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.

 

Warily going where angels fear to tread

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Book review: The Fear of Child Sexuality: Young People, Sex, and Agency, by Steven Angelides. University of Chicago Press, September 2019.

This is an important new book. Heretic TOC has accordingly decided to give it an in-depth review in two parts. This first part will focus on Angelides’ aims in relation to his earlier track record. The second part will consider the book’s content in more detail with a particular focus on the author’s interestingly “post-Foucauldian” view of power in sexual relationships. 

We might guess that someone called Angelides would be on the side of the angels. This family name is Greek for “son of an angel” or “descended from the angels”. Something like that. The name of the book itself, its title, tells us it is about fear, so we might find ourselves wondering whether the writer will boldly go where angels allegedly fear to tread. Portentously, too, this wordsmith’s given name is Steven, after the first Christian martyr. His more specific subject is child sexuality, a notoriously dangerous theme for any writer these days, so is this perhaps saintly scribe doomed to martyrdom, or even actively courting it?

Child sexuality: obscured, censored, but not entirely erased from public discourse.

Definitely not the latter, on the evidence so far. The good Dr Angelides, a senior academic whose PhD was in history and gender studies, is affiliated with the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health, and Society at La Trobe University and an honorary senior research fellow at Macquarie University. This much, and his listed publications, are a matter of public record, but otherwise he has kept a low profile. He isn’t big on the social media, doesn’t appear to give interviews, has no Wikipedia entry, and not much has been written about him.

Having been impressed many years ago by a couple of his papers, especially “Feminism, child sexual abuse, and the erasure of child sexuality” (2004), I was keen to read his new book when word reached me about it a few months ahead of its publication last month. So I wrote to his official university email address offering to write a review, possibly for an academic journal but certainly here at Heretic TOC. I heard nothing back. After a suitable interval I wrote again. Still silence.

I was a bit miffed. This was an unexpected snub. My recollection, admittedly somewhat foggy, was that Angelides had written quite respectfully about paedophile organisations such as PIE, which I chaired for several years. It was as though he at least acknowledged our sincerity and idealism. The impression I had was that he believed children are not only sexual but sometimes want sexual contact with an adult and are capable of consent in fact if not in law.

So why would he shun me and my interest in his book? Perhaps because he thinks I am a crap writer, of no significance? That would be mortifying but there is another explanation. Fear. Fear of guilt by association with a “convicted paedophile” like me.

History professor Joanna Bourke knows about these things. She is an expert on fear, author of a book called Fear: A Cultural History. So it is not surprising to see that Times Higher Education recently carried her review of The Fear of Child Sexuality. She wrote:

Even scholarly analyses of the sexuality of young people risk accusations of championing paedophilia. It is therefore very brave of Steven Angelides, an academic at La Trobe University in Australia, to tackle the topic. He is very clear about his ethical stance: he opposes all attempts to normalise paedophilia.

Except that he doesn’t. I had just finished reading Angelides’ book when I encountered Bourke. It was fresh in my mind and I knew that, mercifully, there was nothing whatever in it that could distinctly be taken as opposing paedophilia. Just as I remembered from his earlier papers, the perspective presented in his book is entirely compatible with children, especially those on the pre-teen cusp of adolescence and beyond, being sexually active and capable of voluntary participation in an intergenerational relationship. Wonderful! Delighted to see it! It could hardly have been otherwise, actually, because it turns out the book is pretty much a “greatest hits” compilation album of this earlier work.

So where was Bourke’s utterly contrary claim coming from? Could this reputable historian have misinterpreted Angelides at some point? Or else be lying?

Well, it turns out that I cannot call her a liar but I do say loud and clear that her words performed a major deception, and it was one in which Angelides colluded. What happened, in effect, was that the pair of them came together to enact a strategy of fear. It was presumably not concocted in a conscious conspiracy between them (they may not have contacted each other or be personally acquainted) but it ends up working in the same way. There is a tactic as well as a strategy in all this that I will come to shortly. But first let’s get into this strategy business. Angelides has plenty to say on this theme, starting in his Preface. He refers to:

… the cultural and political work the mobilization of emotional vocabularies of fear, anxiety, and shame does to endlessly defer an encounter with the agentive sexual child. This, I suggest, is a “strategy” of many child sex panics — although by strategies I am thinking of those aspects of power relations that are, as Michel Foucault famously puts it, “both intentional and non-subjective.” Power relations have aims and objectives, and in this way are intentional; but they are also beyond an individual or group’s will, consciousness, or control — in that no individual or group possesses power and in that power relations have unintended and entangled aims and consequences—and so are nonsubjective. Strategies can thereby also be anonymous and unwitting (pp. xiv).

Unintended consequences. Unwitting strategies.

Precisely!

By a supreme irony, an unwitting strategy of fear has produced a wholly unintended consequence in which Bourke and Angelides accidently collude against the sexual child that both of them (to judge from Bourke’s review as a whole, as well as the book she is reviewing) would wish to support. This unwitting, accidental antagonism expresses itself through a contradiction.

To see how that has happened we must turn now from the strategy to the tactic. As we have seen, Bourke asserts that Angelides “is very clear about his ethical stance: he opposes all attempts to normalise paedophilia”. Where does he make himself “clear”? Not, as I have said, in his book, or not at least in the main text, including the Preface. No, the tactic adopted by Angelides was to hide away his “clear” ethical stance in the Acknowledgements section, positioned near the end of the book, in the most obscure place possible, between the last page of the book proper and the beginning of the Notes. I am very pleased the disclaimer appearing there is indeed obscure because to make it more prominent would be to obstruct his long-held and much more positive message, a message all us heretics will applaud, namely that intergenerational sexual relationships can be ethical. The one thing that really is clear, it seems to me, is that Angelides is so fearful – understandably – of being crucified in the media and elsewhere that he feels the disclaimer, distancing himself from paedophilia, was necessary.

So how did Bourke come to notice this “clear” statement, hidden away among lengthy tributes to the author’s colleagues and friends that would be of little interest to the general reader? My guess is that the publishers, the University of Chicago Press, sent a memo drawing attention to it along with every review copy they sent out. That would have done the trick. So, it looks as though there was probably corporate collusion too.

