Scholar hounded over pederasty studies

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No fancy philosophical focus on Foucault and his ilk this time, folks. No festive season reflections on the passing year and decade either.

Christmas is usually slow for news because the politicians and the other movers and shakers who make the headlines are at home with their feet up just like the rest of us, somnolently finishing off the mince pies.

There is seldom any let up in bad news for us heretics, though, and this month has seen a particularly shocking story unfolding in America. What makes it so alarming is that it is not a sex scandal. There is no Kevin Spacey or Jeffrey Epstein in this story.

The truly appalling news is that a man of utterly unblemished character, a distinguished intellectual, a professor, finds himself being hounded for his scholarship on pederasty in ancient Greece and for questioning whether the age of consent needs to be as high as 18, which it is in many of the states in the USA. Worse still, he is not being given the robust support by his university that should be expected. Every reputable institution of learning knows the value of academic freedom; when such places begin to waver in defence of unfettered scholarship, we have to fear the direction society as a whole is taking.

I refer to the University of Texas, Austin, and to Thomas K Hubbard, who is a professor of classics there, is 63 years of age, and ought to be able to look forward to an honour-garlanded retirement after a couple more years. Trouble kicked off publicly early this month when the city’s main newspaper, the Austin American-Statesman reported that following protests against professors “with histories of sexual misconduct”, a group of students was calling for Hubbard’s removal for allegedly “promoting harmful ideas about the age of consent and sexual relations with minors”.

The story was taken up by other papers, including, online, The Daily Beast, and later the Chronicle of Higher Education. The latter, in a report about a week after the Statesman one, signalled an ugly atmosphere, with worrying hints of a lynch mob mentality. Protesters had massed outside the professor’s home, banging on the door, shouting that he was a predator.

A rabble-rousing journal called, appropriately enough, Incendiary News, would later report that “He needed multiple officers to get away from the wrath of the students” and that one student, giving a speech, said “Pedophilia apologists like you deserve to be confronted and to feel afraid! We will make you scared to teach, scared to leave your home, scared to even exist in the City of Austin!” The same paper featured a photo of masked vigilantes with a banner and placards used in the protest, calling Hubbard a “pedophile” and “perv”. Video footage was posted, too, in which the mob are heard chanting their abuse. In a second video clip, Hubbard was filmed as the police escorted him away to safety.Graffiti were also reportedly seen daubed on a wall in the area reading “Pedo Hubbard, watch your back”. Other sources have reported that Hubbard’s house was likewise vandalised with hostile messages sprayed in red paint, and bricks may have been thrown at the dwelling.

Masked vigilantes in a hostile act of trespass outside Prof. Hubbard’s home

It might be thought that the university would be falling over itself to see such intimidation against a member of their staff brought swiftly to a halt. They could have ordered a thorough investigation of any suspected instigators among the student population and insisted the police conduct their own determined probe into the vigilantism, which clearly went far beyond legitimate peaceful demonstration.

But no, although the police have said they are indeed looking into what happened, right from the outset the university set about washing its hands of its responsibilities. In the initial Statesman story, University of Texas spokeswoman Shilpa Bakre was quoted as saying “The university condemns ideas or world views that exploit or harm individuals”, as though accepting that Hubbard’s “ideas or world views” do indeed “exploit or harm” anyone. While conceding that the First Amendment to the US Constitution protects “even offensive ideas”, there was no reported enthusiasm for this law by the university itself, nor any defence of the need for academic freedom in order for scholarship to thrive. This was before the vandalism and intimidation at Hubbard’s home; but the university’s attitude only went from bad to worse afterwards, notably as expressed in a letter to the Dallas Morning News by the Austin President of the University, Gregory L. Fenves.

This letter followed a lengthy editorial in that paper. Saying they wanted to know for themselves whether Hubbard’s position was in line with the protesters’ claims, they read one of his articles, titled “Sexual Consent and the Adolescent Male, or What Can We Learn From the Greeks” in a 2010 edition of Boyhood Studies (then called Thymos: Journal of Boyhood Studies). They wrote:

What Hubbard learned from the Greeks, apparently, is that society really needs to reconsider age-of-consent laws that are intended to protect children from sexual predators. Ancient Greece, he argues, showed us that “where age-discrepant relationships are commonplace and positively reinforced, they cause little or no long-term harm to the younger partner and often confer great benefit,” he writes.

