The law, lore and allure of the jungle

55 Comments

Mowgli, the little Indian boy who grows up with wolves in Rudyard Kipling’s fabled fables, has been brought to life, or at least to animation, in over a dozen movies. First in the role was Sabu, in 1942. The son of an elephant driver, he had himself been cast as a young mahout in the 1937 film Elephant Boy, based on another Kipling yarn. The best remembered Mowgli these days, though, is the cartoon character in Disney’s classic 1967 animation The Jungle Book. And now Neel Sethi, aged 12, a first-generation Asian-American, takes the role in a just released Disney version of the same title.

Sethi looks younger in the movie, and was perhaps 10 or 11 during its studio-based shooting. That seems about right for the role, although Mowgli’s age is given as only seven in Kipling’s original 1894 book, and the 1967 film reflects this. Mowgli is the only human character seen on screen in the new version, all the others being highly realistic “talking” animals created with the latest CGI wizardry, including Mowgli’s closest jungle buddies, Bagheera the panther and Baloo the bear, as well as his deadly enemy, Shere Khan the tiger.

But it’s surely the new Mowgli many here will be impatient to check out, unless you have already devoured all the publicity photos and trailers and maybe even seen the film a few times, which wouldn’t surprise me. For those who haven’t, you could do worse than start with a whole bunch of trailers at the Disney website.

If you are smitten at first sight, that will be reason enough to jump for a ticket. More fastidious souls (which counts me out!) will look critically before leaping towards the box office. So what creative, as opposed to commercial, justification could there be for a studio to remake its own original musical masterpiece, the last film to which Walt Disney, himself an animator, contributed his own personal creative input? It’s a question that implies you cannot improve on perfection but I don’t buy that at all. As with revivals of Sophocles or Shakespeare, new generations find new things to say and new ways of saying them, while keeping brand recognition as a huge draw.

Director Jon Favreau isn’t precious about it. His explanation in a video clip linked from the Guardian is simple and persuasive. He just thought that in addition to the obvious opportunity technology now offers for greater photo realism, it would be good to “move back towards the Kipling a little bit” and go more for an adventure film rather than just an amusing musical.

It works. He has kept The Bare Necessities, in more than one sense, from the earlier film, retaining this fine song and a couple of others. The comic touch is still there too, with some great new witty lines and visual humour. As for the Kipling, I can confirm, after reading all the original stories of Mowgli’s childhood, that writer Justin Marks has indeed incorporated far more of both the plot and the spirit of Kipling’s writing than the 1967 version, including a strong and important poetic element. He has even drawn to good effect on The Second Jungle Book, of 1895.

Just a couple of niggles. The action right at the start of the film is way too fast, with Mowgli seen flying at warp speed through the jungle, leaping monkey-fashion from branch to branch in a bid to keep up with the wolf pack below. Sure, kids in the video game era are used to faster action than us oldies can keep up with, but this is just ridiculous: photo realism was the aim and this is unrealistic.

Then there is the little matter of Mowgli’s loin cloth. In the original Disney version it was indeed little. And sexy. Who among BLs could forget the marvellous scene where Bagheera grips Mowgli’s loincloth in his teeth and nearly tugs it off in an effort to pull along the resisting boy, who does not want to be taken to the man-village. The effect is very like that of the famous Coppertone ad. The new version, by contrast, is about as sexy as a chastity belt, and that is not accidental: the anxiety over Mowgli’s modesty was such that enormous effort and expense went into creating an haute couture “authentic” jungle garment that could hardly have been less authentic in terms of wild-child wear, which would of course have amounted to nothing at all – even village children in India still go naked, never mind jungle ones; or at least they did when I was last there.

Kipling, too, was very specific on the matter. Mowgli is many times referred to as “naked”. Not until he goes to the man-village is he introduced to the loin cloth. In the book, but not Favreau’s film, he stays several months in the village, where he had to “ wear a cloth round him, which annoyed him horribly”.

But why should we be faithful to Kipling’s vision? Isn’t he, after all, one of those icons of oppressive imperialism, like Cecil Rhodes, whose statue at Oxford University has been under attack recently? Well, unlike Rhodes, Kipling was a writer not a land-grabber. Rather a good one, too, a Nobel laureate in literature hailed in his day as a genius, even by such a towering figure as Henry James.

As a child, I first knew him through his Just So Stories, about how the tiger got his stripes and such like. Later, his most famous poems hove into view, including If— and Gunga Din. This poetic aspect of his talent is actually very important to the new film, along with his gifts as a story teller, helping establish a radically more profound element than is to be found in old Walt’s comic capers. But it is there in a low key way, subliminal, working unobtrusively on the heart through the immense power of rhyme, rhythm and repetition, in a chorus threaded through the work:

 

Now this is the law of the jungle,

as old and as true as the sky,

And the wolf that shall keep it may prosper,

but the wolf that shall break it must die.

 

As the creeper that girdles the tree trunk,

the law runneth forward and back;

For the strength of the pack is the wolf,

and the strength of the wolf is the pack.

