Sunday, July 04, 2010

Life at the bottom

Theodore Dalrymple, formerly a British prison psychiatrist, often wrote of his experiences with the "underclass". Here he describes the sad life of a female patient targeted by parasitic men:

My patient already had had three children by three different men, by no means unusual among my patients, or indeed in the country as a whole. The father of her first child had been violent, and she had left him; the second died in an accident while driving a stolen car; the third, with whom she had been living, had demanded that she should leave his apartment because, a week after their child was born, he decided that he no longer wished to live with her. (The discovery of incompatibility a week after the birth of a child is now so common as to be statistically normal.) She had nowhere to go, no one to fall back on, and the hospital was a temporary sanctuary from her woes. She hoped that we would fix her up with some accommodation.

She could not return to her mother, because of conflict with her "stepfather," or her mother's latest boyfriend, who, in fact, was only nine years older than she and seven years younger than her mother. This compression of the generations is also now a common pattern and is seldom a recipe for happiness. (It goes without saying that her own father had disappeared at her birth, and she had never seen him since.) The latest boyfriend in this kind of ménage either wants the daughter around to abuse her sexually or else wants her out of the house as being a nuisance and an unnecessary expense. This boyfriend wanted her out of the house, and set about creating an atmosphere certain to make her leave as soon as possible.

The father of her first child had, of course, recognized her vulnerability. A girl of 16 living on her own is easy prey. He beat her from the first, being drunken, possessive, and jealous, as well as flagrantly unfaithful. She thought that a child would make him more responsible—sober him up and calm him down. It had the reverse effect. She left him.

The father of her second child was a career criminal, already imprisoned several times. A drug addict who took whatever drugs he could get, he died under the influence. She had known all about his past before she had his child.

The father of her third child was much older than she. It was he who suggested that they have a child—in fact he demanded it as a condition of staying with her. He had five children already by three different women, none of whom he supported in any way whatever.

The conditions for the perpetuation of evil were now complete. She was a young woman who would not want to remain alone, without a man, for very long; but with three children already, she would attract precisely the kind of man, like the father of her first child—of whom there are now many—looking for vulnerable, exploitable women. More than likely, at least one of them (for there would undoubtedly be a succession of them) would abuse her children sexually, physically, or both.

Conservative columnist Miranda Devine, like Dalrymple earlier (2004), has observed the obvious, writing the other day about women described by police as targeted by an unscrupulous male:

They were poor single mothers doing it tough and they were conned by a predator … [David Shane] Whitby will be remembered as the worst paedophile in Australia's history, in terms of number of victims, number of crimes and the extremely sick nature of the crimes … No one in child protection has ever seen anything like this.

To make her point perfectly clear Devine elaborates:

Last year in Britain, Sir Paul Coleridge, a Family Court judge, provoked a storm of criticism when he declared family breakdown to be the cause of most social ills. He said marriage, with all its faults, should be restored as the ''gold standard'' and social stigma should be re-applied to those who destroy family life.

He described what he sees in court as a ''never-ending carnival of human misery … I have witnessed the damage done [to children] by the endless game of 'musical relationships', or 'pass the partner', in which a significant portion of the population is engaged.

''What is a matter of private concern when it is on a small scale becomes a matter of public concern when it reaches epidemic proportions.''

The insistence that all family arrangements are equally valid, and equally protective of children, has become a sacred shibboleth. This has been a disaster for children of the underclass.

Make no mistake, a culture which promotes excessive tolerance of family instability is a culture which turns a blind eye to paedophiles such as David Shane Whitby.

Obviously oblivious to the dangers to children produced by short term relationships, blogging barrister Jeremy Sear is aghast that the Devine article was even published. Sear is apparently very naive when it comes to children and relationships.


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