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What part does ageism play in the ‘Pestminster’ backlash?

11 November 2017

8:30 AM

11 November 2017

8:30 AM

I wonder if a factor additional to those widely mentioned lies behind differing attitudes to the ‘Pestminster’ scandal. It is well known in every generation that the young find it disgusting that old people (by which they mean anyone over 40) should have sex at all. In his own youth, the late Auberon Waugh wrote an article on this theme which enraged the now forgotten but distinguished novelist William Cooper (who used to write a column for this paper called Scenes from Science). Cooper was a passionate advocate and (uxorious) practitioner of sex for the old, and used to curse Waugh at every opportunity. Waugh, however, was probably more in tune with the zeitgeist. Recent descriptions by those who say they have been inappropriately touched, kissed or propositioned by some of our elected representatives, often direct part of their outrage at the alleged predator’s teeth, baldness, fatness, etc. I understand why they say this — and might have said it myself at their age — but it resembles a little the disgust people used to express in the past about interracial sex: it is more atavistic than moral, and can be cruel. In the minds of the accusers, the inappropriateness is made automatic by the age gap.

This is an extract from Charles Moore’s Notes, from this week’s Spectator


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