We tend to separate blue and white collar crime into clean and dirty divisions, and to slot sex offenders into the untouchable caste. Much more comfortable than confronting the similarities.
Swiss bankers are easy to understand. Having made a virtue of colluding with criminals, they have never hidden the fact that they are amoral. If you own a billion-dollar business but hate paying tax - any tax, a Swiss banker will not hesitate, for a fee, to hide your money. A dictator who amasses millions from bleeding his country dry? Step this way, sir. Your secret is safe with us. Ordinary gangsters? Well, there are limits, unless your ill-gotten gains are considerable, of course. What is less easy to understand is that the world colluded with these up-market fences, until it became inconvenient.
Many other banks have recently been denounced for greed and arrogance. But only because they were caught. Their partners in crime; financiers, are accused of fraud as well as arrogance and greed. All of this on a scale grand enough to keep media organisations busy for years. But the focus is on institutions, firms. Only a handful of people have been pilloried. What about the faceless thousands? Highly paid, well educated, respected, sliding into the shadows until the heat dies down. Then gliding back like gluttonous wolves to feast again on their prey. What makes these white-collar criminals tick?
Geoffrey Archer comes to mind but closer to home we have Graham Capill, the university educated church minister and leader of the Christian Heritage Party. He was convicted of multiple sexual offences against children in 2005 and sentenced to nine years in prison. On the surface a respected family man, minister, political leader. Underneath a child molester.
Imagine the affect on his family, friends, members of the political party he ruined. They would have found his behaviour incomprehensible. Perhaps a glimmer of understanding emerged when he was found guilty. Instead of putting his head between his knees in shame, Capill sent emails to his supporters asking them to write letters to the judge. How did he have the brass neck to imagine he was entitled to a light sentence? And to then begin an appeal of sentence? And then to apply twice for early release on parole? Finally, his most ardent supporters must have realised the man has no sense of shame or remorse.
No more than the money men who carried on using personal jets and awarding themselves bonuses, or the financiers who danced away with the life-savings of thousands of people. Where moral constraints are absent, shame is also absent. It has no material, self-serving value.
The educated amoral class is intriguing. They are articulate in discussions of business ethics and morals, and not slow to make moralistic pronouncements where others are concerned. So it is not that they lack comprehension, it is simply that they see themselves as exempt. Whether it’s the body of a child or the life-savings of adults, they have a sense of entitlement that transcends moral responsibility.