That’s not all. The problem of boys without fathers in their lives might well be resolved by having men have sex with those boys, he writes. “Pederastic intimacy evolved in part as a social mechanism for addressing it.” He goes on to write, “contemporary U.S. culture has not compensated for the magnitude of the problem.”

No, thankfully, contemporary U.S. culture has not gone the way of the Greeks.

The editorial goes on to claim, “No one is more eager to defend academic freedom than we are.” But they have an odd way of showing it. They say, “Should Hubbard wish to explore his considerations at some university, he should be able to do so. But Texas taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for supporting him while he does…” While stopping short of saying he should be sacked, the editorial adds:

Instead, we urge students to do what they are doing: Stand up against this. Make your voice heard. And as important, make your wallet heard. Let Hubbard’s classrooms be empty. Let his papers go unread. And let the school know with letters and through any reviews of your education experience that this is unacceptable. Let Hubbard’s ideas, wrong and terrible and unlearned, be first challenged and defeated and finally neglected and forgotten.

Echoing this narrow philistinism, the follow-up letter from Fenves published the next day also sided with the protesting students, saying “I understand their concerns about his ideas. I personally find them outrageous.” He too claimed to support academic freedom but then hinted that he thought Hubbard might have crossed a line by teaching controversial matter that had no relation to the subject he had been assigned to teach. He wrote that:

…we are aware of the concerns and complaints about those classes this semester. We have been and are reviewing them and will take appropriate action, within the bounds of academic freedom and the constitutionally protected right to free speech.

For the university, then, it seems investigating Hubbard’s classes is more important than probing the intimidation used against him.

As for what Hubbard has been thinking and feeling about all this, we can get a pretty good idea, from two important sources, the Chronicle of Higher Education article and also his emails to psychology professor J Michael Bailey’s online academic forum, where Hubbard and I are both members.

The Chronicle report took up the theme that NAMBLA has in the past given publicity to Hubbard’s work:

His papers have been promoted and distributed by the North American Man/Boy Love Association, or NAMBLA, a group that advocates for the legalization of pedophilia. NAMBLA has been dormant in recent years, and Hubbard has said he does not endorse NAMBLA’s radicalism or criminal activity and does not have “personal enthusiasm for sex with teenagers.”

“If people in these groups support me, it may be because I am one of the few academics who is willing to listen to them and learn about their motivations, instead of demonizing them as incurable monsters,” Hubbard wrote in an email. “How can one do scholarship on pederasty or sex offending if one doesn’t talk to pederasts and sex offenders?”

As for Bailey’s forum, Hubbard’s approach to that group enabled him to rally support from a number of the world’s most reputable scientists and other scholars working in fields relating to sexuality and sexual ethics. Together, they signed a letter to go to the Dallas Morning News as a response to the papers’ editorial and the university president’s letter. The letter referred to Hubbard’s status as an accomplished classical historian, whose work had been recognized by a prestigious Guggenheim award.

Hubbard’s Guggenheim citation in 2017 directly commended his work on “a particularly sensitive and controversial aspect of Greco-Roman culture, namely the widespread practice of homosexual pederasty”.

On 21 December, Hubbard emailed Bailey’s forum. He said the forum’s letter had not yet been published, nor had another one from the distinguished historian and theorist of sexuality Prof. David M. Halperin. However, wrote Hubbard:

…they did publish this craven letter from our University President, in which he claims to be “personally outraged” by my views. I seriously doubt that he has actually read my publications or could understand them if he had (he is a civil engineer). He has made no statement whatever about the mob violence at my house.

I have not been officially informed by the University of the nature of their “investigation” of me or been asked to provide any course materials. This letter to the Dallas paper is the first I have heard about it, which violates all kinds of due process. One cannot discuss ancient Greece or Rome without commenting on the differing social constructions of sexuality in those cultures.

The implication in his letter that I have introduced “irrelevant” material or personal advocacy into my courses is utterly false and threatens academic freedom fundamentally.

