What to do about the Twitter twats?

81 Comments

Too many tweets make a twat.

Famously, that was a proverb for our times coined by British prime minister David Cameron in a radio interview. While his wit and wisdom may not quite rank with Solomon or Confucius, it is definitely the time for Heretic TOC to be talking about Twitter twats and other social media jerks following a week of intense online hostility after my appearance on 60 Minutes.

I wouldn’t mind the blitz of over a hundred abusive tweets; I could put up with the 400 comments on Stinson Hunter’s Facebook page, many of them extremely vituperative and offering illegal incitements to violence; I could even live with the death threats (as long as they aren’t actually carried out, of course!), some of them explicitly threatening to hunt me down and inflict specific tortures, described in lovingly graphic detail.

All of that is just a bit of a yawn compared to the hostile acts already carried out: not physical violence but violations of the right to free speech. Facebook, bizarrely, instead of taking to task the people who were breaking their own Terms of Service (ToS) by posting messages that “bully, intimidate, or harass”, or use “hate speech”, decided instead to disable my account, even though it has been unused for a very long time and the page contained nothing remotely controversial. Twitter, with similar rules, soon followed suit, saying my account had been suspended. I was invited to file an appeal, which I did, on the 22nd, but there was no indication of when or even whether I can expect a response. The ToS say they can terminate an account at any time without giving a reason.

For me, Twitter’s action is much the more serious of the two, partly because it is a social medium I was beginning to make active use of (too bad, as well, for any Followers with a particular interest) and partly because it tends to be more “political” than Facebook. Both are important, though, because there are so many other sites where logging in is done via Facebook or Twitter.  The Twitter suspension notice followed a tweet by a certain Ian Puddick, in which he claimed that “MP Sir Rhodes Boyce was in charge of #PIE magazine which listed schools where boys could b raped by at partys”. I replied: “@ianpuddick claims Sir Rhodes Boyce (sic) was ‘in charge of #PIE magazine’. LOL! Boyson never a member of #PaedophileInformationExchange”.

The reply was blocked. The effect, as may be seen, is that Puddick was able to make a seriously defamatory allegation – that PIE facilitated the “rape” of minors – without me being able to reply. As the former chair of PIE, I was in effect libelled personally; so being blocked in this way was an even more grievous matter than an ordinary denial of free speech. The same applies to a yet greater degree for other tweets, to which I was likewise unable to reply. How about this one, from a poster called Discovery77: “This man incites violent hatred and is clearly a live threat to children. – @tomvoca Why is he free? #60Mins”.

Violent hatred? Moi? Some mistake, surely?

Perhaps not. More a case of deliberate, dishonest, malice. The question is, though, what can be done about it? Appeals to the companies concerned tend to fall on deaf ears. And taking them to court for a civil action looks a tough proposition. For a start, I live in Britain but both Facebook and Twitter specify that their ToS are governed by the laws of the State of California and that any court action must be heard in that state.

Phil Stevens, in a comment on Heretic TOC, suggested that other Facebook users could report the “Stinson Hunter public figure” page using several specific options on the Report Page menu: “I don’t think it should be on Facebook”; “It’s threatening, violent or suicidal”; “credible threat of violence”. He did this himself but then received a message: “We have reviewed your complaint, and found [the Stinson Hunter page] not to be in violation of the terms of use.”  Another commentator, Christian, reported a similar denial when he challenged anti-Semitic posts that had supported genocide.

David Kennerly suggested, “We don’t get to tell them how to run their business but we can help in making Facebook increasingly irrelevant by going elsewhere…” The trouble with that idea, voting with our feet, so to speak, is that some of these social media sites are monopolies: there is no other site one could go to as an alternative to Twitter, for instance. And Twitter is increasingly becoming too important to ignore.

So, if reporting abuse and appealing against accounts being blocked are ineffective, and if the civil law is out of reach, what remains? Well, there is the criminal law. I don’t have high hopes because there must be scores of people given a hard time on Stinson Hunter’s page, especially, who have complained to the police about violent threats. The fact that his page continues to post these threats suggests that the police and/or the public prosecutors, are no more interested in rocking the boat than the social media corporations.