But we do not need to subscribe to this little bit of conspiracy theory on my part to see that fear is massively at work. Angelides gives us plenty of grounds for seeing why it would be in play. He tells us:

Publishing variously on the historical emergence of the modern pedophile, on child sexual abuse, on queer theory, and on child and adolescent sexuality, has done me no favors in some respects. In a way that gets to the very heart of this book’s fundamental concerns about child sex panics, my work across these areas has sometimes been maliciously misrepresented by people who are opposed to almost any examination of young people’s sexualities and who have a range of political axes to grind… Merely writing on these topics has been enough for some people unwilling to properly read my work to presume falsely that I am an apologist for pedophilia. Nothing could be further from the truth. From my very early involvement in the emergence of queer theory in Australia, I am on the published record denouncing any attempt to normalise pedophilia by way of transgressive queer theories (pp. 179-80).

As someone who knows what it feels like to be maliciously misrepresented of course I sympathise with all writers who find themselves on the wrong end of such abuse. However, I have been able to find only a couple of articles, published online, that attack him and his work – as already indicated, he has managed to maintain quite a low profile, perhaps because queer theory in general tends to hide itself in a fog of dense academic language that few can penetrate – and to my mind these seem to give a reasonably accurate account of his ideas. Hostile, yes, but nothing like as distorted and downright false as many of the allegations levelled at those of us who put our views out there in more straightforward activist terms.

Coming back to the contradiction I mentioned, it is this. Angelides says children may be capable of ethically acceptable participation in an intergenerational sexual relationship; Bourke is less committed but describes his book as well argued and sensible. Yet almost in the same breath, as it were, both of them badmouth paedophilia. So they arrive at the strange position of willing the end but denying the means. For how are children going to find themselves in intergenerational relationships unless they are allowed to have adults who are sexually attracted to them (i.e. paedophiles) as their older partners? Or are they supposed to confine their interest to “normal” adults who might turn to them temporarily as an inferior substitute when a physically mature partner is not available? Doesn’t make much sense to me. Indeed, some might see it as a recipe for encouraging casual exploitation by the older person.

Fortunately, a clear explanation of this contradiction is available, at least as regards Bourke’s thinking, which gives us a good steer when we come to the subtler line taken by Angelides. She writes:

It is unfortunate that Angelides pays insufficient attention to specificities within the category of “childhood”: too often, readers are presented with an abstract “child”, when he is actually referring to an adolescent, middle-class, white male.

She is saying, in other words, that he is mainly talking about teenagers, not little kids; and the ones he highlights as capable of consent are also likely to be relatively confident and empowered, based not just on their personal maturity but thanks to their privileged class, race, and gender as well. So why doesn’t Angelides, who is plainly worried about being misrepresented and unjustly attacked, give himself an easier ride? Why didn’t he call his book The Fear of Teenage Sexuality, which would have been far less controversial?

I find his official explanation utterly unconvincing. He says he uses the word child because that is what the law does, adding that “Retaining a legalistic definition of the child even when referring to those between ages fifteen and seventeen is also a deliberately provocative reminder of the ambiguities and contradictions faced by young people in Western societies” (p. xxvii). But it is a pointless provocation unless you have a further agenda.

What it comes down to, I think, is that he is alert, like Bourke, to a range of socially significant intersecting dimensions (class, race and gender, as well as age), some combinations of which seem to him to make likelier candidates for ethical relationships than others. He makes no positive case, for instance, for men’s sexual involvement with young girls, but focuses at considerable length on sexual relationships between schoolboys in their mid-teens and their female teachers – contacts not only manifestly desired and enjoyed by the boys but also in which they exercised significant power and control. Another combination he apparently sees as viable is that of adolescent boys and men, the type of connection that was so explicitly the focus of that most famous of all paedophile organisations, NAMBLA, an acronym with “man-boy love” embedded into it. The membership of such organisations, including Britain’s PIE (Paedophile Information Exchange) and Australia’s PSG (Pedophile Support Group), tended mainly towards an interest in consensual relationships between older pre-teen, or early teen, boys and men. Angelides writes:

…insisting on a distinction between paedophilia and child sexual abuse was precisely the ongoing concern of groups like NAMBLA, PIE and the PSG. At the heart of this distinction were questions of consensual sex and the sexual agency of young people in intergenerational encounters (p. 80).

Quite so. And, to the extent that these consensual relations potentially relate to pre-teen kids, Angelides finds himself cheer-leading for children’s sexual agency, not just that of teenagers. He can still just about viably argue, though, that he is not defending paedophilic contacts but hebephilic ones. As he says in relation to PSG, “many group members did themselves no favor by misnaming their category as pedophile” (p. 84).

Either way, there is no escaping the fact that this truly is scarily controversial terrain that could easily set off a witch-hunt against the author – and not just at Halloween as today happens to be: the witch-hunters never stop!

Self-abasement that invites contempt

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Be on notice, I boldly announced last time, that a “real event” may be on the way at Heretic TOC. Thus did I appear to be heralding a uniquely momentous forthcoming contribution. Today’s guest blog is not what I had in mind, which may seem a grossly discourteous way to introduce a guest piece, by talking it down, but I am simply stating a fact. Today’s article was contributed after my fanfare and was unexpected. By pure coincidence, though, its subject is in the same ballpark as the much anticipated Big One and makes a worthy warm-up act. It comes from veteran activist Peter Herman, formerly one of the editors of the NAMBLA Bulletin and also a past contributor to that organization’s website as well as twice being a previous guest blogger here.   

A CAUTIONARY TALE

A peculiar group calling itself Virtuous Pedophiles (American spelling), is currently presenting a different face of paedophilia. “VirPed”, to use their own abbreviation, believes that their members’ attraction to minors is an unfortunate and un-chosen affliction that they have determined to never act on so as to never hurt children. VirPed members appear sincere in believing that they suffer from an inborn defect, perhaps like alcoholism, that can be controlled but that has no apparent cure.

Being virtuous is undeniably admirable. So why is this group’s self-identity so disturbing?

The problems with this self-deprecating posture are manifold. Foremost of these is an abject sense of self. The VirPed belief system seems to grow out of a woeful lack of understanding of the human condition, of its amazing diversity and a too readily credulous faith in a pseudoscience that is not much different than that of the witchcraft manuals of old. They too easily accept the deceit that children are unable to give consent when it is obvious that they consent to many things of great import in daily life. More on this later.

But what is most striking is the pathetic lack of dignity VirPed’s cries for help projects. Their craving for approval as exhibited by the posting of a number of quotes on their site uniquely by self-appointed experts speaks volumes to their pitiful need for acceptance. Anyone who has ever observed certain classrooms of very young children assuming exaggerated postures of compliance to impress and get approval from their teachers will see a similarity (not to attribute this trait only to children who are after all at the mercy of their teachers: goose-stepping soldiers, faces turned in unison to their leaders, are no different). We all seek acceptance, but self-respect demands a different approach – one that takes into account and defends the true nature of the much maligned so-called paedophile.

