Presentation on Mary Whitehouse by Peter Roscoe
Time & Location
About the Event
‘THE LOVE THAT DARES TO SPEAK ITS NAME’: MARY WHITEHOUSE AND HER SHROPSHIRE GIRLS
It was while Mary Whitehouse taught at Madeley Modern School (then a Shropshire County Council school) in 1963, that her determination, to tackle what she saw as a rising tide of immorality, came to fruition. It seems the response of her girls to the ‘Profumo Affair’ (their positive take on Christine Keeler and the other women involved, in particular), was pivotal.
A principal target for her was always the BBC and what she saw as its role in the decline of moral standards; she was the leading figure behind the ‘National Viewers and Listeners Association’, formed in 1965. Along the way her targets were many; she became a ‘household name’ and developed a style of attack that was all her own.
Hostility toward homosexuality was a given. Her prosecution of ‘Gay News’ and editor, Denis Lemon, in 1977, was a very low point in our history.
Many people today are unaware of her and do not know of her successful attack on the LGBTQ+ community. It now seems incredible that she was able to use blasphemy law to censure the newspaper ‘Gay News’ for publishing Richard Kirkup’s poem ‘The Love that Dares to Speak its Name’. It is equally astonishing, now, that the court handed down a suspended jail sentence to Denis Lemon.
The Presentation reviews where she was coming from, why we had to endure her and how, with great ingenuity and fun, we fought back.
The girls at Madeley Modern School do remember her; ‘Power crazed dictator witch!’ and ‘….evil old cow made me laugh kept going on about sex morals all the bloody makes you wonder’ are recent reflections.