So far, I have been referring to Prof. Hubbard impersonally; but long-time followers of Heretic TOC may recall that he has been mentioned a few times here and that we are acquainted. We met once, a few years ago, at a classics conference in Edinburgh and he kindly gave a pre-publication endorsement for my book Michael Jackson’s Dangerous Liaisons. I am familiar with some of his work and find much to admire both in his scholarship and his steadfast outspokenness and opposition to censorship. The latter was very much on display in his book Censoring Sex Research: The Debate over Male Intergenerational Relations, co-edited with historian Beert Verstraete. Published in 2013, this book finally allowed a long-censored 90-page essay by Bruce Rind, another unjustly attacked academic, to see the light of day. As Hubbard put it in his introduction:

Dr Rind contextualizes his earlier analyses of psychological data through an aggressively interdisciplinary approach, showing that his earlier finding that male intergenerational relationships are usually not harmful is not as surprising or implausible as critics claim.

Incidentally, I just recently chanced upon a very well informed and deep – if somewhat nihilistic – review of this book by Diederik Janssen.

As for what the future holds for Tom Hubbard, who knows? He knows that the demonstrators constitute only a tiny minority of trouble makers and that many other students are interested in attending his classes. Whether they will feel intimidated and will stay away, only time will tell. We can only hope that they, and Tom himself, will feel able to hang in there.

 

OUR MAN BUMPS INTO GRETA THUNBERG

A regular follower of this blog had an interesting chance encounter with Greta Thunberg recently, on a train passing south to north right through Germany and onwards to the young climate change activist’s native Sweden.

It was a fraught journey, with a train breakdown, much chaos, and a three-hours-late arrival in Malmö, in the middle of the night.

Long before that late arrival, waiting on a platform for a replacement train around lunch-time, Heretic TOC’s Europe Correspondent (as I will think of him from now on!) saw “a rather attractive girl of (I thought) about 11, slight in build”. The thought occurred to him that “if she were just a little older and larger” she could even be Greta Thunberg.

Greta will be 17 on her birthday this Friday, but still famously has the appearance of quite a young child.

Two or three changes of train later, our correspondent continues, on the way into Denmark, he “literally bumped into this girl” when they both needed to board another train for the onward journey. He said he thought he recognised her; her brief response confirmed he was right. They ended up sitting quite near to each other, “although she was surrounded by her adult keepers”. Our correspondent continues:

I exchanged one or two bits of small talk with her “keepers”, one of whom was her dad, but quickly understood that Greta herself was incredibly tired and wanted little more than to sleep. It was a first class carriage, with very few passengers, so she could and did stretch out and sleep.

She literally looked no more than a very slender 11-year-old, behaving as any 11-year-old would after a long and tiring train journey. She asked to sit away from the aisle “so that people don’t come up to me and want to talk”. She woke up about 20 minutes before another change of trains, and asked tetchily if she could sleep some more.

Her “keepers” talked of this and that, for example of how if the Madrid summit didn’t achieve anything it would just be a climate-negative in that 3000 delegates had been flown in.

It all got me thinking of the accusations you hear, of how Greta has just been manipulated by adults around her. Seeing her revert to a “normal”, tired, apparently 11-year-old, after a long train trip, did nothing to dispel that. And her expression later, when getting off the train, anxiously looking to see if there was yet another reception committee to deal with, almost made me think she was on the point of crisis. Absolutely in need of a long rest.

Later I saw she’d posted a picture of herself sitting on the floor of “an overcrowded German train”. This has turned into her “Corbyn moment”, because shortly afterwards the German Railways (DB) issued a curt tweet saying that she could have shown her appreciation to the staff in her first class carriage that had efficiently seen to her needs!

What our correspondent does not tell us here – although he did later – is that Greta’s post had not been “fake news”, as those keen to discredit her would be quick to allege, just as Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s many enemies had done in his very similar case. She really had been on an overcrowded train that day and really had found herself with nowhere to sit but the floor, as journalists travelling on the same train confirmed. But that was one of the earlier trains in the sequence, before Deutsche Bahn, the German railway company, sprung into action to help their VIP passenger – and limit the damage to their reputation caused by the breakdown.