It is evident that VirPed is clueless about human nature in that their pleas for understanding in the face of ignorance and blind hate are useless. One simply needs to look at responses to their tweets to get a sampling of the unrelenting hostile attitude. How tone deaf they are is exemplified by the very name they chose. Taunts such as “virulent VirPed”, “VirPed vermin” and “VirPed viper” too easily come to mind. But even without the easy hook they present to the haters, they still suffer the opprobrium of most of conventional society. The individuals who support them are overwhelmingly those whose professions and livelihoods feed on the victimization industry.

Above all, the sanctimony of this group is an insult to the vast unseen community also attracted to minors, who do not feel afflicted, but yet never engage in the arbitrarily prohibited acts of intimacy in current Western societies. VirPed eagerly defends these prohibitions evidently to highlight how sincere they are in their own self-denigration. VirPed besmirches as “pro-contact” those who are attracted to minors, as they themselves are, but do not accept VirPed’s orthodoxy. This aspersion ignores the fact that the vast majority of these “pro-contact” individuals nevertheless lead lives of abstention, not because prohibited yet consensual associations would prove harmful in themselves but because they know that negative societal consequences would be the actual causes of harm. There is much greater virtue in denying yourself in this way than in denying your very being by characterizing it as sick. Presenting oneself as damaged but contrite in VirPed’s situation is not only pitiful but downright repugnant.

The argument of VirPed-enabling charlatans such as James Cantor, who finds that “paedophiles” have brains that are incorrectly wired, is flawed in a way that will surprise. How unfortunate that Cantor’s ilk is unaware that a little knowledge is a very dangerous thing. Do Cantor and like quacks actually understand the utter complexity of the human brain? No doubt we are all “wired” in various ways as legitimate brain research seems to indicate. And Cantor’s acting as Dr. Frankenstein does not add anything to this fact but distorts it to his own ends.

The miraculous thing about this already known premise is how varied brains can be. Bach, Einstein, Gauss, Newton just to name a few had uncommon brains. So have those who are autistic or transgender. Not long ago the latter would have been relegated to the fringes of society out of total ignorance of their potentials for enriching the social fabric. But whereas being autistic and transgender also entail handicaps that can be compensated for, paedophiles, notwithstanding the general calumny about them, are fully functioning individuals, comfortable in their own skin, whose attraction to young people is the grand motivator for the unrecognized good they do.

Given their invisibility, the social benefit of the vast cohort of those who are attracted to minors can only be guessed at. John Money used the term “paedophilic genius” to characterize those men of genius who were attracted to children. Among these, to name just a few, are Lewis Carroll, Michael Jackson, James Barry, Oscar Wilde and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. We could also add the renowned American poet Allen Ginsberg whose boy-love poetry and support of NAMBLA were no secret. Daniel Carleton Gajdusek, Nobel laureate in medicine, may not be as well known, as are countless others who have made exceptional contributions to society. But looking for the exceptional among so-called paedophiles misses the point. We usually become aware of those who have made a positive contribution only when disrepute unjustly falls on them.

Examples abound. The Catholic priest Bruce Ritter who founded the acclaimed Covenant House, a New York City haven for throwaway teenagers, had his life end in undeserved disgrace. The Foxfire endeavour that engaged students in Appalachia to research and treasure their culture became a celebrated national project. It was founded by a young teacher whose love for boys inspired his devotion to open their vistas. Though the foundation has continued to exist and prosper since 1966, no mention of the paedophilic genius who started it is mentioned in its materials. That teacher’s life was ruined on discovery of consensual relations with boys. The idea that such individuals nevertheless caused immense harm is as ridiculous as the belief in some current Muslim societies that religious apostates or heretics harm their religion and should therefore be condemned to prison or worse. The ruin and oblivion imposed on the unjustly disgraced is disturbingly reminiscent of the former Soviet Union’s Orwellian effacing of those no longer in favour.

I asked a man I once knew and who had been sent to prison for molesting a boy, “if your actions as you suggest were welcomed by the boy, how could it have come to that?”His response, “The boy had been in a car with his parents and an acquaintance when the subject of child molestation came up. The boy eagerly spoke up citing his own positive experience to counter the arguments being made by the adults in the car.’ As with children in Soviet era browbeaten to betray heresies by their elders’, there was no other possible outcome.

The opprobrium facing anyone who is attracted to minors insures that the contributions of this great and truly virtuous cohort as yet cannot be fully known. What we can ascertain is that the few we do know about cannot but be indicative of a vast untapped potential of individuals whose attraction to young people inspires a need to help them. The loss of this great potential is the more tragic when we consider all of the actual harm done to children that brings no comparable consequences. Among the most egregious of these is the gun violence killing and maiming of thousands of children each year. But this is only a sliver of the vast hypocrisy by those who wring their hands at what they consider sexual abuse of children but do little to otherwise safeguard them and promote their wellbeing.

If the faulty “wiring” accepted by VirPed and promoted by its cheering gallery is so prevalent one would wonder why nature persists in this “mistake.” Human beings have evolved through evolutionary happenstances. Genetic “mistakes” often result in benefits not only to the organism but also to the group. In human groups for instance, paedophiles’ attraction to the young make the former well suited to be mentors. Ancient militaristic Sparta should not be our model but its society is indicative of how sexual attraction was once coupled with mentorship to the benefit of the fighting unit. Such mentorships surely exist all around but woe befall anyone, especially single men, who show too much affection, too much dedication or even offer a little help. Heard at a swimming pool:

“You won’t believe what this boy asked me to do.”

“What, something awful?”

“No, he needed me to untangle the knotted cord on his Speedo. You can imagine what I could be accused of!”

And at an educational conference:

We are no longer allowed to touch pupils, not even with a pat on the shoulder. If we wish to confer praise we should simply say something like “Well done, James.”

There are those who would argue that the mentorship of the young by the mature occurs in any case. But much of it is through bloodless paid services such as teaching. Surely examples of passion and selflessness exist in such professions, but those are rare enough to be the subject of the occasional TV human interest feature.

Part of the denial of identity by the self-serving virtuous crowd stems from the guilt trip they place on themselves. The idea of self-interest seems to them something to be ashamed of. Anyone who has ever given it any thought realizes that the one totally devoid of self-interest is a carpet to be trod on. We have all known of individuals, be it the selfless mother who demands nothing of her children or family or the employee who never stands up for himself, where the need for approval only brings disrespect.

