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Australian entertainer, Rolf Harris, 83, long mentioned as a devotee of Sathya Sai Baba, has just done a second concert for this year (the last being in February). In the last two years, British police arrested him for questioning about underage sexual assault allegations. He is required to report to police for further question in about a week.
Last November, he was interviewed under caution, and again arrested last March, two days prior to turning 83. Since then, a second Australian woman given testimony against him.
See: Another Australian Woman Accuses Rolf Harris of Sexual Abuse When She Was Young. Posted by Barry Pittard on May 15, 2013. And: Rolf Harris (Sathya Sai Baba Cult Man): Scotland Yard Investigators Travel to Australia. Posted by Barry Pittard on May 3, 2013, and: Investigators Can Probe Rolf Harris’s Links With Sathya Sai Baba, Target Of Major Serial Pedophile Allegations Posted by Barry Pittard on April 22, 2013. And: British Police Re-Arrest Rolf Harris In Operation Yewtree Pedophilia Hunt.Posted by Barry Pittard on April 20, 2013.
Photo: Rolf Harris made his first public appearance in weeks at a concert in Bristol. (Reuters: Mick Tsikas, file photo)
Veteran Australian entertainer Rolf Harris has received standing ovations at his first performance since it was reported that he had been questioned by police over alleged sexual offences.
Harris made no direct reference to the allegations he is facing, but alluded to his situation several times during the show in Bristol in south-west England.
“You’ve got no idea what this means to have you turn up with such enthusiasm and such support,” he told the audience.
Harris received standing ovations at the beginning and end of the performance.
How Manipulated Publics Ignore The Corruption And Lap Up The Hype
Just like corporate spin doctors in other areas, Managements of artists faced with scandals tailor-make concerts, public appearances, interviews, etc., that will defuse the scandal as much as possible.
Ignoring the seriousness of the crimes and betrayals (although one must emphasize in Harris’s case ALLEGED ones), this chicanery expresses itself variously – e.g., ‘the show must go on’, ‘toughing it out’, ‘old news is stale news and the public will soon forget’, ‘the artist has done a lot of good charitable work, is working hard at overcoming weaknesses, and, like all of us, deserves our forgiveness and help’ ….
In some respects, in the hands of adroit spin-masters bad publicity can be re-packaged as ‘good publicity’. A story has many angles to exploit: Our happy memories of great concerts we have enjoyed, and by which we mark our own life stages. The suffering of the artist under pressure of the accusations, the arrests. The suffering of his or her family and friends in the face of revelations ….
A masterpiece of recovery from shockingly bad publicity is McDonald’s strategy of survival after the famous Mc Libel case, often branded as ‘the longest-running case in English history’.
A major aspect of the McDonald corporation’s image recovery was to emphasize how much it was doing for charity. In the exposure of the international Sathya Sai Organization, we have had to endure the oft-repeated, fallacious argument that whatever laws Sathya Sai Baba broke he did much social work. (In passing, I note that it was his devotees who did this work!).
McDonald’s icon cleverly suggests openness, innocence and fun – qualities far removed from that corporation’s long, corrupt, and environment and health destroying history
The international fast food giant had to withstand tremendously adverse publicity about perjured witnesses. It had to pay large fines to prevent its experts (who proved not to be experts at all) from going to gaol. It tried extensively to buy off witnesses via settlements that were, in fact, bribes. It hired ex-policemen in a long series of devious and rotten malpractices, and much else that sickened the public.
It is a public that too soon forgets, and acts shocked each time that the wool pulled over its eyes is, for the while, pulled from its eyes.
Exposed were McDonald’s profoundly unethical practices (not in essence different from many other corporations). Fortunately the two remarkable and penurious young people would not yield to the vast pressure McDonalds put on them, and they ended up attracting a world-wide support campaign and the skills of one of the greatest legal minds in the world, the Australian Geoffrey Robertson QC, famous as a human rights lawyer, academic, author and television and radio broadcaster.
Photo: Geoffrey Robertson, 2006. BA LLB (Hons) Sydney, BCL (Oxon) Rhodes Scholar, Honorary Degrees (Doctor of Laws) from Sydney, Brunel and Bucharest Universities, Visiting Professor at Queen Mary College and the New College of the Humanities.
See: McLibel. Burger Culture on Trial, by John Vidal. Published in 1997, Macmillan Publishers Ltd ISBN 0 333 69461 9 (hardback) ISBN 0-330-35237-7 (paperback). And: The biggest bunfight in history? McLibel by John Vidal, reviewed by John Mortimer, The Sunday Times (UK); 13 April 97.
The entertainment industry is vast, corporate, corrupt. No less, indeed than many corporations and large organizations in general. They are mendacious, secret and unjust. And these in a way that some of us know to our immense cost in the case of the international Sathya Sai Organization. These instrumentalities are alike in the evils of cover up and ruination of the lives of many, especially those who attempt to tell the truth. It is to be hoped that, if the two women who have testified against Rolf Harris, saying that he sexually abused them when they were very young, are speaking the truth that they will have the best legal representation. And that the courts – too often harshly adversarial – will be models of a sort of justice that will encourage many more sexually abused people to speak out, rather than being confronted by bullying lawyers and courts systems badly in need of reform.
Rolf Harris takes stage in Bristol
Australian performer Rolf Harris has appeared on stage for the first time since his arrest. Source: AAP
AUSTRALIAN performer Rolf Harris has appeared on stage for the first time since it was reported he had been questioned by British police over alleged sex offences.
Harris received standing ovations at the beginning and end of his performance at the Bristol Hippodrome in southwest England on Saturday night, the ABC reports.
He thanked the audience for their support.
“You’ve got no idea what this means to have you turn up with such enthusiasm and such support,” he told the 900-strong crowd.
British newspaper The Sun says the 83-year-old was ushered into the theatre through the back door before the show in which he played the didgeridoo, painted and sang.
He has been named by the media as the entertainer arrested in late March by police from Operation Yewtree in London, which was established following the Jimmy Savile scandal.
He has not been charged and denies any wrongdoing.
Syney Morning Herald
This Saturday night he is due to perform at Bristol’s Hippodrome, in a show that promises an opportunity to hear “classic songs” from “one of Britain’s best-loved entertainers”.
The promotional material promises that Mr Harris will perform his biggest hits including Stairway to Heaven, Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport, and Two Little Boys, with his seven-piece live band.
He will also paint a portrait live on stage.
“There is nobody quite like Rolf and there will be nothing quite like this show,” the ad says.
Mr Harris’ only other public appearance this year was in early February, when he performed at the Festival Hall.
He was in good spirits at that show, joking with the audience “I’ve had several requests. But I’m afraid I’m going to keep singing.”
The Daily Mirror reported he “looked sprightly” but appeared to be close to tears in an emotional third encore.
Mr Harris was interviewed under caution in November last year on suspicious of sexual offences. He was arrested again in March, two days before his 83rd birthday, and again released without charges.
At the time police said he was bailed “to a date in May pending further inquiries”.
In the last few weeks it has emerged police interviewed two women in Australia in connection with sex abuse claims.
One said she was a witness to an incident, another claimed Harris sexually assaulted her when she was a teenager in the UK.
A spokeswoman for the Hippodrome said ticket sales had been going “very well” for Saturday’s concert.
The venue’s website yesterday had only a few hundred seats left for sale, at the very back, from a capacity of almost 2000.
“The show is going ahead,” the spokeswoman said. “I am afraid we are not making any further comments.”
Asked if the management were treating the concert as ‘business as usual’, she replied “absolutely”.
However, the ‘Events’ page of Harris’ website says only “Sorry, there are no forthcoming events.”