That apart, we are left with a more interesting question. Is Greta Thunberg really an exploited child? Or an heroically committed young woman?

 

A WARRIOR RIDES TO HIS VALHALLA

In July, I reported the death of no fewer than three prominent heretical activists with whom I was well acquainted, within the space of less than six months. And now, still within the same calendar year, I need to mention another sad departure.

Dr Nigel Leigh Oldfield, died on 21 November, aged 59. Along with about a dozen other mourners, mostly relatives, I attended his funeral in a private ceremony at Rawdon Crematorium, Leeds, just before Christmas, on 23 December.

The ceremony had to be private for security reasons. There could have been, if not a riot, then serious disruption and unpleasantness. That is because Nigel, or Leigh as he was called by those who knew him, had been a courageously defiant figure in the face of anti-paedophilic vigilantism in his local area (ominously, that “V” word seems to be rather prominent in more than one of today’s blog items).

Heretic TOC ran a piece about him in 2015 titled Hail, brave warrior, Nigel the Noble! It will be plain enough from that article as to why he attracted vigilante ire and why I found his response admirable.

Less clear, though, was the downside of his personality that played a large part in arguably making himself his own worst enemy – even with so many others – leading to his death at an early age by modern standards.

He had done very well to conquer difficulties in his early life, taking a doctorate in chemistry at Nottingham University; and, as a teacher, he distinguished himself sufficiently to gain a post as a head of department at a big comprehensive school in Buxton, Derbyshire.

But he was depressive. And he drank heavily. Common problems, both, for those of us who are Kind in an unkind society. He fell afoul of the law. He lost his job and his livelihood. He went downhill, from bad to worse, despite the amazingly loving and loyal support of an improbable partner in his final years – that, at least, is an inspirational story; but now is not the right time for its telling.

 

Why ‘Virtuous Pedophiles’ will fail

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Today’s guest blogger, Stephen James, is well known here as regular commentator Stephen6000, whose succinct contributions often provide a sensible counterpoint (or antidote!) to some of the always welcome but often wild “thinking outside the box” we tend to see in the heretical comments here. He has also written for the NAMBLA Bulletin and for the Newgon web magazine Uncommon Sense. His logical approach is consistent with his work as a published author of formal philosophy. With Adam Powell, he was a joint founder of the unfortunately ill-fated Forum for Understanding Minor Attraction (FUMA), which fought a brave but losing battle to engage positively with mental health professionals. 

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First, the caveats. I am not setting out to condemn “Virtuous Pedophiles” (VP). In fact, when I read the introduction on their home page, I can scarcely find anything to disagree with. Many paedophiles do need the sort of help this group have to offer and it is very welcome they are there to offer it. Also, many questionable claims are made about VP that need rebutting. It is sometimes suggested, for example, that VP thinks paedophiles should regard themselves as mentally ill or “defective” in some way; but, as far as I can gather, this is not their view. (The introduction just referred to certainly carries no hint of it.) If we are going to criticise VP, it should be for what they actually maintain, not for what we merely imagine their views to be. But there is one thing in this introduction I do disagree with and that is the reference to “sexual abuse” –  for example, in the statement “But we can resist the temptation to abuse children sexually”. For reasons to emerge later, I think this term should be avoided, at least for non-coercive sexual contacts between adults and children.  (In this, I am in agreement with  Child Abuse as a Construct Reconsidered”, which is part of the famous academic study commonly known as the Rind Report.

Also, whenever we discuss if a project will be successful or not, we need to carefully consider what constitutes the bar for success. VP can almost certainly be successful – indeed, probably has already been – in terms of helping some MAPs feel better about themselves, leading possibly to fewer suicides. It can also persuade some open-minded people, those less susceptible to media propaganda, to see the plight of MAPs in a more sympathetic light. Some of these people are therapists, who may be persuaded to improve the way they deal with their minor-attracted clients. There will be a little less misery for MAPs as a result of all this.

