It is a good bet that anyone described as “creepy” these days has earned the unenviable epithet through suspicions he is a paedo: for lazy reviewers of novels and films it has become the go-to cliché for hinting that the scenario includes a sinister and scary perv.
Far more sinister and scary, though, is a rather different kind of creepiness: Mission Creep. In a sexual context, it is everywhere. Feminist analysis that began quite reasonably some decades ago with a long-overdue assault on entrenched “patriarchal” power structures, may have been hostile to adult-child sexual contacts but care was generally taken to emphasise that if children wanted to express themselves sexually it was fine and dandy to do it among themselves. Not anymore! Even kids are under attack now for “inappropriate” sexual behaviour, which has come to mean pretty much anything sexual at all. With anyone. Including yourself.
Nor do “normal” adults escape the ever-widening remit of the nay-sayers. The fight against grotesque abuses of male power expressed through such cultural practices as female genital mutilation, rape as a weapon of war and so forth, is a legitimate, vital and continuing one: gang rape in India is a particularly horrific phenomenon right now, as registered in Heretic TOC’s “No wonder women turn against ‘teasing’”. But the cause will not be helped by Mission Creep that extends to wiping out – or trying to – every conceivable manifestation of male sexual interest.
The viragos now conducting a vicious, vindictive campaign to oust a leading member of the minority party in Britain’s governing coalition are a case in point. Lord Rennard, formerly chief executive of the Liberal Democratic party, was accused of making passes at female party workers, touching them as he did so. One “victim” said he brushed parts of her that she “didn’t want to be brushed” (Would that be as opposed to the parts she did want to be brushed?). An internal party inquiry concluded there was credible evidence “the women’s personal space had been violated”, but not enough evidence to establish that there was a case of sexual harassment to be answered. Brendan O’Neill, in Spiked, rightly asked “who benefits from this redefinition of normal human activity as harassment. It certainly isn’t women, who come to be treated as fragile creatures ill-suited to the rough workplace – an argument I’m sure feminists might once have challenged.”
The attacks on entertainer Jimmy Savile, no longer alive to defend himself against mere allegations, are another case in point. In “Savile: The Power to Abuse” on the BBC’s Panorama programme this week we were treated to such gems as a man testifying to his horror after taking his young niece to meet Savile at a public event and seeing him kiss her. This was supposed to show that Savile, as a huge celebrity with great influence in high places, was able to offend in plain sight and get away with it. The uncle, asked whether he had tried to intervene or complain on his niece’s behalf, unwittingly and hilariously revealed the true source of Savile’s evil power. He had not felt able to intervene, he said, because there was a whole crowd of girls lining up to be kissed! The superstar’s power, in other words, was fan power. If, like James Bond, he had a licence to do what others could not, it was a licence to thrill, not kill.
Also this week we see a third kind of Mission Creep. Or rather we would see it, but this creepy beast is a monster of the shadows: I feel like shouting “Look behind you!” to the all-unseeing British public. This is the creeping mission of the security establishment. The securitocracy, as noted here recently, is now adding paedophilia to its empire of anxiety. “Paedophiles to be treated like terrorists” was Heretic TOC’s headline. It referred to a forthcoming measure against online “paedophile manuals”, a proposal sold as analogous to sanctions against terrorists who download guides to bomb-making.
This measure, it must now be solemnly reported, was duly if obscurely announced in the government’s new legislative programme, in the Queen’s Speech. Well, not quite in the Queen’s Speech. Perhaps it was thought too embarrassing for Her Majesty to utter the word “paedophile”. Instead, she said briefly “a Serious Crime Bill will be brought forward to…disrupt serious organised crime”. An official briefing note issued with the published text added, just as briefly, that the Bill would “create a new offence of possessing ‘paedophilic manuals’.” Perhaps the government found it too embarrassing to spell out how they intend to define “paedophilic manuals” in a way that will not include this blog – or maybe a disguised intention to outlaw Heretic TOC is another aspect of Mission Creep!
Finally, I would just add that I will be guilty of Mission Creep myself unless I am very careful. Heretic TOC’s mission does not include defending the indefensible, and some of Jimmy Savile’s behaviour may have gone too far. As for Chris Rennard, His Lordship was perhaps a bit free with his wandering hands and should be made to sit on the Naughty Step for 10 minutes, or perhaps offer his “victims” a decent meal out with him at a posh restaurant by way of penance. If they don’t want to kiss and make friends again (or just make friends again), well, tough: their apparent determination to crucify the guy is out of all proportion and should not be indulged.
My invocation in this context of a voguish punishment for errant toddlers (the Naughty Step) is not accidental: how to liberate childhood sexuality while maintaining reasonable sanctions against precocious liberty-taking by little Lord Rennards is a topic that needs discussion and which I hope to take up soon.
PS: I’ve just noticed that pageviews on Heretic TOC have now topped 100,000. Standing at 100,723 over 575 days, that comes to 175 per day since launch in November 2012. Is that good or bad? Hard to say: the top blogs in popular mainstream subjects doubtless have a vast readership, but they number only a few thousand whereas the total number of blogs in the world is now heading for the hundreds of millions, with an average of under 10 pageviews per day. What interests me more is the increasing number of comments received as time goes on and the generally extremely high quality of these contributions, especially latterly. So there is clearly an appetite for intelligent discussion. Well done all you heretics for providing it!