Prejudice masquerading as therapy

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Ancient Greece will have become even more ancient by the time I get around to my promised blog about it, unfortunately, as my time is being taken up in pursuit of some hot new developments on the transgender front, which is another topic in the pipeline. The good news, though, is that an excellent anonymous guest blog has come in, offered to Heretic TOC through Filip Schuster. Filip is a friend of the author and can vouch for his authenticity. I would remind everyone that Filip has contributed some excellent comments here, especially in response to “The seven ages of sexual attractiveness” in September. In my view, his friend’s article below captures extremely well the doctrinaire flight from reality imposed these days in the name of therapy on those convicted of even the mildest offences of a sexual nature relating to minors. Note that this account comes not from the Anglosphere, as might be expected, but from an unnamed country of continental Europe.

 

Deferred prosecution for softcore child porn

by Anonymous

In the early 2010s, I was one of many targets of a national police raid against child pornography, in a Western European country. The reason they paid me a visit was that I had saved a few softcore images of young girls in a private web album. The photos had been screened by a webmaster and assessed as being “possibly illegal”. For this reason, the webmaster had closed my account and contacted the police who simply added me to the long list of addresses for their raid.  A prosecutor decided to offer me deferred prosecution because the pictures I had uploaded were “not that serious”. During the raid, the police confirmed that the material in question was all in the softcore category. It mainly consisted of so-called non-nude images and a few nudes. There were no pictures of sexual acts (other than modelling), no close-ups of genitals, and nothing sadistic, creepy or tragic. In fact, most of the models were smiling and looked amused or happy, and the police told me that this was the type of material that was produced voluntarily, to the extent that most of the girls probably even liked the modelling. They conceded that this category used to be completely legal in our country. Things had changed a lot, which in their interpretation even implied that portrait photos of clothed beautiful young girls with make-up, and legal pictures of young but adult petite erotic models, should all be seen as kiddie porn now.

They confiscated my PC and several dozen CDs or DVDs, but felt no need to arrest me or search my whole house. Two months later, I had to sign a contract which mainly meant that I agreed to undergo a psychiatric, polyclinic “treatment” at a forensic clinic, as an outpatient. I was not allowed to choose an external therapist or sexologist of my own liking, but I simply had to accept whatever they would impose on me.

I decided to agree, because the alternative would be a public court case that could easily affect my whole life.

Pathologising

At the clinic, it soon became clear that anyone with paedophilic feelings was automatically seen as a psychiatric patient. In my particular case, these feelings were linked with a presumed arrested emotional, social and sexual development, thought to be the result of an autistic disorder, namely Asperger Syndrome. I had to complete long and tedious tests which did not confirm these diagnostic assumptions, but I was still given the label “autistic”. The irony was that during the group sessions I proved that this diagnosis could not be true, because I showed more (rather than less) than average social intelligence and empathy towards my fellow patients. In the end, this was explicitly acknowledged by my therapists, but they did not adjust their diagnosis. To be more precise, I lacked all the typical defining characteristics of Asperger’s, such as developmental problems during childhood, high sensitivity to sensory stimuli, an obsessive aversion to chaos, poor social insight, deficient emotional intelligence, a limited emotional life, problems with change, or strange obsessions with unusual interests. The characteristics that I did show, such as relatively high intelligence, introversion, or limited motor skills, were not defining and also applied to many gifted persons without any autistic disorder. (After my “treatment”, I read that many intellectually gifted patients are routinely given a “false positive” diagnosis within the autism spectrum, and it even appears to be something of a fad within psychiatric clinics.).

They even seemed really disappointed when I demonstrated that their argumentation did not make sense. Also, they ignored the highly intimidating context and denied that this clearly affected my overall performance. They did not accept the truism that many patients will typically under-achieve in such an environment and that minor errors could be seen as the result of stress, rather than as clear signs that there had to be something wrong with me (i.e. on top of my paedophilic “disorder”).

It was as if they had assessed me before they had met me, and tried to interpret their findings as conclusively confirming their prejudiced diagnosis, even though there was every reason to see them as conclusively refuting it.

This was rather shocking, because it gave me the impression that my self-image did not matter to them. They did not even care that the Asperger’s diagnosis did not match what I considered one of my best developed psychological traits, my empathic ability. Rather than trying to empower me, they were really determined to force their prejudiced views onto me. It was only because I tried to stay calm and polite that I was not forced to follow so-called psycho-education sessions for autistic patients.

With my sexual offence, what particularly gave them reason to believe I had to be autistic was the fact that I thought that voluntary softcore material was ethically acceptable. In their view, I had to realize that children and youngsters below the age of 23 (when their brains would be fully developed) obviously lacked the capacity to understand the long-term consequences of their participation.