 

Like so much of Kipling, it hammers at something primal in us, something atavistic and compelling. These chorus verses are part of a much longer poem, The Law of the Jungle. What did they mean for Kipling’s original readers? What do we make of them now? Our first thoughts may go to the title, and its meaning as given in modern dictionaries: the “law” is about “a place devoid of ethics where brutality and self-interest reign” (American Heritage Idioms Dictionary). In Darwinian terms, it is the Survival of the Fittest, without thought for helping others or working with them.

The dictionary definition actually derives from popular use of Kipling’s phrase, but his wolves (“the strength of the wolf is the pack”) plainly do cooperate with each other. They have a group ethic, if you will – a predatory one, for sure, but deeply rooted in shared risks and bonds of loyalty that military leaders might identify as esprit de corps. Actually, there is no “might” about it. It is no accident that Lieutenant General Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scout movement, adopted The Jungle Book as a major influence for the Cub Scouts – these junior scouts, aged about 7-11, are called wolf cubs, after all.

To speak of “risks” in the same breath as childhood these days smacks us in the face with a mighty paradox. Children now are supposed to be protected, cushioned from exposure to every kind of adventure. But the Mowgli of this new film, along with the child heroes of countless Hollywood productions, faces a multitude of life-threatening perils with aplomb. And parents flock with their kids to see it!

Oddly, in the days when real kids did have adventures on their own outside the home, Mowgli was presented as rather helpless, depending heavily for survival on the junglecraft of his friends Bagheera and Baloo. In the new version, though, in line with the original Kipling, he emerges very quickly as a crafty and capable character, quickly outsmarting all the other animals. But the book, takes this capability much further: Mowgli becomes contemptuous of the “dog’s jabber” uttered by the wolves. Like that slightly later wild child, Tarzan, he grows to be the epitome of the Noble Savage, presented as loftily superior to the nearest villagers, tied as they are to ignorant superstitions about the fearful jungle and to dreary, mind-numbing toil on the land.

Wisely, Favreau has only gone, in his own words, “a bit” towards Kipling. It wouldn’t do these days to embrace some of the less fashionable themes in the jungle stories. What has been left out, or altered, is very illuminating.

Out, for instance, is a scene in which we hear about Baloo as a teacher of junglecraft to Mowgli, including the bear’s use of corporal punishment. He says to Bagheera:

“Is there anything in the jungle too little to be killed? No. That is why I teach him these things, and that is why I hit him, very softly, when he forgets.”

“Softly! What dost thou know of softness, old iron-feet?” Bagheera grunted. “His face is all bruised today by thy – softness. Ugh.”

“Better he should be bruised from head to foot by me who love him than that he should come to harm through ignorance,” Baloo answered very earnestly.

Despite his call for softness, Bagheera is also a believer in tough love. Baloo and Bagheera rescue Mowgli after he has been kidnapped by monkeys, costing them a deal of lost fur in a battle. The man-cub must be punished for foolishly playing with the primates. We hear that Bagheera administered “half a dozen love-taps from a panther’s point of view” but for a seven-year-old boy they amounted to “as severe a beating as you could wish to avoid”.

As for what has been altered, the most striking and clever new feature is a re-assessment of what it takes to be a leader. Kipling’s Mowgli had great qualities in spades: courage, fortitude, ingenuity – priceless virtues for those venturing to the ends of the earth to run an empire. Favreau’s Mowgli is likewise favoured with this trinity of traits, but with a much stronger emphasis than before on ingenuity and enterprise: we are treated to the Survival of the Smartest, in which Mowgli emerges as a Noble Savage for the era of the teen tech titan, more Nick D’Aloisio  than Tarzan, deploying what the animals call his “tricks”. At a water hole, for instance, he fashions a cup from what might be a coconut husk, thereby far surpassing the animals’ inefficient way of drinking by lapping.

But he really hits the heights, quite literally, when he devises a way of harvesting honey on an industrial scale from hives high up an inaccessible cliff: never mind imperialist exploitation, this is a rapaciously acquisitive capitalist in embryo. Baloo in the book had taught him “how to speak politely to the wild bees when he came upon a hive of them fifty feet above ground…”. But in Favreau’s film Mowgli favours a less “by your leave” approach, kicking the hell out of the honeycombs and getting stung massively in the process – until his next expedition, by which time he has invented anti-sting body armour fashioned from leaves!

You don’t have to be uncritically a fan of buccaneering entrepreneurship to enjoy this charming and stylish movie though. I did. So, I am sure, will you.

 

Finding the right lawyer: a tricky task

11 Comments

In response to Standing up for justice and diversity earlier this year, Heretic TOC received a comment containing a request for some advice about UK lawyers for “people in our situation” if they face prosecution “for their heretic views”. In response, I wrote:

Officially, no one is prosecuted for their views alone in the UK. Having been on the wrong end of several ideologically motivated prosecutions, though, I have no dispute with the inquirer’s way of putting it. Without getting too bogged down, it is obvious that being Kind, or simply expressing radical views, can lead to all sorts of trouble, in employment, etc. Often there will be a need for a good lawyer, where there is a prosecution or not.

