical of all (male) clients: Caroline Criado-Perez, who supports legalisation of some kind, says of male clients that “they’re still losers”. And the other kind is the one that is sympathetic to all people trapped in the mess of the human condition. I feel a bit guilty, sometimes, putting myself in the latter category; I worry it looks like I’m abandoning the Left and proudly joining the nearest branch of the Men’s Rights Movement.

    Moderately related: near where I live there is a sexual health clinic that closed down in the last week or so, and whilst I don’t know the circumstances, I imagine it is another victim of the cuts. Signs on the door assure visitors they’ll get an equally good and confidential service at a clinic embedded in Boots Chemists.

  • Jon

    Just reading this Twitter account just now in light of Amnesty’s decision to support decriminalisation. Despite the emotive and angry language (“Amnesty’s endorsement of [sex worker’s] human rights abuses”) I still think it’s a hard call.

    I think this is the policy document in question, though it seems to have been released by an abolitionist group, so finding it elsewhere may be preferable. Did Amnesty release it officially, do you know?

    Anyway, I’ll have a read. Apparently AI did a study for two years prior to this point, and I guess that would form the crux of their vote.

  • Jon

    Apologies for another follow-up question, but in the case of m’learned Lord and the two ladies who helped set up a tabloid sting, who was exploiting who? Not trying to “prove” anything, just wondering whether perhaps the power dynamics are not as straightforward as Julie Bindel etc makes out.

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