Hillel the Elder, the great Jewish ethicist, said “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?” This pithy observation on the human condition two millennia ago is as valid today as it was then. The one whose desires are not balanced with the recognition of the desires of others deserves at least as much contempt as the one who always denies himself to the benefit of others.

Now, NAMBLA has been the favorite bête noire among the uninformed of this world and for which VirPed enthusiastically parrots condemnation. NAMBLA in its founding principle has always insisted that consensuality be the key element to any relationship. This has been mindlessly countered with the dubious notion that children are unable to give consent. This includes, in many jurisdictions, individuals just short or eighteen years.

Some decades back, before instant recordings, when differentiating between “good touches” and bad touches first came in vogue, a PBS (Public Broadcasting Service)TV program attempted to present the concept to young children. When “bad touches” were described to the children participating in the program one boy piped up asking “What if I like it?” Out of the mouths of babes oft come words of wisdom!

It is quite obvious that children are very capable of giving or withholding consent all the time. Progressive environments where this is understood will give youngsters a wide range of options when it comes to such things as education, nutrition, clothing or most other things that affect the young person.

Sex is another story. Though the stages of sexual development vary for all people, the subject is extremely uncomfortable if not anathema when it comes to children. A colleague I once knew confessed to me that as a seven-year-old he had had the “hots” for his female elementary school teacher. Though not universal, it is highly unlikely that his story was that unusual. On the other end of the spectrum, some adults never experience sexual attractions of any kind or only mildly so. We are all different. But, in this society and especially in English speaking ones, any adult sexual interaction with an evidently willing youngster will risk punishments often more vengeful than that for vicious murderers. That ample scientific evidence supports the fact that harm is absent even when consent is murky matters not a bit.

There is an inverse to the prohibition just described. None of us have a choice in being born or the environment we begin life in. Some are born into toxic environments where families or societies can block out all outside influences that would allow their children options outside of negative constraints. Yet there is no legal recourse preventing adults in these situations from, for instance, teaching their children racism or religious indoctrination that harm them. Likewise, there are few legal recourses to sanction parents withholding certain medical procedures when based on religious belief. Other egregious examples abound.

We are all influenced by the opinions prevalent in our societies. Luckily, not everyone wears the limiting blinders making us aware of more rational options. Unfortunately, VirPed followers are not among the enlightened and have avidly drunk the Kool Aid.

As a final caution to you VirPedians, the doctor Frankensteins that you so avidly court, instead of bringing you sympathy, will surely provide you with an unenviable cure. If faulty wiring is the perceived problem, you can be sure that brains can readily be operated on. If the dubious frontal lobotomies promoted in the 1930s could be performed then and chemical castration today, the possibility of the state messing with your brains using increasingly sophisticated electronics is not a great reach. And to others with narrow minds and too ready to condemn those different from yourselves, do not be so sure that in our increasingly technology besotted society some perceived defect in your little brains will not send you to the operating table. Take counsel from Pastor Martin Niemöller, the anti-Nazi theologian and concentration camp survivor who wrote these prophetic words:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me— and there was no one left to speak for me.

Applaud their courage, and take heart

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Heretic TOC presents a guest blog by Explorer, who has contributed many excellent comments here including a recent one that briefly introduced us to an interesting new organisation called Heart Progress. Today he delves deeper, exploring (well, he is Explorer!) the strengths and weaknesses of Heart Progress, and how heretics here could help it develop its potential as a force for good. Explorer is a young Russian from an intellectual home background, who enjoyed the benefits of growing up in the briefly libertarian atmosphere of the 1990s that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. Qualified as a lawyer, he has a non-legal professional role which has brought him into lively discussion and debate with scientists and technicians, from whom he has learned much. He contributes to a range of online forums, sometimes taking people out of their intellectual comfort zone by presenting challenging ideas on a range of topics, such as parapsychology and anarchist politics, as well as intergenerational sexuality.

 

HEART PROGRESS COMMUNITY: A CASE FOR SELECTIVE SUPPORT

We live in interesting times, full of surprises; most of them, however, are unpleasant ones, like the regular news of the next stage of escalation of some military conflict, or yet another governmental decision to impose even more censorship, surveillance and persecution than we already have. Yet, thanks to the new Heretic TOC commenter Hypersonic, I learned something which has surprised me in a positive way. A very positive way, I would say!

Heart Progress Community: A Bright Side

Now we have a new activist community which holds not just a pro-paedosexual, but a pro-contact position: Heart Progress. This group of people openly aims to bring about the legalisation and normalisation of consensual child-adult sex. This is not another sad VirPed bunch begging society to accept them as human beings because of their promise to condemn and suppress their sexuality. Neither it is a therapeutic circle providing some help yet still insisting that its members should forever give up any hope of their sexual needs being actually satisfied. These are people who publicly claim that children are sexual beings who can consent to sexual relations with adults, and not get harmed in the process; and, therefore, there is no objective reason to forbid intergenerational sexual contact.

So, we are witnessing the birth of the first activist community to defend consensual child-adult sex in many, many years. We definitely haven’t seen such initiatives since the 1970s, the times of PIE and NAMBLA; and the organisations founded in this remote epoch either were destroyed by the authorities (as PIE was) or forced to remain largely silent and inactive, formally existing yet not being able to do anything noticed by the general public (the current state of NAMBLA). The only remaining activity has been the internet “paedosphere” – a network of websites where unrepentant paedophiles and their supporters have gathered. And this activity has generally been confined to its original circle of participants, unable to reach a wider audience.

And now, Heart Progress is concentrating its efforts on doing exactly this, taking the message beyond the confines to which it has until now been restricted by public opinion. This requires real nonconformity and courage, especially in view of the fact that the community’s list of participants is open and visible, with members who are active on social networks such as Twitter and Google+ (where it has a community page). Apparently many of these people are not paedophiles themselves, but activists in open solidarity with them, without hiding their identities. Such public support is a remarkable achievement.

Nor does Heart Progress limit its activity to online advocacy: it has already organised a public, real-life demonstration called “Breed Out the Hate”. This event was not dedicated to paedosexuality but to interracial marriage, intercourse and childbirth. The demo was apparently quite small; yet, a primarily pro-paedosexual organisation visibly engaged in real-life activism is something unseen since the 1970s (or, at best, the early 1980s).