On the other hand, most of the people exposed by Hunter have probably had quite enough of the police already: they are unlikely to be confident complainers. I have similar misgivings. It is all too easy to initiate a complaint, only to find that any subsequent investigation is directed not against the offender but against the complainant – as we have seen all too clearly demonstrated by Facebook and Twitter.  Nevertheless, I have drafted a letter to the police, calling for an investigation into the individuals who have posted incitements to violence and death threats. If such an investigation were to result in successful prosecutions, followed by media publicity that would “send a message” showing people are not fair game for lynch mobs, no matter what their views, it would surely be worth doing.

But would it really happen? Such a result would not be unprecedented. Only this month two brothers who dubbed themselves “The Paedophile Squad” were jailed for trying to blackmail “a convicted child sex offender”. This gained some publicity but only, it seems, in the Romford Recorder, a local newspaper where the offence took place. Blackmail is in any event a different matter to what we have been discussing, although this one did take place in the context of a Stinson Hunter-style sting operation.

More directly relevant is a case from earlier this year in Northern Ireland, albeit this was a civil case brought under privacy law, not a criminal prosecution. A report in the Belfast Telegraph said a “child abuser” was awarded £20,000 damages after being “named and shamed” on Facebook, in what was said to be the first case of its kind worldwide. The success of the action makes one aspect of Facebook’s ToS mentioned above – that the corporation will only entertain cases brought in California – appear spurious and unenforceable.

The judge said information published on the page could have threatened public order and incited violence and hatred: “It was an attempt to hunt a sex offender, to drive him from his home and to expose him to vilification.” The sex offender had claimed harassment, violation of his right to privacy and breaches of the Data Protection Act against Facebook and the person whose Facebook page it was, someone by the name of Joe McCloskey. Both Facebook and McCloskey were held liable for misuse of private information, with a further finding against the page operator for unlawful harassment.

One of the commentators on the page had written: “I would tie him to a tree and put a blow torch where he wouldn’t want it. And enjoy watching him in pain.” Others called for his whereabouts to be reported to locals, with a recommendation given: “If you see, kill the ****.”

The victim of these threats claimed his fear of violence was heightened by one of those posting on the page being a former paramilitary commander who forced him to flee in a past attack on his home. He also testified he had been threatened with being thrown off a pier during a fishing trip, hounded out of a cinema and had to use a supermarket trolley to fight off another tormentor.

This last paragraph indicates that the Irish case led to serious local consequences for the victim, thereby providing a solid basis for the award of substantial damages. Also, if the case had been a criminal one, the victim’s evidence would have amounted to a clear demonstration that the threats had been highly credible and that the online incitement had led to real intimidation, close up and terrifying. That degree of credibility is mercifully lacking at present in my own case. While on balance that is definitely a blessing, it means a prosecution is  less likely. That is because, under the Guidelines on prosecuting cases involving communications sent via social media issued by the Crown Prosecution Service, a prosecution should not be undertaken unless the threat is indeed credible. In the words of the Lord Chief Justice: “… a message which does not create fear or apprehension in those to whom it is communicated [fails] for the simple reason that the message lacks menace.”

Not that such a sense of menace must be reinforced by intimidation at close quarters. Remember Caroline Criado-Perez last year? The feminist who successfully campaigned for a woman (the novelist Jane Austen) to be featured on a British bank note? Her Twitter abusers were prosecuted, leading to guilty pleas. Their threats did not appear to have led to any offline intimidation. In order to get the case launched, it was sufficient for Caroline Criado-Perez to say she had been caused “significant fear” that she would be found and the threats would be carried out.

Prosecutions also have to pass a test that they would be in the public interest. I can see nothing in the relevant guidance to suggest my case would fail that test, although it may be judged there is too little evidence that I have been seriously scared!

As for launching my own civil action, I would find it hard to avail myself of privacy law because, by going on TV with controversial opinions, and blogging in like manner under my own name, I can hardly complain that anyone is invading my private life. To get redress for that I’d have to sue myself for being recklessly open!

