Since ancient times, it has been seen as a symbolic but rather futile gesture to seek final retribution upon your enemies by digging up their rotten corpse and undertaking the ritual steps of execution albeit with rather less effect than usual as the offending enemy has already escaped and is now thumbing his nose from the safety of the Halls of Mandos or your own particular incarnation of Mozart’s “Confutatis maledictis, flammis acribus addictis…” (“When the accused are confounded, and doomed to flames of woe…”)
The list of those historical characters who have faced the ignominy of posthumous execution is short but particularly noble, with many whom we now classify as defenders of liberty such as Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester and the regicides of Charles the First, including Oliver Cromwell himself.
In the long view, such personalities, judged by ancient history as traitors and renegades, have often been reformed by modern historians with either a generally benevolent aspect (as with Simon de Montfort) or at least as the lesser of two evils (as with Oliver Cromwell versus Charles I), their most heinous crime having been to die before their accusers could serve judgment upon them.
With the fall of the Ancien Régime in 1789 and the ascendancy of (allegedly) rational jurisprudence it has been recognized that punishing the corpses of the dead serves no purpose in law and their denunciation of such practices as “medieval” has allowed the modern legal establishment to differentiate themselves from the barbarism of the past.
It is with a certain amount of despair then that I see the infection of the culture of victimhood which has long been a feature of trial-by-media gradually take over the prosecutorial system to such an extent that we now have what can only be described as a modern-day witch-hunt being conducted by the Metropolitan Police Service (aka “The Met”) in the form of Operation Yewtree, in complicity with the Crown Prosecution Service (aka “The CPS”)
Although the stated intention of this investigation is not to disinter the corpse of Jimmy Savile and hang it from a sour oak tree, every aspect and nuance of the investigation is immersed in the implication that he is guilty and has only escaped justice through the shrouded veil with Death (and presumably his horse Binky) named as accomplice, before, during and after the fact.
I’m old enough to know that you should have the courtesy of letting the body go cold in the grave before commencing a tango on the tomb, but more fundamentally that the dead can’t speak in their defence against those who would perjure themselves, aided and abetted by no-win, no-fee solicitors, in the hope of a lottery win in compensation from the publicly funded coffers of the BBC or the dregs of Savile’s estate.
Saville has faced no trial by a jury of his peers presided over by a judge in good standing to face his accusers and defend himself. This trial-by-implication and verdict-by-gossip is an offense to law and justice in this country and serves only to bring the Met further into disrepute.
Anna Racoon has blogged well, volubly and at length on this particular subject, but I thought I would nail my colours to the mast and state my own personal distaste at this spectacle.
Sejanus himself would have been proud!