The ABC news this morning told me that Cardinal Pell had arrived back in Australia to face “historical sexual assault charges”. Now, I’m not commenting on the veracity of those charges because – as many people have pointed out – it would be wrong to deny the man a fair trial. Commenting on trials in progress is something that’s reserved for terrorism offences, but it’s the use of the word “historical” that has me bemused.
-of or concerning history or past events.
-belonging to the past.
-(especially of a novel or film) set in the past.
Assuming we can eliminate the idea that the ABC is trying to suggest that this whole thing is a novel or film, we are left with two definitions both of which suggest that these are charges concerned with events that happened in the past.
Which is, of course, only fair because I’m sure we’d all have concerns if anyone was being charged with events that were allegedly happening in the future.
So, given anyone with half a brain and even members of the right faction of Turnbull’s government would presume that these were charges relating to things that have happened in the past, one wonders why the ABC feels it necessary to emphasise the “historical” nature of the events.
Do we get that with any other news?
“Youths charged with causing historical damage at detention centre”
“Liberals announce historical policy on marriage equality”
“Man charged with historical murder”
“Turnbull gets historical ride with Donald Trump”
Which reminds me, I meant to spend this morning writing about the great example Turnbull has set for saving money.Yep, he’s learned from Bronwyn’s infamous helicopter ride, and not only did he hitch a ride with Donald Trump, but he managed to get Macron to take him in the French plane by suggesting that because of the parlous position of Australia’s finances, both he and Lucy would be walking unless they could raise bus fare by passing round the hat, at which point the French president told him that there was room for an extra couple of passengers so long as he didn’t tell the story about how his good mate Donald gave him a lift from the hotel because everyone at the G20 had heard it at least twice.
As for his time in “the Beast” (which is the nickname for the US President’s car and not some strange initiation ritual a la David Cameron), Malcolm tells us that it was a great opportunity for some private conversation. Of course, given the famous “private conversation” where Donald was caught on tape giving his advice on “pussy” grabbing, one wonders whether it’s a wise move to accept a lift from from the Trumpeter. However, I do appreciate that the journey from the hotel to the venue would be plenty of time for both men to share all they know and to talk about the principles that they both hold dear.
But I digress… I was speculating about the use of the word “historical”.
I wanted to make it clear that I didn’t see it as an attempt by the ABC to make the charges seem less significant. Just as I didn’t mean to suggest that Miranda Devine’s suggestion that the police had made the whole thing up to distract us from the fact that there are crimes being committed as we speak, and they’re failing to catch and charge people with these historical crimes. Similarly, Andrew Bolt’s defence of George as a top bloke who historically did a lot of good historical things like launch the historical Melbourne Response just because someone needed to do something.
Jeff Kennett had a few words to say about the Melbourne Response in his column, by the way. According to Jeff:
“When evidence of pedophilia within the Catholic Church was getting increasing publicity in the mid-1990s, I invited the then archbishop Pell to my office for a coffee. It might be said that two robust individuals had a robust discussion. I suggested to the archbishop that it would be advisable if, as head of the Catholic Church in Victoria, he addressed the charges of pedophilia in a public and vigorous way.
“If not, I told him, the state of Victoria would. I did not want to take that action because I thought the church should address its behaviour and assist those it had abused, and it was not an area I felt comfortable that politicians could address. Fortunately, Pell accepted my invitation, went away and delivered what was called the Melbourne Response.
“Whether those initiatives were as complete as required, I do not know. But Pell was the first leader of any church or organisation confronted by pedophilia charges to act and he did so quickly and firmly. George Pell is innocent until found guilty of any offence. Until then he has my support and friendship.”
Now one of my nasty left-wing friends – and let’s be clear here, as Andrew Bolt tells us all left-wing people are nasty – had the temerity to suggest that the sentence: “It might be said that two robust individuals had a robust discussion” suggests that the Melbourne Response wasn’t something that George was all that keen on and that it was only with pressure from Kennett that he instituted something.
However, I imagine that the conversation was robust because they were both such robust characters.
“George, I’ve invited you here for coffee because I want to discuss your response to the accusations!”
“Jeff, I want to discuss my response!”
“Good, you do that!”
“SO WILL I!”
“I intend to respond strongly.”
“OK, BUT I THINK YOU SHOULD RESPOND ROBUSTLY.”
“I ALWAYS respond ROBUSTLY!”
“Great! Now, MILK?”
Or something like that. Anyway, what does it matter whose idea it was. It’s all historical.