I protested that they had the right to blame me for underestimating society’s condemnation of any type of child erotica and thereby underestimating the outrage that could affect the children involved, in the long run, but that this did not imply a lack of empathy. I had simply believed that society was still a bit more tolerant about such material and agreed that if the public perception of softcore images had become so extremely negative, this implied  that it could also undermine the self-perception of the young models.

I concluded that softcore images should become legal again, as soon as society becomes more open to this. This time, it should happen  under strict conditions and be monitored by the government, to prevent any type of abuse or exploitation more effectively .

The clinic clearly had a hard time dealing with me. I did not fit into their standard typologies, because I did not have any important social, financial, compulsive or post-traumatic symptoms and my offence had remained strictly limited to what I had considered morally acceptable. The only real reason I was going to their sessions was that it was part of my contract.  Nevertheless, they kept looking for anything  that would prove I was severely disturbed.

They did not even distinguish a diagnostic category of “paedophilia without a severe psychiatric background” and they ultimately admitted that the stricter legislation would probably make it necessary to do so, because from now on many average paedophiles with a moderate interest in (exclusively) softcore erotica would suddenly be considered real criminals who really needed therapy.

Predictably, all this was quite humiliating, dehumanising and alienating for me.  I went through a lot of fears, worries and insecurity, and had gloomy nightmares.

Within my group, I was the only one who did not have to undergo a second therapy after the group sessions were completed, but they only told me so at the very last moment.

The other members of my group were generally treated even more harshly and I often felt really bad for them, which I expressed in critical remarks and supportive statements. This made me quite popular among the other group members and in the long run, even the therapists admitted that a lot I  had been saying really made sense.

Confusing setting

There was a pervasive ambivalence within the clinic’s attitude towards its patients. Everyone, including the therapists, was addressed by his or her personal name. There seemed to be lots of room for personal confessions and unfiltered responses. However, this atmosphere was merely apparent. Anything you said could and often would be used to increase the pathologising of your particular case.

This included positive traits and experiences, which were reinterpreted as signs of a selfish or criminal personality. The therapists were hardly interested in personal backgrounds of offences and tried to reduce them to standard models. They even forced us to stop using positive or neutral terms, such as “curiosity” or “models” and replaced them by negative ones.

Some therapists were kind and supportive by nature, but anything the patients told a therapist would typically become common knowledge of the whole team. This could be particularly upsetting if a therapist had been sloppy or even incorrect in his or her report.

Also, a therapist who was nice at one occasion, could suddenly become harsh and distant during another session.

For me, all this meant that I basically felt lost, confused and threatened from day one, and that it was difficult for me to conceal my real, mostly negative, feelings.

Another thing that was confusing concerned our main therapist’s attitude to erotica and relationships. She did accept the fact that erotic modelling and even paedophile relationships could be voluntary from the minor’s perspective, but remained convinced that even these were by definition very harmful anyway. She claimed that this was even true for minors above the legal age of 16. Anyone interested in such adolescents clearly had a severe psychiatric disorder, and any minor interested in an adult needed treatment as well!

In general, the analyses of personal backgrounds remained very stereotypical and superficial and they were more interested in confirming their prejudices than in understanding the individual group member. Also, they pretended to show empathy for us, by imagining what they would do in a specific situation themselves, even though none of the therapists showed any signs of a paedophilic preference… We were sick if we reacted differently than they would do.

In terms of the severity of offences, the therapists acted as if it should be absolutely clear that watching soft erotica was not essentially different from watching hardcore child porn and that it was indirectly linked to raping children. They also wanted us to believe that there was a very high percentage of recidivism, whereas this is completely incorrect.

We were stimulated to give a detailed description of our “crimes”, but the therapists got almost hysterical if we mentioned specific photographers such as Hamilton, because this would probably lead our fellow group members into temptation.

Forensic ideology

According to the forensic workers I met, all child erotica had become illegal in our country because we now knew that children were not able to deal with sexuality in a responsible, harmless way, not even in the context of softcore erotic modelling. Therefore, they had to be protected against any kind of sexuality, especially in relation to adults.

This general ideology was even shared by really kind professionals, and doubting it was regarded as a clear sign of a psychiatric disorder. All of them acted as if the debate on paedophilia is closed for good, and that anything paedo-erotic involving real children could never be innocent or harmless, let alone positive.

My main therapist believed that softcore erotic modelling was never really voluntary and that there was always some type of coercion involved. On this, even the police officers who had confiscated my PC had a less extreme opinion.

Any type of erotic attraction to children would in itself be pathological and this was also true for a child’s attraction to an adult.

If they accepted the existence of exhibitionism in children, they exclusively regarded it as a psychiatric symptom. Normal, psychologically healthy children would never get involved in erotica.