This is an important matter to which I have been giving quite a bit of thought in recent months, not least after a friend suggested setting up a database of sympathetic lawyers.

The legal world is in turmoil at the moment, thanks largely to a squeeze on Legal Aid and reforms by former Justice Secretary Chris Grayling that are now being rapidly undone by his successor Michael Gove. We will need to see how things pan out in the coming months because, sadly, there are good lawyers out there who may not last very long.

I was asked if I would blog on the subject. It’s a tough one. I could name a number of good lawyers but they might not be right for everyone, depending on the case, the location and so on. Partly it is a matter of the turmoil described above, but there is also a major misconception to deal with.

Be warned, what I am about to say is very counter-intuitive and hence hard to believe. People facing criminal charges for alleged sex offences think they need a sympathetic lawyer, but it ain’t necessarily so. Yes, you need someone you can get on with and who is not rude or overtly hostile. But you don’t need someone who agrees with your view of sexuality. And if you wait for one of those to come along you could be in for a long wait.

I talked about this to a solicitor I have known for decades. He gave the example of republicans in Northern Ireland before the peace agreement. Very often, he said, when they were in trouble for suspected terrorism, they were most effectively represented in the courts by lawyers who were not fellow republicans who wanted to see a united Ireland but “loyalists”, i.e. those loyal to the British Crown and state. In other words they did well when they chose their lawyers from the enemy side! So sympathy is neither necessary nor sufficient for good representation even if it makes us feel better at the time.

That said, a database of lawyers who have put in a good performance as judged by Kind clients would undoubtedly be helpful, and I expect to be in discussions about this in the coming year with interested parties. But there is no reason why a start should not be made right now. Accordingly, Heretic TOC would be hugely interested in hearing from anyone with a story to tell about their experiences, good or bad, with lawyers. Instead of posting in the Comments section you can email me here: tomocarr66@yahoo.co.uk

In the meantime, if you find yourself in trouble for a suspected criminal offence the first lawyer you see will almost inevitably be a duty solicitor at a police station following your arrest. But make sure you ask to see a solicitor: the police sometimes “forget” to tell you that you have the right to free legal advice if you are questioned at a police station. You don’t need to pay anything in the UK as Legal Aid is automatic at this initial point in the proceedings.

Unless you already have alternative legal representation lined up, the duty solicitor will be the person who takes your case through its first stage, including your extremely important initial interview with police, when your solicitor may well advise you to say nothing at all except “No comment” in response to each question. This may seem uncooperative and go against your natural inclination to give an innocent explanation of your conduct, but it is a very sound tactic which saves countless clients from opening their mouth and putting their foot in it.

Provided you manage to get out on police bail you will then be able to ponder whether the duty solicitor’s firm is the best one to stick with, either via Legal Aid or going private. If it is your first time in trouble, you probably won’t be in a position to judge the quality of the legal advice you are given, but that doesn’t mean you just have to leave everything to the lawyers and hope for the best.

Right from the outset, in the police station, there will be indicators of whether you are getting a proper service, and you will be able to assess these for yourself. As indicated above, don’t look for sympathy towards your views. Rather, what you should be getting at this stage is a calm, unrushed, private talk with the solicitor ahead of any police interview. This is your opportunity to put your legal advisor fully in the picture. Until they know all the relevant available facts they will not be best placed to give you good advice. In the course of outlining your account, the attentive lawyer will be taking notes and asking you to clarify points where necessary.

Probably in a state of shock after a dawn raid on your home and several hours in a police cell, you may well be too shattered to ask your lawyer many questions just yet. If you do, though, you will quickly get an impression as to whether they are answered carefully, clearly and patiently. When finally you are bailed and hit the fresh air of the street there will be mixed emotions: relief to be at liberty again along with dread over what is to come. After that, when you get home, there may well be a period of emotional overload and mental paralysis when you simply cannot think straight.

But then the questions will start to crowd in. You will need to talk to your lawyer. At this point, indeed as soon as you can bring yourself to do it, you should make a detailed note of everything you can remember your lawyer telling you. Inevitably, there will be things you didn’t fully grasp or key “what comes next” points you are foggy about. So you should  make a list of your questions and phone your solicitor to arrange an appointment for discussing them, if one has not been already arranged. You will soon find how easy or difficult it is to communicate with the firm from home: Do they answer the phone or emails promptly? Do they put you through to your solicitor or are they perpetually in court or speaking to another client? Do messages left with a secretary actually get dealt with by the boss in a reasonable time?

Under the financially pinched Legal Aid system in the UK these days, publically funded defence lawyers cannot make a living unless they have a rapid turnover of cases, with not a lot of time given to each one. So there is always a danger of being given “the bum’s rush”. It does not necessarily mean the lawyer is not a good lawyer or that they do not care. But it may do. So you will usually be better off going private if you can afford it.

