No easy way to say this…

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There’s no easy way to say this, so I guess I’d better just dive in. Heretic TOC is going to be taking a sabbatical, probably for at least six months.

I need the time. A whole heap of stuff I should be doing has been long neglected and I feel I really must give myself a chance to catch up. In “Heretic TOC gets its mojo back” late last year, I was honestly able to report that the blog seemed to be going very well after a difficult patch. However, I also said time was a problem: “I would love to be spending time on writing books, and articles for academic publications, in addition to time spent on the blog. Right now, though, it just ain’t happening.”

It still ain’t. I don’t propose to take up space regaling you with details of all the projects I have languishing on the back burner – not just writing, but much more. I went into all that with an old friend of this blog, the estimable Leonard Sisyphus Mann, in an email exchange yesterday, and I can tell you my summarised sins of omissions pushed up towards 600 words.

And now, having mentioned LSM, it would be reprehensible not to add that he has a fabulous new blog post fresh out this very day, called “Dr Cantor & the Case of the Extrapolated Equivalence”, a title sure to whet the appetite of the many heretics who have followed the career of Jimmy the Screamer.

I nearly said I would be letting Heretic TOC lie fallow for a while, until it dawned on me that fields are left fallow when the crops are not growing too well and the land needs time to recover. But the “land” is still very fertile at the moment, judging by strong visitor numbers and encouraging feedback in terms of published comments and private emails. I also like to think some of my best work has been recent. Perhaps that is the root of the problem. Back in 2012 I started off with short top-of-the-head opinion blogs, doing one every day with what now seems ridiculous ease. But as you go on you tend to become more ambitious, probing the chosen topics ever more deeply. And that eats up more and more time…

So, after over 200 blogs in a little over four years (this is the 202nd) I need to change course, with almost immediate effect. A while ago, though, I said I would be tackling Ancient Greece as a theme, and I hope to do that soon as a final project before the sabbatical starts. It should be something very special as it will take the form of an interview with a leading scholar who has kindly agreed to grace Heretic TOC with his presence.

All I would add at this stage is my heartfelt thanks for your interest and often wonderful comments (of which 8,644 had been published as of yesterday), plus the suggestion that this would be a good time to think about becoming a regular subscriber to H-TOC, if you are not already signed up, so that future blogs will go straight to your email inbox. This will save the hassle of checking in from time to time to see whether anything new has appeared. That’s fine when there is always something new but could be irritating when there is a long gap between one blog and the next.

As for whether I will eventually return to blogging as regularly as I have until now, I rather doubt it. It’s not that I am running out of things to write about, quite the contrary: there are more and more, not least on account of the turbulent times we live in. On the plus side, my love of writing probably guarantees I will not be able to resist holding forth here again at least occasionally; guest blogs will still be welcome, too, and likewise lots of comments, of course. I will still be here to moderate and chip into the discussion. Also, I hope I will now be able to find time to bring out a Best of Heretic TOC book, with an e-book edition. This is one of those many projects I should be able to switch from the back burner to the front.

 

NEWS ROUNDUP

My blog last time about Milo Yiannopoulos, “Milo gives good (talking) head – usually”, coincided with one of those crazy spells when on-topic news is suddenly fizzing and exploding all over the place like a spectacular fireworks display. Lots of items would be worth a blog on their own, but – consistent with my intention to bow out for a while – I will settle for just acknowledging some of the main British ones briefly here.