This is laudable… but, for a balanced view, some unpleasant aspects of Heart Progress must also be taken into account.

Heart Progress Community: A Not-So-Bright Side

With all my sympathy for their paedo-activism cause, here I’ll have to criticise: Heart Progress people are, essentially, “social justice warriors” (SJWs), with all the notable negative traits these mainly left-wingers possess.

Like all SJWs, they have a tendency to dogmatic thinking, operating by slogans and clichés rather than reflective thought, and parroting currently fashionable Left positions without analyzing them critically. They often are overemotional and angry; they expect people to agree with them, and become furious when they don’t. They tend to overvalue their supporters and undervalue their opponents. They are unresponsive to constructive, non-hostile critique and persist in mistakes.

They easily fall for the temptation of reverse discrimination, and of accepting inverted versions of discriminative ideologies of the past. Let’s return to the Breed Out The Hate demonstration I mentioned above: according to some of the movement’s leading figures, the purpose of interracial couples is dissolution of white people’s genetic inheritance – inheritance, which, in their opinion, makes white people innately prone to violence, oppression, genocide and racism. They think that white people, because of their “evil” genes, have been the primary villains since the dawn of history; only by mixing their genetic lines with intrinsically peaceful and tolerant non-white genes, will they allow their progeny to become better. Such “biological pacification” would be manifested not only in genes, but in looks: with all people being of interracial heritage, everyone will look the same and so there would be no place for racist sentiments, which, according to their ideas, requires “whiteness” to begin with.

I think it is pretty obvious that such assertions have no basis in historical scholarship, biological science or simple life experience. It is an inverted version of the classic racist ideology of white American slave-owners of the past. This ideology was born out of the conflict between culture and society: exalted principles of personal freedom and ethical rejection of slavery clashed with the harsh political and economic needs of colonial imperialism and unrestrained capitalism. The result was an ugly, pseudo-scientific ideology that claimed non-white people are lower beings compared to white ones; they are “bestial”, “dangerous”, unable to control their aggressive impulses and thus in need of “benevolent” rule by their masters. Nowadays, we can see their faulty justifications of oppression turned on their heads and thrown in whites’ own faces.

As any person with some decent historical knowledge may attest, non-white civilizations committed atrocities as eagerly as white ones, and proclaimed their own superiority above everyone else just as easily. The Chinese Empire, founded on bloody warfare, bound together by merciless repression, and describing itself as the only civilized nation in the world (with everyone else, including white Europeans, demeaned as savages), is a good example. 20th century genocides and tyrannies were not exclusively white activity either: Mao Zedong was as willing to slaughter millions as Stalin and Hitler were; Japanese militarists were as prone to committing atrocities as German Nazis; the modern North Korean regime is hardly less totalitarian than any of its Western predecessors. So, there is no reason to claim that white people have done more cruel deeds, historically, than non-whites – and that their genetic inheritance is somehow tainted.

Here I need to emphasise that I have nothing against interracial marriage: if two people of different races are in love with each other, they should marry – or just live together without formally being spouses, if they want – and have as many interracial kids as they like, without fear of societal condemnation. But if a white man and a white woman love each other and want to have children, they should do it without being blamed for perpetuating their “evil” genes, or for being innately prone to violence themselves. Racism, like any other oppressive ideology, does not require “whiteness”; what it requires is a lust for power and wealth on the part of the elite ideologues and the willingness of the masses to believe them, feeling satisfied by their illusory superiority; and these elites and masses can be of any skin colour and genetic inheritance.

Selective Support and Why We Need to Give It

So, what should we do? Should we support Heart Progress? Yes, we should. It is vitally important to understand that we have to start our public activism in our actual situation, in the current circumstances that we cannot simply wish away. If we want to re-enter the Libertarian Left movement, we’ll have to deal with the SJWs who, whether we like it or not, are still apparently the leading faction.

Yet, our support shouldn’t be uncritical – while participating, we can and should raise our voice against the ideas and practices of Heart Progress in particular, and the modern Libertarian Left in general, which we find to be baseless, fallacious or counter-productive.

By doing it, we would be able to add a necessary diversity of ideas and approaches to the rebirthing of paedosexual activism and ensure that its supporters are not limited to SJWs. This is important for our public message: the general populace must see that intergenerational sex is defended by people with a range of ideological backgrounds. It must see that not all defenders of consensual intergenerational sex subscribe to nonsensical SJW notions.

This will also help to ensure the preservation of the pro-paedosexuality message when SJW ideology hits a crisis, which may happen sooner than we think. With all the emerging critical voices from within the Libertarian Left milieu, voices that justly point to the current absurd excesses of identity politics and “political correctness”, we would be able to continue our activism inside the future Libertarian Left scene, which will overcome SJW faults.

And it will help to restore the culture of critical thought and open dialogue which is sadly weak in our authoritarian times, when Left seems to compete with the Right in its censoriousness and rejection of complex rational analysis in the favour of simplistic emotional dogmas.

Some final remarks

The Libertarian Left movement is in a sad, I may even say “fallen”, state nowadays – especially if compared with its thriving mid-20th century version. But, with all its current faults, it is still better than its main rival, Alt-Right. With all its mistakes, the fundamental basis of the Libertarian Left ideal – an intent to create an egalitarian society, capable of progress wilfully driven by the people themselves, diverse and yet united in solidarity as regards respecting fundamental humanistic values, cooperative and yet supportive of individuality – is both viable and desirable. The Alt-Right, by contrast, based on a decisive rejection of equality, progress and everyone deviating from an arbitrary “traditional norm”, is unviable and undesirable from the start.

It is worth remembering that sometimes, somewhere, in some specific cases, Alt-Rightists do have valid points – in their critiques of SJW excesses, for example – but the basic principles on which they base their politics are still, in my opinion, fundamentally wrong ones. On the other hand, the Libertarian Left have made, and keep making, many mistakes, ones which have to be identified and criticised as such; but their basic principles are fundamentally correct. That’s why I’ll prefer to remain with the Libertarian Left, trying to repair, reform and renovate it, rather than bitterly abandon it because of its multiple current faults, such as pervasive SJW-ism.

And in the changeable and flexible society led by the Libertarian Left-led, paedosexuals and children alike may have a chance of liberation. In the rigid and normalcy-enforcing Alt-Right society, children can never be free and paedosexuals will be forever persecuted.

