Shock, horror! Russell Brand accused of rape, sexual assault, abuse, and controlling and predatory behaviour (https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/allegations-against-russell-brand-investigation-q3jx8dj60)! The claims so far appear to be historic, relating to when he was at the height of his fame between 2006 – 2013, and, perhaps needless to say, they are being robustly denied by Brand himself, who is on record as saying that, though he was ‘very, very promiscuous’ at that time, all his relationships were consensual (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTM7_DbNRKQ).
Of course the allegations have been challenged and are still subject to investigation ad proof – though disturbingly, at the moment, Brand appears to be undergoing trial by media – but, when one sees clips from his shows, as presented on the Dispatches programme where the charges were first aired, the type of behaviour the comedian is now accused of seems unsurprising. Perhaps worse, his audiences are seen to be not just colluding in his behaviour, but – by their raucous laughter – actively encouraging him in deviance and sexual excess. With support added by the programme makers, of course, who appear to have felt anything and everything was justified, provided only it brought them financial gain.
So who is really at fault in this blame game? First, let us be clear. Insofar as the behaviours complained of prove true, they are disgusting and stand to be condemned. But, rather than uniting self-righteously to pillory Russell Brand, should we not rather be examining ourselves, and asking to what extent society, and we as individuals, are to blame?
Consider … for several decades now we have relentlessly celebrated promiscuity and what, to put it bluntly, was previously regarded as perversion and deviance. We have not just asserted, but even gone so far as to teach our children from as young as 3, that men and women are ‘sexual animals’, who have an absolute right to satisfy their ‘natural’ urges – however outrageous – whenever and wherever the fancy occurs. Of course, all such activity has to be consensual, we say virtuously, but apart from that … anything goes! Threesomes, bondage, sado-masochism – whatever suggests itself to the imagination – it’s all great, so long as those who join in agree!
It is this attitude that, in his shows, Brand was capitalising on. Could he possibly have gone to such extremes, if his audiences had not expressly or impliedly approved the mindset? And when it comes to his own behaviour – remembering, by his own admission, his promiscuity – would he not personally have been inhibited from such excess, if he had known such behaviour was condemned? And indeed, in a stronger moral climate, would the young women involved – now named as victims – have had anything to do with a man who had a reputation for so casually exploiting and humiliating his sexual partners?
To encourage sexual libertarianism, while at the same time condemning those who exercise it, is hypocrisy. Such behaviour is unquestionably wrong, but as both individuals and society we must stop out veneration of depravity and moral decadence.
For the wellbeing and protection of all in society, it is urgent that we recover the values of purity, responsibility and faithfulness. As a start, we should drop the highly inappropriate and sexualising teaching now mandated as part of RHSE education in schools, and teach the nation’s young instead that sex is something precious and not to be wasted. And we should teach them the value of lifelong commitment and faithfulness to one other in marriage.
Only in this way can we begin to heal the broken wounds of society, and put an end to the physical, mental and spiritual devastation caused by those whose behaviour and activities are combining to overthrow and destroy of all we hold dear.