  • Towards the end of last month the much heralded hearings of the massively overblown, unwieldy “Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse” (IICSA) finally got under way under its fourth chairwoman, having already frittered away well over £20 million of taxpayers’ money in the two and a half years of its existence. Totally in accordance with this disastrously dysfunctional background, the first hearings focused on events thousands of miles away, decades ago, with the allegedly guilty parties all dead and so unable to defend themselves, and the institutions they represented no longer engaged in the complained of activities, so there are no continuing wrongs that must urgently be put right. The events in question have in any case already been the subject of a massive investigation on the far side of the globe. Could there possibly be any more utterly pointless exercise than expensively going through the entire process again? Some of the survivors (of what admittedly do seem to have been some horrible cases, primarily of callous child exploitation and neglect) said they wanted to see the guilty parties “named and shamed”, even though they were dead. Shamed? Someone should tell them the dead cannot so much as blush. They are quite literally shameless. The barrister Barbara Hewson wrote a good piece for Spiked on how an inquiry should be run.
  • Meanwhile, the police chief in charge of Operation Hydrant, which is supposed to be coordinating a whole string of other named police operations investigating allegations of “non-recent” child sexual abuse, has been showing signs of being just as overwhelmed as IICSA. So overwhelmed, indeed, that instead of redoubling his efforts in the face of hopeless odds, he has done a remarkably sensible thing by admitting defeat. But not on the “non-recent” aka ancient history front. No, apparently we can expect the police to keep on performing more “operations” than the NHS for the foreseeable future. Much more interestingly, the police chief in question has reiterated his remarkably liberal view that mere downloaders of child porn should not be jailed. Simon Bailey, who is the chief constable of Norfolk and lead on child protection for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said forces were operating beyond capacity because of the sheer volume of reports. This follows an NSPCC report claiming as many as 500,000 people in the UK could be involved with sharing illegal images of children online. Bailey said “we cannot arrest our way out of the situation…we must make prevention and rehabilitation a priority”. But this change of tack is surely far too humane and rational for the government to accept.
  • Not strictly news any longer, having been reported last August and somehow been neglected here, the extensive new statistics on sexual, physical or psychological abuse experienced before age 16 in England and Wales, published by the Office for National Statistics, are nonetheless important. This is because, unlike other surveys, these figures have been touted as “the first official estimates of their kind in the world”, conducted by a reputable survey body and based on a properly representative sample of adults aged 16 to 59, rather than a self-selected group, who were recalling their childhood experience. However, it has to be said that, in line with the spirit of the times, the questions asked seem designed to obscure rather than reveal the quality of the experiences in question. It appears to be assumed, for instance, that any sexual touching or penetration by an adult must have been unwanted. Table 9 is quite interesting in this regard, showing reasons why the “survivor” did not tell anyone about the sexual event. Although a number of reasons are set out their meaning is opaque, including quite a lot of responses categorised as “Some other reason”. What you will not find, but which is a definite possibility, is that many respondents did not regard the activity as “abuse” at the time. Another sign of the times is that genuine abuse – physical and psychological – is passed over very briefly in the report.

The laws against ‘abuse images’ are abusive

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

 

WAGING WAR ON CHILD PORN IS OPPRESSIVE AND DUMB

Some definitions

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

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

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

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

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

Indecent Sentences

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

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

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

Endlösung der Pädophilenfrage – Final Solution to the Paedophile Question

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

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

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

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

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

The estrangement of adults from the lives of children

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

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

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

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

Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud seep out

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

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

More poisonous lies are recounted here.

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

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

A model for the future

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

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

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

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

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

War on Kinds disguises one against kids

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

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

 

WAR ON KIDS IN THE ANGLOSPHERE’S ROTTEN CORE

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

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

DATA

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

US Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities

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

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

US Child Maltreatment and Protective Service Referrals

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

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

US Circumcision Fatalities

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

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

Teenage Pregnancy

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

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

UK Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities

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

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

UK Child Maltreatment and Protective Service Referrals

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

Circumcision

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

Teenage Pregnancy

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

OBSERVATIONS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE WAR ON MINOR-ATTRACTED INDIVIDUALS

Dystopian hypocrisy of UK law and US law

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONCLUSIONS

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

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

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

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

 

An open letter to Frank Furedi

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Many heretics, including myself, have been impressed by the online magazine Spiked on account of its vociferous support for free speech, distaste for state oppression, and its robust backing of civil rights, including for paedophiles.

So when one of its leading contributors, sociologist Frank Furedi, recently joined the media chorus of those attacking paedophilia, the virulent hostility of his diatribe came as a shocking disappointment. The context was an article, “What PIE and the NSPCC have in common”, which was fine up to a point. Its central theme was actually a rather interesting argument in defence of parents against the concept of “children’s rights”. Bizarrely – but, as I say, to interesting effect, Furedi presented the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) back in the 1970s and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) as improbable ideological allies. Both organisations, he said, claimed to speak on behalf of children but neither was as benignly disposed or as well placed to secure their best interests as parents.

My reaction was to fire off a counterblast. I submitted an article to Spiked that focused on defending children’s rights – not the right to be protected from various ills, real or imaginary, which is the NSPCC’s stock in trade, but the right to exercise real autonomy and to experience real freedom. Editor Brendan O’Neill emailed me on 25 March to say he was travelling in Europe and Australia and “I will be in touch very soon, I promise”. That sounded, well, promising, but over two weeks have passed since then and despite me sending a reminder I haven’t heard from him again.

So I have decided to answer Furedi here instead, in what amounts to an open letter. The text is a slightly edited version of my original draft article for Spiked.

WHY CHILDREN REALLY DO NEED RIGHTS

As a champion of parents over the years against “experts”, and the insolent intrusions of a busybody state, Frank Furedi is to be admired. He is right to castigate the NSPCC, too, for going far beyond its legitimate brief.