But I get the impression that VP is hoping for more. I think they want to reach a point where most MAPs can live a “normal” life, which, in this context, we can perhaps interpret as meaning a life that is minimally impacted by the fact that they are MAPs, largely free of hatred and with broadly the same opportunities as non-MAPs enjoy. Now, I don’t deny the possibility of such a state of affairs coming about. What I do claim is that it won’t be achieved by VP’s tactics and I want to explain why.

VP will not discuss the moral standing of adult-child sex. They agree with mainstream society that it is simply wrong, period. So they do not challenge the view that if an adult has sex with a child, it is always a bad thing. This has some important consequences, which we can bring out by asking what kind of relationship between mainstream society and MAPs would be broadly acceptable to both.

Apart from a few “aromantic” MAPs, most want to form relationships with young people that are “loving” in the broadest sense. They would of course like (some of) these relationships to be sexual if this were possible; but, besides that, they would like to enjoy the company of youngsters in other everyday activities. In fact, I think we can go so far as to say this would be essential to their happiness. The question is: can mainstream society bring itself to accept this?

And the answer is surely no, as long as mainstream society continues to regard adult-child sex as intensely dangerous. Of course, some MAPs are quite capable of spending time with youngsters without either feeling tempted to initiate a sexual relationship with them or succumbing to that temptation if they are. But from the perspective of mainstream society, that is not good enough. They cannot tell who is and who is not “dangerous”. Therefore, though we may reach the point where it mostly does not wish to actively persecute MAPs (perhaps partly as a result of VP’s efforts), society will never accept MAPs freely associating with young people as long as it persists  in its belief that adult-child sex is intensely dangerous. At best, continuously supervised access will be allowed in some cases, and while that might be acceptable to some MAPs, I do not think many would be happy in such a restrictive situation, even if they have no sexual intentions regarding their young friends.

But once it is accepted that consensual adult-child sex is not intensely dangerous, that, indeed, it is not intrinsically harmful at all, then there is no general reason to try to prevent it from happening and it will then be possible for MAPs to have happy and fulfilling lives within mainstream society.

I can well imagine how a typical member of VP will react to this argument. There are likely to be two main responses. One is to say that mainstream  society is right: consensual adult-child sex is intrinsically harmful. (Or, relatedly, they may claim that consensual adult-child sex isn’t even possible, as children are incapable of consenting to sex with adults.) But, on these matters, the evidence seems to be on my side, not theirs. The second type of response they are likely to make is that the suggestion is politically naïve: even if it were the case (which they deny) that adult-child sex can be morally acceptable, mainstream society will never accept it; so the VP approach is the only one that is politically feasible.

And yet it is possible to change people’s minds about the moral standing of adult-child sex. This happened to a great extent in the Netherlands in the 1970s, with resulting legislative changes that modified age-of-consent restrictions in a liberal direction (though these were later repealed). This could happen again, if MAPs would unite in favour of the radical approach.

Of course, depending on one’s personal situation (and one’s level of bravery!), this has to be done very circumspectly in the current climate. I am certainly not advocating breaking any laws. I am suggesting that people do what they can to communicate the truth to others. I believe that if this were done, the needed reforms might eventually come about.

If they did, this would probably be a net benefit, not only to MAPs, but also to young people. When consensual adult-child sex does lead to harm, this seems to happen mainly because of the taboo against it. This is supported to some extent even by the literature of our opponents. I’m thinking especially of Susan Clancy’s The Trauma Myth, in which the author shows that in most cases the experience of sex with an adult is not unpleasant for the child at the time – psychological harm comes later in the form of guilt feelings, which are, of course, entirely dependent on there being a taboo. (This is why I argued above that the term “sexual abuse” should be abandoned for non-coercive cases, though this does not mean I think people should pursue such relationships under current legal and social circumstances.) Get rid of the taboo and the well-being of those children who enjoy sex with adults (and the adults they themselves will become) will be greatly improved.

I was very tentative in my statement above about the likelihood of success in bringing about the needed reforms. It is affected by many factors beyond our control. But of one thing I am certain, for the reasons explained earlier: the VP approach will definitely not yield more than very limited societal improvements either for MAPs or for children. Perhaps we need moderates as well as radicals to introduce new ideas to the public in a relatively non-threatening way. But, rather than VP, our moderates had better be of the kind represented by B4U-ACT, who are neutral on the moral standing of adult-child sex, otherwise they will undermine the radicals. If the only agenda is VP’s, I guarantee there will be no large-scale society-wide improvements in the plight of MAPs or the children whom they wish to be close to.