Also, you will have to consider your eligibility for Legal Aid. For guidance on who qualifies see here. There is also a calculator so you can work out the financial side of your eligibility based on your own personal means.

If you apply for Legal Aid there will generally be a short period of at least a few days, and possibly two or three weeks, before you sign the application form, because the application must include a declaration of your financial means, and time must be allowed for you to come up with the details. Do not wait passively. This is a window of opportunity for you. If you are already getting vibes that the duty solicitor isn’t up to much, or is not right for your case, this is your chance to look into alternatives. Once Legal Aid is granted you will not be allowed to change to another solicitor on a legally aided basis unless the circumstances are very exceptional, so speed is of the essence.

If someone personally recommends another solicitor, by all means consider the suggestion seriously,  but do bear in mind it’s a matter of horses for courses: the guy who did a brilliant job on your mate’s divorce settlement is unlikely to have relevant experience in the criminal courts.

Fortunately, a more systematic way of finding the right kind of recommended lawyer is nowadays available through free online sources. You could do worse than checking out the major reference guides. Try Legal 500 or Chambers or both. The choice will often be large and somewhat bewildering, but if you stick to firms listed in these sources, and also named individual solicitors and barristers, you can be reasonably sure of getting advice that is sound in law and based on an experienced understanding of how the courts work in practice.

In Legal 500 (Chambers is quite similar), firms are ranked according to location and practice area; leading individuals in each field are also listed. Every firm ranked – and every individual mentioned – in The Legal 500 UK is “recommended”. This does not mean they are handing out recommendations indiscriminately, regardless of quality: only a small selection of firms and practising lawyers get any sort of mention.

After reaching the Legal 500 link given above, what you need to do is first select the region where you live in the UK – or in other countries, because coverage is global – then in the “Editorial” column you choose the relevant specialism, “Crime, fraud and licensing”, and then the sub-menu “Crime: general”. Unfortunately, you probably will not find much specific reference to firms or individual solicitors specialising in sex cases, although this varies a bit from region to region. And the merits of individual solicitors tend to be touted in rather bland terms such as “well respected”, “top-notch” and “excellent”, which do not offer much scope for choosing between them. On the other hand, the guide does specify which firms and individuals are considered best, in rank order.

What you are looking for in a solicitor, though, is not a specialist. You just want someone who is conscientiously attentive to your case, as shown by listening to you carefully, explaining things clearly and getting all sorts of stuff done in good time at each stage of the proceedings. One of these tasks, if your case goes to the Crown Court, will be to advise on who will be your advocate in court. These days, it may be the solicitor him or herself, if they are qualified as a Solicitor Advocate. But often a barrister will be the best choice. Legal 500 (and Chambers) has plenty of information on barristers, giving you an opportunity to check out the one recommended by your solicitor and probe whether one or two others with an impressive-looking track record might be better. Above all, discuss the options: make your solicitor say why their own choice is best, and ask yourself whether they are just taking the easy option i.e. we are recommending Mr Bumpole because he’s the guy we always use, so we don’t have to spend time thinking about it.

In the crucial early days when you are still trying to find the right solicitor, though, choice of counsel will not yet even figure on your To Do list. I mention it just to give a fuller idea of what the listings guides have to offer. Also, while I am on the subject, I will take a particular barrister listed in Legal 500 to illustrate a key point about choosing lawyers in general. The point is this: while reputation is important, and you should think about going for the best, there is nothing automatic about the outcome. Even the most brilliant and persuasive lawyer in the land can come a cropper. That’s the bad news. But the good news – the very good news – is that even your ordinary, average, local law firm can often get good results, especially if you take an energetic interest in your own case. Look things up online after your solicitor has mentioned them, about such as information about your Defence Statement, the relevant Sentencing Guideline, etc., and make it clear, through polite but persistent questioning, especially by phone and email, that you expect them to be really on top of your case at all times. They won’t get you off if you are plainly guilty, but where there is a viable defence case they will be able to engage competent barristers capable of winning contested trials; and in the more usual case, where a guilty plea is advisable, they will be capable of very important damage limitation.

Now for that particular barrister in Legal 500: Orlando Pownall QC. A former Crime Silk of the Year, he is clearly a man right at the top of his profession, which is presumably why he was chosen to defend Premiership footballer Adam Johnson, for whom, one supposes, money would be no object. I discussed Johnson’s case recently, before he was sentenced, in ‘Paedophile’ soccer star did fuck all. I said his “crime” was trivial and that despite a great clamour for a draconian sentence, Pownall’s cleverly “feminist” defence strategy might just find favour with the judge.

It did not. Poor Johnson was hammered with a six-year sentence.

Was the bad result Pownall’s fault? Hard to assess without knowing all the details, but I’d say not. It was just one of those high-profile cases in which a weak judge succumbed to the court of public opinion, or rather its most hysterically screeching elements. But, hey, the case has now gone to appeal, so there may yet be a slightly less unhappy ending.

