Batten down the hatches: storm be comin’…

But it might not be as bad as you think

As far as socio-sexual meltdowns go, the Ashley Maddison debacle appeared to be a bit of a non-event. A couple of fake identities were released as proof of widespread hackery to a news-hungry media adrift in the doldrums of the silly-season, who then produced more hackery of a different stripe. On the female side there was much thinly disguised Schadenfreude at the prospect of millions of marriages thrown into disarray (but not, presumably, their own partnership arrangements), stuff about the ‘groin-cupping sleazoids’ and even one journalist who could not abide these websites’ ‘incitement to mortal sin’, bringing down the Wrath of Jehovah on the heads of these philanderers, as well. On the more blokeish side of journalism the moralising was quieter but plenty was said about the gravity of any sort of hacking into private files and what that would mean for society as a whole: just look at those poor Sony execs so terminally compromised by the North Koreans.

The sound of furiously hammered keyboards churning out moral-panic-inducing think pieces gradually died down. The Nation returned to its blasé norm, and enjoyed a tepid summer. Then with impeccable timing, at the very start of the grande rentrée, it happens: apparently these Impact Team boys and girls are for real. With no dialogue available and their motivation, at best, hazy, no one thought they would really dump 32 million names onto the Interweb. But dump they do, and more than a million UK dirtbag, sleazoid, cheatin’ spouses are potentially for the high jump.

Dirtbags? Sleazoids? Cheaters? That seems to strike a distant chord, though not one specifically about anyone makin’ whoopee. Something, a few years back, about a veteran tarts-‘n’-vicars newspaper going down the tube; this accompanied by resignations and jail sentences because the way editors were getting their scoops had become criminal; or a couple of years before that, when the MPs’ parliamentary expenses scandal broke: this, too, ending in resignations and a stretch or two in pokey. So where to look for moral guidance if not the media and the government? The church? But here the Catholics are still sorting out their paedophile priests and the Protestant flocks are bravely coming to terms with female bishops and gay marriage: far too self-obsessed to be concerned with as pedestrian an issue as adultery, mortal sin or no. Perhaps we should look to the law…

Oh yes, with 1.2 million accredited cheet-ahs suddenly out on the loose, m’learned friends down at Family Division are beginning to look very chipper indeed – as are their clerks. It’s bonanza time.

But soft, what is this dreadful statistic I hear?  95% of these scumbags were reportedly male? Do the maths, Mervyn. Unless these husbands are having affairs with each other – unlikely, you have to admit, even for those who went to a decent private school – suddenly it doesn’t look quite so rosy on the brief front.

Oh, shit. Better cancel that table at Côte.


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