So, am I totally snookered? Should I send that letter I drafted or would it just be a waste of time and effort? Is there anything else that can be done? Your views would be most welcome.

 

Negotiating a little girl’s knickers down

145 Comments

Judging by his obsessive repetition of the phrase “little girl”, and his fixation on getting into their knickers (“I like this issue”), Ross Coulthart may raise some eyebrows when his interview with me eventually goes out on Australia’s 60 Minutes TV programme. Viewers could be forgiven for thinking he was the one who “wants adults to be allowed to have sexual intercourse with children” – itself an expression rammed down my throat with rapacious insistence dozens of times in different variations, heedless of my protests.

As for the word “consent”, there were over 50 mentions. I know because I made my own audio recording. Trigger warning: heretics may find this induces anger and nausea!

Coulthart trained as a lawyer, according to his online profile. While his emotive use of language was pure tabloid rabble rousing, and the lurid conspiracy theory at  the heart of his purported investigation – an alleged Establishment cover-up of “VIP paedophilia” – was just evidence-free speculation, there is also a lawyerly forensic focus to his style that did actually succeed in pinning down one issue worth exploring a bit further here.

We think we know all the arguments over consent because we have been over it a million times. Usually, though, our frame of reference as MAPs is to see consent in a broader context. We know that children who supposedly “cannot consent” to sex often in practice do just that; we know that widely varying ages of consent apply in different legislatures and that where the age is lower there is no discernible problem compared to where it is higher. We also feel that the quality of the relationship is what counts, not the legalistic formality of consent, for which there is no requirement in many non-sexual contexts, even hazardous ones.

I could go on, exploring this broad contextual background. That is precisely what Coulthart was determined to stop me doing. His strategy was to home in, myopically, on a single detail from my book Paedophilia: The Radical Case. As quite a few heretics here will know, there is a whole chapter on consent (Ch. 8). But my interviewer chose to take just three paragraphs from a different chapter (Ch. 3) and focus on less than three sentences cherry-picked from them. These are the paragraphs:

Take, for instance, the little girl who will happily smile at and chatter to a “nice man”, and will sit across his knee with her legs apart. If the man is susceptible to paedophilic feelings, he may be tempted to see this as “seductive” behaviour, when the child in fact may be quite unaware of the way he is interpreting events – she may be exhibiting, in the traditional sense, all the “innocence” of childhood (even though, quite independently, she may also be highly sexed and know how to give herself an orgasm).

The usual assumption is that this potential for misunderstanding is bound to be a bad thing, but this is not necessarily so. Typically, in the formation of a paedophilic attachment, as in those between adults, the actual behaviour of either party develops not precipitately, but step by step: each stage is “negotiated” by hints and signals, verbal and non-verbal, by which each indicates to the other what is acceptable and what is not.

In our example, the man might start by saying what pretty knickers the girl was wearing, and he would be far more likely to proceed to the next stage of negotiation if she seemed pleased by the remark than if she coloured up and closed her legs. Despite “being wrong” about her intentional sexual seductiveness, he might never-the-less be right in gradually discovering that the child is one who likes to be cuddled and who thinks it great fun to be tickled under her knickers.

The bold parts in the above are plain text in the original. I have emphasised them as these are the bits Coulthart concentrated on, to the exclusion of all else.

I had agreed to this interview simply to defend my “VIP” friends Peter Righton and Charles Napier from some outrageous allegations recently made against them. I had no reason to suppose the programme would be interested in my view of consent. I had no wish to avoid the issue, though, so when it was raised in the first few minutes I did not duck away from it, emphasising that the practice is more important than the theory, giving the example of Theo Sandfort’s Netherlands-based research demonstrating that children can consent without harm, and even with beneficial outcomes. I imagine they’ll cut this section out!

When he mentioned the “little girl” scenario in my book, he said:

Nowhere in that paragraph do you even talk about express consent. You talk about implied consent from that poor little girl.

He was right.