 

NOW FOR SOME SERIOUSLY DODGY SOLICITORS…

Justice Lowell Goddard’s Everlasting Story, otherwise described in the Guardian as her “independent inquiry into institutional failures to protect children over many decades in England and Wales”, finally got under way last month. We are told this threatens to be a series of no less than 25 investigations, leaving every possibility they will not all be finished 25 years from now at a cost of surely more than £25 million and possibly more than ten times that amount if the cost of at least one other long inquiry is anything to go by.

First up is a probe focusing on the late Greville Janner, who featured in Heretic TOC’s V.I.P. fiasco: you heard it here first.  The Guardian piece says solicitor Liz Dux, at Slater and Gordon Lawyers, will be representing nine complainants against Janner.

But will she? Dux is a familiar figure in the media, and multinational law firm Slater and Gordon has long been a major go-to outfit for compo-hunting “abuse victims”. Not necessarily for much longer. If Anna Raccoon is right, the firm is in deep financial trouble and may soon collapse. Who knows, they might even end up being sued by their own clients for leaving them in the lurch!

 

AND SOME SERIOUSLY DODGY CLAIMS…

Remember “Darren”? The nutter who claimed my late friend Peter Righton was a brutal murderer? He has finally ’fessed up to lying about that, saying he was he was “coerced and manipulated” into making claims that were then “hyped up and exaggerated” by the notorious Exaro news agency. The full Sunday Times story last month, coming just days after the disastrous Operation Midland was wound up, is behind a pay wall; but its author, reporter James Gillespie, kindly emailed me the full text. Coming after the collapse of Operation Midland, which had been “based” on the utterly baseless allegations of “Nick”, another Exaro lunatic, Darren’s confession would “raise further questions” wrote Gillespie, “about whether detectives and some sections of the media have been too ready to believe the claims of individuals who are clearly troubled.”

You can say that again James. And again and again. But will anybody be listening?

 

 

 

 

 

War on Kinds disguises one against kids

52 Comments

A familiar voice here, Feinmann commented on International Megan’s Law faces challenge recently: “…parents who physically abuse their kids are exempted from the additional punishments meted out post-prison to sex offenders…”  In a guest blog today, he drills into US and UK stats to probe what he sees as a war against children, and postulates that witch-hunting Kind people is a diversionary tactic. The author wishes to acknowledge the work of “A”, also a regular and highly valued Heretic TOC contributor, in locating many of the numerous links. 

Now exiled after an English childhood, a university education, and a successful career in technology, Feinmann was married before family health issues led to him experiencing the responsibility of life as a single dad to two sons, now in their twenties. Attracted to both prepubescent boys and girls, he has had traumatic encounters with mental health professionals and the law, doing tough prison time. Professionally retired, he remains highly active as a field researcher working on the conservation of endangered species. He has contributed to the Forum for Understanding Minor Attraction and to Ipce on the topic of civil commitment.

 

WAR ON KIDS IN THE ANGLOSPHERE’S ROTTEN CORE

“We in the United States should be all the more thankful for the freedom and religious tolerance we enjoy. And we should always remember the lessons learned from the Holocaust, in hopes we stay vigilant against such inhumanity now and in the future”  – United States congressman Charlie Dent.

“But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country” – Hermann Wilhelm Goering, founder of The Gestapo in Nazi Germany.

DATA

The war on children in the United States (population: 320,000,000)

US Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities

In 2012 and 2013, state agencies reported an estimated 1,640 and 1,520 children, respectively, who died as a result of abuse and neglect. Looking at it another way: on average, four children are dying across the US every day over that two-year period from abuse and neglect. However, studies also indicated significant under-counting of child maltreatment fatalities by state agencies, by 50% or more. When one factors in deaths from circumcision plus under-counting, the US figures rival global rates of death resulting from child abuse and neglect.

  • In 2012, more than 70% of the victims were two years of age or younger and more than 80% of the victims were not yet old enough for kindergarten.
  • In 2013: 46.5% of the victims were less than one year old, 34.5% were between one and three years old, and a further 11.7% were aged between four and seven years old.
  • In 2012, around 80% of child abuse or neglect fatalities involved parents acting alone or with another parent. 2013 witnessed a similar figure of nearly 79%.

US Child Maltreatment and Protective Service Referrals

In 2012, state agencies reported an estimated 686,000 victims of child maltreatment.

Yearly, referrals to state child protective services involve 6,300,000 children; around 3,000,000 of those children are subject to an investigated report.

US Circumcision Fatalities

In 2010 in the US, approximately 1,000,000 baby boys were born, and in that year, 56% of them were circumcised.

An estimated 117 neonatal infants die annually whilst undergoing circumcision surgery in the US. “However, the number of boys who died from those surgeries has not been reported or estimated in any credible way. Some reasons include record-keeping practices, indifference, and concerns about liability. Death certificates typically do not list circumcision as the immediate or leading cause of death and rarely list circumcision as an underlying cause. Incomplete and inaccurate death certificates for children are a common phenomenon. Thus, many circumcision-related deaths are more often reported as surgical mishap, infection, haemorrhage, cardiac arrest, stroke, reaction to anaesthesia, or even parental neglect. Greater numbers of male infant fatalities may be accounted for by circumcision-related deaths.”