This also meant that anyone who justified softcore porn had to do so through rather transparent rationalisations and was basically driven by ruthless lust.

We were not allowed to correct such prejudices, and we had to become convinced that any type of paedo-eroticism involving real children was by definition immoral. Anyone who engaged in such things would therefore be really selfish or lacking a basic capacity for empathy.

 

The laws against ‘abuse images’ are abusive

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Today’s guest blog is on child pornography, or “abuse images” as the current PC term has it, and is by Feinmann, whose debut as a blogger here was in April this year under the title “War on Kinds disguises one against kids”. Professionally retired, he remains highly active as a field researcher working on the conservation of endangered species. The splendid graphics (not intended for sexual gratification but feel free to enjoy them!) are the author’s own.

 

WAGING WAR ON CHILD PORN IS OPPRESSIVE AND DUMB

Some definitions

Pornography: derives from the Greek: πορνογραφία meaning “a written description or illustration of prostitutes or prostitution”.

Child pornography: the term appeared in North America during the 1960s, and is defined thus: “Pornographic material featuring sexually explicit images or descriptions of children”. Child pornography, when back-cast to the original Greek suggests: “a written description or illustration of child prostitutes or child prostitution”. The noun child pornography superseded the noun child erotica, but is now equated with child abuse images.

Inquisition: institutions within a system of government whose aim is to combat heresy, and is characterised by: a lack of regard for individual rights, prejudice on the part of the examiners, and recklessly cruel punishments.

COPINE scale: used by UK law enforcement (also known as officious paramilitary social workers) to determine sentencing for possession of child pornography. This ten-point scale was created in the Department of Applied Psychology in Cork in 1997 and adapted for use in UK courts. In 2002, the scale was amended to a five-point SAP (Sentencing Advisory Panel) scale. It then changed again in 2014 to a three-point SOD (Sentencing Offenders Definitive) guideline. The forging of this scalar weapon and its inclusion within the inquisition’s armoury, furnishes law-enforcement agencies with a most terrible servant to deploy … and deploy it they do with rigid absolutism.

Paedophile: a person who is sexually attracted to children, the word appearing in medical dictionaries in 1918, but, with a lack of distinction between paedophilia and homosexuality. From 1960 attempts were made to distinguish “homosexuals” from people then dubbed “paedophiliacs”. In popular usage, the word paedophilia conflates sexual attraction to prepubescent children with “child sexual abuse”.

Indecent Sentences

From Heretic TOC: What Defines Child Pornography?: “In many jurisdictions this is utterly unclear, because mere nakedness may in theory be permissible, but too close a focus on the genitals may constitute an illegal lascivious display or an indecent image. An allegedly suggestive pose can tip the balance from legal to illegal, even if the child is fully clothed.”

In his consultation paper of 2002, Sentencing In Child Pornography Cases, Tom wrote: “The danger lies in the vagueness of the word indecent. As Geoffrey Robertson QC says: ‘Indecency…is assumed to have an ascertainable meaning in law. Jurors and justices who use it as part of their everyday language are trusted to know it when they see it.’ Yet ‘scientific surveys, parliamentary debates and jury verdicts demonstrate no measure of consensus either about community standards or the sort of material which infringes them.’ It seems to me far from self-evident that indecent photographs necessarily involve exploitation in their making, especially as regards those at the lower end of the scale, in COPINE classes 1-6. Indeed, the Sentencing Advisory Panel concedes this point by saying: ‘Images that are relatively less harmful … may still involve … exploitation or degradation …’ They may. Or they may not. Unfortunately, the Sentencing Advisory Panel fails to pursue the logic of this ambivalence. Taking a shotgun approach, the Panel opts to assume the worst and blast away regardless.”

“Shotgun approach” indeed. Fifteen years on, governments still blast away with their indecent bullets to the point where free expression and free speech is critically riddled with holes. In relating the anger expressed over the murder of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, Peter Herman in Heretic TOC highlighted the following bitter irony: “It has come to a point where, in many parts of the English speaking world, any image of youthful sexuality and even written descriptions of it will at the very least ostracize the individual, land him in jail or possibly get him killed.”

Endlösung der Pädophilenfrage – Final Solution to the Paedophile Question

butterfly-htoc

But why is war on minor-attracted individuals waged? Why have those elected to protect the civil liberties of every citizen, failed to do so for members of this group? Why have law-makers labelled every member a sexual predator and treated them as a deformity on the body politic?

Being a paedophile has become a crime of such importance that merely to accuse someone brands them a child sexual abuser. The term crimen exceptum, a mechanism vital to the functioning of inquisitions executing social control via justice systems built on barbarism, describes this process well. The crimen exceptum updates the Magna Carta to read: we are all guilty in a court of law.