Ignoring the blatantly emotive and misleading “poor little girl” rhetoric, I felt the most urgent need was to drag my own 20th century language into the 21st with a nod to the contemporary debate on express or affirmative consent in the context of adult relationships. There was this exchange:

Me: In the light of the debate that has taken place in recent years on that aspect of consent, I am persuaded that maybe, yes, one does need to be a little bit more affirmative than as stated in the text just quoted.

Coulthart: So you no longer believe that implied consent from a child is enough?

Me: It may not be but I have not reviewed…that particular scenario for some time; in the light of the debate on affirmative consent I think I would need to think about that again. But most of all, where I need to think again, is with regard to what happens many years after, because people can be traumatised retrospectively.

It was doubtless a disappointing reply for him. He had hoped for something more scandalous, and tried to provoke it with a further resort to emotive language:

Coulthart: You’ll appreciate that the scenario you describe, of a little girl on a man’s knee, sounds just like the creepy, pederastic child molester scenario of every worst nightmare?

Me: No,  the worst nightmare is far worse than that. The worst nightmare is a child being abducted at knifepoint and raped and killed.

Coulthart: But fundamentally, isn’t this at the heart of the problem, that you have men who want to have sex with children, telling themselves that children are consenting when transparently that child is not consenting and couldn’t possibly consent?

Me: No, I don’t think so. It all depends on how the child feels at the time and whether you’ve got an atmosphere… of hysteria. The way it’s being cranked up is making things worse for children because we are now getting to the stage where children themselves are being accused of being sex offenders. I now see, there’s a police report recently… even four year olds are being taken to task in schools for being “sex offenders”.

This wasn’t what he wanted to hear either so he soon moved on, to the VIP allegations. And there the consent question might have ended. Once we had been over the Righton/Napier stuff, Coulthart said “OK, we’ll stop there”.

With the camera off, as I thought, my immediate response was to say to him “You don’t really believe all that crap, do you?” He admitted some of the allegations were “questionable” and we continued for a while with what I took to be a private conversation between the two of us, including him asking whether I really believed some of the things I had been saying. I was some way into answering before I realised the cameras were still rolling, and then I felt I needed to keep going because it was became quite confrontational and I didn’t want to back down.

So it seems his “OK, we’ll stop there” instruction to the film crew had basically been just a trick to catch me off guard. I shouldn’t have fallen for it, but I am glad we had the exchange that followed, even though it felt sterile and ridiculous at the time on account of its narrowness.

His tactic was to home in very tightly on a single phrase from my book – “each stage is ‘negotiated’ by hints and signals” – and enquire precisely what I meant. What would it take, he demanded to know, for a paedophile to be satisfied that he had the “little girl’s consent to have sex with her”? What words would do it? Or might non-verbal “hints and signals” be enough? If so, what examples could I give? Would I paint a picture for him of how this scenario of the little girl on my knee would play out, leading to “sex” with her? Imagine her, he said, she’s sitting there right now, on your lap. How do you “negotiate” – negotiate! – for this little girl to have sex with you? How do you really know she is consenting?

My answer, broadly, was that the benignly disposed adult will be satisfied with nothing less than an enthusiastic response, whether verbal or not. He will be keen to have the child’s approval and will stop in the face of silence or signs of anxiety. I did not make the mistake of saying clearly expressed verbal consent would be the definitive green light because I don’t think it is. It may work for adults and older minors – I am thinking of the valuable comments made here by “A” – but even verbal assent may be given fearfully. It may mask a lack of real enthusiasm. Any sensitive child-lover can tell when consent is really being given. Also, I pointed out, the consent concept implies one-way traffic: what about kids who take the initiative?

As for the insensitive or manipulative adult, he will run the risk of a later complaint by the child and a criminal conviction. I have never advocated taking away the protection of the criminal law, and neither did the Paedophile Information Exchange.

