Last week I signed a petition to press The States of Jersey to restore Leah McGrath Goodman’s visa. I got this update this morning from Change.org. The petition now has close to 3,000 signatures and she looks close to getting her wish.
Some new news — from Leah McGrath Goodman:
Thanks so much for your continued support. As we close in on 3,000 signatures, it looks like I may be closer to having my visa restored in the UK.
Right now, the heightened awareness of how abuse victims have been hurt in England has made it easier for the sponsor of this petition, Trevor Pitman, to engage in positive communications on my behalf with the UK’s immigration authorities. (Thank you, Trevor!) With any luck, I may have the green-light to continue my research by the end of the year.
This is only if the UK authorities follow through on their assurances, however. We are hopeful, but the hard work is not yet done and each step has proven expensive…both in terms of time, emotional resources and funding.
Please continue to spread the word. Awareness is key, so long as there are editorials like the one featured in last Friday’s Financial Times letting fly with such statements as: “Fraud, robbery, mugging, burglary – even rape and murder – may sometimes eventually be forgiven. But no such indulgence is available to child abusers. This was not always so.”
This very strange piece — which might have better run under the title “In Defense of Paedophiles” — comes from Sir Max Hastings, an otherwise respected British author, historian and journalist. Not sure what the point of comparing child abuse to burglary is — other than fouling oneself as a sort of paedophile apologist — but Hastings does not let it drop there.
“The public obsession with paedophilia now obliges art galleries and auctioneers to exercise extreme care in marketing images of children,” he says. “Many honourable and admirable people who work with the young must exercise elaborate care to avoid casual physical contact with their charges.”
Uh, isn’t taking elaborate care around children supposed to be a good thing?
While these are the kinds of ignorant sputterings I have long grown used to hearing from, ahem, “paedocrats,” it is disappointing to hear them from a fellow journalist — a beknighted one at that — who should really know better.
(Just an aside: You also have to ask yourself what motivated Hastings to write this editorial. To make a fuss over such high-class problems as the way in which auctioneers are suffering when the protection of children is in question seems to be in the worst of taste.)
The editorial must be read in full to be believed, but Hastings does reassure us that “child abuse is not a national plague” and we should instead focus on tut-tutting the “spasms of hysteria.”
Unlike Hastings, I do not believe getting to the bottom of the matter is, as he says, akin to an “archaeological dig.” Or that “Roman excavations are more fruitful.” I believe as long as there is a push to not ask questions or dig deeper there are plenty of reasons to continue to do so. With patience and compassion, there are ways to heal, but they cannot be approached from a place of denial or ignorance. Let us hope that the national discourse can be allowed to move forward, from a place of truth.
Thank you for your continued support. It has made all the difference!
The Cat has found the Max Hastings article, which appeared in the Financial Times. Here is a quote,
Whatever happened in north Wales care homes 40 years ago, it will be almost impossible to establish the truth at this distance of time, and it is a waste of taxpayers’ money to try to do so. While every reasonable precaution must be taken to prevent men from sexually abusing children, such crimes must be kept in the context of other evils in the world.
But this is hard to achieve in modern Britain. The late Daily Mail editor Sir David English observed 20 years ago that paedophilia had become, in the eyes of the public informed by the media, the only unpardonable crime. Fraud, robbery, mugging, burglary – even rape and murder – may sometimes eventually be forgiven. But no such indulgence is available to child abusers.
This was not always so. In the era when I was at boarding school, and for many decades before, everybody sniggered about the fact that some schoolmasters – and schoolmistresses – sexually exploited pupils. Cynics said: why else would they take the job? In the Church, and especially the Catholic Church, it is now plain that such malpractices have been widespread. What is remarkable is that many victims have gone on to lead apparently normal lives, though of course some do not.
The public obsession with paedophilia now obliges art galleries and auctioneers to exercise extreme care in marketing images of children. Many honourable and admirable people who work with the young must exercise elaborate care to avoid casual physical contact with their charges. Most children have lost the sort of freedom we knew at their age, roaming London streets and country lanes alone, unsupervised – and without fear.
It’s that third paragraph. What’s he trying to say? That such practices are acceptable in certain contexts? He isn’t clear.
UPDATE 28/1/13 @ 1810
I received an email last Thursday from Change.org, which informed me that Ms McGrath Goodman was being granted a 2 year visa. Good news but one suspects the shredders in the States of Jersey have been working overtime in the last year or so.
Here’s the text of the email.
A Message from Leah McGrath Goodman:
At last, I have received my UK visa — a visa that will last me two full years!
And you, my wonderful friends, are the reason for this amazing victory.
I want to confide that at the final moment, the visa was held up by the UK Border Agency in New York, but Member of Parliament for Birmingham Yardley John Hemming put in a parliamentary question to Immigration Minister Damian Green about the delay and, presto, my visa arrived a few days later. (The magic of ministerial questioning.)
I also want to acknowledge the efforts of Jersey Immigration, which did a fantastic job of working with us once we were all able to fully communicate. (One of them actually contacted us late on a Sunday night to make sure all was in order.) In the final analysis, they had to overcome a struggle too.
I will be writing much more in the days to come, but for now I just want to say I am so grateful.
Let’s show the world that the power of numbers (with a little help from social media) can bring justice to those in need. This is a new era and the Internet can accomplish much — especially for those on a small island.
As I continue my work, I will be writing about what I find in my travels atleahmcgrathgoodman.com. Hope to see you there.
While you’re at it, please also check out the blog of Trevor Pitman, the courageous man who launched this petition and a member of Jersey’s Parliament. He can be found at:http://thebaldtruthjersey.blogspot.com
We’re also on Twitter guys! But we don’t want to deluge you.
Next month, Jersey legislators will be voting on whether a Committee of Inquiry will be allowed to do a comprehensive vetting of the island’s handling of its decades of child abuse. Will the committee be permitted to do a real investigation? This is an important time for eyes to remain on the island.
This is only the beginning, so please keep in touch. Remember, without your witnessing these events as they unfolded — and, now, as they continue to unfold — little would have changed. A thousand thanks to you.
We did it — !
Leah McGrath Goodman
P.S. Your excellent notes of support have been passed on to the victims’ advocacy group in Jersey, so those who still suffer every day know that people care for them. Because of your comments, they will not feel so alone.