Teenage Pregnancy

In 2002, 56 out of every 1000 girls aged between 15 and 19 in the US gave birth, topping the list of births among teenagers in twenty-eight of the world’s wealthiest nations. At the other end of the scale, Korea, Japan, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Sweden, had a rate of less than 7 births per 1000 teenagers. In 2006, a third of teenage pregnancies in the US were subsequently aborted. Among females aged 14 or younger, pregnancy rates in 2010 exceeded 3 out of every 1000.

The war on children in the United Kingdom (population: 64,000,000)

UK Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities

In 2012, the rate of child deaths due to assault and undetermined intent (violent death or injury) to be: in Scotland 5.1 per million, in Northern Ireland 4.5 per million, and in England and Wales 3.6 per million. These statistics yield 44 fatalities for the UK in that year. The NSPCC stresses that the statistics do not reflect the full number of child deaths where abuse or neglect is suspected as a factor without saying why, but it does say that the data excludes deaths of children aged 14 and 15.

Over a similar period, the Department for Education reports 3,857 child death reviews completed; of these 806 deaths were identified as having modifiable factors, with 65% of these categorised as: deliberately inflicted injury, abuse or neglect. This yields a figure of 523. This statistic also includes 17 and 18 year-olds.

UK Child Maltreatment and Protective Service Referrals

The author could find no government-sourced UK-specific data on child maltreatment, and no UK-specific data on referrals to child-protection agencies. However, the NSPCC stated that over 50,000 children had been identified as needing protection from abuse, but that for every one of these children, another eight are suffering abuse. This suggests 450,000 children in total annually, are suffering abuse in the UK, a similar rate to US figures. A 2003 report by UNICEF says the following: “… survey data are inclined to produce higher figures for child maltreatment than are established from official statistics. One example from the UK has survey data estimating 389 cases each year of serious physical maltreatment per 100,000 children … as compared to official data records of 70 reported cases of physical maltreatment per 100,000 children per year.” Extrapolating the UNICEF survey figure above yields nearly 250,000 children suffering serious physical maltreatment across the UK.

Circumcision

The author could find no recent UK-specific data on either the number of circumcisions on infants, nor neonatal infant fatalities as a result of circumcision surgery. In 2009 in just one hospital alone in Birmingham, 105 boys were treated in the Accident and Emergency department, for complications arising from circumcision procedure. Two years later, 11 baby boys aged 0-1 years old were admitted to the paediatric intensive care unit of this hospital with life-threatening complications directly caused by circumcision.

Teenage Pregnancy

In 2002, 30 out of every 1000 girls aged between 15 and 19 in the UK gave birth, topping the list of births among teenagers in Europe, and placing them second in an equivalent list of twenty-eight of the world’s wealthiest nations. The UK has the highest teenage birth rate and the highest abortion rate in Western Europe. At the other end of the scale, Korea, Japan, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Sweden, had a rate of less than 7 births per 1000 teenagers. By 2006, the UK had five times the rate of teenage births than that recorded in The Netherlands. Although the UK claims to have done much better recently, rates remain among the highest in Europe.

OBSERVATIONS

Child abuse and neglect fatalities: comparisons, perpetrators, causes, effects

The 2012 fatality rate of US children detailed in the Data section above is in stark contrast to the equivalent figure for Japan in the same year; although suicide-murders are excluded, the figure is in the order of a factor of 10 smaller. Depending on what figure is considered, the 2012 child fatality rate for the UK is between two times and ten times the Japan total.

“There is no single profile of a perpetrator of fatal child abuse, although certain characteristics reappear in many studies. Frequently, the perpetrator is a young adult in his or her mid-20s, without a high school diploma, living at or below the poverty level, depressed, and who may have difficulty coping with stressful situations. Fathers and mothers’ boyfriends are most often the perpetrators in abuse deaths; mothers are more often at fault in neglect fatalities.” – Children’s Bureau.

In other words, this is a systemic failure at least as much as an individual failure.

At 25%, Romania topped a 2012 league table listing the child poverty levels of 35 developed countries, but the US was a close second at 23%.

Child abuse spikes during recession, and: “In a population-based cohort of middle-aged men and women, childhood physical abuse predicted worse mental and physical health decades after the abuse. These effects were attenuated by age, sex, family background, and childhood adversities, but not eliminated.”