As with all inquisitions, the crimen exceptum enables a monstrously corrupt false allegations industry to flourish, enthusiastically stoked by child charities and accusers – the latter in the full knowledge that they will be believed, that their anonymity will be guaranteed even if they are found to lie, and that they can profit from selling their lies to a salaciousness-hungry media. These bounty-hunting allegators doubtless obtain an extra buzz from ruining the lives of the innocents they accuse.

To heighten the moral panic and hysteria, the inquisition classifies an image of a naked child as obscene. Ironically, perversely, and hypocritically, one cannot be arrested for possessing images of terrorist crimes or violent crimes, no matter how sadistic or sickening. Heretic TOC recently discussed additional un-prosecuted “child pornography” in the public domain. It also flagged circumcision and the curious failure to prosecute the genital mutilation of some 10,000 and 1,000,000 male babies in the UK and the US, respectively, annually.

Conclusion: it has nothing to do with the image, and everything to do with the discrimination of those that promote and enjoy child sexuality; that includes the kids themselves.

The estrangement of adults from the lives of children

janus-htoc

Frank Furedi in Spiked: “The promotion of paranoia in relation to every aspect of children’s lives accomplishes the very opposite of what it sets out to do.” With nearly one quarter of UK households with dependent children managed by a lone parent, 91% being women, one might envisage such homes to be fertile ground for feeding the paranoia Frank highlights: stranger-danger outside; evil internet inside. Any child daring to display natural sexuality will be instantly hermetically sealed within a bubble of suppression, any adult moving a hand to break the bubble, ostracised.

This from Moor Larkin: “Look after the children, the idea seems to go, and then by the time they see all this filth and perversion, they will be adults and thus impervious to any of its pernicious effects. However at the same time, a legal norm has built up that anyone looking at pictures of children in sexual poses will be likely to want to emulate that imagery in reality, and thus must be treated to remove these pernicious effects, and if they refuse to comply then they must be removed from society.”

Moor’s final comment applies increasingly to children. A primary source of child abuse images rather ironically, is the children themselves. Pediatrics in 2014 states: “That we did not find a link between sexting and risky sexual behavior over time may suggest that sexting is a new ‘normal’ part of adolescent sexual development and not strictly limited to at-risk adolescents.” With the ever-earlier onset of puberty – the term “adolescent” implies a person between 10 and 25 – time perhaps to review age of consent laws.

That youngsters experience fun (kid’s code for excitement) showing off to peers and strangers alike as cameras roll, has been self-evident to child erotica aficionados for decades. Kids, particularly boys, evidently have an interest in sexual imagery. Nothing really new there, but danger lurks on the internet. The inquisition’s Five Eyes will be quick to pounce and arrest young perverts. Oh yes, the inquisition wages a vicious war against youth sexuality too. Heretic TOC highlighted a sad fact that around one in three registered sex offenders in both the UK and the US are themselves minors. Society has totally acquiesced to the implementation of savage lunatic discriminatory laws that, far from protecting children, systematically abuse them, and go on punishing for the remainder of their hellish lives. It is time to STOP IT NOW!

Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud seep out

star-htoc

This poisonous lie from those who claim to protect society exposes the dark heart of the inquisition: “The FBI on behalf of the US government, claim that children are re-victimized every time images of their sexual abuse are viewed or transferred. That argument is one of the main rationales for punishing mere possession of child pornography, which under federal law and the laws of some states can be treated more harshly than violent crimes, more harshly even than actual abuse of children. That penalty structure is obviously irrational unless you believe that serious harm is inflicted every time someone looks at the image of a child’s sexual abuse. In that case, a large enough collection of images could equal or even surpass the harm done by a single child rape, so that it could make sense to impose a life sentence on someone who has done nothing but look at pictures.”

Another poisonous US Government lie states: “The commercial enterprise of online child pornography is estimated in 2005 to be approximately $20 billion, and it is an industry on the rise.” The lie is not easy to refute because it is illegal to research the facts, allowing the inquisition to launder statistics with impunity. In 2006, the Wall Street Journal in an investigative article commented: “to track down the number’s source yielded lots of dead ends.” A further source in 2001 concluded that the market in child pornography was actually negligible. Hyped claims that child pornography is a massively profitable industry appear to have been largely abandoned in more recent years, as the continuing lack of supporting evidence makes such claims less and less plausible. Attention is now focused more on estimating viewing figures, with people looking at what are now being called “child abuse images” being presented as a ‘social emergency’ (see also the BBC Child Pornography Epidemic link referenced in the bullet points below). The 2015 annual report of the Internet Watch Foundation claims “21% of the webpages confirmed as containing child sexual abuse imagery were assessed as commercial.”

