Saturday, 5 July 2014

Rolf Harris: A Sense of Entitlement

It probably hasn't made headlines to the same extent in North America, but in Britain and the Antipodes the conviction of Aussie entertainment icon Rolf Harris has been big news.

Rolf is a disarming character, full of charm and talent. An artist, a singer, family-friendly, a good bloke. For years he was the face of British Paints ads on television ("Trust British Paints? Sure can!"), and as kids many of my generation remember watching his popular TV show together with the folks each week.

Sadly, he wasn't so clever at tying his own kangaroo down, if you know what I mean. Allegations about his inappropriate behaviour have also surfaced here in the wake of the British trial. One such account comes from government MP Maggie Barry, who had to peel the scumbag off her prior to an interview on a local radio station when she was beginning her broadcasting career. Incredibly another comes from a woman who, as a nine-year old, was told to climb onto Harris' knee to receive a Xmas present at a charity function. Harris' reason for being in the country at the time? To raise funds to combat child abuse.

I suppose it's only to be expected that 'famous' people sometimes lose their sense of perspective and begin to believe their own publicity. For years we've known the damage that can be inflicted on child stars, and who couldn't have predicted with 99% certainty Justin Bieber's descent into stupidity. Humility, if it existed at the outset, turns into a sense of entitlement, and a complex justification created by the simple expedient of having to live with yourself afterwards.

The same mechanism operates, I suspect, with media-savvy preachers. Adoring crowds gather to collect the pearls of faux-wisdom that drop from their precious lips. They are men of God, and they climb up onto their own pedestals to the applause of the multitude. No wonder then that so many of them end up as Ted Haggard did. Power corrupts, but so does PR.

The moral? Never take a celebrity - even a celebrity preacher - at face value.


  1. This is shocking on several levels. First, being of the American perrsuasion, I never knew that Rolf Harris had a career beyond his monster hit "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport." Quite honestly, I'd even forgotten his name, as it's probably been about 20 years since oldies radio stations have played that song. Usually, novelty songs pass into obscurity first. Most of us American teenagers never realized that the term "abos" referred to Aborigines, either. I thought that in Australian English, he was referring to "elbows". There were several other novelty songs popular in the early sixties with racial overtones, such as Pat Boone's "Speedy Gonzales", and Ray Stevens' "Ahab the Arab."

    It is sad that people who somehow bring a little happiness into our lives are later found to have been offenders on such a severe level. A divorce or drinking problem are generally understandable, and often forgivable. Preying on helpless children, especially sexually, is a pathology which needs to be severely punished, and there should be no statutes of limitation.


  2. In the United States, in some states in particular, up until the mid 1950s, incest was punishable by death (Texas being the most notable). Pedophilia had its own special "justice" in prisons where those convicted were considered the lowest of the low (counterfeiters being on the top of the social heap) and often didn't live past their sentence.

    With the liberal socialization of the United States accelerating in recent years, the shock and horror of sexual abuse has diminished. In order to shore up the rights of the abused, there are several programs now appearing. Law and Order Special Victims Unit (SVU) attempts to address the issues in a dramatic way, often holding weekend marathons for the "No More!" promotion of "Together we can end Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault".

    It's too bad that people in cults give a free pass to their "End Time Apostle", "End Time Prophet" and their "End Time Evangelist". Even after people in cults learn about incest and pedophilia by their cult Mafia Don with documented evidence from several sources, including the family of the victims, the members continue to support their favorite pervert with fervor. In religion, it seems, abominable behavior is acceptable if you are a member of the elite, with the roots of the religion often haling from a time centuries ago some religious founder married a six year old.

    Scripture makes it clear for Christian ministers: There can be no behavior of this sort -- it automatically disqualifies you. No exceptions. Do it and you are (supposed to be) gone from the ministry for ever. Something about "having a good report of those who are without" sort of thing. Nevertheless, many of the ministers DO IT and still remain ministers and even have the entire congregation supporting them (much of which is denial on the part of the congregation). A senior pastor in a large Lutheran church put the youth minister out of the ministry for committing adultery. The people of the congregation were not happy and the senior pastor had to explain it to them very carefully. Fortunately, he did it in such a way that no one left, but there was still a lot of grumbling. Sometimes Christians really love their perverts because they are so charismatic....

    One more thing: According to the experts, sexual perverts of this sort generally can't be rehabilitated.