But when he says children are not moral agents, and on that basis attacks the concept of children’s rights, he is just plain wrong. Children become moral agents during childhood, not at its end; and even before that stage they may have non-trivial wishes and interests that require independent representation through robust rights-based action. Proper rights, that is: rights to real liberty of personal choice, not just protection from harm.

To begin with moral agency, has Furedi never heard of Gillick competence? In 1986 the House of Lords rightly accepted that “the authority of parents to make decisions for their minor children is not absolute, but diminishes with the child’s evolving maturity”. The highest court in the land in the case of Gillick v. West Norfolk & Wisbech Area Health Authority ruled that those under 16 could consent to medical treatment as long as they had sufficient understanding and intelligence to appreciate what was proposed and to express their own wishes. The context was the child’s right to advice on contraception for sexually active youngsters, a right which, were it more widely known and supported through sex education, would do more to bring down Britain’s high rate of teenage pregnancy than ineffectual attempts to suppress youthful sexuality.

For present purposes, though, the salient feature of the Gillick ruling is not the sexual aspect but rather the judgement’s recognition of an important reality: adult competences do not suddenly begin at an arbitrary age of majority; they grow over time. Good parents know this and allow their children to “spread their wings” as they grow older, and even take off: they understand that the occasional crash landing is a possibility and can be a valuable learning experience. It is all part of an apprenticeship in life.

Like Furedi, I believe that in general no one is better placed than parents to make judgements as to what their own children are ready for; no one knows them so well, nor will anyone else be more strongly disposed to secure their best interests. I have never been hostile to parents, either when I was Chair of the much traduced Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) long ago, or since. At the risk of setting off a fresh spate of tabloid excitement, I can honestly say some of my best friends have been parents.

That does not mean, though, that I would defend particular family structures to the last ditch, especially the all-too-explosive nuclear family, forged in relatively recent historical times not out of high purpose and dignity – an Englishman’s home is his castle, and all that – but from the grim necessity for a mobile labour force, detached from wider family and community, as the Industrial Revolution took hold.

Indeed, the tensions inside the nuclear family, and its frequent breakdown, constitute a fair proportion of the need for children to have rights. Parents do not all have their children’s best interests at heart. Step-parents, especially, who now make up such a substantial proportion of the whole, have much to answer for. The “wicked” step-parent is no myth. Frequently they resent their newly acquired brood; their hatred may even be murderous. Stepchildren are 60 times more likely to be killed than genetically related offspring [Daly & Wilson, 1994]. Not that this lets biological parents off the hook: taking parents as a whole, the latest figures show they kill on average over one child per fortnight in the UK, often in the context of a relationship breaking up, when one of the adult partners (usually a father) murders his children to spite his former partner [Office for National Statistics, 2013].

It is an ugly reality, so grim we cannot bear to face it; which is probably why these horrible cases tend to be dismissed in a paragraph or two in the media and described as a domestic “tragedy”, rather than in the more floridly anathematising terms (“evil”, “vile”, etc.) reserved for even the most mild and non-coerced paedophilic encounters. I recall one case somewhere in the West Country a couple of decades ago in which the father impaled the decapitated heads of his three children on spikes, leaving them for his ex to see. Even that spectacularly ghastly case disappeared from the news after a day or two. The vanishingly rare murder of a child in a sexual context, by contrast, is kept alive for a decade or more, such is the public’s need to project its own darkest feelings onto a monstrous Other.

Of course, the criminal law applies in the case of murder. Children do not need any rights in this regard beyond the human right to life. But there are many circumstances in which distinct rights for children would help enormously, both as regards invoking Gillick competence and, for children who are not yet competent to assert their own just claims, rights which can nevertheless be enforced in law on their behalf. These rights should take account of their wishes, not just their (adult defined) “best interests”. This, too, already has some standing in law. The 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child acknowledged the right of children to be heard. This principle was incorporated into the Children Act of the same year, which said that while the children’s welfare should be paramount, courts should take into account “the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned”.

This formulation was far too wishy washy: wishes can be heard, but may still be ignored. The move towards a more effective measure is inhibited by confusion. The law will be deficient as long as we remain in thrall to the classic, albeit weak, argument that rights imply responsibilities, and that young children, before they become Gillick competent, cannot have truly enforceable rights because they are incapable of discharging the responsibilities that go with them. But as philosophers, including, most famously, John Rawls, have acknowledged, this is misconceived. As human rights lawyer Paul Sieghart put it:

In all legal theory and practice, rights and duties are symmetrical. It is a popular fallacy to believe that this symmetry applies within the same individual: that if I have a right, I must also have a correlative duty. This is not so: if I have a right, someone else must have a correlative duty; if I have a duty, someone else must have a corresponding right [Sieghert, 1985].