More poisonous lies are recounted here.

Anglosphere child charity ‘statistics’ can be equally poisonous: “… research has shown that one in four children (27%) will experience sexual abuse before the age of 18.” This is 1,258 times more than the figure given by the Parliamentary Education Committee for England. The treacherous NSPCC is no better.

These poisonous lies oil the vicious circle and empower the inquisition to:

A model for the future

When any item in demand is outlawed, mechanisms arise that circumvent prohibition. Child pornography was legally produced and sold across several European countries thirty years ago, but is now restricted to, but freely available within the dark web. As images can be viewed, downloaded, copied, and distributed to a thousand destinations instantly, the war on pornography (as for drugs) is unlikely to be won despite huge commitment, funding, and, inane declarations of war.

By waging an intelligent, pragmatic, anti-war on drugs, certain countries in Europe ensure the cure costs less than the problem. Portugal decriminalised possession of all drugs for personal use in 2001 by implementing wider health and social policy changes. Results have been remarkable. The fact that Portugal benefited overall from the intelligent reversal of its stance on drugs, should be a wake-up call for governments that pig-headedly persist in waging costly, ineffective wars on items that society clearly wants.

Anglosphere countries should institute an anti-war on child pornography to unstitch manifestly corrupt and repressive laws that discriminate against citizens on the basis of their sexuality, and deny everyone the basic human right to articulate opinions and ideas. Articles 7, 12 and 19 of the United Nations Human Rights Declaration are relevant here; these continue to be breached with impunity. The unstitching process should dismantle dangerously unaccountable law-enforcement agencies (plus their allies) that design and deploy McCarthyesque witch hunts to create immense damage across society. One candidate the author would recommend for retrospective prosecution on the basis of discrimination is this one. If any single institution is guilty of fomenting mass-hysteria, discrimination and misery across the world over many decades in the total absence of any scientific justification, this is it.

We do not want future generations to have insanely fucked-up attitudes towards human sexuality like those that lie within the heads of the fascist moral “protectors” that infest Anglosphere governments today. To this end, society must ensure that every child receives adequate education on: human sexuality and human relationships, and the illegality of discrimination on the basis of sexuality. It would be instructive to highlight the fact that the animal kingdom is saturated with sexual deviance (for example: casual intergenerational sex play), and that as deviance is widespread in nature, deviance in humans is natural too.

This inquisition has been successful in suppressing free thought and scientific thought on the issue of child sexuality and intergenerational sex. Peter Herman again: “Following surveys in a number of countries, including, Denmark, Germany, Japan and the Czech Republic, a strong association has been demonstrated between the ready availability of pornography and reduced levels of sexual offending, including against children. Research also shows that non-coercive sexual acts with minors, in themselves, do not result in psychological trauma.” ipce summarises similar research findings. It is high time we revisited these findings and conducted additional rigorous scientific research to clarify the full diversity of human sexual needs, regardless of age.

War on Kinds disguises one against kids

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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.

 

Hail to a hero of ‘transgressive expression’

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Robin Sharpe is a writer of proven literary merit, as judged by the Supreme Court of Canada no less.

I heartily endorse that verdict. He is indeed a damn fine writer, imaginative and linguistically inventive. Whether Sharpe is conjuring up a primitive paradise or a post-apocalyptic dystopian hellhole, his talented evocations are dotted with freshly minted words and striking images. He is wryly humorous and ironic, with a perceptive eye for the hilarious tragedy that is “the human condition” – whether visited through individual foibles and monstrosities or the bizarre, confused, mishmash of dimly understood myths, rites and traditions we use in order to prise some sort of meaning out of the wild chaos of nature and circumstance.

He is both funny ha-ha and funny peculiar. The humour, black as sin, is as colourfully satirical as that of his less subtle namesake Tom Sharpe at his best, in Riotous Assembly, and as outrageous as Iain Banks in The Wasp Factory.

His writing is humane, good-hearted and moral, too, without ever being moralistic – qualities to which those who do go in for moralising will inevitably be blind on account of his disturbing subject matter. And he is honest: the man’s truthfulness emerges clearly in his very candid non-fiction.

But none of these admirable qualities have been anything like as significant to the world at large as the most obviously “outstanding” (so to speak!) feature of Sharpe’s writing: it is blatantly, patently, pornographic. One may meander agreeably through many chapters of less urgent delights than the carnal, but engagement with the latter, when it comes, cums. His prose, while always written with style and sophistication, is what many would condemn as not merely pornographic but also deeply “perverted”. Sharpe takes us into the world of the notorious Marquis de Sade, with whippings and beatings. Most dangerously of all, it is a world heavily populated by sexy young boys.

