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Tuesday, April 12, 2016 

Orwell, as ever, had it right.

We all know the famous Orwell line, don't we?  "If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people who is banging whom".  Good ol' Eric Blair was thinking of the scandal involving the 3rd Duke of Massingberd, who was discovered in flagrante with a scullery maid called Bill, a dog called God and the young MP for Buckingham, Doris Bonkers.  Massingberd had succeeded in cowing most of the press through a combination of legal threats and blackmail, involving a recruited squad of bootblacks offering complimentary happy endings, only for an irrepressible young upstart from Australia called Wurzel to expose all concerned in his short-lived penny sheet the Fucks of the World.  Wurzel was sent to the Scrubs for 2 years for breaching the Obscene Publications Act, but Fleet Street was never the same again.

It's the humbuggery of it all that gets you more than anything.  The case of PJS and YMA has allowed the press to reprise their previous howls of rage from a few years ago over the brief super-injunction craze, despite the vast majority of such orders not being super injunctions as super injunctions prevented even the fact the order was in place from being reported.  It is after all remarkably easy to pose as a free speech martyr when your version of freedom of expression extends only as far as shag 'n tell and every so often running a borderline racist comment piece.  Say what you like about Charlie Hebdo, but no one is ever going to shoot up the offices of the Sun.

At least the Sun is entitled to feel pissed off its exclusive has been given out free to everyone.  What really grinds the gears is the "oh, we couldn't care less about all the sordid details, who did what to whom, but this is far more important than that" crowd.  No it isn't.   If you really couldn't care less about the sex lives of consenting adults, regardless of status, then you wouldn't be touching this "story" whatsoever.  No one involved prior to AB and CD going to the Sun was unhappy with what went on; they suddenly decided for whatever reason to get some cash out of it.  Only then are the angles on hypocrisy looked for, justifications however lacking or laughable clutched at.

At very best, there is the possibility the argument that persuaded the appeal court judges to grant the injunction, that the effect the revelation would have on the young children of PJS and YMA would be unfair on them, could be used by far greater scoundrels in the future to prevent disclosure of their wrongdoing.  That's all it is though, a possibility.  All the previous caterwauling over injunctions a few years back due to the danger to free speech failed to materialise.  Judges stopped granting them; celebrities stopped seeking them.  Why would anyone seek a gagging order that had the opposite effect?

So it is now with PJS and YMA, fairly or not.  They had an open relationship while supposedly giving the impression of being a committed, monogamous couple.  That turns out to have been enough for their slightly unorthodox sex life to be exposed, as it has been, if not by the English and Welsh press.  To regard this as some great crime against the right of the tabloids to make money you have to either be unbearably pompous, or part of an industry that defines the public's right to know on exactly such a pecuniary basis.

It would be easier to take also if say the rest of the media had rallied round when the Guardian was being threatened by the government with prior restraint over the Snowden leaks.  Instead the likes of the Mail took the side of the government and the securocrats.  GCHQ coming round and smashing the hard drive with the documents on is obviously one thing, while the danger posed by "unelected" judges deciding what YOU can and can't know about the disgusting proclivities of those who can afford to project an image is quite another.

Which leaves pretty much only the "absurdity" that it's just newspapers and England and Wales based media that can't name those involved.  Not that this stops them from running otherwise non-stories about them, say, or dropping the broadest of hints, or telling everyone precisely which sites are naming them.  When tabloids start playing the victim, the game ought to be up.  Rather sad when it's left to err, Holly Willoughby, to cut through the bullshit.

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