Children “in care”, may have significant rights claims against a range of professionals who act in loco parentis as teachers, etc. Having said that, the family is the most obvious locus of children’s claims, just as Furedi asserts. This is because, famously, most abuse, whether in terms of outright neglect and cruelty, or unwanted sexual attention, takes place in the home. This is a robustly quantified reality, not a feminist myth: in the most authoritative study to date, regression analysis indicates that dysfunctional family background is nine times as predictive of adult psychological harm as “child sexual abuse” (CSA) [Rind et al., 1998]. Had it been possible to separate non-coercive so-called CSA in the figures from coercive molestation and rape, the ratio would probably have risen dramatically, to infinity, because CSA thus defined would emerge as, on average, not psychologically harmful at all.

As for what distinct children’s rights might be needed, probably the most compelling cases are those concerning the right of children (1) to make medical decisions on their own behalf, especially when the issue of life and death is engaged; (2) to decide on their own custody in the event of parental separation and divorce; (3) to “divorce parents in the event of incompatibility. In all three areas considerable progress has been made in this century: we are not talking about a dead 1970s concept.

In the United States, for instance, it is relatively routine now for older children to have access to the law and to divorce a parent in the event of serious incompatibility, as for instance in the case of a gay teenager subjected to constant disparagement by a disappointed and unsympathetic father. It happens. It’s serious. These kids die by their own hand way disproportionately to their peers when they cannot find a supportive environment. As for medical decisions, doctors are moving towards the view that even quite young children can make rational and (given professional advice) informed decisions in difficult cases, such as whether or not to accept dangerous kill-or-cure surgery, or whether they wish to accept therapy inevitably committing themselves to years of pain and distress. And who could doubt that parents who are Jehovah’s Witnesses act against their children’s best interests when they refuse to sanction blood transfusions for a child in an emergency? This cries out for a child’s right, if they wish, to override their parents’ views.

The case for children’s sexual rights is a more complex matter, so I’ll close with a brief response to Furedi’s flaying of PIE’s “self-interested” stance. I look forward to him now denouncing his own self-interested lack of credibility: he campaigns for the rights of parents rather than children. Well, he would, wouldn’t he: he’s a parent!

Seriously, Frank, this essentially ad hominem way of shutting us up is a cheap shot, and unworthy of you. It makes you look like the politicians and judges who have been in such a hurry lately to publicly renounce their previous support for the basic civil rights of paedophiles: with their careers under immediate threat they appear to have panicked. One reason this has happened in such a big way, incidentally, is the failure of Liberty to defend liberty. The former National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL) did a better job. Spiked editor Brendan O’Neill is to be congratulated for his staunch and principled recent defence of the NCCL’s former affiliation with PIE.

Daly, M & Wilson, M; “Some differential attributes of lethal assaults on small children by stepfathers versus genetic fathers”, Ethology & Sociobiology, Vol 15(4), Jul 1994, 207-217.

Office for National Statistics (2013); Focus on: violent crime and sexual offences, 2011/12 http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171778_298904.pdf

Rind, B, Tromovitch P Bauserman R (1998); “A Meta-Analytic Examination of Assumed Properties of Child Sexual Abuse Using College Samples”. Psychological Bulletin 124 (1): 22–53.

Sieghert, P; The Lawful Rights of Mankind, OUP, 1985, p.94

Creating victims, real and imaginary

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How do you turn a so-called child victim into a real one? One sure-fire way is to have her locked up for 20 hours in a police cell after she has refused to give evidence against her lover.

That is what Judge Robert Bartfield did earlier this month when a 15-year-old girl would not testify against her 32-year-old boyfriend at Bradford Crown Court in northern England.

After the girl eventually testified under duress, the man was found guilty of sexual activity with a child. A spokesperson for Victim Support rightly said the girl had been treated in a “grotesque and, frankly, degrading manner by those who are supposed to be protecting her”. Even the NSPCC managed to get this one right, saying it was shocking – and, for once, they were not talking about the behaviour of the man on trial.

Judiciary officials have launched an investigation into the case.

It is probably too much to expect, but let’s hope the judge’s barbaric insensitivity will be followed by a change in the law, as happened in California following at least one similar case back in 1983, involving a 12-year-old girl called Amy. Her step-father, a US Air Force doctor, was on trial for alleged sexual contact with her.

Amy did not want to lose the man her mother had married four years earlier. Reportedly, she feared the family would be broken up in the event of a conviction. She was kept in solitary confinement for eight days but bravely remained rock solid in her refusal to testify. The case was abandoned only after she had been brought back to court six times, each time defying the judge’s demand that she give evidence.

