Formula 1 Insight

Shame and Max Mosley

When I started this blog, I had no idea that I would be drawn away from the central topic of F1 into matters of conservation, big business, ethics and morality. I suppose that the sport must be viewed in context, however, and that means looking at its relationship to the world in which it exists, with all the complexities that includes. This is especially true in the matters of ethics and morality, thanks to the debate continuing over the revelations of Max Mosley's no-longer-private life.

Max Mosley
Max Mosley

In the course of fighting back against the scandal, Max has brought issues of the freedom of the press to the fore and F1 Fanatic has referenced some important articles in the resultant argument. It begins with the speech by the Daily Mail Group's editor in chief, Paul Dacre, at the annual conference of the Society of Editors. This is defended by Richard Addis, a former Daily Express editor, in his Shake Up Media blog and attacked by no less a person than Max himself in an article in The Guardian. All are well worth reading.

The central issue is press freedom but my interest focuses on the matter of morality, since Max has so much to say about it. He subscribes to the modern view that there is no morality common to all and so everyone's private life is their business alone. As I have mentioned in previous articles, my take on it is somewhat different but it is Paul Dacre's "populist" argument that allows us to see through Mosley's flawed logic.

Paul is saying that, regardless of Mosley's happy assumption that no one cares about the sexual preferences of others anymore, the fact is that the majority still have a natural revulsion for acts that are seen as depraved and abnormal. The intelligentsia may wish that it was otherwise but the very fact that certain things are kept secret illustrates the shame that accompanies these things.

Shame is the indicator that an awareness that something is wrong still exists in us. Were there no shame involved, there would be no need to hide certain of our preferences. Consider if you had been discovered cavorting with prostitutes in a spanking orgy - would you happily laugh it off and pretend that "everyone does it these days"? No, you would be highly embarassed and would want the matter to be forgotten as soon as possible. You might feel that you were made that way and could do nothing about it, but still the awareness that such things would lower you in the eyes of your peers would make you keep silent.

Even Max retains some shred of shame or he would not have been so annoyed at his dirty little secret being revealed for all to see. He seeks to minimize the shame by creating the fuss about press freedoms, effectively wanting the law to be changed to allow him to be seen as respectable again. And we make our jokes about spanking and remain blind to the attack on our right to know.

There is no such thing as an amoral society. No matter how twisted the morality, how much we substitute political correctness for religious belief, there are unwritten laws that we unconsciously adhere to. The very fact that Max was desperate to prove that there were no Nazi connotations involved in his adventure shows that Nazism has become one of society's taboos, a part of modern morality. Max has offended against one of the remaining religious (and perhaps natural) morals present in the vast majority of us and, whether it is fair or not, he will suffer the consequences of ridicule and disgust.

That is why he should have resigned as President of the FIA immediately upon the story breaking. All this twisting and turning in debate amongst the intelligentsia will do nothing to change the mind of the public - he has won the title of "Spanky" forever. Shame is the indicator and it is shame that should make him find a corner to hide in.


The fact that Mosley continues to argue that the papers publishing of the story ruined his family life "So how in a civilised society can we allow a life to be wrecked and a family to be destroyed for no better reason than to sell a few newspapers?" just shows you what kind of a low-life he is.

Wasn't it his actions that caused his family to see him in a new light, nothing to do with the fact that a paper printed it, he was caught red-handed and got some of what he deserved.

The fact that he continues to blame the media so readily for the harm his own choices has brought to him and his family is shameful. He should have resigned for that alone, and he definately should stick to what he said earlier in the year and stop talking about running for another term. The sport can do miles better, and would be in a much better shape without his flip-flopping decision making and politicking.

I am also of the opinion that the media (especially in this country) is a bit too intrusive, but it has to be something you think of when you're in the kind of position that encourages public & media interest.
Date Added: 12/11/2008

Nick Goodspeed
Clive, congratulations on the last two photos. Too bad they are 13 days late! :-)
In this manner I suppose criminals could sue the courts for "ruining their lives!"
Date Added: 12/11/2008

@nick: what Mosley did isn't against the law so I don't see how your "in this manner" makes any sense.

I disagree with Richard Addis that paper sales is the arbiter of morality.
Date Added: 12/11/2008

Pink Peril
Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't S&Max's wife leave him years ago? So his assertion that the newspapers destroyed his family life is spurious indeed.

Of course he could be referring to a deterioration in his relationship with his sons, which is understandable. Who wants to know that their father gets up to that sort of thing? I would not be at all surprised if his sons had an extremely hard time dealing with that.
Date Added: 12/11/2008

Alianora La Canta
ajh, while prostitution is legal and orgies are legal (in the UK, at any rate), brothels and assault are not. UK law defines a brothel as any place where two or more sex workers operate (they don't even need to work in that place simultaneously), so unless Women A, B, C, D and E were the same woman who managed to don disguises good enough to fool a court, it would be reasonable to assume that there was a brothel involved. Which makes Max guilty by association at best. Depending on what exactly happened, he may even have committed a crime himself (using a brothel is legal, helping to organise a session that generated a brothel or using a "controller" to organise the session is not).

S&M, if I've understood correctly, involves a lot of hitting people with the object of causing pain. Even if everyone agreed, it would still technically be assault (just not the sort that anyone would bother taking to a court unless they suddenly decided not to consent).

The real problem was not that this story reached the papers (though using only one witness to corroborate the story was not particularly sensible). The problem was that the News of the World missed two obvious angles that would have been in the public interest and felt the need to generate a third one that wasn't supported by the information on offer. That went beyond "not particularly sensible" and into illegal. That was why it was right for them to lose their court case. But it does not necessarily follow that the incident was an example of the press being too free.
Date Added: 12/11/2008

Steven Roy
In most families I would agree with you Peril but in Max's family? His sons have grown up knowing that granpa was a facist, that grandma was telling the world how attractive Hitler was well into the 1990s. Their grandparents were married in Goebbels's house with Hitlaer in attendance.

Great aunt Unity was Hitler's mistress and possibly had his kid.

Finding out their father was 'only' a pervert must have been a relief to them.

All families have skeletons in the cupboard but the Mosley's have had to buils an extension to accommodate them. Max's little indiscretion in most families would be by far the most embarrassing thing that has eer happened but in that family it would be lucky to be mentioned in the book.
Date Added: 12/11/2008

Thank you for the congrats, Nick.

In my posts on this subject I have tried to avoid going into the Nazi connotations, mainly because there was some doubt of their validity. But I do agree with Paul Dacre's statement that, when one puts together the black uniform jackets, the prison gear and the German spoken (and English with a phony German accent), the inference is pretty clear. Even Max admits that the theme was a German prison; one hopes that modern prisons in Germany are not quite as portrayed in this particular scenario and that leaves us with little but the Nazi thing. But my point is that there is enough shame involved in the hiring of prostitutes for the enactment of sexual fantasies for any decent leader of industry or international organization to resign once the facts become known. Since Max has chosen to remain as FIA President, I must assume that he does not have the required decency.
Date Added: 12/11/2008

Pink Peril
touche Steven Roy, touche ;)

Date Added: 13/11/2008

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