Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Sex and other diseases …

Well that got your attention, didn’t it! I used that good old ‘The Sun’ technique of using sex to sell. Though, actually ‘The Times’ seems to do it a great deal, as well. This has been a rather busy week and my life seems to have been dominated by the subject as well as many of the other ills that face our society: sex, ‘flu, media obsession and a lack of time to see beauty.

This week’s lectures in Law for Journalists has focussed on Sexual Crimes and I have to look at these laws in some detail. It is, at times, frightening the types of crime that exist and how they affect people in the world around us. I have read news articles that would make your spine shiver. I read the case of Rosemary West’s step-daughter who was repeatedly raped by her uncle. There are several stories of fathers and their offspring which really shocked me. And others I cannot repeat.

The problem with sex is that it’s at the most fundamental level of our being. Sex somehow taps into our more animalistic parts of our bodies. Mankind’s physical desires make us emotionally hurt each other. Sex affects us all on a day-by-day basis and is at times overwhelming. Infidelity, uncertainty and search for love drives us all. I have often wondered why mankind needs to live in pairs. The great whales and lions manage to live in isolation bar mating but humans have to live with someone.

I have also been thinking about what classes as ‘sex’? The lectures talk of a law forbidding ‘assault by penetration’ and the Bible clearly forbids most sexual acts. What about kissing, I wondered? I came to the conclusion that each one of us has to find a comfortable place in our selves: our own, individual moralistic code. In the past, many took the Christian view but today there is no single common rulebook. However, for me, reading the Bible and prayer guides me through moments of uncertainty in my thoughts. Thank God (literally) for that.

Yet, in a world of moralistic confusion, we still hold our leaders to account (he writes trying to move seamlessly into a section on news). All this fuss over David Cameron refusing to say if he has taken drugs is fascinating. The truth is that he was probably too drunk at the time to quite remember. Whoever is the next leader of the Conservatives will be held in high esteem. The British Public are, en masse, wonderful hypocrites. Do as we say (via the press) and not as we do.

At the same time, the press and the public do like a good panic. I had a slight falling out (in the politest, academic terms) about our decision to cover the bird ‘flu story. My argument was that I was bored with it, to which the tutor said that there was a journalistic responsibility not to over-state matters. No cases in the UK, only 60 human deaths world wide and the virus is not quite as dangerous as it first seems. Although it can pass from bird to man, it has not yet adapted so it can move from man to man. Only when that happens should we panic. The Chief Medical Officer’s Prediction of 50, 000 deaths may be accurate but his words should be taken in context. He predicted that many deaths from a ‘flu out break in general (not necessarily avian ‘flu). I also think the government is trying to cause a slight panic here; allowing the highest medical officer in the UK to say that has caused hysteria. As a friend of mine put it – what are they trying to hide at the moment? Though, this is speculation and we have no reason to suspect anything other than over-keen journalists.

So, in the end, what we are looking at is a media-dominated world. The flood damage in the USA, the aid problems in Pakistan and even a minor earthquake in Japan (a friend was stuck in a lift for it!!) barely make our news. A global panic is being set-up which will be followed by a global apathy.

As I write this, I’m listening to ‘Global Variations’ by Nigel Hess. A work which goes around the world musically and the tunes merge seamlessly together the sounds of China, India, the Amazon, Ireland, France, USA and the UK with no problems. Despite any other issues, our world can still be unified by music. I was listening to this as I walked back from a music practice last week and as the tunes unified at the conclusion of the work, I came to the top of the hill and looked out over the outer districts of Sheffield.

Below me was outer-Walkley and Hillsborough. Close to me were the council houses of Walkley, joined to the terraced houses which snaked down into Hillsborough. The golden street lights glistened like stars and the white lights of the football stadium shone out. Behind, the old, golden peaks of the mill towers could be made out and the ancient, green peaks of the Pennines could be sensed (if not actually seen) framing the whole scene. This was like Britain in a nutshell. Its housing and social issues, its entertainment and industry, its historical legacy and natural beauty. All in one view. Despite man’s attempts to destroy itself through diseases of various kinds (sex, ‘flu and media obsession being but a few), this was fantastic and reminded me of all the wonderful things around that I have not seen.

I hope that you, too, can see this view wherever you are,


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