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Attacking Dead Men

'No dead man is safe in his reputation in the gimlet-eyed maw of the revisionist media, chomping madly forward in its pursuit of historical evidence of insufficient risk-aversion.'

Oscar Wilde can be reasonably called the Godfather of People Convicted Of Sexual Offences (pcosos) having been jailed for two years in the late 1890s after suing the father of his young lover for libel. The Marquis of Queensberry had circulated a card referring to the writer as 'sodomite' due to the affair. Wilde died of ill health in Paris two years after his release, but more than 120 years later is considered both a hero of literature and sexual liberation.

No less famous or influential is Michael Jackson, who died in 2009 in problematic medical circumstances, but whose last twenty years was blighted by multiple allegations of child abuse. For a man whose childhood was robbed by fame to the extent of naming his ranch Neverland, it was as if an outlook as unironic as Jackson's could not be allowed to flourish so.

Fellow pioneer of 70s/80s pop David Bowie died of liver cancer in 2016, simultaneously sending his return-to-brittle-form album Blackstar to number one all over the world, while riding an early #MeToo wave in being 'revealed' to have had sex with a 13 year-old groupie in his Ziggy Stardust pomp of 1973. Prince, dying from a Fentanyl overdose in the corner of his own lift at Paisley Park - also in 2016 - had at least had the chutzpah to celebrate his own sylphlike sexuality throughout his purple pomp of the 1980s, moving from partner to partner in an unapologetic, mini-alpha male parade of stack-heeled enthusiasm.

One-time ladies man Leonard Cohen and late gay icon George Michael also left the stage later in that terrible year, leaving the wings open for a million keyboard warriors to prime their hashtags as the floodgates of snitching opened up with accusations against Harvey Weinstein the following year. The producer of Pulp Fiction and The King's Speech survived, albeit with a 23 year sentence to serve at Rikers Island jail; financier Jeffrey Epstein had served some time a few years prior for the hebephiliac abuse of teenage girls - but clearly wasn't prepared to do any more, being found dead in his own cell while awaiting trial.

British DJ Jimmy Savile had succumbed to kidney disease in 2011, having never stood trial for years of rumbles of sexual allegations against him. Still, dead men don't sue unless they're Marvin Gaye, so his name and relationship with the BBC and Royal Family was hoisted in a speaking-ill-of-the-dead pile-on the likes of which had never been seen before in the UK. A generation who had watched Jim Fixing It for kids across the nation had been left heartbroken by their gypsy-blooded ex-wrestler saviour being allegedly somewhat weak in the flesh after all.

It wasn't all about sex of course, as ex-civic patron and slaver Edward Colston had his statue rolled into Bristol Docks by a group of incensed Black Lives Matter enthusiasts in the locked-down summer of 2020. Popular children's writer Roald Dahl had his books either rewritten by sensitivity readers or metaphorically burned on a Guardian-fuelled pyre of distress signalling.

There wasn't a dead white male of influence across the anglosphere (plus a number from Europe) whose reputation wasn't excoriated in an orgy of presentism, judging allegations of past behaviour through the angst-ridden prism of the now. Samuel Pepys' alleged perviness was conflated with William Blake's alleged disdain for his long-term partner; Dylan Thomas' romanticised drunkenness problematised in reference to his no less drunk partner Caitlin.

Fellow poet Ted Hughes' carelessness in losing not just one wife but two to suicide was spatchcocked wide as evidence of the Iron Man's toxic masculinity, while the pre-globalisation colonialism of Winston Churchill was used as an excuse to attempt to cancel him as a national hero. Up until about 1970, if you were a successful person who wasn't disdainful to any non-white person, you would have been socially ostracised, and thus the poorer. Social morality is defined by the culture of the times, and that is exactly what 'wokeness' is: social morality industrialised as a wedge to be used between 'us' and 'them'.

By Sean Bw Parker

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