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.