‘Outing’ the ‘Paedo’: The Emerging Paedophile in Thatcher’s Britain

Headmaster Rituals or Barbarisms Began at Home?

The_Smiths_The_Smiths

‘A boy in the bush is worth two in the hand, I think I can help you get through your exams’

In 1983 The Sun ran an expose on the Manchester Indie band The Smiths, condemning their single ‘Handsome Devil’ as a ‘devious’ song with ‘sleazy lyrics about molesting children’ (plate 1).1 The Conservative MP Geoffrey Dickens, campaigning against the pro-paedophile activist group The Paedophile Information Exchange (hereafter PIE), commented that ‘children look up to top pop personalities, which makes this obscene sounding song potentially even more harmful.’2 The lyrics that The Sun considered sleazy were noted as ‘a boy in the bush is worth two in the hand, I think I can help you get through your exams’. Further fuel was added by Gary Bushall’s article in the music magazine Sounds, who further criticised other Smiths songs as having paedophilic connotations, and lambasted the earlier stance…

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