The new law, passed the following year, was an amendment to the California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1219, to the effect that “no court may imprison or otherwise confine or place in custody the victim of a sexual assault for contempt when the contempt consists of refusing to testify concerning the sexual assault.”

Ten years later the authorities tried to change this law in order to force 13-year-old Jordie Chandler to testify that Michael Jackson had molested him. It didn’t work, and the law fortunately still stands. As I wrote in my book about the superstar’s relationships with boys:

… here were the authorities proposing to force Jordie to testify against his will. Even Michael, with all the insults and humiliation that had been heaped upon him, was never accused of resorting to forcing a child into anything.

Arguably even more shocking than the judge’s tough tactics in the Bradford case was the reaction of at least one feminist commentator, Deborah Orr, in her Guardian column. She supported the judge, on the grounds that his hard line was for the girl’s own good in the long run: just what Jordie’s father said when he betrayed his son’s confidence – which turned out to be a disaster. Feminists rightly used to be angry over men telling women what is for their own good; now they have become the new authoritarians.

Orr then went on to describe a really sinister recent addition to the ever-expanding empire of false victimhood. It goes like this: if the “victim” you aim to “protect” does not feel like a victim, and refuses to be cast as one, then you just change the rules of the game to make sure they cannot escape the victim label you are determined to pin on them.

The “victim” refuses to say they have been sexually assaulted? Very well, in that case you re-brand the man’s crime: it was not sexual assault but “exploiting the victim’s vulnerabilities”. In this scheme of things, if the child had been a willing participant in a sexual act with a grown-up she must have been vulnerable by definition. In other words, she would be deemed automatically to have been unwilling but for her vulnerability to the wicked attractiveness of the adult, who must have been criminally handsome, or outrageously charming, or talented, or famous, or rich, or strong, or protective, or maybe even just a diabolically nice guy. Any or all of these attributes, which might be thought positive qualities in another context, are perversely turned by this dogma into negative ones. They just become tools of “the grooming process”.

The fundamentally anti-sexual agenda behind all this becomes apparent when we see that the vulnerability concept is being applied to adults as well as children. These extremists effectively want to abolish the age of consent. Yes, you did read that right, but don’t rush to crack open the champagne. They are trying to infantilise everyone, making consent more and more difficult at any age. The logical endpoint is no sex at all for anyone, no matter how old they are, rendering an age of consent redundant.

Orr quotes with approval a certain Professor Betsy Stanko, assistant director of planning with the Metropolitan Police. After a decade of research on rape (note that we are talking primarily about adult alleged victims now) she concludes that a way to deal with low conviction rates is effectively to ditch the consent criterion. If the woman consented, so you cannot convict a man, you find ways of finding that consent did not count because the woman was vulnerable. What makes her vulnerable? Being drunk at the time, wearing sexy clothes, being swept off her feet by a tall, dark, handsome stranger, especially if he happened to be rich and famous. Pretty well anything, really, that would show she was up for a roaring good time.

Neatest of all, vulnerability would be demonstrated if the woman had been in a steady relationship with the man. By the Stinko Standard, evidence of such a relationship would count against the man, not for him. What absolutely Orr-some Alice in Wonderland logic!

Bearing in mind the interesting current debate here about feminism, in the comments on Gentle poet Ginsberg doesn’t deserve this, I should perhaps ask fellow heretics whether Deborah Orr is a feminist worth discussing things with, or whether she and her ilk are beyond redemption. I would just throw in the thought that she is married and has children (which in itself surprises me, in view of her seeming anti-sexuality) by the novelist and ubiquitous public intellectual Will Self. I cannot say I have read his books or have any in-depth knowledge of the guy, but he comes across in his articles and broadcasts as intelligent and perceptive.

Maybe we should write to him, in a devious attempt to influence his wife. How about this:

“Sir, your wife is a shrew. It’s time you took her in hand.”

Umm. Maybe not. The Cunning Plan might need a bit more work.

One angle might be to play on his justified sense of grievance over being suspected as a paedophile by a security guard and a police officer when he was in the countryside hiking with his 11-year-old son last year. Justified, as I say, but by Jesus, Mary and all the saints did Self bang on about it! A torrent of indignation poured forth from his keyboard about what was admittedly bound to have been an upsetting experience, although it’s not as though he was arrested or had his reputation trashed in the media. His tale of woe was nevertheless spun into an epic yarn of over two and a half thousand words in the Daily Mail.

