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The two cases are not the same. It seems to me that Rennard was just abusing his power but O'Brien I am not sure about. A few years ago I would have accepted the story as it has been reported but not now. The accusations come too quickly after his stand against gay marriage. All anyone has to do is shout "witch" and all hell breaks loose. This man's career is ruined and there is every chance he has done nothing, although that won't stop the bbc from interviewing members of Stonewall every time the subject comes up.

Gary Powell

Rather ironic that Roger Scruton writes about matters that he thinks should be "governed by manners", whilst taking the liberty of describing Lord Rennard's appearance as "hideous".Whatever Lord Rennard may or may not have done, such gratuitous rudeness is uncalled for, and has no place in intelligent and mature discussion.


Agreed in respect of trial by Twitter and the modern feeding frenzy of 24/7 media. They just can't cope without an "outrage de jour".

Completely disagree in respect of O'Brien and Rennard.

The cardinal has at times used his pulpit to attack homosexuals and lesbians in foul terms. If at the same time he has had such leanings himself then he would not be guilty of intolerance and hypocrisy in a public office. The daily mash put this into words better than I ever could.


Rennard may or may not be a clumsy chat up merchant or a bit of a groper after a few drinks. But the point is that the women concerned were trying to make their way in an organisation of within which Rennard was a very senior figure. If what the women allege is true then his crime is an abuse of power.

The same power relationship that is alleged to have existed between the priests and the cardinal.

The moral of the story would surely seem to be, "never mix the professional and the personal".

Iain Hill

What is society providing for the "hideous"? They have sexual needs just like the rest of us.


The problem is the denial of human nature. Cultural Marxists work from the Blank Slate theory as if we were widgets coming off a production line. It is also why the fallacy of proportionate outcomes has become entrenched.


@Gary Powell
Roger Scruton's accurate observation that Lord Rennard is attractively dysfunctional is entirely material to the discussion. If we are exploring the illogic and inconsistency of sexual morality it is interesting to contrast the response to predatory behaviour according to popular perceptions of attractiveness.

Should we collectively discriminate and apportion a level of apparent guilt according to appearance? Mr Scruton would seem to suggest that being 'hideous' might incline us to assume guilt. This suggests that a more physically accomplished individual might be assumed to be more sinned against than sinning.

@Iain Hill
Agreed. Hideous persons can legally marry and express a universality of diverse fugliness that challenges the assumptions of the discriminatory masses and philosophers called Roger.

Gary Powell


"Should we collectively discriminate and apportion a level of apparent guilt according to appearance? Mr Scruton would seem to suggest that being 'hideous' might incline us to assume guilt."

This point in itself makes an important and valid point, but I do not see it in Prof. Scruton's text, even after two re-readings.

David Hussell

I shall avoid become entangled in the details, the individual cases, important though they are in themselves. They are there to illustrate and exemplify the thrust of this article, namely that society is adrift without a "moral compass", for sexual activities. Religion has been dumped by the majority, at the "quiet" whisperings of the media, but nothing has been substituted. The simple historical description of what has changed is spot on. Secular society has no anchor, no compass and is adrift on the ocean of fashion, whim and celebrity, all orchestrated by the media. Yesterday's slightly extreme is today's normal, and so it will progress towards increasing discord, with, in the absence of a religious/moral framework, only a chilling totalitarianism as an eventual backstop ? Either we police ourselves, using the "inner policeman" , usually implanted in the young by a sound religious framework, or we are told what to do by an ever growing central state which we can not afford anymore, anyway.

Mark Senior

We need a photo of Mr Scruton to decide whether he is as hideous looking as he thinks Lord Rennard is or jealous .

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httpe www.spectator.co.uk/features/8853191/when-the-popes-away/ the O Brien episode is a small part of a whole much bigger scandal


I can confirm that beauty trumps hideous. Roger has explored this in some depth and suggests that some Liberal Democrats have formed a cult of ugliness that is leading us into a spiritual desert.

@Mark Senior
Roger is possibly strawberry blonde, or ginger but not full Titian or Tamworth.


Rennard and o brien are similar in that they appear to have abused their power to further their needs for sexual gratification. The difference though is that o brien is a hypocrite and a bigot.


As the comments from Cardinal O'Brien have all but admitted the accusations that were brought against him, perhaps now is a good time to evaluate how we as a Church deal with internal accusations. I agree that much of the media's reporting of this has been sensationalist and unhelpful, but should we not be equally supportive to the priests who are the victims of Cardinal O'Brien's actions, however severe or mild they may be? We still don't know specifically what was accused, but even still, should we as a Church not be the first and primary source of support and love for them? It seems in this article that you (before we knew otherwise) immediately presumed they were lying. I think the Church needs to adopt a new approach to this kind of issue, where we don't immediately assume that internal accusations against priests - whether it be by other priests or by lay people - for whatever reason, aren't taken as an attack on the holy Church itself.


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