Much merriment in the Old Doom Bar over the judges caught watching porn on the judicial network. The spin-doctors showed subtlety and kindliness in their description of the culprits as ‘junior’ judges and the porn in question as ‘not of the illegal or child porn sort’.
That made it more or less OK. Middle aged men in a bored moment turning from one set of briefs to another sort altogether. Several questions begged themselves. That the judges shared an interest in pornography with the majority of British men was reassuring. For them to not realise that organisations’ IT departments routinely monitor the use of their networks shows a serious lack of awareness. Although there again, it will make it painfully obvious that it isn’t only teenage girls who think the internet is private.
It is also of interest to know what sort of porn was in fact being watched. The variety of options, if not infinite, is pretty comprehensive. Herein lie the problems of why watching porn is so reprehensible in judges as opposed to your local fork lift truck driver or vicar. Doing it on company time is one thing. But should we know whether our judiciary watches porn at home on its own laptop like a well-known Labour ex-cabinet minister’s husband? Well, yes if they claim the cost on expenses – but surely ‘no’ if it is on their own time and at their own expense. Or, of course, it may be free.
It’s possible that the habit could influence the judicial decision. When faced with a BBW or Asian Babe – however modestly clad – might the learned judge find himself wondering about her sans habille rather than listening with due care to her evidence? Or, in a family court, might m’lud wonder if the lady plaintiff was a bit of a MILF or, indeed, cougar?
It is commonly supposed that the judiciary are partial to a little BDSM as the famous Cynthia Payne Streatham Brothel case exemplified. Does this mean that in some contexts our judges would like to prescribe a good spanking?
Then too, how much porn was being watched? There is a difference, not often recognised by the censorious, between periodic recreational use and addiction – as with drugs of all sorts. That the men involved have now been named and, what’s more, shamed, seems rather sad: stupid to use workplace equipment – yes, deserving of opprobrium and loss of livelihood – surely not.
Sadly, we live in a society where freedom and restriction are in serious conflict at several social and political levels. Many victims of this struggle are, if not entirely innocent, not very guilty either. But we don’t any longer have a mechanism for dealing with that level of judgemental discrimination. The junior judges have been caught by the societal equivalent of Mummy finding a girlie mag under her son’s bed. But when she did, Mummy didn’t put it in the parish magazine. Nowadays, the internet parish and the (too often justified) fear of the media wolf-packs among our establishment mean a little light laughter in the pub and some possibly unnecessarily empty spaces on the bench.