As the Mail’s headline put it, “Will Self reveals moment an innocent ramble became a nightmarish tale of modern Britain”. Who knows, having had a slight taste of the nightmare some of us have to put up with every day of the week, maybe the traumatised Self could be tapped as a source of sympathy.

The NSPCC is talking PANTS – as usual

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When Genesis superstar Phil Collins and England international soccer player Gary Lineker endorsed an anti-paedophilia campaign some years back on British TV, the script had them declaring “I’m talking Nonce Sense!” As Brits will know, “nonce” is slang for MAPs, and the campaign was called Nonce Sense.

Or it would have been except that the whole thing was a satirical spoof. The joke was on the stars and other worthies who took part, including politicians and a senior police officer. They thought they were talking Nonce Sense, but as viewers soon realised, they had been set up to talk nonsense. For instance, the script had Capital Radio DJ Neil “Doctor” Fox telling viewers that “paedophiles have more genes in common with crabs than they do with you and me”, adding “Now that is scientific fact – there’s no real evidence for it – but it is scientific fact”. Labour MP Syd Rapson related that paedophiles were using “an area of internet the size of Ireland”. Rapper Richard Blackwood stated that internet paedophiles could make computer keyboards emit noxious fumes to subdue children. He was shown sniffing a keyboard and claiming he could smell the fumes, which made him feel “suggestible”. Blackwood also warned parents that exposure to the fumes would make their children “smell like hammers”.

A programme in the satirical series Brass Eye, the spoof brilliantly made the point that any old nonsense will do when it comes to attacking paedophilia. And now, as though in a deliberate attempt to make life imitate art, we find the following quote in the UK’s rabid tabloid the Daily Mail, in connection with an anti-child molestation campaign by the NSPCC. It is attributed to a mother identified only as Claire, from Swansea, with two young girls. She is supposed to have said:

“I am going to start talking PANTS to my girls, my goddaughter, nephew and all my friends with children…”

For the benefit of global friends who may be unfamiliar with what is perhaps another British expression, talking pants means uttering utter… nonsense! The Daily Mail does it all the time, and so does the NSPCC, honourably founded in 1889 to protect children from cruelty, but which campaigns these days to cruelly deny their social and sexual self-determination, wasting millions of pounds on misdirected advertising that could have been better spent on its original mission. After eight-year-old Victoria Climbié died following grotesque torture at the hands of her guardians a few years ago, the organisation was found to have been involved but done nothing to help what had been a preventable death, and then misled the official inquiry. They were heavily involved in promoting the moral panic over non-existent satanic abuse when that was fashionable.

The NSPCC’s latest wheeze is what they call their Underwear Rule otherwise known as Talking PANTS, “relaunched” this month after the initial “launch” last July, in what will quite possibly turn out to be an infinitely repeated loop of identical pushing-the-boat-out press releases, like something out of Groundhog Day. Well, why not? Like junkies seizing on a fix, the media can never, it seems, get enough of this stuff, especially perhaps when accompanied, as in this case, by a video with cute kids talking about their private parts and brightly illustrated with pictures of their pants.

As might be expected, the NSPCC is telling parents to tell their children “privates are private”, using an acronym based on “PANTS”, which is meant to stand for:

Privates are private
Always remember your body belongs to you
No means no
Talk about secrets that upset you
Speak up, someone can help you

The campaign is aimed at parents of five- to 11-year-olds. Marilyn Hawes, founder of the charity Enough Abuse, was quoted last year as saying she thought the campaign would not work on older primary school children, who would “probably laugh”. Quite! But this does not mean the campaign is funny or will be entirely ineffectual. NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless went on record as saying no one was trying to make children ashamed of their bodies, or stop hugs or other shows of affection. That, however, is very much likely to be the effect, as it fans the flames of our already paranoid culture. Here, in the same news coverage on the BBC, Netmums website co-founder Siobhan Freegard said: “It’s every parent’s worst nightmare to find their child has been touched inappropriately – and no family wants to think it will ever happen to them.”

There we see it, right there in that awful cliché “every parent’s worst nightmare”, which used to have real meaning when applied to child abduction, rape and murder. Here the language has been inflated and devalued, with mere “touching” hyped as a fate equal to death, or worse.

Some of the PANTS points are unobjectionable in themselves: if a child has been really upset over anything, not just sexual matters, they should feel free to talk about it. Openness and accountability are good principles. Nobody should feel they have to suffer bullying parents or teachers in silence any more than they should put up with sexual molestation or harassment. But the giveaway as to the campaign’s unnecessary negativity towards the body is right at the heart of it, plumb in the middle: PANTS: No means no. Fine, but what about Yes means yes? Whatever else this campaign is about, it is not about self-determination for kids as regards a body which is hypocritically vaunted by the NSPCC as belonging to them.

