deletion - a punk protest...
Punk Rock was about protest. Forty years ago, the bands got their stuff out there despite establishment outrage and attempts to censor and ban some of the harder stuff. In 2015, the British photographer and cult novelist Peter Paul Hartnett brought his old punk band CHILD RAPE PHOTOS back together to re-record some songs. In best punk tradition, the band had never existed or, if it had, its members were no longer to be found. Maybe it was actually called something else, like MISSING PRESUMED DEAD’. The late Malcolm McClaren would have been proud. But the songs exist. Hartnett and his mates recorded them, with titles like ‘Jesus Was a Pop Star’ and ‘Pervert HQ, Vatican City’ or ‘Pervert HQ, Vatican City, Roma’.
The songs are a punk assault on the Vatican’s sustained failure to tackle child abuse by an alarming number of its priests over the decades. As Hartnett remarked: “The opening track is about an alcoholic, reliving the nightmare of having been a priest's pretty thing, then being dumped from that 'love affair' when his body reached a sell-by date.” Predictably, CHILD RAPE PHOTOS and their songs were excluded from mainstream Internet sales sites so the band renamed itself DELETION. The resellers in question seem reluctant to admit to banning them, preferring to claim that they might be offensive to some people, like the Catholic church’s more radical followers who are, let’s face it, unlikely to come calling with Kalashnikovs and RPG7s.
The same merchants, it seems, are content to permit, for instance, the diffusion of some forms of Hip Hop whose barking performers exhort their brothers in the ghettos to guzzle booze and drugs in huge quantities, beat up women and homosexuals, wave firearms around, shoot white people, and commit suicide-by-cop. Nevertheless, they do try to be balanced, offering albums like ‘Songs & Music of the N.S.D.A.P.’ and other more modern white supremacist music. DELETION formerly known as CHILD RAPE PHOTOS have dedicted their album to John Lydon, formerly known as Johnny Rotten of The Sex Pistols, and to Pope Francis, the former nightclub bouncer from Argentina currently running the Vatican. Pope Francis is certainly an improvement on the previous incumbent, who drove a Volkswagen Golf and claimed he was forced to join the Hitler Youth as a child. Nobody was forced to join the Nazi Party or any of its branches.
In fairness to them, neither the current nor the ex-Pope seems to be a pederast, unlike many priests under their command. That said, the tenacious cover-up policy dishonours the majority of decent, hard-working Catholic priests who are often the last obstacle standing between the dispossessed and total perdition, in the best tradition of St Francis of Assisi, after whom Pope Francis named himself when elected. Hartnett also published an eBook consisting of the transcript of the television documentary exposé in 2016 in which the band members are interviewed about the sexual abuse they suffered as children in a leading West London Catholic school. 2016 is not a typing error. The TV documentary is fictional. The title ‘Child Rape Photos’ was bound to invite trouble. Like the songs, it was effectively banned by the mainstream eBook sellers. Hartnett retitled it ‘Deletion’, like the band, but it remains hard to find.
Hartnett’s subject matter, on the other hand, is as real as the photos he took in the 1980s of the British street and club scene, which are published in both editions of this issue. Just feed terms like “Father Lawrence Soper” and “Father David Pearce” into Google. As an old boy of the school in question, I knew both of these priests myself. In the last few years, Pearce has served two prison sentences whilst the policemen who called Soper back from the Vatican, where he was in charge of the Order of St Benedict’s accounts, arrested him but then allowed him out of the police station without taking his photograph and fingerprints. Soper went on the run after emptying his bank account in the Vatican. Recently arrested in Kosova and deported, Soper is now awaiting trial in London.
I participated in a BBC documentary report at the time of the Carlile Inquiry in 2011, which many former pupils dismissed as a whitewash, especially as it was commissioned by the school’s trustees. In fairness to Lord Carlile himself, he managed to do some good, wresting total control of the school away from the clergy and forcing the trustees to confront some unpalatable truths. However, the BBC slot was cut from fifteen to three minutes and the several hours of video footage ‘vanished’. Could this have had something to do with the fact that another old boy of the school, Lord Chris Patten, the last British Governor of Hong King, was Chairman of the BBC Trust at the time? His Lordship was also the Patron of his old school. He never responded to my email asking about it. Perhaps it went into his spam box.
In 2014, Pope Francis appointed Lord Chris Patten to revamp the Vatican’s media strategy, with an emphasis on using digital media to reach people, including, it seems, the people with power of deletion over ‘offensive material’ like Peter Paul Hartnett’s ‘punk protest’ album and his latest book. In December 2015, the 36-year old Deputy Headmaster of our old school was arrested and charged with ”offences of possessing, showing and making indecent images of children of category A and 2 offences of possession of extreme pornography.”.