Genital mutilation: myths, ignorance and a violation of human rights

“A British doctor, Douglas Gairdner, who reviewed the issue in 1949 found that scientific understanding of the foreskin was woefully inadequate; little research had ever been done on its normal development, including the time it takes for the foreskin to fully separate from the head of the penis and become retractable. This was remarkable, since one of the most common indications for circumcision since the late 19th Century had been ‘phimosis’, or the abnormal adhesion of the foreskin to the underlying glans. Doctors in both America and Britain believed that the foreskin was normally – that is, in healthy infants – separate from the glans at birth; when it was not, circumcision was indicated. But Gairdner discovered that no one had bothered to find out what happened to the foreskin when it was left alone. Contrary to common wisdom, Gairdner found that boys differed widely in the time it took for the foreskin to naturally separate from the glans – anywhere from birth to three years. Circumcision as a treatment for so-called ‘adherent prepuce’ before this time was therefore unnecessary. The National Health Service agreed, and in the years following the circumcision rate in Britain fell, from about 33% in 1948 to less than 10% today, with most of those being done for religious reasons.” –  Matthew Tontonoz.

In the US: “Excepting its use as a religious rite, circumcision is done essentially for cosmetic reasons, much like ear piercing in females or for the emotional concern of parents – reasons that lack scientific validity.” Self-evidently, the child whose genitals are destined to be mutilated has no choice in the matter, and accordingly the surgery is a violation of the child’s human rights, as declared by: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention Against Torture.

The Royal Dutch Medical Association believes that circumcision should be discouraged through a public education campaign. The German Paediatric Association also takes a stand against circumcision: “The debate over ritual circumcision shows fundamentalist characteristics. The proponents of circumcision trivialise this form of bodily harm, which can also lead to lifelong physical and emotional injuries and repeatedly accuse the advocates of child welfare with anti-Semitism. However, we must be allowed as advocates of child welfare, to question thousand year old religious rites and customs, which permanently impair the physical integrity of an underage person or child who is incapable of consent, and in the 21st century, based on new findings, stimulate people to think about them, asking whether or not it would be also possible for boys to be educated in the religious tradition of their parents without needing to have their foreskins removed.”

The NSPCC have set up a helpline for female genital mutilation but not for male genital mutilation. “The attitude of Western societies to oppose to female genital mutilation, but not to condemn male circumcision, suggests a double standard of the acceptance and implies (racial) discrimination of circumcised Jewish and Moslem boys, by not trying to protect them against useless pain as is the case with girls and non-circumcised boys.” – Jacqueline Smith.

If you have the stomach for it, many circumcision surgery accident, complication, and atrocity horror stories are related here.

Teenage Pregnancy: risks to the girl’s well-being and main causes

“Teenagers who keep their baby are twice as likely to end up living in poverty, than those who delay motherhood. The eightfold difference in birth rates can be partly explained, the report says, by the move away from traditional family values in some countries to what the researchers call a ‘socio-sexual transformation’, where sexual imagery permeates all aspects of life, and where teenagers are under greater pressure to experiment with sex. But the report adds that equally important is how countries prepare their young people to cope with modern life. Some countries, such as Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, and France, have travelled far down the road from traditional values, but they have also made successful efforts to prepare their young people to cope with a more sexualized society. By comparison, the US and the UK are secretive and embarrassed about contraceptive services. After interviewing young people about sexual services, the UK government’s Social Exclusion Unit concluded: ‘The universal message received from young people is that the sex and relationship education they receive falls far short of what they would like to equip them for managing relations as they grow into adulthood’. By tackling teenage births, governments have the chance to reduce poverty and its ‘perpetuation from one generation to the next’, says the report.” – The BMJ.

“We conclude that the health hazard associated with school-age pregnancy is predominantly pre-maturity, and is increased only in middle school-aged mothers, that is: 11 to 15 year olds. We suggest that middle school pregnancy, particularly for inner-city teenagers, should be a special focus for pregnancy prevention and intervention.” – AJOG.

The highest teenage pregnancy rates in 2010 occurred in the following US states: Mississippi, Arkansas, New Mexico, and Texas. The location of these States coincides to a striking degree with the heartland of the bible-belt, and to the heartland of abstinence-only-until-marriage education. “Mississippi does not require sex education in schools, but when it is taught, abstinence-only education is the state standard. New Mexico, which has the second highest teen birth rate, does not require sex education and has no requirements on what should be included when it is taught.” ThinkProgress, provides a link to a full state-by-state policy rundown. The pregnancy rates of children of 14 years old and younger in Mississippi, Arkansas, New Mexico, and Texas, were ranked in the top 10 of all US state-rates, with Mississippi leading the table with 6 pregnancies per 1000, nearly double the nation’s average.

THE WAR ON MINOR-ATTRACTED INDIVIDUALS

Dystopian hypocrisy of UK law and US law

The COPINE scale in the UK was devised in order to classify   “indecent images” of children, also known as child pornography. Originally intended for used by psychologists, it has been adopted for law enforcement purposes, and has provided the starting point from which the categories now used in sentencing guidelines were developed. The minimum scale of 1 equates with non-erotic and non-sexualised pictures showing children in their underwear, swimming costumes from either commercial sources or family albums. The maximum scale of 10 equates with sadistic pictures showing a child being tied, bound, beaten, whipped or otherwise subject to something that implies pain. ‘Production’ and ‘distribution’ of such images in the latter case can attract a prison sentence of up to ten years in the UK,  and saw Thomas Reedy  in the US jailed for 1,335 years – although, very fortunately for him, this was reduced to a mere 180 years on appeal! And yet, the internet is awash with videos graphically communicating images of pain being inflicted on screaming infants as their genitals are mutilated. The US and UK law is wilfully blind to the production and distribution of these horrific child abuse images, images that merit a ranking of typology level 10 on the COPINE scale.

