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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Contents - yourview@ theaus­tralian.com.au

CON­TRARY to the state­ment of Mal­colm Forbes (‘‘Case­ment’s spirit reawak­ened in jour­ney to the heart of dark­ness’’, June 9-10), Roger Case­ment was not hanged for trea­son but for ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity. He had in­deed been con­victed of trea­son, but the death sen­tence would al­most cer­tainly have been com­muted to a term of im­pris­on­ment had it not been for his di­aries. Th­ese recorded a life of ex­u­ber­ant sex­ual ac­tiv­ity with other males, mostly tak­ing the form of cruis­ing, ca­sual sex with willing part­ners en­coun­tered any­where. Given Case­ment’s sta­tus and record of hu­man­i­tar­ian con­cern, there was a strong push for clemency, nipped in the bud when the hawks in the Home Of­fice cir­cu­lated some of the more sala­cious en­tries. Es­tab­lish­ment fig­ures such as the arch­bishop of Can­ter­bury, who re­fused to sign a pe­ti­tion for mercy af­ter be­ing shown the di­aries, seem to have been more shocked by Case­ment’s guilt-free in­dul­gence in un­nat­u­ral vice than by his gun-run­ning. Mario Var­gas Llosa han­dles his sub­ject’s sex­ual ad­ven­tures with sen­si­tiv­ity and a de­gree of scep­ti­cism, which is more than can be said for the pri­son doc­tor. He sub­jected Case­ment’s corpse to a macabre vi­o­la­tion, re­port­ing that he found ‘‘un­mis­tak­able ev­i­dence of the prac­tices to which it is al­leged [he had] been ad­dicted. The anus was at a glance seen to be di­lated, and on mak­ing a dig­i­tal ex­am­i­na­tion (rub­ber gloves) I found that the lower part of the bowel was di­lated as far as the fingers could reach.’’ The whole shabby af­fair shines an oddly re­veal­ing light into the val­ues and ob­ses­sions of the Ed­war­dian elite: vin­dic­tive­ness, prud­ery, pruri­ence and guilty mem­o­ries of board­ing school. Robert Darby Can­berra HAV­ING just en­joyed a re­cent Q& A again on the ABC’s iView, I felt the need to ex­press my amaze­ment and shame that there was such a neg­a­tive re­ac­tion to the pro­gram with Barry Humphries, David Marr, Miriam Mar­golyes, John Hew­son and Jacki Weaver. I am hor­ri­fied that so many read­ers could not laugh at them­selves when such a de­light­ful cross-sec­tion of Aus­tralians (one would-be, ad­mit­tedly) brought out such a per­cep­tive and wide-rang­ing ob­ser­va­tion of us. Surely we are not such a racist, ig­no­rant so­ci­ety that we can­not have a bit of fun at our own ex­pense! As for at­tack­ing Tony Jones for al­low­ing the bad­i­nage to con­tinue, surely he is al­lowed to en­joy a lighter-hearted gath­er­ing of such a tal­ented group of speak­ers? I add that Dick­ens was on the syl­labus at my high school (back in the 60s, ad­mit­tedly) and our class loved it. Please, please, may we have more guests like this on Q& A? Julie Gill Largs Bay, South Aus­tralia WITHIN min­utes of read­ing a ref­er­ence to Pa­trick White’s Flaws in

the Glass I came to the phrase ‘‘flaw in the glass’’ in plough­ing — about four pages daily — through James Joyce’s Ulysses. What pushes me on with Ulysses is the snob­bish no­tion that with each page turned I join a more ex­clu­sive mi­nor­ity of read­ers. In mit­i­ga­tion, I once read that true snobs are never for an in­stant aware of their af­flic­tion. Ron Wil­lis Mount Law­ley, Western Aus­tralia To be con­sid­ered for pub­li­ca­tion, let­ters must con­tain an ad­dress and tele­phone num­ber for ver­i­fi­ca­tion. Let­ters may be edited for length and clar­ity.

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