My use of the word “negotiate” in the book was a tricky one to negotiate in the interview itself. I just ignored Coulthart’s scornful emphasis on the term. Justifying my use of the word would have been tough. I would have insisted he was wrenching it out of context except that I could not remember the context of a passage written 35 years ago! Re-reading it since, I realise I was deliberately being provocative. It is a word from the world of business and diplomacy. We think of hard-nosed  bargaining between experienced players of a tricky game, in which they use all sorts of cunning ruses to get what they want at the other party’s expense. Going beyond the cliché of the hapless, helpless, outmanoeuvred child, though, my book revealed children as potentially skilful and successful negotiators: a “little girl” is often notoriously able to wrap her father around her little finger, as the saying goes. In the end, negotiation is simply about saying what you want, what you like doing, or might like to try out, and agreeing about it. That’s not so hard.

So I believe my argument stood up to intense close scrutiny but I doubt many viewers will see it that way: Coulthart’s emotive language, combined with his softly-spoken air of confident authority will guarantee that – along with editing out my stronger points!

My emphasis on showing real enthusiasm rather than verbal agreement turns out, somewhat to my surprise, to be pretty much what is said by proponents of affirmative consent. But opponents claim that in about a quarter of all states in the US, sex isn’t legal without positive agreement, and “Should we really put people in jail for not doing what most people aren’t doing?” Difficulties identified in a proposed new legal code in the US, are that it is said to consider consent meaningless “under conditions of unequal power” (between adults, that is) and that it would shift the burden of proof from the accuser to the accused.

 

TRANSLATION CUP RUNNETH OVER

Heretic TOC is delighted to report that there were more than enough volunteers for the task of producing a transcript of my interview with Testimony Films, which was used as the basis for David Kennerly’s film A Decent Life. These volunteers, who each transcribed one or more sections of the 11-part film on YouTube, all completed their work very quickly. Many thanks to each of them for their sterling work!

The project was undertaken following an offer to translate the film into French. This was itself a very generous voluntary gesture by an enthusiast, to whom I again extend my thanks. I am sure David will concur, as I trust will other heretics here who have seen his excellent film.

After all the transcription tasks had been allotted, another volunteer turned up. I found myself thinking: Great, how best to make good use of this wonderful willingness to help? One other task to which more than one person could contribute would be making a subject index of all the Heretic TOC blogs so far. I find I often need to refer back to previous blogs, and as they now number well over 150 the task of locating any particular theme I have written about previously is getting steadily harder and harder. The format for the index needs some careful initial thought, though. I hope to give it some attention very soon and then make a further announcement.

Pummelling the human face of paedophilia

82 Comments

Never again!  No more getting wasted for me! As I slowly come round from the monumental hangover of yet another PR disaster, I swear to shun the intoxicating liquor of publicity for ever ­­­– or at least until the next tempting but illusory opportunity comes along to promote an alternative narrative in the mainstream media.

This time, on Monday, it was an interview for 60 Minutes, the Australian version of the US current affairs TV documentary series.

They said they had been looking into the alleged Westminster VIP paedophilia scandals of the 1970s and 80s, including talk of a wide-ranging conspiracy by leading government and legal figures – the so-called “Establishment” – to sweep misdeeds under the carpet. Having seen my Heretic TOC pieces defending a couple of the putative “paedos in high places”, they wanted to give some balance by airing the sceptical view I had taken. They reckoned the interview would last about 20 minutes “and a large part of it would be used in the broadcast”.

Bearing in mind the specific and narrow nature of this remit, I thought it was well worth having a go. In fact, I strongly felt it was my duty to defend my friends if I could, especially Charles Napier and Peter Righton, who have both been anonymously accused of heinous acts of brutality against kids, acts of which I am certain they would not have been capable.

Neither man is presently well placed to defend himself. Charles recently started a 13-year prison sentence for “historic” sexual involvement with boys; Peter, who died some years ago, was even accused of murder by some squalid, lying, opportunistic, scumbag of a so-called “victim”.

The interview venue, the Travellers Club in Pall Mall, London, could hardly have been better chosen to fit the VIP theme:  the membership has included eight prime ministers, to say nothing of many great explorers and travel writers, as might be expected from the name. I arrived there wearing a tie for the first time in years as the dress code for this Georgian (founded 1819) gentleman’s retreat requires one.