Hence the unusual interest in literary criticism taken in Sharpe’s case by the criminal courts in Canada – and it is also one of the reasons why Heretic TOC is blogging about him. It all began in 1995 after Sharpe had travelled abroad, visiting Dr Edward Brongersma, famed Dutch boy-love activist and former senator. Sharpe’s baggage was checked by Customs on his re-entry to Canada from the Netherlands. They found a collection of computer discs containing text titled BoyAbuse. This writing, of which he was the author, was alleged to constitute child pornography and Sharpe was prosecuted for possession. The charges also included visual material found at his home but it is the literary side that will concern us here.

Sharpe argued that the law in question targeted the political advocacy of pederasty and served little purpose in protecting children from sexual abuse. Representing himself, he scored a remarkable victory in the British Columbia Supreme Court, successfully claiming that under Canada’s Bill of Rights it would be unconstitutional to deprive him of the private possession of his own thoughts as expressed in writing. The prosecution appealed. The charges in respect of his writings were eventually dismissed in the Supreme Court of Canada in 2001 when it was successfully argued on his behalf that his work had artistic merit. A professor of English compared his written works to “transgressive expression” as seen in Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom.

It was something of a pyrrhic victory, though, because the verdict generated a storm of political outrage leading to the passing of a more restrictive new law in 2005 that made the possession of written child pornography permissible only for those deemed to have a “legitimate purpose related to the administration of justice or to science, medicine, education or art”, and if it did not pose “an undue risk of harm” to minors. Written child pornography was defined as writing that “advocates or counsels” sexual activity with a person under 18 or “whose dominant characteristic is the description, for a sexual purpose”, of illegal sexual activity with a person under 18.

Whether “a sexual purpose” can be considered the “dominant” characteristic of Sharpe’s writings depends on how alert one is to their other qualities. His work has much else to offer, in my view, at least in some of the more ambitious pieces. Literary S/M sex definitely isn’t my thing but the book Pagunan Masks: An Ethnofiction, to take one example, is really clever stuff and I found it fascinating. I should add that I would not have enjoyed or appreciated anything that appeared to revel in a callous or cruel attitude to children; on the contrary, I would have been appalled.

Sharpe has said this about his work, which strikes me as a reasonable summary based on the limited amount I have read:

“Most of my BoyAbuse stories have sadomasochistic themes but with little violence, violence in the sense of coercion, aggression and injury. The theme is fortitude, usually willing, for some purpose. They are simple tales of flogging, fun and fortitude appealing to certain fetishes including my own.”

Sharpe’s lengthy legal battles over written pornography have long been over, but his travails are more significant today than ever, as moral entrepreneurs worldwide continue to eat away at freedom of expression in the name of child protection. Back in the early days of legislation against child pornography, most of the countries going in for these new laws focused solely on photographs and films. Laws against “obscene” literature had long been in existence but these were widely falling into disrepute and disuse and were not extended to deal with child protection. Canada was an exception. Although it had a remarkably low age of consent, at 14, since raised to 16, its approach to freedom of expression with respect to written child pornography was far less liberal.

The trend, though, is for greater security, surveillance and suppression to be deployed in endless “wars” against a range of “risks”. Paedophilia now vies with terrorism for top spot in the charts, both having long displaced first communism and then drugs as the great evils of our times.

For this reason, we can expect the written word to come under greater pressure everywhere, with dire implications for everyone’s freedom.

In the UK, the latest manifestation of this trend is to be seen in the Serious Crime Bill, which has already been debated in parliament and will reach its report stage in the next session a couple of months from now. This is the one Heretic TOC mentioned in May: Paedophiles to be treated like terrorists.

It has a clause banning the possession of “paedophile manuals”, defined in the Bill as “any item that contains advice or guidance about abusing children sexually”. Maximum sentence is three years.

Could Sharpe’s work be construed in this way? I don’t think it could, in fairness, from what I have seen of his writing; but fairness is unfortunately not what we can expect in the current climate. So, what about Heretic TOC even mentioning Sharpe’s work by way of recommending his literary talents or providing online links to his work? Would this fall foul of the new law? Who knows how broadly it will be applied? What is certain, though, is that it will have a chilling effect on expression: valuable thoughts will go unexpressed through self-censorhip out of entirely justified fear of the consequences.

Another reason for mentioning Robin Sharpe at the present time is a more sentimental one. Robin, as I shall now begin to call him, is old and very unwell. He is 81. He suffered a terrible blow earlier this year after being in hospital for eight months, which was doubtless bad enough in itself. He was illegally evicted from his home in Montreal when his landlord expected him to die. All his possessions were stolen or trashed, including his entire library. He took refuge back on the West Coast where he has family and friends. He is now in the process of taking his former landlord to court.

