The latest twist in the MPs’ expenses scandal this morning revealed that Jaqui Smith’s husband had accidentally claimed back £67 worth of adult entertainment. As I came across the headline this morning my initial reaction was amusement. But the giggling was soon superceded by an overwhelming sympathy for the beleaguered Home Secretary.
The poor woman: whatever your political sympathies may be, I think we can all agree that having your partner’s indiscretions plastered across an already hostile media is a pretty unpleasant experience. Her husband’s blind stupidity in failing to clock the bill has turned what was probably an already hurtful incident into a career-damaging tabloid field day. Jaqui is quoted as being ‘furious and mortified’ by the whole affair and I really do feel for her but the debacle certainly won’t impact on my opinion of her as politician. A mistake was made, the money is being paid back. Surely that should be the end of it?
Some may be offended by a husband watching porn in his wife’s absence. Frankly, I am more offended by the sensationalist glee with which the red tops and their incognito cousins have jumped on the story. Headlines such as, ‘Home Sex-retary porn film claims’ (thank you The Sun) are not only cruel but supremely hypocritical, given that these are exactly the sort of publications championing privacy in the face of the ‘Big Brother state’.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m quite uncomfortable with some of the potential infringements on civil liberties that have arisen of late, that’s another discussion – but I flatly refuse to be lectured to by a media that revels in making private problems public. It’s indicative of a broader hypocrisy that we’ve become all too accustomed to: papers will happily print stories castigating ‘pervs’ or sex-addicts next to pictures of naked 18-year old girls. I don’t have a particular problem with a woman (or a man for that matter) who chooses to take their clothes off (although this piece raises some uncomfortable truths about strip-clubs) or make naughty films as long as they aren’t hurting themselves or anyone else. It’s not something I’d do but that’s my choice which I am free to make, just as others are free to behave differently.
Pornographic films and their viewers do not offend me but legitimised hypocrisy most certainly does.