We’ve seen it before, haven’t we? Those who start wars on terror end up behaving like terrorists themselves. The virtual ink dry was barely dry on Heretic TOC’s warning last week that British paedophiles are to be treated as terrorists when news came through that in Germany the police have begun their own reign of terror.
For what else can it be called, really, when 150 police officers – that’s right, one hundred and fifty – are deployed in an operation to arrest a handful of people peacefully enjoying a Spring day out, including a trip to a zoo with a little girl? In effect, indeed, they arrested the child, who was reportedly “taken into care”. She was aged just five. One can only imagine, with dismay, the shock and distress visited upon the poor mite, and the lasting trauma as she comes to understand how comprehensively her world has been shattered.
A brief report from Germany reached us in the form of a Heretic TOC comment posted by “Ovid” i.e. the German blog of that name. Further details have now been gleaned from the blog itself insofar as the vagaries of a Google translation allow: the grammar may be rough and ready but my experience suggests the substance is far more trustworthy than mainstream media reports based on police propaganda.
Ovid told us 11 girl-lovers were arrested, supposedly on suspicion of belonging to a child pornography or paedophile ring: the police appear to have no idea which, saying it is “early days” for the enquiry. In other words, they piled in with no evidence, hoping to find some. The 10 men and a woman were arrested in the city of Aschersleben, Saxony-Anhalt, and were released soon after without, as yet, any charges. Some houses were searched. Ovid’s comment also linked to an English-language news report which played up lurid police claims of major criminality – claims which the police would of course have known would look dramatically real if they went into action like a military unit, as they did, complete with over 20 vehicles. It was though they were likely to encounter armed resistance – as though, in other words, they were dealing with terrorists!
The suspects, Ovid informs us, had all known each other from an online forum, girlloverforum.net. They were having a get-together, just to have a nice day out and a chat in person, including a planned barbecue later on. The little girl was the niece of one of them. The news reports speculated that she was being used in playgrounds to lure “more victims”. More? Who then was the first victim? Not the niece, it seems: the group were under surveillance all day in the town, including visits to a flea market and a zoo, without any criminal activity being seen. If there had been direct evidence of this sort, presumably those responsible would have been charged, and probably kept in custody.
Interestingly, only the initial press reports made the “luring” claim: later accounts backed off. The little girl had simply been playing with other children, although even this was given a sinister twist: now she was said to have been “abused as a decoy”, whatever that meant. Perhaps it loses something in translation.
Ovid’s blog pinpoints an investigative journalist “from RTL”, the massive pan-European broadcasting conglomerate, as a police informant. This investigator had been invited to the Aschersleben gathering after pretending to be a paedophile. One supposes RTL and the police shared the common presumption that simply being attracted to children of either sex amounts to a good reason for thwarting any attempt to meet others with similar feelings. The civil right to freedom of assembly is not for paedophiles, it seems.
As for the police, once a reporter from a big media outfit was involved, they had to be seen to be doing something, hence the great display of a major operation, regardless of whether there was any evidence to justify it.
Another comment on Heretic TOC, by “A”, noted that this German development comes hard on the heels not only of the British “treat them as terrorists” move but also soon after the pro-paedophile Martijn association (Vereniging Martijn) in the Netherlands was banned by a ruling of the Dutch Supreme Court. Unless the case is fought in the European Court of Human Rights, it could be the end of the line for Martijn after a long legal battle. The Supreme Court ruled last month that Martijn be banned and disbanded because its activities were “contrary to public order”.
The prosecuting authorities had originally tried to use the criminal law against Martijn. This failed because the organisation had broken no laws. But then there was a petition to parliament demanding the banning of the association, with 70,000 signatures. When a parliamentary debate failed to lead to further action, the public prosecutor took the matter before the courts in 2012, using the civil law. The prosecutor won the first hearing but lost in the appeal court, which took a more liberal view, declaring that society should tolerate unpopular beliefs. Now, this appeal verdict has in its turn been overthrown in the country’s highest court.
Heretic TOC has been told by a well informed Dutch source that the Supreme Court found “Martijn downplays the dangers of sexual contact with young children” and “even glorifies such contacts”. If that sounds familiar it could be thanks to your knowledge of British anti-terrorism legislation or because you read Heretic TOC’s prediction last time that a new crime of “glorifying” paedophilia will be next on the statute books.