 

YOUTH SPEAK OUT ABOUT YOUTHLOVE

An earlier guest blogger here, the Japonist (hope that’s a reasonably accurate label of convenience!) who writes as “Peace”, reports the start of a new venture called “Kids Club anthologies”, the first such anthology being titled (no capital letters) out of the mouths of babes – youth speak out about youthlove.

The introduction begins:

Despite all of the noise from the anti, pro, and neutral side of youthlove, there is one group whose voice is often forgotten – youth themselves. Whether this is from an ageist assumption that youth don’t know what’s good for them or the unfortunate reality that youth don’t often get a chance to express their view in print media, it represents a glaring omission in most discussions of topics such as youthlove, the age of consent, and adult/youth relationships. A true discussion of these subjects can’t be had if only adults are granted a chance to speak.

As Peace explained to me in an email, the series will be anthologies of “rarer, hard-to-find, or more obscure pieces” written by paedophiles or about adult/youth relations, the age of consent, sexual attraction to youth, etc., “with each anthology following a theme of some sort”. This first one collects material from the late 70s to the mid 90s “written by gay boys and lesbians, self-proclaimed dykes and fags, feminists, youth liberationists, and groups for queer youth”.

It’s a great idea, not least because youngsters are no longer able to speak out so freely on sexual matters: censorship prevails. It’s a very different story when the topics are adult-approved, as will be seen from my next item below.

 

CHILDREN’S CLIMATE STRIKES GO GLOBAL

It’s fantastic, of course. Great to see and hugely inspiring. The mass movement of school kids out of the classroom and into political activism against climate change is now a global phenomenon. Marching on Friday with placards and banners bearing slogans such as “There is no Planet B” and “The sea is rising, so are we”, tens of thousands of children all around the world in over 100 countries took part in “strike” action to demand that the political elite urgently address the climate change emergency. Fantastic, too, that this action has attracted massive media attention, which will add significantly to the steadily mounting  pressure pushing climate change up the political agenda.

And not just fantastic but utterly amazing that this huge movement was started as recently as last August by schoolgirl, Greta Thunberg, then just 15, when she started to skip school on Fridays to protest about climate change outside Sweden’s parliament. By December she was giving an impassioned speech at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Poland and a month later – after a long overland journey because she refused to go by environmentally unfriendly air travel – she berated the complacency of all the billionaires and other high rollers at the World Economic Forum in Davos, urging them to “behave like our house is on fire, because it is.”

Quite rightly, Thunberg has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. I would be very happy for her to win except that she could have serious competition from other school kids, including Emma González and David Hogg, who responded swiftly to a massacre by a rampaging gunman last year at their Florida school. In the wake of the attack, instead of settling for the usual pious prayers and condolences offered by politicians running scared of the powerful gun lobby in the U.S., they vented their anger by demanding action on gun control. And they got it: a state bill was passed bringing in a range of important reforms to limit gun possession and its dangers, and Donald Trump was even forced to take some action (on “bump stops”) at the national level.

Such achievements are eminently worthy of acclaim and Heretic TOC should arguably have made this theme a lead item, not a relatively brief down-page affair. What I am concerned to avoid, though, is a phoney pretence that children – real children, if you will, as opposed to high school seniors such as González and Hogg, verging on adulthood, are in any position to be politically effective on their own. Even the somewhat younger Thunberg had a massive amount of support from adults – a younger child could hardly “run away” to Davos without parental and other help, much less get an invitation to speak there.

And they only know that climate change is so important because adults have taught them about it, probably in school. That’s great. It shows our schools are getting at least something right. But let’s not pretend it is about children’s innate wisdom or any such sentimental bullshit. Kids know more than anyone about their own lives and feelings, though. That is the area of their expertise and that is where there is real scope for thinking about how they might be accorded greater respect, and their agency acknowledged.