STOP PRESS: Late-breaking news has reached me literally one minute before I was due to post this blog. Remember the Texas conference featured on Heretic TOC early last month (8 Dec) in a piece called Deep in the weird heart of Texas? As promised, video of all the sessions has now been posted on the university’s You Tube channel. See here:
http://www.youtube.com/user/utCES?feature=watch

FINALLY: This is Heretic TOC’s 100th blog! Hope y’all like it! Actually, I might just add a bit about the latest stats. Why not? One thing that particularly caught my attention is the global spread of interest in Heretic TOC. The blog has now received visits from around 140 countries on every continent except Antarctica. The most hits came from the United States, just ahead of the United Kingdom, followed by Germany, Australia, Canada, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Denmark, and New Zealand, making up the Top Ten. I was interested to see several European countries where English is not the first language ahead of Anglophone ones, especially Germany in third place. I’m not sure what this reflects most, the strength of English-language learning in Europe or the extent of heresy there! Either way, I find it impressive! It was fascinating, also, to note interest coming from places that seem utterly exotic to those of us in Anglophonia, including Albania, Andorra, Greenland, Kazakstan, Mongolia, Myanmar, Senegal and Yemen. Who knows, maybe you folks out there in these countries are taking an interest because Anglophonia seems exotic to you, and Heretic TOC perhaps the strangest website of the lot! Or you might be heretics fully engaged with a shared culture here. Do write in. It would be great to hear from less heard voices.

Cameron’s crusade and the ‘sexting’ generation

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When a president or prime minister personally announces a new moral crackdown, rather than leaving it to the justice or home affairs secretary to announce a law proposal or action plan, you know something is afoot: either there is an election not far away, or a need to divert public attention from intractable economic problems, or perhaps a runaway media-stoked moral panic is making it imperative for whoever is in charge to look like a leader not a follower.

While British Prime Minister David Cameron need not face the electorate until early 2015, it has been speculated that his recent declaration of a triple-pronged attack on internet pornography was an attempt to bolster his flagging appeal to women voters; if so, he will need to worry about antagonising male ones, as this is an issue deeply split on gender lines. And, as the likely impact of Cameron’s policies on children and heretics alike will be significant, we too will need to pay attention to gender.

Cameron’s proposals, announced in a speech to the NSPCC, one of the most aggressive lobby organisations against “child sexual abuse” in the UK, were as follows:

  • Opting-in: By 2014, all UK Internet users would be required to register, or “opt-in”, for access to porn sites. Failure to comply would mean being automatically blocked from such sites by filters which would have to be installed.
  • Search terms aimed at finding child pornography online would be blacklisted by the police with a view to Google and other search engines blocking them.
  • Possessing depictions of simulated rape would be made illegal. This would include online access to them.

The easiest of these three prongs to sell politically was of course the one avowedly aimed at curbing paedophilia by blocking access to child porn. Technically, as many were quick to point out, it is not so easy. In addition to requiring the reluctant cooperation of the big internet corporations, the search terms themselves would be a challenge: while an expression like “hardcore Lolita” or “xxx Lolita” might be thought unambiguously to indicate a search for one thing only, what about plain “Lolita”? Would even Cameron want to ban access to literary critiques of Nabokov’s classic novel? It was also noted that most child porn is accessed through peer-to-peer networking rather than through ordinary searches. Nevertheless, I do not doubt that search-term blocking of this kind would have a tremendously oppressive impact on younger minor-attracted people in particular. An easy prediction is that it would have the effect of making any juvenile eye-candy, no matter how mild and legal, appear be out of bounds, a message that would be reinforced, we were told, by “splash screens” sternly warning searchers they were trying to find illegal material and, by implication, letting it be known Big Brother was watching them. This would only succeed in promoting anxiety, fear and depression in those targeted, while doing absolutely nothing to stop any real child abuse.

As for the simulated rape measure, this would extend recent legislation against “extreme pornography” (sections 63 to 67 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008) and appears to be in response to concern over an alleged explosion of rape porn recently. I have no idea whether this really is a rapidly expanding phenomenon, but the possibility is not to be dismissed lightly. In recent weeks, and possibly as a “backlash” against steadily growing female power in society, there have been some disturbing signs of truly vicious misogyny in Britain. One woman was subjected to a torrent of graphic rape and death threats for the heinous crime of campaigning to have a female face – that of novelist Jane Austen – featured on the £10 bank note. A female member of parliament who supported her came in for similarly vicious trolling. This is horrible, totally inexcusable, behaviour perpetrated by a minority of extremists, but I suspect it reflects a much more widespread feeling among men that feminism in general has gone far enough and that the specifically anti-sexual agenda of a powerful strand within feminism has gone much too far.

