James Forsyth James Forsyth

Standing up for Charles Moore’s ‘why does no-one stick up for Jimmy Savile’ piece

Getting into arguments with people on the internet about selective quoting is generally a waste of time. But sometimes the intellectual dishonesty is such that one can’t help but respond.

Political Scrapbook ran a post yesterday headlined ‘EX-CHAIRMAN OF POLICY EXCHANGE SAYS SAVILE SHOULD KEEP HIS KNIGHTHOOD’, though the headline now seems to have changed. It quotes Charles Moore thus:

‘Isn’t there a single, solitary person who will maintain that Savile devoted himself to charity work for good reasons as well as bad? … Sir Jimmy should keep his knighthood.’

This is not a mis-quote. Strictly, it is accurate. But it does seem to be almost deliberately missing the point that Charles was trying to make. Here’s the full item  from this week’s Spectator:

Why doesn’t anyone stand up for Jimmy Savile? For decades, thousands said how marvellous he was. I remember thinking myself rather daring for suggesting in this column just after his death that he was frightening and creepy — the BBC had been reporting reverentially that there were plans for his body to ‘lie in state’ in a Leeds hotel. There was a feeling of ‘Santo subito!’ in the air. The tabloids which now almost literally spit on his grave were fulsome in their praise, even though they knew the long-standing rumours against him. Isn’t there a single, solitary person who will maintain that Savile devoted himself to charity work for good reasons as well as bad? Is there no priest who will testify that the man was a repentant sinner, no unmolested child grateful that Jim Fixed It for him? What a dreadful warning all this is about the perils of fame: when you are up, no criticism, when you are down (and dead), no mercy.

And Sir Jimmy should keep his knighthood.

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