Jeremy Forrester, the teacher who ran off with his 15 year old girlfriend to France has been sentenced to five and half years in prison. His crime was, well he was going on a holiday with is girlfriend to France. That means that Britain is among many other countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia etc. in which people go to jail just for being in a loving relationship with the wrong person. The worste thing is that the waste majority of people in this country are ok with that, as there hardly seems to be any critical word about it in the media. That is the main motivation, why I am writing this blog post. I find it outrageous that there isn’t even a debate about this. Let us have a look at the case.
Jeremy Forrester, a 30 year old married math teacher, fell in love with one of his 14 year old pupils. After some soul searching, he decided to approach the young woman. I am not saying that this behaviour is totally correct from a moral standpoint. Besides morals his behaviour also seems to be a bit odd and there is good reason to watch closely what happened here. However, for Forrester to be a criminal he must have violated someone’s rights, so who is his victim? The judge today had an answer to it. According to the Telegraph he said: “Your behaviour […] has hurt and damaged many people – her family, your family, staff and pupils at the school and respect for teachers everywhere.” I can see that some people might feel hurt, but damaged? I cannot see any real rights being violated. That would assume that all these people had some kind of ownership on the girl. Even if you assume that parents have a responsibility for their children, they certainly do not own them. It is very interesting that the judge in his list of victims did not mention the now 16 year old girl herself. She broke down in tears and pledged that she still loves him and would wait for him. But apparently that was of no importance to the courts and the jury’s decision who declared Forrester to be a criminal.
This verdict is another clear indication that there are a lot of people in our society who love controlling other peoples lives and they do this under the pretext of only wanting to help them. Feeling to have the moral high ground, they become blind to the damage they are causing with this attitude.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not in favour of treating children like adults. Given children a special protection certainly is a good idea. However, I am all in favour of respecting children, especially if these children are of an age that throughout history and till today in most parts of the world is not considered to be part of real childhood anymore. The verdict against Forrester lags any respect of the young woman, whose rights have apparently been violated. The court and the jury arrogantly decided to dismiss her feelings and decisions. This is even more remarkable since even to Englisch law she is now old enough to make these decisions and still seems to stand by her behaviour. Really a bad day for freedom in this country.