*** warning: graphic language and subject matter ahead ***
On April 4, 2016, host David Rubin interviewed British actor and comedian Stephen Fry on the subjects of free speech, political correctness, and other assorted drivel that is somehow more important when discussed by a man who entertains people for a living. During the course of the interview, Fry discussed rape and child molestation in the context of political correctness, and said:
“There are many great plays which contain rapes, and the word rape now is even considered a rape …
They’re terrible things and they have to be thought about, clearly, but if you say you can’t watch this play, you can’t watch Titus Andronicus, or you can’t read it in a Shakespeare class, or you can’t read Macbeth because it’s got children being killed in it, it might trigger something when you were young that upset you once, because uncle touched you in a nasty place, well, I’m sorry.
It’s a great shame and we’re all very sorry that your uncle touched you in that nasty place – you get some of my sympathy – but your self-pity gets none of my sympathy because self-pity is the ugliest emotion in humanity. Get rid of it, because no one’s going to like you if you feel sorry for yourself. The irony is, we’ll feel sorry for you if you stop feeling sorry for yourself. Just grow up.”
I guess you told them.
You dense motherfucker.
Let me discuss first the utter obscenity and filth that spewed from this man’s mouth when talking about child molestation victims. Fry does what far too many people do when considering child rape; he first describes it as happening “once,” and then describes it as a “touch.”
This simplistic, dismissive comment about the situation of child rape is one issue that many survivors contend with after the fact. Note that child rape is not a matter of a “touch.” The website Child Lures Prevention breaks down child rape into the categories of “forcible sodomies,” “forcible fondlings,” “sexual assaults with an object,” and “forcible rapes.” Do these sound like a simple “touch”?
To say that a pedophile touches a child “once” is also horrifically shortsighted. While I could find little data that discusses how often a pedophile might molest one child in particular, the website for California’s Attorney General’s office states, “Abuse typically occurs within a long-term, ongoing relationship between the offender and victim and escalates over time.” The site Yello Dyno says that a molester will have an average of 260 victims in their lifetime, and that over 90% of child molesters will be arrested again for the same offense after being let out prison. The Jewish Woman website states that an average molester will offend 200-400 times before being caught. None of this sounds like a molester touches a child “once.”
As for “self-pity” and feeling sorry for oneself, consider how sexual abuse affects a child even long after it’s over. The Jewish Woman website mentioned above says:
“Children are also left deeply confused, as they may often feel like they cooperated if they enjoyed both the attention as well as the physical sensations that come with the molestation. This is one major reason why it is difficult for children to disclose that they were preyed upon, as they may not even understand what they experienced until many years later. They are usually left feeling “dirty” and intensely ashamed, largely blaming themselves for the most intimate type of predation that they were lured, tricked, and sometimes threatened into enduring.
Once a child has become a victim of a particular predator, the re-victimization can often take on a repetitive and ritualistic nature. When the molestation continues over long periods of time, the child may often cope by essentially separating the offender into two different people when dealing with his or her “uncle & monster,” “older brother & rapist” or “youth group leader & predator,” for example, while watching his or her perpetrator parade around, respected and above reproach.”“
Tracks, Denmark’s “only national organization of adults with long-term consequences of sexual abuse in childhood and adolescence,” says symptoms of childhood sexual abuse include (this site):
- PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (overloaded nervous system)
- Physical symptoms including Abdominal diseases, dental and jaw problems
- Physical ailments and diseases (often chronic):- Insomnia, fatigue, hyperactivity
- Memory and concentration problems
- Mental disorders such as depression, anxiety and personality disorders
- Mental illness – psychosis and other psychotic disorders
- The experience of alienation, a feeling of being transparent or of being unseen, different from others in a painful and negative manner and not able to find one’s place in society
- Weak or absent sense of identity
- Fundamental lack of security, trust and confidence and consequent ‘control mania’
- Difficulties knowing one’s own borders and therefore an inability to feel another person’s borders
- Inability to feel and relate to one’s own feelings and needs and therefore problems understanding others
- Deep inner sense of loneliness or boredom
- Poor self-esteem
- Shame and guilt
- Self-destructive thinking and self-demeaning thoughts
- Self-destructive behaviour and abuse: e.g. self-abuse, eating disorders, promiscuity, prostitution, drug and alcohol abuse, suicide attempts
- Social problems. tendency to isolation or to the opposite a fear of being alone, and a tendency to become involved in abusive relationships
- Unable to have allow oneself to enter emotional relationships in a balanced manner
- Sexual problems
- Problems related to pregnancy, childbirth and parenting
- A danger of repeated rapes
Yet, an entertainer who thinks he has the right to spout off about the subject, someone who has never experienced these things himself (from everything I’ve researched about him), just dismisses all these horrific consequences of being raped, sodomized, molested, and otherwise sexually tortured as a child with the words, “Just grow up.”
You dense motherfucker.
But He’s Not a Witness
Some people might be wondering why I’m bringing Stephen Fry and his disgusting comments onto a site that is dedicated to the horrific policies and practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses, since Fry is not and never has been associated with Witnesses. The reason is quite simple; his words are an echo of the callus, dismissive, unfeeling, victim blaming rhetoric that is all too common with Jehovah’s Witnesses. As brought out in other posts on this site, the leaders of the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses have talked about the “apostate driven lies” that their religion is permissive toward pedophiles, while at the same time, permitting pedophiles to roam freely in their congregations. Not only does this show a lack of responsibility toward the atmosphere they create in their Kingdom Halls by allowing pedophiles such unfettered access to children, but it also creates an atmosphere where pedophile victims are afraid to come forward, lest they be branded as “apostate liars.”