So, as I said before, and will repeat here, Heart Progress people are remarkably courageous, and are doing important work. They are the first ones in many years to do it. And as for the absurd ideas which some of their leading figures support, unfortunately, they are not the only ones supporting absurd ideas now. If we support them, we will be able to point them to their mistakes, and maybe even persuade some of them to give them up. Or, at least, we will make their community more diverse – with the benefits I described above.

Gentle poet Ginsberg doesn’t deserve this

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Last time, Heretic TOC showed how the past is being pilloried in an orgy of accusations and recriminations. Among the cultural icons suddenly being denounced is the poet Allen Ginsberg – a remarkable twist of fate for his reputation so soon after being lionised as a crusader for freedom in two recent movies, Howl and Kill Your Darlings. But do those delivering the damning judgements really know what they are talking about? In a guest blog today, Eric Tazelaar points out that the younger generation of commentators would not have known those they now so freely castigate – unlike Eric, who knew Ginsberg personally.

THAT 70S SHOW: A DECADE RE-CONCEPTUALIZED (AND REPURPOSED)

I have often wondered, beginning some thirty or more years ago, what long-term effects anti-pedophile hysteria, then just starting to gather real steam, would have upon children as well as their eventual adult selves.

The results now appear unequivocal and much worse than my worst imaginings so long ago.

“Thou shalt not suffer a paedophile to live!” seems not too strong a sentiment to represent prevailing societal opinion.

As is unavoidable – if one lives long enough – one is increasingly struck by the youthfulness of those high-minded idealists who now predominate among our journalistic detractors, most of whom were not yet born when Britain’s future Labour leaders rubbed elbows with Tom O’Carroll and PIE under the NCCL umbrella.

Many have decided that the decade of the 1970s was not only weird but had to have been almost supernaturally so, like the “weird” witches in Macbeth.

For one columnist, Tim Stanley, writing recently for The Daily Telegraph, the 1970s were not just “weird” but positively infested with “evil” villains actively propagating their “perversion” amongst the credulous and unsuspecting young.

“Evil men once exploited the sexual revolution and the Left’s naivety to advance their agenda and invade the mainstream.”

It couldn’t get much more black-and-white than that, now could it?

To Stanley, Allen Ginsberg, a man whom I knew well and whose amorous attentions, when I was eighteen years old, I politely rebuffed, is said to have been one of those “evil” infectious agents.

I was thunderstruck when I read that. Evil? Allen Ginsberg? Allen was possibly the least evil person I ever knew, unlike Andrea Dworkin whose unconcealed hatred for all things male and an unwavering conviction in the innate superiority of women made her, to my mind, a manifestly dangerous influence upon impressionable minds.

Stanley quotes her as having said of Ginsberg: “exceptionally aggressive about… his constant pursuit of under-age boys’’.

To that I say “Bullshit!” Although I was not, at eighteen, “underage” my rejection of his erotic interest in me was immediately accepted and we went on to become friends. Furthermore, I saw him interact many times with actual “underage” boys, none of whom he treated with anything but the greatest of gentleness and respect.

I will add that, of those friendships with boys with which I was familiar, most of whom were children of staff or students at the Buddhist school where he taught, none appeared unwelcome and neither the boys nor their parents showed any evidence of feeling threatened by him. Indeed, he was greatly respected and trusted throughout that community.

Allen behaved exactly as I would wish all people would behave: with the highest regard for the rights and dignity of the individual. One should aspire to be precisely that kind of person.

Clearly, Tim Stanley had never met Allen Ginsberg or Tom O’Carroll. Or Andrea Dworkin, for that matter.

No, Tim Stanley simply possesses the unshakable conviction that every lie, every distortion, every libel uttered about Ginsberg, O’Carroll, PIE or NAMBLA and, for that matter, all paedophiles, rings with an unassailable truth, having been levelled by those with intentions wholly good and pure. To Stanley’s mind, paedophiles and their cause are beyond all redemption and to be utterly destroyed, a process which I see to be well underway.

For Tim Stanley, facing down such irredeemable evil, there is no other side to the story and fact-checking in the interest of those proclaimed as evil simply isn’t required or even seriously considered.

But the state in which child lovers exist today is not the worst of it. An even starker reality which confronts us all is the sad and diminished state in which children and adolescents now find themselves, essentially held captive in what amounts to walled gardens where they are unable to form any contact with others not explicitly authorized or to be exposed to any idea deemed “inappropriate” by any but the most puritanical governess.

They benefit only from the society of other kids within one or two years of age or their families (but often minus Dad) or those adults specifically designated and vetted by the state.

All potentially contaminating ideas and people are carefully filtered-out to prevent their inadvertently contaminating today’s kids who, in their strict isolation, spend less time outdoors in unstructured and unscheduled freedom than ever before.

And, it would seem, when eventually they do grow up, they are often angrier than previous generations of young adults, harbouring resentments and suspicions which might be seen as unavoidable given their isolated and artificial childhoods in which kidnapping and molestation were identified as a continuous peril.

So it should not be surprising that many now also see paedophiles as an underlying source of their own social impoverishment as well as their greatest fear while growing up.

Bogeymen made their childhoods both frightening and constraining and they are, understandably, deeply resentful, even if they are misguided.

So this is where we are now:

• where rebels of genuine courage, many long-dead, are utterly vilified for having spoken that which was so obviously true, while hateful, emotionally unstable, misandrists are lionized for their viciousness and sanctimonious cruelty;
• where children, who have been urged daily – incessantly – not to talk to strangers, grow into adults who resist talking to, or trusting, strangers.

As shocking a reality as it is it should probably not come as a great surprise. The years have spoken and the answer to a question I asked, so many years ago, turns out to be much worse than I then imagined.

THE DAILY MAIL STABLE IS AT IT AGAIN

Back to me again, your usual host. I didn’t need an alarm clock this morning. It was quite alarming enough to wake up to the BBC news on the radio at 7am and hear the sound of my own name in the first item of the bulletin. But mine was just a bit part. The big news – or what The Mail on Sunday is foisting upon the nation as news – turned out to be based on the rabid paper’s latest bid to turn itself from a newspaper into an historical journal.

This new foray back into the 1970s, and into who was supposedly promoting paedophilia at the time, had its crosshairs firmly fixed on a senior judge, Lord Justice Fulford. I’m not going to dwell on this ridiculous story or on the details of my alleged connection with the judge all those years ago when he was a junior barrister. For one thing, I honestly can’t remember the details. All I recall is that Adrian Fulford, as I then knew him, was a courteous, pleasant, thoughtful guy with a serious commitment to civil liberties. I see nothing in that for which he need apologise or express any regrets. High Court judge and the child sex ring (allegedly!) is the place to catch up with these bizarre concoctions if you are so minded.