It is high time Robin’s great fighting spirit and literary talents were acknowledged here, and I am pleased to do so. Robin and I have corresponded from time to time. He kindly wrote to me when I was behind bars, and I returned the compliment when he suffered a similar fate.

He is too ill to do anything quickly but in a sense he is an old man in a hurry, anxious to see his work published before he dies. Unfortunately, there are huge problems with this. One, obviously, is finding a publisher willing to take the risk of being labelled a pornographer and charged under either traditional obscenity law or newer child protection law. Another is that in his generosity Robin has long made all of his work freely downloadable from his two websites, primarily at robinsharpe.org and also with some titles at robinsharpe.ca. While there are no doubt those among his many readers who would like to possess bound volumes of his writings, that too would be worrying on legal grounds for many (depending where they live) and publishers are unlikely to be persuaded they could cover their costs on such a project, never mind make a profit.

Robin has had a few volumes printed privately and he might be able to send copies to those who contact him via his websites. As a limited item (and perhaps hand-signed if you are lucky) they will have a value beyond the words they contain.

One aspect of this added value is the illustrations. Robin’s career was as a town planner, which may have given an outlet for his skills in drawing maps and plans, as demonstrated on the back cover of his novella Blood & Semen. Another string to his bow is wood-carving, beautiful large photographs of which form an integral part of Pagunan Masks. This book is about an imaginary primitive tribe and their discovery by westerners. The chapters, or parts, of the book feature the various masks worn by the tribe members for their rituals: Lizard Mask, Demon Mask, Death Mocking Mask, and so on. Each has a special purpose and history, skilfully woven into the story and illustrated in an “ethnographic” account with close parallels to early attempts at anthropological writing, which he seeks both to satirize and draw upon for allegorical purposes.

Robin’s legal battles have been the subject of numerous papers in academic law journals and citations in law books. His own writings cover the legal issues ably and thoroughly. There was also a book, On Kiddie Porn: Sexual Representation, Free Speech and the Robin Sharpe Case, by Stan Persky and John Dixon (Vancouver: New Star Books, 2001).

I was going to finish at this point but an item in the current issue of the London Review of Books absolutely demands at least an additional paragraph or three. It is a review of A Sentimental Novel, by the French writer Alain Robbe-Grillet, published in an English translation in May. Judging by this review, it makes Robin’s writing look about as sadistic and perverted as Harry Potter. Reviewer Adam Shatz describes it as a work of “unrelenting and graphic sadism in which women – or rather, barely pubescent girls – exist to be raped, tortured and murdered”. The work features “a harem of child sex slaves…violently deflowered, in scenes described with Robbe-Grillet’s obsessional precision: murderously large dildos, seats made of nails, sliced and grilled breasts”.

But Robbe-Grillet was never arrested and jailed. On the contrary, long acknowledged as a leading intellectual, he had been elected to the prestigious Académie française in 2004. Un roman sentimental appeared in 2007, shortly before his death the following year. This particular book was not well received, to be sure. Shatz tells us it was “treated with derision”. But now we find it is being respectably republished in the UK with no calls as yet, it seems, for the publishers to be clapped in irons; nor has there been any controversy so far as I am aware over LRB and some of the upmarket national newspapers legitimising it through their reviews. Funny old world, as they say!

Let’s not forget, though, that even Robbe-Grillet’s “sentimental” novel is just words. He didn’t kill anyone; like many other writers, he may have used his work cathartically, to purge his inner violence rather than victimise anyone with it. Meanwhile, people are actually being killed. Children are being ripped to bits in Gaza and deliberately starved on a mountain in Iraq. Is it because their killers have been reading too much Sharpe and Robbe-Grillet? Somehow, I doubt it.

Deep in the weird heart of Texas

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“Keep Austin weird!” This eccentric battle cry of a city that is the state capital of Texas surprised me when I looked the place up, especially when I discovered that weird in this context essentially means liberal. After all, the state that gave the world George W. Bush is notorious for its right-wing hard-line anti-liberalism. But that is the point. It turns out the capital is a cultured city, an oasis of civilized values in the midst of a redneck desert – which goes a long way to explaining how it came to play host recently to a conference that included some rather radical input, albeit within a respectably sober framework of legal studies.