Against this background, let us now consider the remaining prong of Cameron’s proposals, the opt-in measure. This was far and away the most controversial idea, prompting a storm of debate, with a great many men, especially, in fierce opposition. In one newspaper’s online poll voting against the measure was running at treble the strength of support for it when I looked. While freedom of expression was always going to be the salient rhetorical trope in this, the fact that men rather than women are keenest on such freedom where porn is concerned suggests that the underlying battle is over male sexuality per se, not just over who is allowed to see what.

The rationale for the opting-in measure was child protection, of course. Forced to declare themselves as porn users if they wanted to access porn online, many might be deterred from opting in; and if fewer people allow access to porn on their computers, fewer children will be exposed to it. A key part of the theory is the belief that children are “innocent” and have no interest of their own in online sex – or, if they do, it is a sign of their “corruption” and must be stopped. As might be expected, such views were implicit in a recent report by the NSPCC on juvenile “sexting”, but some of the findings from focus group studies commissioned for the report were interesting nevertheless.

Up to a point, the researchers did the right thing for a change: they actually spoke to kids, rather than their parents or teachers. They went into schools and asked youngsters aged 13-14 directly about their experience of sexting. There was also some focus group work with younger kids aged 10-11 but this was less revealing as the researchers lost their bottle: they did not dare, or thought it “inappropriate”, to ask them directly about sexual issues, preferring to stick to “aspects of digital life”. As for what sexting means, the researchers said it “describes the use of technology to share personal sexual content”, which might mean text, or still photos showing partial nudity, or explicit video of full-on sex. The most common means of sharing were said to be mobile phones, Skype and social network sites.

A key finding, in the words of the report, was that “sexting is part of young people’s lives and it is not something that is shocking or surprising to them. All of the attendees in the groups were aware [of] instances of sexting among their peers…” When prompted by a guess that 50% of 14-year-olds had seen pornography most boys felt this was a massive underestimation, with one boy declaring “there is no boy in this year that doesn’t look at porn”. And the boys did not think they had been harmed by it. The only thing that really worried them was being caught using it by disapproving adults. As for how they used sexting, boys described it as a tactic in the dating game: they would ask a girl for a sexy photo of herself as part of establishing their interest and getting a relationship going. The researchers judged that boys seemed not to view practices around sexting as predatory and malicious: they were just “trying their luck”.

None of this need surprise us. The picture is a far cry from innocence in need of protection. As regards the younger kids, the researchers failed to uncover any scandal needing to be addressed by censorious measures: their “digital life” apparently did not include being exposed accidentally to porn or to unwanted sexual propositions.

As I said, though, we need to pay attention to gender. In the words of the report, “Girls, in general, had a negative impression of pornography and felt it influenced boys in terms of both expectations of how females looked and also what they viewed as ‘normal’ sexual activity.” However, that does not mean they are uninterested in sex and the erotic. The report also said, “an interesting discussion with girls that showed a gender difference was to explore whether they had read ‘erotica’ such as 50 Shades of Grey. While those admitting reading such books were in a minority, it was certainly something that had touched these girls’ lives and it was something they were happy to talk about.”

So, what should we make of this? Feminists tend to scream blue murder over men who ask their partners to shave their genitals (making them look more like little girls!), try a bit of ass-fucking and generally do it like porn stars. And they resent the fact that men are less keen on women who are fat, ugly and frigid. But is it so unreasonable for men (or boys!) to “try their luck”? In modern society, thanks not least to feminism, refusal is always an option, as proven by the fact that few boys, or even men, get anything like as lucky as they might wish!

We have to distinguish, do we not, between the feminazis who want to impose their own man-hatred on all girls and women, on the one hand, and more reasonable concerns on the other. Misogyny and cyber-bullying are unpleasant realities, as noted above. Sexting by teenagers can and has resulted in tragic cases of suicide after sexual images have been re-posted on social media sites along with abusive comments. The question then becomes, what do we do about it? Cyber-bullying seems at first sight the perfect argument for repressive policies such as those proposed by Cameron, which would have us sweep all public expression of sexual interest under the carpet, and repress all sexuality outside of “loving and committed relationships” in adulthood, giving no scope whatever for youngsters to have any kind of sex life, even with their peers. Indeed, any form of sexual activity between two 15-year-olds or younger peers was explicitly made illegal in 2003 in the UK.

There is a better way than Cameron’s, though, starting (so far as public policy is concerned) not with teenagers but with kindergarten kids, and not with sexual repression but with learning the socially acceptable expression of sexuality. That, however, must be for another day.

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