HERETIC TOC’S FIRST ADVERTISEMENT

Despite having a substantial readership (which probably includes a lot of journalists in the wake of recent publicity), Heretic TOC has not so far been overwhelmed with advertising. We haven’t seen any ads here for prestige cars or designer clothes or fine old whisky, which is a great shame as the money would come in handy. It would seem that for some unknown reason the commercial world isn’t all that keen to have its products associated with children’s sexual self-determination and paedophilia, themes which tend to come up here quite a bit.

We do now have our first ad, though (see sidebar, right). Happily for me, MindGlow Media has decided to make a special promotional offer on my book Michael Jackson’s Dangerous Liaisons. Obviously the ad. is limited in space, so on this, the occasion of its launch, I am going to give it a bit of a boost by including below a selection of the more favourable review comments the book has received. Actually, there have been very few non-favourable reviews except for hysterical trashings on Amazon by people who clearly haven’t bothered to read it. So, here goes:

“The most engaging, informed, and generous-hearted book we have on the subject or are likely ever to have. I recommend this book strongly.”
Professor James R Kincaid, University of Southern California

“His vivid and insightful commentary is a joy to read.”
DJ West, Emeritus Professor of Clinical Criminology, Cambridge University

“… a profound cultural critique of received assumptions about childhood innocence, pedophilic ‘power’, and parental goodwill.”
Professor Thomas K Hubbard, University of Texas at Austin

“…the pace of a natural storyteller. This book kept me gripped throughout… a nuanced, thoughtful analysis, backed by thorough research, and at the same time a roaringly good read.”
Vitaly (Amazon)

“A recommended read. Not just another book about ‘Wacko Jacko’. There won’t be anything written quite like it.”
Richard Green, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, University of California, Los Angeles

“…a damned good book! Only the most foolish of people would log onto Amazon and take an ignorant shot at Carl Toms’ work without having read it…”
Desiree Hill, blogger

“It’s been many years since I carried a book with me, anxious to read it over everything else in my life…destined to be a classic in the field of sexuality, along with Krafft-Ebing, Freud, Kinsey, and Masters/Johnson…”
Sally Miller (Synergy Press)

“Congratulations to Mr Toms for having the courage to write the book that had to be written about Michael Jackson, but no one else dared. The irony of this detailed and cogent look into Jackson’s heart and soul is that it is being condemned by those who ought to embrace it: Jackson’s most faithful fans.”
Colton Alexander (Amazon)

“Michael Jackson’s Dangerous Liaisons…is the answer for anyone who still may harbor questions about Jackson’s sexuality. This encyclopedic tome leaves no stone unturned… There is a whole host of references to document all that Toms contends in this book… ”
Caz (Amazon)

“The author’s prose is engaging, humorous and dramatically compelling – this is one exceptionally gifted writer who has produced a most persuasive and compassionate volume…Far from coming over as a crazed partisan for paedophilic rape, Toms manages something which Freud, at his best and most heroic, often achieved – discussing issues which the prevailing moral order insists may only be addressed in tones of compulsory revulsion in calm, neutral and sane language. Sometimes, sanity is scandalous.”
Ben Capel (Philososphere)

“…fascinating, challenging and discomfiting. Anyone wanting to understand Michael Jackson will need to read it. The idea that pedophilic relationships can be harmless or even beneficial to children is disturbing to many people, including me. The lack of scientific evidence supporting my largely visceral reactions against pedophilic relationships has been one of the most surprising discoveries of my hopefully ongoing scientific education…O’Carroll argues against my intuitions and he argues well.”
J Michael Bailey, professor of psychology, Northwestern University

Hard to put down, despite its heft. The style is conversational, engaging, and inviting. It read almost like a mystery story in parts; I couldn’t wait to find out how the next part would be resolved.
Dr Pega Ren, sexologist

…a great and absorbing read…Toms’ exhaustive research paints a far more detailed and nuanced portrait of [Jackson] as well as an intricate tableaux of the world he operated within. I was…astounded by a number of revelations…If you’re interested in Michael Jackson, you have to read this book.
Eric Tazelaar, BoyChat

Skateboarding as metaphor for social shifts

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Heretic TOC welcomes Peter Herman as a guest blogger today.
Peter is an occasional contributor to the NAMBLA website,
and has been a member and supporter since shortly
after the organization’s founding. He has also been
one of the editors of the NAMBLA Bulletin.

In the late 1960s in the US, child abuse briefly captured everyone’s attention. It was not sexual abuse if that is what you were thinking. It was physical abuse of children. And, no, neither was it the seat of the pants spankings that were a generally accepted form of discipline at the time. It was the broken bones and other traumas for which children were regularly brought to emergency rooms. The covering stories were that the child had accidentally fallen down stairs, run into an obstacle or experienced some other catastrophe while playing. These fictions never added up, and trauma doctors at last became aware that most of these cases stemmed from parental battering. Soon, the headlines became fewer, and little more was heard about these horrific abuses of children. Until… , bear with me…

At about the same time, boys, mostly, were experimenting with skateboards. But the fad then disappeared for a time. As we all know, skateboards eventually came back and are now more popular than ever. The fading and re-emergence of this phenomenon had to do with an important change. The early skateboards were just that: repurposed metal skate wheels affixed to unresponsive boards. When new materials and responsive suspensions developed, skateboarding became an exhilarating sport. Where am I going with this.

Shock about child abuse also came back, and the headlines today never seem to stop. What happened? There now was a new twist — sex. As with skateboarding, a catalyst emerged to change the dynamics in society’s perceptions. Where skateboarding became popular due to technological innovations, child sexual abuse became a public fascination following two major social shifts — the growing empowerment of gays simultaneous with that of women. The Stonewall rebellion in the US and the Pill (itself a catalyst freeing women from the womb) were the pivotal ingredients. Gay advances prompted a backlash in the form of protecting children from the perceived recruitment menace. Women, who had felt the tyranny of male domination, were eager to protect their children from sometimes real but mostly imagined sexual predation (almost exclusively by men). This protectiveness extended to boys as well, to the point that even eleven-year-old boys are sometime seen following their mothers into public toilets. The male child molester bogeyman grew ever more sinister in the public imagination.