Held at the University of Texas School of Law, the event was called Sexual Citizenship and Human Rights: What Can the US Learn from the EU and European Law? The list of sponsors and supporters impressively included the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, the Center for European Studies, the European Union, and the William A. Percy Foundation. The speakers included figures we might regard as somewhat conservative, but their input was balanced by the inclusion of more daring choices. The themes, too, ranged from merely liberal to boldly radical, as is hinted in the session titles:

• Same-Sex Marriage and Family
• Transgender Rights; Anti-Discrimination
• Youth Sexual Rights
• Pornography and Children
• Sex Work, Migration, And Trafficking
• Do Sex Offenders Have Human Rights?
• Therapeutic Approaches to Sex Offending

In a state where the “Kill a queer for Christ” car bumper sticker might have been invented, gay marriage no doubt still seems a dangerously liberal idea. To us heretics here, though, it is now a conservative issue, along with “traditional” campaigns to combat discrimination against gays and trans people. Likewise, therapy for sex offenders has long been fertile ground in which to plant illiberal and coercive practices. But the inclusion of youth sexual rights, “sex work” (significantly not stigmatised as prostitution in the title) and the idea of rights for sex offenders, all point to more radical possibilities.

As for drawing on inspiration from European law, forget it! Yes, many experts in European law were present, but those of us who live in Europe know it is hardly a paradise for children’s rights or those of MAPs. More inspiring by far is that some speakers were pointing to the need for more radical thinking on both sides of the Atlantic.

So, who were all these interesting contributors? Gert Hekma was one name that will be familiar to many here. A Dutch sociologist, author of Past and Present of Radical Sexual Politics (2004), he has served on the editorial board of the Journal of Homosexuality, the Journal of the History of Sexuality, GLQ, Paidika and other journals. He spoke on “Sexual rights for youngsters and the fight for their self-determination in the Netherlands since the 1950s”.

I do not yet know what he said, but I do know we will all be able to find out quite soon, because recordings from all the sessions from last month’s three-day conference are soon to be made available. I am told this should be in the next couple of weeks. I imagine there will be a link at the conference website of the Center for European Studies. There was also live video streaming. I managed to catch some of the sessions, including the final one, which culminated in a wonderful paper by Jim Hunter, who was a guest blogger here at Heretic TOC with a piece called Show me an abnormal mountain back in March. His contribution was very well received and he was also feisty and articulate in the Q&A afterwards.

One new name to me was Florian Mildenberger, from Germany, a specialist in the history of medicine. Among his many books one that particularly takes the eye is a biography of the late pedophile activist Peter Schult. Prof. Mildenberger spoke about paedophilia in Germany. The introductory notes for his paper observe that the same liberal, social democratic, green and socialist think tanks that once (believe it or not) supported paedophile emancipation today use medical and biological reasoning to condemn it – just as such thinking was once used to condemn homosexuality and female emancipation.

As for forensic criminologist William Thompson, who spoke on “Pederasts, parents, police and moral panic; the ongoing saga of child pornography”, I was delighted to hear him, clearly in great form, in the live streaming. Bill and I were on TV together as panellists ten years ago, when the BBC’s After Dark series focused on paedophilia. As the introductory notes to his presentation stated, he has conducted over 200 successful investigations into false allegation/conviction cases. He been called as an expert defence witness in numerous contested pornography cases in the UK.

William Andriette is another Bill familiar to many of us. A veteran American gay journalist, his deep-thinking articles have enriched many a debate, as did his speech this time on “Sexual politics beyond human rights”. I am particularly indebted to Bill for an article in which he observed points of similarity between racial and age divisions in society, focusing on inter-racial sexual relations in the old American Deep South. I drew on this piece extensively in a chapter of my book Michael Jackson’s Dangerous Liaisons, in which the late star’s allegedly enormous power was put into the context of the vastly greater coercive power of the state and society.

In terms of heavyweight reputation, though, Fred Berlin has to be considered the star billing whether we like him or not – and many of us do not, on account of his support for “chemical castration” in certain cases. However, I would very much urge heretics to listen carefully to his contribution titled “Understanding pedophilia and other paraphilias from a psychiatric perspective”. There was much in it that was exceedingly reasonable and humane.

Last but very definitely not least, I should mention Thomas Hubbard, the conference organiser, a distinguished professor of classics at Austin. As a Greek specialist, he has had occasion to study “Greek love” in great depth, writing extensively on a culture in which pederasty was institutionally accorded an honourable connection with mentorship and pedagogy. Much as he understands and appreciates the distant past, though, Tom is not content to live entirely in it. He is very actively engaged with contemporary issues of sexual mores and laws – courageously so, indeed, bearing in mind just how hostile Texas and the US in general can be towards those who deviate in any way from “the dominant narrative”.

The conference has inevitably loomed large in his life in recent months, but so has another major creation of his that should concern us: he and fellow classicist Beert Verstraete have co-edited Censoring Sex Research: The Debate Over Male Intergenerational Relations, a book that came out in August from Left Coast Press. I have read it and can assure everyone it is important to us for any number of reasons. Almost every one of its ten chapters is worthy of a review of its own. I hope to be saying much more about this volume in due course.

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