In the same way, Fry did a huge disservice to victims by saying that “people won’t like you” if you’re triggered by seeing acts of rape or anything else that reminds you of your molestation. Child molestation victims and rape victims are being told to just bury the memories of their attacks and their feelings even deeper, that they should be afraid of how people will respond and how they might possibly even reject them simply for still being affected by their abuse. This builds their shame and their struggle to get well; abuse victims are simply “liars” according to Jehovah’s Witnesses, and need to “grow up” from their “self-pity,” according to this entertainer.
As I bring out in this post, calling pedophile victims “liars” can mean that fewer and fewer of them actually come forward to talk about and report their abuse, for fear of being branded an apostate and a liar. If a public figure like Stephen Fry also says that child rape victims need to “grow up” and stop feeling sorry for themselves over what happened, this too compounds the problem. Rather than those victims feeling impelled to report their abuse, not just for their sake but for the protection of other children, they’re being told that what happened to them wasn’t a big deal, that it was just a “touch,” and that they instead need to “grow up” and get over their “self-pity.” This too can contribute to the huge problem of child molestation going unreported by victims which, in turn, allows molesters to continue to rape other children and find other victims.
Consider too, with these attitudes, how are abuse victims and rape victims ever to learn that their feelings of anger and disgust are perfectly justified, that there is help and acceptance out there for them? How can they ever know that maybe, just maybe, they might find friends who are supportive, who are not ashamed of what happened to them years ago or of their struggles today?
How will child rape victims ever possibly think that they actually deserve a measure support versus anger, blame, dismissal, and demands to just forget things and somehow magically be “all better”? How will they realize that they might know people or deserve people in their lives who will understand their nightmares, panic disorders, anxiety, depression, and whatever else comes as a result of these things? No, a real friend would not allow someone to wallow and lose themselves in the aftereffects of abuse, but a real friend, real family, would also understand their struggles and limitations the way you understand how someone with arthritis or migraines or partial paralysis might have limitations about what they can do, how much, for how long, and so on.
But He Apologized
When victims of sexual assault called his remarks “heartless,” Fry came forward through the charity Mind, of which he is the President, and said:
“I of course apologise unreservedly for hurting feelings the way I did. That was never my purpose.
There are few experiences more terrible, traumatic and horrifying than rape and abuse and if I gave the impression that I belittled those crimes and the effects they have on their victims then I am so, so sorry.
It seems I must have utterly failed to get across what I was actually trying to say and instead offended and upset people who didn’t deserve to be offended or upset.”
I don’t buy the apology for a minute. This is yet another of those “damage control, fix our PR so we don’t lose donors” prepared statements that is not sincere in the least.
Yes, I will openly admit this statement is much more than I’ve ever heard from Jehovah’s Witnesses. However, Fry said that he didn’t get across what he was trying to say; okay, what were you trying to say, exactly? When you got that glazed look in your eyes and said that “self-pity is the ugliest emotion,” talking about child rape victims who get triggered by scenes of rape and abuse, what exactly did you mean by that? When you told them quite pertly and almost angrily to “just grow up,” what were you trying to get across? Interesting that Fry didn’t clarify any of those comments; he didn’t say, “What I meant was, if your abuse is still hindering you from having a happy, healthy life, perhaps you might need to seek out professional help.” He didn’t further explain, choose better words, or expound on what he said. I’m guessing that means he meant what he said, but he’s sorry that his words cost him his reputation, monetary donors, and so on. He’s not sorry for what his words cost the victims, not in the least.
What’s interesting to note is that Fry is often commended for the work he’s done to bring attention to bipolar disorder, something from which he apparently suffers, through his charity Mind, mentioned above. Bipolar can be difficult for people to understand; it’s marked by intense mood swings, from severe depression to manic highs and sometimes uncontrolled, racing thoughts and behavior. This can make it very difficult for those with bipolar disorder to maintain relationships and friendships, as people may not understand how you can be on top of the world one minute and then unable to get out of bed the next minute. Yet, Fry has spent some time trying to enlighten the public about how such mental and emotional disorders can affect a person, asking (rightly so) for support for those with this condition. It never occurs to him (rightly so) to tell those with bipolar disorder to simply “grow-up” and stop with the “self-pity.”
This too is why his apology falls so flat. He of all people should understand how difficult it is to simply get past such emotional troubles and to deal with them on an everyday basis. He wants sympathy and support (rightly so) for his limitations and struggles, but someone with some other emotional pain, well, he says outright that they “get none of my sympathy” and calls their emotions “ugly.”
If Stephen Fry wants to offer a sincere apology that anyone should take seriously, let him address all these things. Let him come out and acknowledge, openly and plainly, the real struggles of those who have been molested. Let him say outright that child rape isn’t just a “touch” and it doesn’t happen “once”; address those words. Let him say that PTSD, anxiety, feelings of shame and worthlessness, feelings of being violated, anger and all these other things such victims feel are not the same as “self-pity.” Say those words, address those issues in particular, acknowledge the damage your words did.
Until you do, you get none of my sympathy because anger and resentment at child molestation victims and rape victims are the ugliest emotions in humanity. I’ve heard enough of it from Jehovah’s Witnesses and their leaders and elders, I don’t need to hear any more from anyone else.
You dense motherfucker.
The ugliness starts at about the 10:00 mark: