A rare court victory

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Hot from the BBC, news of a rare victory for “paedophiles”:

A convicted sex offender has won a High Court order for the removal of a Facebook page set up to monitor paedophiles in Northern Ireland. A judge ruled some content amounted to prima facie harassment of the man and risked infringing his human rights.

See Facebook given 72 hours to remove paedophile monitoring page.

Time to break open the champagne? Sure, why not enjoy the moment, although this humane court decision is sure to provoke a whopping backlash, with predictable howls that it is an example of “human rights gone mad”. In fact I do predict it, and will eat my website if it fails to happen PDQ. Also, it looks as though the decision will be easy to get around, at least in the short term: already the offending page has been replaced by others with similar names.

While it is encouraging that a sex offender has at least been acknowledged as a human being with the same right as anyone else right to freedom from harassment, I am also a bit worried about the mushrooming phenomenon of legal action against freedom of expression online.

There has been a whole rash of arrests this month in the UK of people making tweets that do not harass anyone but are merely “offensive”. In one case a guy was collared by the police and ended up in a prison cell for tweeting a photo of a burning poppy. Apparently, this was taken as an insult to the nation’s war dead, who are commemorated each year in a Remembrance Day that features poppies, which symbolise “the fallen”.

If giving offence online is enough to get you arrested, I guess Heretic TOC cannot expect to be at liberty for long.

Offline, meanwhile, the Leveson inquiry reported in the UK this week with a damning indictment of numerous press misdeeds including harassing the relatives of a murder victim. Leveson is right to insist the press should conduct its business in a civilized way and that this should be overseen by an independent body. This need not entail the threat of state censorship as the scare-mongering press have loudly bruited.

The biggest threat to press freedom in Britain and elsewhere is the near monopoly of the media by a tiny number of overmighty media barons, especially the appalling Rupert Murdoch: this stranglehold enables the opinions of that one man to crowd out those of nearly all others. The result is not democracy but Murdochracy.

Man’s house accused of sex crime

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In a first for Heretic TOC, this blog brings you news before it has even happened: a story from New Zealand datelined 30 November, even while a good few hours of 29 November remain to be completed here in Britain.

As usual, though, the news is not good. A defendant found guilty of “historic offences” a few months ago is now faced with losing his house to a forfeiture order, on the grounds that the house itself facilitated sexual offences.

That’s what the prosecutor said about Michael Jackson’s Neverland (see book extract below), but Jackson was never threatened with losing ownership. This latest development appears to take prosecutorial vindictiveness to a new level.

And what did the house do that was so terrible? (Maybe the dwelling itself should have been in the dock, which would have been a squeeze!) This is what its owner allegedly did:

”He made alterations to the property to make it more attractive.” Mattresses were kept downstairs for street children and a key was left out.

”He allowed [victims] to personalise the home by placing their tag in it.’

Home improvements? Disgusting!

Making visitors feel at home? Heinous!

Worst of all, youngsters were clearly coming because they wanted to, and were not being forced into anything. But we cannot allow the horrific possibility of them having consensual sex, can we?

Read here the full horror of this low-life’s crimes.

From my book (authored under the name Carl Toms) Michael Jackson’s Dangerous Liaisons, p.412:

[Prosecutor Tom] Sneddon even seemed to indict Neverland itself. While conceding the ranch was a “beautiful thing”, used for “beautiful causes”, such as hosting deprived inner-city kids on day trips, he contended its influence on young visitors staying for longer periods… was less benign. They would begin to change, he said, “because of the personality of the ranch”. Basically, he was saying they were allowed the run of the place, with no rules, and had more fun than was good for them.

 

 

A necessary warning

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Heretic TOC loves writing and has dozens of tasty topics in mind just bursting to get onto the page. Unfortunately, it is time for a really boring post that cannot be further delayed. In my About page I say my aim here is to present a “discourse of resistance”.

It is time to emphasise that the “resistance” I am looking for is precisely one of “discourse” rather than resistance to the law. In other words, it is fine for commentators here to argue that laws should be changed. It is not at all fine, though, to encourage, or appear to be encouraging, anyone to break the law, either by open incitement or by “a nod and a wink” implying that the law does not matter. No one has done this, but someone did say they have been banned from another site. No specific reason was given. It may have been nothing to do with the law. Still, I figure this is the time to give a warning, and maybe I should have done so right at the start, on the About page.

Also, I would ask everyone before composing their comments to bear in mind that there is a lowest common denominator involved: even if you live in a relatively liberal country, please keep your writing in conformity with the law in such jurisdictions as the USA and UK. If in doubt, cut it out. This is very important because finding time to do the writing is hard enough for me without spending hours moderating comments. To be honest, it has come as a bit of a surprise that there have been so many comments and that quite a few of them have been lengthy.

This shows a lively interest, which is good; but there is a downside too. There is the moderation problem just mentioned, plus also the fact that posts can morph into a sort of private conversation between two people. That sort of extended thread is probably more suitable for a designated chat forum than a blog. Not so bad if it’s short exchanges, but not good for longer ones. Accordingly, posts will be limited to 200 words until further notice and we’ll see how that goes.

OK, here endeth the boring but necessary sermon.

Can animals consent?

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So Germany is to ban “bestiality” under animal welfare law, according to yesterday’s Guardian.

Like young children, animals cannot give “informed consent”. Interesting, then, that Peter Singer, pioneering philosopher of animal rights, has not condemned sex with animals.

Some years ago he reviewed a book on the subject. Among other interesting points, he said this:

…sex with animals does not always involve cruelty. Who has not been at a social occasion disrupted by the household dog gripping the legs of a visitor and vigorously rubbing its penis against them? The host usually discourages such activities, but in private not everyone objects to being used by her or his dog in this way, and occasionally mutually satisfying activities may develop.

I recommend reading his entire piece:

The German ban appears to be an attempt to deflect attention away from real animal rights issues:

Agriculture minister Ilse Aigner was said to have introduced the amendment to appease animal rights campaigners angry that more is not being done to tackle perceived animal rights abuses in the agricultural industry. Campaigners wants bans on cutting off piglets’ tails, and the castration of piglets and branding of horses without anaesthesia. (from Guardian report)

Mary gets in touch

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Mary Beard kindly replied after Heretic TOC queried by email the accuracy of her radio statement that the age of consent in England was 12 for many centuries. The eminent classical scholar conceded that “what happened between 13th and 19th century is complicated”, adding “and how far driven by LAW is not clear”.

Yep, no argument with that. Thanks to excellent work by reader Peter (see comment to Mary, Mary, wonderfully contrary) we can now refer to important information in Carolyn E. Cocca’s book, Jailbait : the politics of statutory rape laws in the United States, which goes back to the English origins of those laws. On page 10 of that book, Cocca wrote about the Statute of Westminster of 1275. She says:

This newly drafted law constructed the crime as sexual intercourse with a female under 12, who was regarded as unable to consent. The offence was made a capital one in 1285, and the age was lowered to 10 in 1576, “if any person shall unlawfully and carnally know and abuse any woman-child under the age of 10 years, every such unlawful and carnal knowledge shall be a felony.

However, it seems the Statute of Westminster was not explicitly repealed by the later Act, so 12 arguably continued to be the age of consent. But if the girl was 10 or 11 years old an offence against her would count only as a misdemeanour, not as a felony. In other words, it was to be considered a less serious offence, punishable “only” by prison rather than by death.

So basically Mary could well have been right, but for centuries the law was hardly crystal clear. The late historian Vern Bullough was of the opinion that the English AOC was raised from 10 to 12 by the Offences Against the Person Act 1861; then to 13 in 1875 and to 16 in 1885.  (Bullough, V.A., Children and adolescents as sexual beings: a historical overview, Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am. 13(3), 447-59, July 2004).

Whatever! What we can be sure of is that for centuries the AOC was a hell of a lot lower than it is now. Also, as readers have pointed out, the AOC in question was solely an age at which girls could give valid consent to sex with a male. Unless “sodomy” was involved, any other age and gender combination might well have passed muster throughout most of history.

A rather special forum called Sexnet

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Heretic TOC was going to write about the latest craziness in Britain: last week’s “sexual exploitation” report from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England – a portentous sounding outfit that ought to be helping the young but which in practice contributes to their oppression, or at least suppression.

I must come back to that – prod me if I don’t – but it would be a shame to let the agenda here be dictated utterly by the latest mainstream news, much of which is so repetitious: more stats, more reports, more cases of “offending”.

All this should not be allowed to obscure deeper currents of perhaps more lasting significance that are not necessarily featured by the media.