The Brit Milah ceremony can be conducted legally in the UK by a mohel, or circumciser and foreskin remover. The ceremony involves the following procedure: the mohel takes the penis of the boy in his hand, cuts around the prepuce, takes the mutilated boy’s penis in his mouth, sucks off the foreskin, and spits out the amputated flap along with a mouthful of blood and saliva. When an adult has been convicted of rape, including oral rape, he may expect as much as life imprisonment as punishment. When an adult commits cruelty to a child and where the child is particularly vulnerable, the crime attracts 10 years imprisonment. When a mohel does both these things simultaneously, he is praised by all those around him, including the boy’s own parents. The facilitators and perpetrators of this potentially lethal child circumcision abuse appear to be immune from prosecution under UK law and under US law.

The first four typology levels of the COPINE scale are as follows:

1 – Indicative: in which the context or organisation of pictures by the collector indicates inappropriateness. This category is mentioned above.

2 – Nudist: pictures of naked or semi-naked children in appropriate nudist settings, and from legitimate sources.

3 – Erotica: surreptitiously taken photographs of children in play areas or other safe environments showing either underwear or varying degrees of nakedness.

4 – Posing: deliberately posed pictures of children fully clothed, partially clothed or naked.

In the UK, and across Europe, naturism is legal and often family-oriented. There are also many freely accessible naturist beaches where members of the public of all ages can be naked, publicly, and watch others enjoying being naked, including children. There are websites promoting naturism online with images of naked children, although even these may be judged illegal in the UK now. There are galleries in every country containing works of art: sculpture, paintings and photographs that display naked children. Fashion magazines contain sexualised, desirable, erotic, posed images of children coining headlines such as: “Pedocouture: In Vogue magazine, 6-year-olds are sex vixens”. In the latter two cases, members of the public pay a fee to see these ‘obscene’ images, images that effortlessly meet the ‘damning’ criteria detailed in COPINE typology levels 1 to 4 above, categorising child sexual abuse images, known also as child pornography. But in all these cases, the law is wilfully blind to such public displays of child nudity, and so they fail to attract prosecution under UK law.

CONCLUSIONS

An unequivocal message emerges from the often hard-to-come-by child-harm and child-fatality data: UK and US governments are failing to protect and empower society’s youngest people. The following points are germane:

  • High child poverty levels are a primary driver for high levels of child abuse and neglect.
  • Under-reporting of child deaths in the UK where abuse or neglect is suspected to be a factor, the lack of data reporting of child maltreatment and of referrals to child protection agencies (or any other agency), conspire to suggest the deliberate burial of damning news by UK government agencies.
  • Absence of data of neonatal infant fatalities due to circumcision in the UK, and under-reporting of same in the US, appeases pro-circumcision lobbies but guarantees the continued maiming and slaughter of hundreds of ‘disposable’ baby boys via a barbaric procedure that contravenes all applicable international human rights directives.
  • Denying the right to access and enjoy sexuality by imposing 17th Century Puritanism on children and denying them adequate sex education in schools, but all the while selling hedonistic lifestyles via the media, creates a toxic recipe for underage pregnancy.

A further unequivocal message to emerge is how the war on paedophiles is being used to cover up systemic government failures in preventing the primary causes of child abuse and neglect:

  • The unholy trinity of media, governments and law-makers foment child-sexual-abuse hysteria and fear by conducting a witch-hunt on scapegoat ‘paedophiles’ in the delusory belief that the war being waged by society, mostly by the child’s legal guardians on its own children, will not be noticed. This diversionary tactic is employed to cover up the appalling record of welfare agencies tasked with detecting and preventing widespread child abuse and neglect in the family home.
  • A devastating consequence of the male-stranger-danger mantra being trumpeted by media-led governments from every hilltop is that it unravels the fabric that binds communities together, simply because men can no longer be trusted (ironic perhaps when women are just as capable of child sexual abuse). Diminishing male teacher numbers in primary schools testifies to the damage already inflicted; youngsters, particularly boys, suffer as a result due to lack of role models. A further example of the lunacy of male-stranger-danger propaganda is airline seating sex discrimination.
  • Permitting individuals to mutilate and then suck the freshly-maimed genitals of infants, but simultaneously prosecuting, imprisoning, civilly-committing, scarlet-lettering, techno-tethering, and ostracising ‘irredeemable pervert paedophiles’ for life for having in their possession images of naked children, demonstrates that sexual crime trumps violent crime, and that Fascist hypocrisy worms its way maggot-like and unchecked through the rotten core of Anglosphere Children’s charities are equally culpable in this wilful hypocrisy and discrimination.

 

%d bloggers like this: