"All things are wearisome, more than one can say." - Ecclesiastes 1:8

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Kelly's progress

Reading the press and various blogs on the scandal surrounding Ruth Kelly and the appointment of teachers with records for sexual misconduct, I have to say I'm astonished at how many seem to have convinced themselves that the sacking of someone whose grasp of his professional responsibilities was so poor he didn't seem to understand that shagging the pupils under his care was not part of his remit represents some kind of injustice. The most bizarre example of this was Peter Preston's piece in yesterday's Guardian. What seems to upset Mr Preston and others is that the possibility of reformation has been ruled out:
"Last week the man who shot Pope John Paul was released from prison after 25 years. The priest he tried to kill had forgiven him. Are we truly saying that there is no forgiveness, no prospect of rehabilitation, on offer to a teacher who...25 years before, made sexual advances to a 15-year-old girl?"
Um, for those of us who don't think it's the proper function of the Department of Education to dispense absolution, the answer to that question should be yes. And I don't understand why those who see this case, unbelievably, as some Great Liberal Cause are so confident in the possibility of reformation. Has the teacher in this case been reformed, rehabilitated? I think not - his pathetic self-defence reveals he still doesn't understand the problem:
"William Gibson walked into his local newspaper's office and announced that he and his 15-year-old victim had gone on to forge an amicable relationship.

The evidence that Gibson, 59, produced to support that claim cannot be reported for legal reasons. He argued, however, that it demonstrated he posed no threat to pupils today.

"I am not a paedophile and I am not a risk to children," he said. "It's not as black and white as everyone thinks. I hope everyone will come to the conclusion that I have never abused everyone. It was a genuine relationship and nothing happened against her will."
A sex-offender claiming consent? Gee - bet that's never happened before. I find it disturbing that one has to remind the liberal commentators that this teacher has no grounds for claiming he had her consent, since the law states that she is unable to give it.

But it goes beyond that: the question of professional conduct in this case should not be solely about will and consent. Would it have been ok if the pupil in question had been over the age of consent? Absolutely not. His unfitness to teach is demonstrated in the fact that he, along with his liberal defenders, doesn't seem to understand that he has failed his duties and that these exist regardless of whether consent was present or whether any lasting harm was done.

His plaintive cry is that he never abused anyone. I'd question that but in any event, we can and must say what he has certainly abused is his position, his place of trust and responsibility, and his vocation as a teacher. The fact that he makes the nauseating and stupid claim that it isn't so simple, that it isn't 'black and white' shows his unfitness for the job.

Because it is black and white, and it is that simple. Having disgraced himself and his profession in such a way, this man should never be allowed to teach in a school ever again - and the notion that there is something 'McCarthyist' about taking this view is truly bizarre and frankly disgraceful.

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