 

KINDLING FRESH INTEREST IN MY JACKSON BOOK

Bizarrely, I have been so busy that I find myself a couple of weeks late plugging the new Kindle edition (priced in U.S. dollars here) of my own book about the late King of Pop on my own blog!

I guess regular heretics here all know about Michael Jackson’s Dangerous Liaisons, which came out in 2010 shortly after the megastar’s death. Some will even have read it. They will be aware it is an enormous 624-page door-stopper of a tome, weighing in at over a kilo, making it an expensive affair to produce, to deliver, and to buy. In some far-flung parts of the world purchasers have had to part with sums a good deal north of £30 to secure a copy. Bless them, some have actually done just that: there has been a modest number of such customers from Austria to Australia and from Belgium to Brazil.

Now, though, the new Kindle e-book edition can be yours for barely more than a tenth of such an expensive outlay, at a very affordable £3.78 from Amazon in the UK and around $5 in the US. And it comes with a substantial new Preface written in the wake of the sensational Leaving Neverland documentary.

Readers will discover that it was not necessary to be a music industry insider, or otherwise close to Jackson, to discover a huge amount about his relationships with boys, long before the latest revelations and even before his trial: plenty of legal filings and other useful sources were in the public domain for those who cared to look, from the early 1990s onwards. In fact, as many other unofficial biographers have found, it is the insiders – especially family, and those with jobs and contracts to protect – who are most likely to circle the wagons and deny everything. Many of the relevant documents, including lengthy transcripts of interviews and phone calls featuring Jordan Chandler and his father Evan – who was the driving force behind the first allegations against Michael, against the wishes of his reluctant son – were scrutinised by me. These are featured in the book. Even Jordie’s Uncle Ray, and specialist Jackson bloggers such as Desiree Hill at mjfacts, have admitted that I was an assiduous and astute researcher. As for understanding Michael as a boy lover, there’s a lot to be said for the adage: “It takes one to know one”.

In terms of the depth of the book’s coverage, not to be found elsewhere, over 65 pages are devoted to the relationship between Michael and Jordie. Oddly, Michael Jackson’s Dangerous Liaisons also includes a vastly more systematic and in-depth account of the 2005 trial than is to be found elsewhere, with well over 130 pages on this.

As for breadth, just count the boys!  Well over a dozen were clearly in “special friendships” with him over the years, including the Leaving Neverland boys: you will find plenty about Wade and Jimmy in the book, including strong early indications of their intimacy with the star. A staggering seventy boys are named in all – including three princes, no less! – along with reasons to place most of them among Michael’s more diffuse erotic entourage.

And just for good measure, I might throw in the fact that Michael Jackson’s Dangerous Liaisons got rave reviews from more professors (of psychiatry, psychology, cultural studies, you name it) than you could shake a Jacko crotch-grab at – not that you would want to!

 

LOUSE OF LORDS OR LOUSY JOURNALISM?

Those who read the comments here religiously will be aware of this item already: my headline echoes a much cleverer one in The Sun – credit where it’s due, the redtops do tend to be good at snappy puns.

Their most formidable skill, though, lies in knowing how to be deeply obnoxious even when the “story” is vanishingly thin, a gossamer concoction of loosely woven threads of non-story.

Let’s just consider the first couple of sentences:

Britain’s most notorious paedophile campaigner was treated to a plush champagne bash at the House of Lords. Twice-jailed Tom O’Carroll, 73, was among up to 60 guests who were thanked last December for donating money to a children’s book charity.

What’s the story? Essentially, that an old bloke did something that would normally be considered public spirited and praiseworthy: giving money to a worthy cause. A not very well-off bloke, actually, with no income beyond the humble state pension, so if The Sun had been disposed to tell the gospel truth there would have been a “widow’s mite” angle in it for them: see Luke 21:1-4. But it should come as no surprise that the generous spirit of Jesus, who praised the poor widow for giving her all, should be far from the thoughts of the tabloid take-down artists.

I did not give my all – just a bit more than I could sensibly afford, actually – so I can by no means claim anything like equal merit with the  biblical widow; but you might feel, as I do, that it’s a bit rich for The Sun to use this particular event, a reception to thank donors, as a stick with which to beat me.

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