That is why I am going to be talking about a forum called Sexnet, both now and in future. It’s getting a bit late as I write, so I’ll just do a brief introduction for now.

I finally joined Sexnet a little over two years ago after being invited to do so at a conference in Paris way back in 2000. I’ve been kicking myself over prevaricating for an entire decade because it turns out to be an amazing scene.

It’s a private membership affair, which makes it sound as though we go in for orgies. Well, there’s none of that, sadly, but what it lacks in sexual excitement it makes up for in the intellectual kind. There are over 400 members, nearly all of whom have a PhD. I have never counted, but I’d say a couple of hundred are professors, including a few famous ones, such as neuroscientist Simon LeVay, who made his name by identifying what the press dubbed (wrongly) “the gay brain”, and Ray Blanchard, who has become a sort of pantomime villain among minor-attracted persons mainly on account of his extensively cited “peter meter” studies with sex offenders and his efforts to get “hebephilia” included as a disorder in DSM, the psychiatrists’ bible.

More about them in due course. Meanwhile, I should add that membership is heavily weighted towards psychologists, neuroscientists, and various aspects of biology: human reproduction, as you would expect, plus endocrinology and much more. There are specialists studying aspects of sexual behaviour in animals, anthropologists and sociologists with sexual research interests, criminologists, researchers in sex offender treatment and epidemiology, etc. There are even a couple of journalists, including Debbie Nathan, joint author of Satan’s Silence with Michael Snedeker, which “debunked” the satanic ritual abuse allegations of the 1980s.

Where do I fit in? Partly as author of a couple of paedophilia-related books, but initially I think I was invited mainly as a specimen paedophile: I was there for inspection by the experts, along with a few other sexual minority people, including transsexuals.

Sexnet was set up by Prof. J. Michael Bailey, a big name in psychology at Northwestern University, Illinois, and is run very simply as an email listserve. Mike is still the moderator.

As may be imagined from the stellar nature of the membership (apart from my humble self, of course), debates often include good exchanges of information, and sharp – but usually courteous – clashes of opinion. I’ll get into some of the more interesting specifics in later reports.

And they say WE are nasty!

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There has been no shortage of bloodcurdling oaths against “paedophiles” since the Savile scandal broke, but none I have heard none to beat the ravings of Harry Potter star Richard Griffiths some years ago.

I’d feed all paedophiles into a tree shredder,” he vowed, “and anything left the police can have.

Remember Griffiths? He was Harry’s bullying Uncle Vernon, the one who made the young magician sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. Seems he was a natural for the role.

In fact this Dick Dastardly turns out to be a serial offender. On another occasion, he reportedly said:

Now, me, paedophiles, if it was left to me, I would hurt them so much it would upset and shock everybody in the country. I can think of really nasty things that I would like to see done to them. And I wouldn’t care if it didn’t change their behaviour – it would just certainly put them on notice that if you do this, you will have your skin removed, you will be made to go around to do really painful things before you’re allowed to die.

And they say WE are nasty!

Actually, though, Heretic TOC finds himself wondering whether this isn’t all a bit tongue in cheek, for two reasons.

Firstly, Griffiths played the role of Hector, a school master with distinctly pederastic tendencies in Alan Bennett’s play The History Boys, which was a great triumph on New York’s Broadway as well as London’s West End. He stuck with the part in the later film version too. Unlike Uncle Vernon, Hector was a sympathetic figure. He came across as a fine teacher who had a good rapport with his boys, and no less so for giving them lifts home on his motorbike and groping them in the process. Could anyone who really hated paedophiles have made such a good job of this part?

Secondly, there is a remarkable similarity between Griffiths’ style and Jimmy Savile’s. In a TV interview towards the end of his life, Savile admitted telling the tabloid press in earlier years that he hated children. Why had he done this? To put the press off the scent: it was a way of pouring cold water on any suggestion he might be too fond of them. And what does Griffiths say? In an interview with The Sun, he admitted – or claimed – that he dislikes children. He told a magazine: “I like playing Vernon — it gives me a licence to be horrible to kids.”

Not that I am insinuating anything. Griffiths is a married man and we all know that they are NEVER anything but the straightest of straight! Seriously, in all probability he IS straight. But anyone who has played a pederast in a drama is probably wise to be an anti-paedo drama queen off-stage.

Many thanks to reader willistina for alerting me to Newgon’s anti-paedophile quotes page, to which I owe the Griffiths utterances.   

 

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