It is ironic that today’s liberated women have forgotten that for nearly 500 years many were also the victims of similarly heinous characterization. In the nearly 500 years of witch prosecutions in the West, it was overwhelmingly women who were tried, punished and, more often than not, executed. Women were seen as weak, less intelligent and more susceptible to sin and evil acts. Male lust was projected onto them portraying women as evil temptresses who would have no compunction consorting with the Devil. As with the emergence of the evil pedophile, here too a catalyst can be identified — the printing press. This invention that could spread enlightenment could also spread misinformation and fear.

Early on, witchcraft was seen as simply superstition and did not provoke the fear and loathing that came later. A printed manual, the Malleus Maleficarum published in 1487, could circulate easily and act as the catalyst that transformed a superstition into a great evil. Over five hundred years later not much has changed other than the speed with which misinformation spreads. Our modern day equivalent, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, is a fanciful, thoroughly unscientific compilation of mental afflictions. Sadly, it is but one example of unscientific thought that permeates much of psychology today.

Skateboarding may seem a trivial way of illustrating major social shifts, and history is certainly much more complex than what a short essay can convey. Nevertheless the pivotal points (i.e. catalysts) identified in the above examples cannot be denied.

Malice against Alice in cyber-land attack

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Today Heretic TOC features a guest blog from Eric Tazelaar, a name that will be familiar to many here as a contributor of articles to NAMBLA’s website – which as many will also be aware by now has been under attack in the last couple of days from “hacktivists” along with numerous other sites engaging with attraction to minors. NAMBLA’s website now appears to be fully back in action and Eric has reacted very promptly with a piece on the theme of cyber-vigilantism. So well done, both NAMBLA and Eric! However, there is a danger that the site, or some of its functionality, may temporarily disappear again under further attack. Accordingly, Heretic TOC has accepted Eric’s invitation to run his article, which is also announced on the NAMBLA Homepage.

What prompted this spate of vigilantism was initially not NAMBLA, though, but the celebration of Alice Day on 25 April. As the Daily Dot preannounced on 24 April:

It’s Alice Day, a public “pedophile pride” day inspired by the relationship between the author Lewis Carroll and his young muse, Alice Liddell, for whom Alice in Wonderland was written. April 25 is supposedly the day in 1856 that Carroll met 4-year-old Alice, sparking a lifelong infatuation. In one pedophile’s own words, republished on a predator watchdog site, April 25 is a day to “rejoice in the gift of girllove and affirm the ideal so aptly typified by this special relationship.” In 2013, it’s also the day the hacker group Anonymous plans to bombard a long list of online targets with DDoS attacks, leaking suspects’ personal information and defacing their websites.

As it happens, yours truly personally had reason to be aware of the upcoming Alice Day this year, as Alicelovers magazine had scheduled the release of its second issue for that date and I had an article in press with it. The cyber-vigilantes, or rather cyber-vandals, have managed to screw up the release of the magazine, which should be available through a free PDF download via http://alicelovers.info/ The Homepage looks OK but the download is not working at the moment, as I write. Anyway, let me take this opportunity to let you know, if you don’t already, that this is a beautifully produced magazine with good articles – and of course I hope you will feel this accolade can be applied to my own modest contribution (actually titled “A Modest Proposal”) when you are eventually able to download the mag.

But enough. With no further ado, here is Eric’s article, under the author’s own title:

Hipster Vigilantism and the New Populist Attack On Free Speech in the Internet Age

“Anonymous” the self-styled cyber-vigilante group, widely recognized by its use of Guy Fawkes masks to conceal members’ identities, has launched another flurry of DDOS (Distributed Denial Of Service) attacks to overload and thereby silence the websites of organizations which it identifies as “promoting paedophilia”. Several of those organisations targeted were NAMBLA and Boychat which suffered temporary website outages.

We were, once again, reminded of the self-righteous – if inchoate – rage which periodically bubbles to the surface in an effort to deny the rights of others to speak freely.

In the past, this atavistic fury would have taken the form of book burnings or, even earlier, the burning of people.

Today, it is expressed through the sabotage of complex computer networks and requires a modest level of technical expertise that is itself worn as a badge of honor by those who imagine themselves serving a societal good in their concerted efforts to silence others. A very public – and heroic – identification with that which is good and virtuous, as in every moral crusade of the past, is very much a driving force behind these contemporary mob rallies.

As the targets of these actions, we know, from years of experience, that those “hipster vigilantes” responsible for these “actions” are, invariably, almost studiously ignorant of our message and our mission as well as the actual danger our ideas pose to their mythological preconceptions. Their representation of our views and our motives are as scurrilous and distorted as any claims made by tabloid journalists or government agencies. But, of course, they would be.

Considering that most of them are young and grew up in the age of hysteria –  in other words, since the 1970’s – then we understand all too well why this is so.

As children and adolescents, they were spoon-fed a continuous diet of stranger danger, warnings of “bad touches”, alerts of missing children, and continuous surveillance by qualified adults while their permitted range-of-movement within which to explore life, love and humanity, shrank.

Theirs was a childhood informed by a continuous stream of missing children on milk cartons, indoctrination sessions led by alarmist teachers and earnest visiting policemen, hysterical t.v. news and the obsessive demands of parents that they remain within the ever-narrower boundaries which had come to define the limits of childhood and adolescence.

That all of these messages about strange men, in particular, were continuously delivered to them throughout their earliest years with an existential level of urgency makes it trivially easy to understand the levels of vehemence and intolerance our organizations – and our websites – now face.

Angry, destructive bands of crusaders, along with ever more oppressive laws are the result of a more than thirty-five year campaign to systematically suppress dissenting voices and contradicting evidence in order to fundamentally re-engineer society along strictly partisan – and paranoid – lines.

In this way morality, the perception of risk and reality itself have all been gradually, but dramatically, shifted over several generations while society feverishly wrung its hands, seemingly oblivious to the ongoing experiment in which it plays a starring role.

So, when we asked ourselves, many years ago, what the long-term effects would be of the sudden and astounding efflorescence of paranoia we were then witnessing, we now – finally – have our answer.

Back to TOC again. Some might be wondering whether Heretic TOC itself will come under cyber attack. Anything is possible, I suppose, but I imagine WordPress has defences to rival those of the Pentagon. Anyway, so far so good. Also, so far so good in terms of this current state of attacks remaining quite low key. Anonymous were probably hoping for a boost from huge coverage of their Alice Day campaign in the media, as happened following their spectacular (and much more pro-social) contribution to the Occupy Wall Street protest. It simply hasn’t happened. There have been a couple of articles, and that’s about it.  

News just received from our Irony Correspondent : Anonymous UK founder accused of rape at Occupy London camp.

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