10 January 2010

Here's to you, Mrs. Robinson

Iris Robinson is an MP (Member of the British Parliament) from Northern Ireland. Last year, at the age of 59, she had an extra-marital affair with a 19-year-old. When this fact became public knowledge, it aroused (to put things mildly) a certain amount of popular interest. Her political party expelled her, and the fallout could lead to a shift in the balance of power in Northern Ireland.

I see nothing objectionable about such a relationship, in and of itself. It's true that the age difference is unusual, but a 19-year-old is an adult, and I do not consider any truly consensual sexual interaction between adults to be immoral, no matter how many taboos it breaks.

Nor do I condemn Robinson for committing adultery. Having seen a couple of such situations up close myself, I know that there can be issues in the background which outsiders can neither know nor judge. Whether what she did was wrong in any meaningful sense is impossible for me (or you) to say.

There is, of course, the fact that she made use of her government connections to raise £50,000 ($80,000) which she then gave to her youthful paramour to open a business, an action which she failed to report as Parliamentary ethical standards require. But using high office to solicit money for dubious purposes is hardly unusual behavior for politicians; if this transaction were the only ethical violation of which she had ever been guilty, Robinson would have to be rated one of the most honest politicians alive.

So why am I bothering to write a blog post about this? Because Robinson is one of those Bible-thumping fanatics who make a career out of preaching morality and condemnation at the rest of us. She once famously condemned homosexuality as a "viler act.....than sexually abusing innocent children". Her political party, the Democratic Unionists, is a nest of religious hard-liners. I see nothing inherently wrong with intergenerational sex or (depending on circumstances) adultery, but she undoubtedly does, at least as far as her public stance is concerned.

And that's what makes the scandal engulfing her an event to savor. It's not the sex, it's the hypocrisy.

So, here's to you, Mrs. Robinson -- for joining with Sanford, Ensign, Vitter, Craig, Haggard, and so many others to discredit and defeat the holier-than-thou yammering that blights our societies.

11 Comments:

Blogger Jerry Critter said...

Sounds like she would fit right in with our own holier-than-thou crowd.

10 January, 2010 07:30  
Anonymous Ross said...

Someone's already produced this "Mrs Robinson" parody.

I mean if you are called "Mrs Robinson" there is surely one very obvious type of scandal you should avoid.

10 January, 2010 07:37  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Good Morning Mr.Infidel!

I had to read the Times piece twice I am so slow to actually try to get an idea of what the Hell was going on ... on some thing's I am a lil slow, and still dont even see the benefit of any of this to anyone. I didnt know anything about this, so it's my first ...Ireland is also apparently an odd society, seem's strong in religion. People have affair's .... people do what they choose with their money, show favouritism to those they ... well ... favour. I mean ... both were adult's ...heh?

When I was about 15 year's old ... I had a sexual relationship with a woman from France (an artist) who was 39 year's old, she was one of the most kindest and generous, understanding people that I have ever met, I may add, I WAS NOT FORCED TO DO ANYTHING .... by societies standard's this woman would be considered as a pedophile, and today may even be criminally charged or have her career/business milked and damaged or both .... that's what is horrible. There was NO HARM done to me ... at all.

Just all seem's strange or odd.

10 January, 2010 08:03  
Blogger Silverfiddle said...

Yes. It's so much better to have no standards at all, then you can never be accused of hypocrisy.

10 January, 2010 08:18  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

JC: It's peculiar because there are very few of that type in Europe (except the Muslims), but Northern Ireland is different. They still care enough about religion to spend decades killing each other over it.

Ross: I can hardly wait for the avalanche of satire this thing is going to generate. The name is icing on the cake.

RC: Lusting after a 15-year-old wouldn't technically constitute pedophilia; I think the term is ephebophilia, at least for males. Of course in the US a 15-year-old is not a legal adult, but in many Western countries he would be. I think the ethics of such situations can only be evaluated case-by-case.

I should mention that Iris Robinson's paramour was male. A lesbian connection would have elevated this scandal to absolute perfection, but we couldn't be that lucky.

10 January, 2010 08:31  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

SF: I said nothing about having no standards. I said that religious moralists have the wrong standards, and arrogantly try to impose them universally -- and repeatedly fail to live up to them. (Also, if I didn't have any standards at all, I wouldn't object to hypocrisy either.)

10 January, 2010 08:34  
Anonymous Nick M said...

Great post Infidel. Spot on sir!

I only heard the story on C4 News tonight (I take little interest in the deranged politics of NI) and when I heard it was Mrs Robinson...

Oh, some headlines write themselves do they not?

Back in the 80s a rising star in our own dear Tory party called Alan Amos was a hang-em and flog-em "family values" darling of the blue-rinse brigade. Spoken of as a possible future PM. All came crashing down when it turned out his interest in flogging went beyond deterrence of crime and involved his own buttocks and male prostitutes.

He was an MP local to where I grew-up and his fall from grace gave me a warm glow for weeks.

You really do need a heart of stone not to laugh at these downfalls.

Especially when they spout such offensive drivel about homosexuals.

That just makes it ever so much more beautiful. Mainland UK has very little homophobia. My wife and I frequently hang in Manchester's gay village which is a hell of a lot more fun than sitting in a drafty Presbyterian church being told you will burn for all eternity.

I haven't laughed so long and hard (oh, er missus!) since Oral Roberts got his collar felt.

I have never understood homophobia (and for once I think "phobia" is right here). I mean gay men do gay stuff (being gay and all) and that has nothing to do with a straight guy like me and lesbians do lesbian stuff and ditto. So what's the problem?

"I should mention that Iris Robinson's paramour was male. A lesbian connection would have elevated this scandal to absolute perfection, but we couldn't be that lucky."

Yeah, but if she only did it because Mr Robinson was batting for the other side then that would be to die for...

I vaguely knew a CofE vicar when I was a kid who was defrocked over a scandal involiving him leaving his wife for another woman, her leaving him for another woman, fingers in the collection, dubious communion wine and last and certainly least the fact he was an atheist.

At least he was entirely open about that last fact and he did get the church roof fixed, the stone-work re-pointed and the stained glass was spotless.

The CofE hasn't given a monkey's about God since they stopped burning Catholics.

11 January, 2010 18:03  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

British politicians certainly have their own history of peculiar sex scandals; to me, though, such things are mostly of interest when they expose the holier-than-thou types as hypocrites, and as you say, Britain doesn't have many religious fanatics (now, if Anjem Choudary got caught with a rent boy, that would be a good one). Mrs. Robinson, too, would probably be viewed as just doing what countless male politicians have done, were it not for her own history of castigating others for impurity.

12 January, 2010 03:51  
Anonymous Nick M said...

Choudary's barmy army have just been banned. Good. Not because I disagree with them (though I do) but because they were actively fund-raising for jihad.

Of course you are right about the hypocrisy angle being the big thing.

The same applies to Choudary. He was on the telly whining about freedom of speech. He clearly has a brass-face you could crack coconuts on.

Actuallly...

12 January, 2010 06:52  
Anonymous simon fishburn said...

The Robinson scandal even made it to Australia's most famous Bondi Beach where Paul played a tribute to Iris amusing the Irish travellers...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxSlsy-fcd8

feel free to share

cheers

13 January, 2010 23:19  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Even with the original words unchanged, it's remarkable how applicable the song is!

14 January, 2010 04:22  

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