The Who at the Superbowl

Peter Townshend child abuse controversy

The Super Bowl final takes in Miami next Sunday. Don’t even ask me whose playing. American Football, as far as I’m concerned, is just something that happens between adds for Coca Cola and Jack Daniel’s, not that I have any problem with the latter, or the former, mixed with the latter.

Over the last number of years it has become a bit of a custom to have completely talentless pop stars singing at half time during the grand finale of Gridiron.

Who can forget Janet Jackson’s – a woman who has the distinction of being more deranged than her late brother – tit popping out as she performed live in 2004?  Cue outrage.

Justin Timberlake played at another Super Bowl final etc etc. The Americans, fair play them, like to do things in grand style. The F-16s will do a fly-over, all walks of celebrity will be in attendance and Kenya-born (isn’t that unconstitutional?) US President Barack Obama will deny that he’s a computer generated cyber cliché designed by James Cameron on the set for Avatar.

The stars will be out to shine. Indeed, America is in such thrall to celebrity that we can all remember Jackson’s boobgate and such. However, can anyone remember who was actually playing in the 2004 final? Exactly.

Meantime, on Sunday next The Who are due to take to the stage amid outrage from child protection groups who want the veteran British rockers banned from performing.

And the reason? Well, they’re protesting about an incident in 2003 when guitarist Pete Townshend was embroiled in a child pornography scandal.

Townshend was investigated by police in the UK after allegedly downloading child porn.

He claimed that he accessed the site as part of his research on his book, A Different Bomb. The book was never published.

Following a four-month investigation, authorities concluded that there was no evidence that Townshend had been in possession of any material relating to child pornography. However, he was included on the U.K’s Violent and Sex Offender Register for five years.

Townshend has consistently declared his innocence. Regardless, US groups such as Child Abuse Watch and Protect Our Children want The Who banned from next Sunday’s final and have warned the NFL that there will be a “breathtakingly ugly backlash” if the British band take to the stage

Are the groups taking the correct course of action or are they a shower of vindictive fanatics preventing a man from earning a living?

Or is this another case of the artistic community and their ambiguity to child sex abuse?

Put it another way. If a Catholic priest, who also happened to be a great guitarist, was caught downloading child porn would he be allowed play live at the Super Bowl?

If a Catholic priest, who also happened to be a great moonwalker, was sleeping with children, would he be eulogised as a musical icon after he died?

The ambiguity stretches right back to auld Hibernia.  In the not so distant past the Irish writer Colm Tóibín wrote a character reference for an adult, also a writer, who sexually abused a 15 year old boy

Tóibín said he was a writer of immense power.

Tóibín is an artist, a homosexual, and a member Aosdána. He ticks most of the correct erogenous zones as far as the left in this country is concerned. Hence the deafening and hypocritical silence in relation to above character reference.

Meantime, The Who have vowed to take to the stage next weekend.

But should they be banned and are the Americans correct to adopt a zero tolerance approach to the scourge of our age?

8 thoughts on “The Who at the Superbowl

  1. I don’t know. The Townshend thing is a bit different. He informed the police before accessing the website, and he has a well-established record of writing about child abuse. That was the entire theme of Tommy.

    I think he genuinely believed he was doing something to fight paedophilia and I think the British authorities were too rigid in the way they dealt with his case.

  2. Re: the 15 year old boy. Isn’t ambiguity part of the paedophile tool set? I always find this question confusing and troubling too. I’ve read articles where famous people talk about the age of consent and because I have children, I immediately get concerned to hear a man or woman in their 30s/40s/50s, straight or gay, talking about the denial of a person’s sexual rights at 14/15/16. The law can’t scope or cope with this issue in my opinion for lots of complex reasons, chief among them that people mature at different rates. The variables are infinite in a person’s development. That transition age is so delicate.

    Colm Tobín also spoke in defence of Cathal O Searcaigh. (Whose exploits are chronicled in these pages)
    Christ it’s a head wreck really Mr Out, so difficult to take a credible stance. I’ve heard Peter Townshend being interviewed and it was as Bock says. Perhaps he could have more careful about where he did his research and had someone witness it, maybe that would have helped his case. To me he’s credible so I wouldn’t have an issue with the Who next Sunday.

    Can you leave Barack alone please, he may be a flim flam man but he’s my flim flam man and I luvs him, i does.

  3. Just for the record. Pete Townshend wasn’t charged with anything or convicted of anything.

    Likewise, he didn’t download any images.

    He informed the police of what he was planning and accepted a police caution for doing what they told him not to.

    For forty years, Peter Townshend has been highlighting issues of child abuse and raising funds for charities ranging through racism, famine relief and multiple sclerosis research. This man is far from an abuser.

  4. Why didn’t he appeal the fact that he was put on a sex offenders list for five years.

    He admitted to using his credit card to access child porn. One of the images, as reported,
    was of a two year old being raped.

  5. Didn’t know that – I’m doing a take back so ( cause in my mind I can ) – fuck him .

    Also, leave Barack alone .

  6. He approached the police before he accessed the site and he told them what he was going to do. It was a site that required a credit card, and the police acknowledged that he didn’t download anything. The image was cached auomatically by his system, the same as every image on every site we all visit. You have to look at Townshend’s record of trying to stamp out child pornography. What he did was exactly what the police do all the time, except he wasn’t a policeman. His mistake was in taking the law into his own hands and trying to become a one-man internet vigilante.

  7. the biggest problem here in america is that no one reads! we tend to go for the sound bite, the easy answer, the buzz. we’re stupid and we’ll die. (yeah, tell me what movie that line is from!) but i digress, the half wits get the press around here because they’re the loudest and the rest of us keep trying to do the right thing. and sniffle is right, our man is growing a sack, so cut him some slack! he might really bring about some change… xoxoxox

  8. The documentary on this made him look as guilty as hell. He downloaded ( ok cached )not only pictures but reams of literature. A cop read out some of it and remarked that research is one thing…….
    And he, not the cops, printed out the literature.

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