The Incessant Pendulum Swing

The case of Ariana Grande and the bishop who was a little too familiar with her reminded me of my adolescence. In those far-off days, when even vulgarity was more genteel than it is now, my companions and I learned how to turn even the most innocuous of statements into something salacious by the mere addition of seven words in parenthetical conclusion: “as the actress said to the bishop.”

This proved, if proof were needed, that salacity was, and is, in the ear of the interlocutor. “One and one make two—as the actress said to the bishop,” or “It’s a fine day today—as the actress said to the bishop” caused us fits of giggles, though we hardly knew exactly what the actress did with the bishop, or even whether it was the other way round, that is to say, what the bishop did with the actress. The life of man being but three score year and ten (in which case I have but one and a bit to go), I have not followed the case as closely as I might have done, but the last time I looked, Ariana Grande herself had not made any complaint against the bishop. Rather, it was her fans who had done so.

This is indeed rather odd. After all, Ariana Grande is not exactly the soul of discretion when it comes to public sexual display, but rather had made a career (and a fortune) from a kind of lascivious vulgarity both in word and gesture. If it were not for this, it is unlikely that she would have had any fans in the first place. Amazon.com Gift Card i... Buy New $25.00 (as of 10:05 EDT - Details)

I am no expert on Ariana Grande’s career, and indeed had never heard of her before the bomb went off in the Manchester arena during her performance there (“concert” seems rather too refined a word for her activities) and killed 22 people, including children. Of course, I couldn’t say so at the time, but when I looked her up on the internet I saw at once that her act was not one that was suitable for children as young as 8 years old to witness, and that there must be something very wrong with a culture in which parents thought that it was. I could not say this at the time, of course, because of the horror of the attack itself, from whose evil I did not in the least want to detract. I did not want to give the impression that the parents were in any way responsible; and yet it seemed to me then that actively to connive in filling 8-year-old children’s minds with such vulgar rubbish was nevertheless a dereliction of parental duty. It is scarcely a wonder that so many British girls appear by the age of 12 to look as if their ambition in life is to be a cheap street prostitute.

Needless to say (or at least I hope it is needless to say), none of this would or does justify any assault, physical or sexual, upon Ariana Grande. It is no defense against a charge of such assault that she has traded in public as a person of the easiest virtue, whether or not she is so in reality (if celebrities such as she have a reality). She is entitled to the same protections as everyone else.

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