But the Dutch have beaten us to it via this civil law pronouncement. The court said: “Although in general great restraint should be exercised in the banning and dissolution of an association, in this very special case a democratic society requires that the association must be banned and disbanded in the interest of protecting the health and rights and freedoms of children.”
That would presumably be their “right” to do as they are told and their “freedom” to be unable to engage in sexual contacts of their own choice.
In the view of my very reliable Dutch source, Martijn was the author of its own downfall because the association failed to separate its dialogue with society from “titillating stories written for members”. Any such policy may well have hastened Martijn’s demise but Heretic TOC notes that girlloverforum is said to be cautiously moderated. Thus, appeasing hostile opinion apparently does not help all that much! In these circumstances it is tempting just to “publish and be damned”. There is something to be said for going out in a blaze of glory, or “glorification”, but whether it is really worth doing so must be judged against one’s objectives. If the aim is to educate ourselves and a wider public we should struggle to keep our voices heard in an unimpeachably temperate and rational way. If even then we are silenced, at least we can be sure we do not have ourselves to blame.
Forgive the “we” in all this. We are individuals. Between us we hold a range of views. We include those who have posted here dozens of times, others just once, and in the case of “lurkers” (who may include both sympathetic and hostile readers) not at all. And it is an “I”, not a “we”, who carries legal responsibility for the contents of Heretic TOC as its host. The unfortunate German experience demonstrates, though, that formal responsibility for web content is not the only thing that counts.
Nor is prosecution or civil action in the courts. Yet another factor adding to the pressures upon us is official harassment of the “We’re watching you!” variety. Registered sex offenders get it all the time, of course: constant monitoring by the police, including home visits at which all manner of personal questions may be asked. In the case of a convicted person, there is at least a clear and lawful rationale for such intrusions, even if we do not agree with them. In yet another sign of our oppressive times, though, and an indication of their thoroughly global nature, New Zealand blogger Peter Hooper found the police on his doorstep recently even though he has no convictions and their hostile interest in him owed nothing to illegality, either his own or that of others.
Peter, whose name will be familiar to many here as a commentator on Heretic TOC, has his own blog called Take-A-Risk-NZ (see Blog Roll, right). The name might suggest a certain recklessness but those who know Peter’s posts would hardly accuse him of that. On the contrary, his thoughtful, painstaking, style and unfailing courtesy suggest an irreproachable figure, a man of integrity.
On his blog a couple of months ago he said two plain clothes police officers came to his apartment complex. They had taken an interest in an image he had used on his blog and his Facebook page of a boy pointing a gun at his head. It had appeared on Peter’s blog in connection with the possible effect of the American Psychological Association’s policies. The photo had a caption: “Each day 30 to 150 American teens realize they’re attracted to younger children. Almost half will consider suicide. APA’s response: ignore them or threaten prosecution as child molesters.”
Ring any bells? Once more, there is a Heretic TOC connection. This blog ran the same photo last November, and for exactly the same reasons as Peter’s. There was nothing illegal about it, or even controversial except that it was used in a hard-hitting campaign to challenge the APA. So why did the police take an interest? They said they knew the image had appeared on Tumblr, so anyone could have seen and published the image without having any connection to the boy depicted. So there was no pretence of investigating possible abuse of the boy in the photo. They also said they understood Peter had not broken the law and I had a legal right to express his views.
They were there, evidently, solely because anyone reproducing such a photo constituted “a person of interest” to them. In other words, if you are interested in radical sexual politics, you are a suspicious character. You are not necessarily suspected of doing anything. Just being what you are – a troublemaker at the very least, no doubt, in their eyes – is sufficient for them to let you know they are taking an interest, and watching you. They actually said that just before they left: “We’re watching you.”
Speaking of watching, I have not been paying close enough attention to my word-count and the time available for my blogging. I meant to catch up with unfinished business from last time, about the new Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act in the UK, but again it will have to be deferred to another occasion. If there is one, that is. With Big Brother watching, it cannot be guaranteed!