It was almost as though the TV people were setting me up to look like a dodgy VIP myself, part of a posh old boys’ network of “abuse”, although they insisted they often use the club when they happen to be filming in London. So, nothing personal then.

My introduction to interviewer Ross Coulthart was inauspicious, though. He was perfectly civil, but ominously pointed out that scandal and tragic death were not unknown to those who had previously stepped inside these walls.  Among the club’s famous members were two who had committed suicide, he noted. He named one as Capt. Robert Fitzroy, skipper of The Beagle on Charles Darwin’s famous voyage and inventor of the weather forecast; another was prime minister Lord Castlereagh.

As for scandal, he continued, there had been Sir Peter Hayman, holder of many high ranking posts, including High Commissioner to Canada, who was also a spymaster in his capacity as deputy director of MI6. Hayman was eventually exposed in the press and in parliament as someone who used to compose pornographic fantasies about sex with children, sharing them in a correspondence circle of like-minded other writers who would also post their stories to him. It turned out he had joined the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), under the name Henderson.

Long before hearing about his Travellers Club membership from Coulthart, I had of course expected 60 Minutes to ask me what I had known about Hayman, who was always bound to be a key figure in the programme because his case constitutes the one example of an Establishment cover-up for which there is strong – in my view incontrovertible – evidence. He was never prosecuted whereas less privileged people were, including me and several other PIE committee members.

When Coulthart asked, I just told him that I had never known Hayman at any stage of my involvement with PIE. He had just been a name, a false name, on our membership list. Only much later did I discover, to my horror, that “Henderson” had been writing fantasies that were not just pornographic but also sadistic – truly obscene, in my view. No one can prevent having their own dark fantasies if sadistic tendencies provoke them, and it is infinitely better they are written down rather than acted out. But they are deeply disturbing all the same and I had no wish to be associated with them.

Perhaps because the Hayman story has long been in the public domain, Coulthart did not dwell on it once he knew I had nothing to add. Instead, He wanted new stuff from me, about people I definitely had known, especially Napier and Righton. The background is mainly in two Heretic TOC pieces, Hi, this is Charles. I’ve been a naughty boy and Exposé outfit murders its own credibility, so I won’t labour the details of what I told 60 Minutes about them.

What I will point out, though, is the extraordinary lengths this “investigative” journalist went to in order to suppress the results of his own investigation. Instead of simply hearing me out and allowing me to say how I knew neither Charles nor Peter were violent people, I found my own credibility was on trial from the outset. Nothing I could say was given any credence.

Not that he called me a liar. Instead, it seemed I was being set up as a deluded dupe, someone so heavily invested in the ideology of consensual paedophilia that I could not see that a violently abusive gang of VIP paedophiles – including Napier and Righton as well as Hayman and others – were using PIE as a relatively respectable front for their heinous crimes.

The only time I came near to disrupting this politically congenial narrative was when I introduced material Coulthart may not have expected. I reminded him of a BBC Inside Story documentary in 1994 called The Secret Life of a Paedophile, which focused on Peter, including his friendship with Charles. In its day, this programme was itself meant to be an exposé of the pair’s supposedly dreadful deeds. Seen against the present lurid background of murder allegations, though, it turns out to be an excellent piece of evidence for the defence.

Coulthart had played up the idea that Peter had been a “powerful” figure in the Establishment, darkly implying he could have had people killed at the snap of his fingers like some mafia boss, or, better still, a man with the resources of the state at his disposal. It would be truer to say that in his role as director of education at the National Institute for Social Work, Peter was professionally influential rather than powerful: it was not the sort of job that would put cadres of tooled-up heavies wearing shades at his disposal. His influence depended, rather, on his experience and wisdom when it came to improving the lives and prospects of children traumatised in the course of a difficult upbringing, including violent, neglectful, chaotic parenting.

