Sunday 14 October 2012

Jimmy Savile: An inquiry won't change the attitudes of the 60s and 70s

The Jimmy Savile story goes on and on and gets more embarrassing for the BBC.

With more Savile victims coming forwards with allegations of abuse, the question keeps being asked. How was this abuse allowed to continue for so long?

It's an obvious question to ask but there's an aspect of this story where people are judging the attitudes and culture of previous decades with our own 21st Century attitudes.

The world has moved on a lot since Jimmy Savile was committing his crimes.

I've been reading that his behaviour was an open secret for years. It's hard to accept that many people, members of the BBC, journalists, hospital staff, and teachers were all aware of what was going on but chose for various reasons not to go public with what Savile was up to.

In previous decades sexism was more rampant and socially accepted in a way that's unthinkable today. In the last week I've read a few comments in various papers from women who have worked in the media and who started their careers during the 60s, 70s and 80s.

By today's standards the sexist comments and the casual groping and fondling they spoke of seems shocking. You think, how could this have been tolerated. The thing is - it was tolerated and it's taken many years for attitudes to change.

This is a difficult time for the BBC and questions should rightly be asked on why a Newsnight investigation into abuse by Savile was rejected.

However, it's pointless blaming the BBC for sexual attitudes and behaviour of the 60s and 70s. Like any institution the attitudes and culture of the corporation reflected those of the day.

The BBC is a very different institution to what it was 30 - 40 years ago. The behaviour of Jimmy Savile couldn't take place today, and if it did start it would soon be uncovered.

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