As I pointed out in the interview, Inside Story interviewed a number of Peter’s senior social work colleagues. While they professed themselves shocked to learn he was a boy-lover, following his conviction in 1992 for importing child porn, they admitted he was a man of enormous gifts and “a degree of good intentions”. They conceded that he came across as a kind, avuncular figure and that the “unconditional affection” he was able to show towards difficult adolescent boys made him very effective in “getting through” to those kids so their behaviour improved. It was this rare talent that made him so well respected and liked.

Did this impress Coulthart? Oh, yes, it impressed him with the need to change the subject! But try as I might to add more evidence from Inside Story, he just shouldered me off the ball, insisting we move on. So I never got to mention the home-movies shown by the BBC, seized by the police after raiding Righton’s home. This was not pornography but footage that included a holiday scene with Charles and Peter giving a couple of boys piggybacks. The kids were plainly having fun, without the slightest sign of any fear or brutality by the guys. I could have added, too, the programme’s revelation that Peter became a godfather to some children of the kids he had taught, and that his friends included a number of men he had “abused” when they were boys: plainly, they did not regard themselves as victims.

For me, though, the biggest surprise of the interview was not Coulthart’s reluctance to face the facts, frustrating as that was. Rather, it was his decision to question me at length on the more philosophical side, especially my views on why I thought adult-child sex can ever be acceptable. I would have been delighted to speak about such matters to a reasonable interviewer asking intelligent questions, such as the Guardian’s Jon Henley a couple of years ago, or even, more recently, Corinne Purtill of Global Post. What I got instead, though, was not 20 minutes in which to defend my friends, as had been proposed, but more like an hour and 20 minutes, with a whole hour of bludgeoning by Coulthart mainly on a single very narrow aspect of a child’s ability to consent. It was boring and repetitious.

Whenever I tried to develop an argument by discussing relevant research I was interrupted and diverted. After introducing Susan Clancy’s data from her book The Trauma Myth, for example, which demonstrates that the harm in consensual cases comes not from the sex but from society’s response, often years later, her findings were brushed impatiently aside. He didn’t think people were interested in the musings of “some Harvard academic”, as he disparagingly put it, compared with the more urgent task of listening to the victims. Any “victims” who had not felt traumatised, it transpired, including Clancy’s interviewees, were not to be listened to.

I know I made a number of good points despite the heavy-handed tactics. My suspicion, though, is that these will end up on the cutting room floor – always a danger with a non-live interview – and that I will come across merely as a man in denial that “a child cannot consent”, as Coulthart kept simplistically insisting.

Should I have bothered? Was this really just another PR disaster, as I said at the start? Hard to say. Perhaps only someone with the forceful rhetorical skills of former MP George Galloway should have taken on such a tough mission. My own rather polite style doesn’t work at all without being given room to breathe. I suppose I could have stuck robotically to a few simple points, as media-trained politicians do in order to “stay on message”. This guarantees you won’t make a fool of yourself but intelligent viewers hate it.

One thing they cannot take away, though, is that anyone who turns up to face the cameras will be willingly presenting a “human face of paedophilia” that otherwise finds no place in the media. There must be some value in this, don’t you think? It would be better if the face happened to be younger and more attractive than mine as I near my 70th birthday, but even so…

 

MOVIE SCRIPT WRITERS WANTED

Well, sort of.

The good news is that a native French speaker was so impressed by David Kennerly’s film A Decent Life (click on the ad below the Blogroll in the right-hand column for YouTube links) that he has offered to translate it into his own tongue.

David and I very much welcome that, but this translator says he would appreciate first being supplied with a transcription into written English of the original words, spoken by me. He will need this to work from when doing his translation into French. The spoken English in question runs to about 68 minutes.

This will be quite a time-consuming task. Both David and I are incredibly busy right now, and we will certainly remain so for at least the next several months. Accordingly, we wondered whether we might be able to find a few volunteers to take on this task. If each volunteer tackles just one or two segments of the 11-segment film, the workload should be manageable. It will probably be best to reply to me at tomocarr66@yahoo.co.uk . Look forward to hearing from you!

For those who missed the background, you can catch up by reading my blog piece last month (beneath the main blog): A DECENT NEW FILM BY DAVID KENNERLY.

%d bloggers like this: