Inadmissible Testimony

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I always knew my lengthy interview in July for an upcoming TV documentary might go unused, even though the company making it, Testimony Films, made a considerable investment in my appearance. They gave me two nights’ hotel accommodation and other expenses, and committed a five-strong production crew to an entire day’s filming and studio hire in London, over 100 miles from their Bristol base, solely for my input.

A couple of weeks ago, as briefly reported here in response to a request for a progress report, I said I had received an email from Testimony saying “As this is such a difficult and controversial subject it is taking a very long time to make – and to go through the [name of TV channel] system. There have been several discussions with the [name of TV channel] lawyer over the content. The final shape of the programme still hasn’t been decided. There is no transmission date as yet.”

I was under a commitment not to name the TV channel until the last week before transmission. That time is now up. I now know that the programme, titled The Paedophile Next Door, is to be aired next Tuesday, 25 November, at 9pm on Britain’s Channel 4. I have been informed it will not contain any footage of the interview I gave, which lasted around two and a half hours.

This is disappointing, but I would not be particularly upset if I thought it was going to be a good programme anyway. I always hoped that if my contribution proved a bit too controversial for Channel 4 they might nevertheless be willing to give a platform to someone like Judith Levine, or Bruce Rind, or a British academic such as Glenn Wilson, who put up a spirited if all-too-brief showing on the same channel’s news output recently: PIE spy, with my tabloid eye…

All the signs are, though, that the programme will not be good. From a heretical standpoint it looks like being far worse than I had expected, indeed such an utter disaster I am feeling totally gutted even before seeing it. Am I prejudging too much? We’ll soon see.

I suspect Testimony are embarrassed. It seems they wanted to keep me in the dark as long as possible in case I went public too early and tried to derail things. Unbeknown to me, Channel 4 issued a bulletin about the upcoming programme on the 7th of this month, including its release date. But on the 10th, three days later, in response to my enquiries, Testimony were telling me there was still no release date and did not give me C4’s programme information.

The Testimony people have been very friendly and they definitely did not set out with the cynical intention of setting me up as a pantomime villain. Director Steve Humphries has a strong reputation as a documentary maker with an interest in a diversity of voices. He gives every impression of being a man of broad sympathies; his interview style is empathetic.

It is possible Channel 4 insisted on taking the production in another direction from the one first envisaged by Humphries. It may be significant that a second director’s name is now on the credits: Rudolph Herzog, son of the world renowned Werner Herzog. Herzog fils appears to be based in Germany, with no obvious connection to Testimony. His location, however, would make him well placed to explore Germany’s Prevention Project Dunkelfeld, highlighted in Jon Henley’s feature article on paedophilia for the Guardian last year.

Channel 4’s programme information begins thus:

With almost every passing week a new child sex abuse scandal breaks. In this sobering and thought-provoking film, historian and acclaimed social documentary maker Steve Humphries sets out to discover why all the elaborate policies and legislation put in place to protect children from sexual abuse have failed.

He discovers some radical new solutions proposed by an increasing number of child protection experts which challenge our deep-rooted attitudes and emotional reactions to paedophiles. They tell Humphries that many paedophiles live in our midst and go completely undetected. “They’re not monsters with horns and tails, but ordinary blokes,” says senior lecturer Dr Sarah Goode – and this makes them so dangerous and difficult to identify. Controversially, Dr Goode believes that the most promising way to reduce the number of child abuse cases is to encourage paedophiles who have not yet targeted children to “come out” and receive treatment.

This theory is supported by an extraordinary interview in which Humphries meets a man face-to-face who confesses, on camera, to his strong sexual attraction for children as young as five. He claims that he has not interfered with a child, nor could ever imagining doing so. He is so desperate for help that he is prepared to ‘out’ himself in the hope that men like him will be more readily offered support to manage their unwanted desires.

Paedophiles are the most vilified of all criminals – invoking universal hatred and disgust. Humphries hears from experts who explain that, as a result, the fear, self-loathing and stress paedophiles will associate with their desires makes them actually more likely to offend. Humphries explores pioneering schemes and initiatives designed to help paedophiles before they might hurt children. These ground-breaking schemes aim to educate families and encourage men to seek help – some of them provide residential support and treatment confidentially. Supporters of these initiatives believe they will keep children safe and are far more effective – rather than engaging with them only after they become offenders…

You get the picture. It looks as if this will be “virtuous” shit from start to finish. If I feel gutted, it is because the ideology of repression has won decisively in a direct contest with that of self-determination. I am gutted because I spilled my guts out for that interview and I know it was a good one, after a lot of preparation and an emotionally draining encounter with Humphries. It was all the tougher, oddly, thanks to his gently searching style. His kindness was killing. My answers could only come from the heart, at times painfully so when the questions reached deeply into the personal realm, – a place no aggressive inquisitor could touch; the defences would be up.

I’m not putting it too strongly when I say I feel betrayed, especially by the apparently central role given to Sarah Goode and her piss-poor thinking, which I believe I adequately demolished in my review of her book Paedophiles in Society and its predecessor – a review Humphries certainly knew about because I alerted him to it in an email back in May.

But to claim I have been betrayed by Testimony, or by Steve Humphries in particular, would be grossly unfair. I am confident Steve fought as hard as he could for my inclusion. That does not mean he shares my views, though, and I probably underestimated the extent to which he was keeping his cards close to his chest on that.

As for whether I really had performed strongly, was this just an illusion? Here’s the relevant part of what Steve emailed the next day:

I just wanted to say thanks so much for coming down for the filmed interview, which was as excellent and as powerful as I’d hoped it would be. I thought you told your personal story and stated your case as strongly as anyone could. I know the team…really enjoyed meeting you too and found it a moving and hugely interesting day…

A few days ago, “Bloom” wrote in the comments here “It would be interesting to get your take on the controversy over contact vs non-contact. Not so much on the question itself, which is somewhat abstract, but on how you see it affecting the overall struggle for greater tolerance and acceptance.”

First of all, I agree with another commentator, “Stephen6000”, that “pro-choice” is a better expression than “pro-contact”, although, it will be seen that I have opted above for “self-determination”, which avoids confusion with abortion. Also, I don’t think self-determination is too abstract, but what Bloom perhaps meant to say was too academic, as in the expression “it’s all a bit academic” i.e. it ain’t gonna happen anytime soon, so why bother talking about it?

If that was the intended meaning it undeniably amounts to a strong argument, not least in view of this Channel 4 programme: I tried to talk about sexual self-determination but who was listening? No one ever does these days. So what’s the point of banging on about it?

Presumably Bloom is pleased to see controversy over self-determination taken out of the equation by Channel 4. That leaves The Paedophile Next Door, and any similar presentation of MAPs, free to focus on “tolerance and acceptance”, right?

Well, sure, and that would be a good thing if it were taking us in the right direction. Politics is often characterised as the art of the possible. The way to reach an ultimate goal is to focus on small, incremental achievements. You don’t frighten the horses by seeming to be insanely radical.

I understand that. But what if those small steps are heading in the wrong direction, leading away from one’s ultimate objective? The “tolerance and acceptance” aimed at in VP efforts is not tolerance and acceptance of sexual self-determination, after all, but it’s exact opposite i.e. an outcome that cements intolerance and non-acceptance of sexual self-determination permanently in place and depends upon brainwashing and coercing MAPs into submission.

This represents a repudiation of all I believe in and I cannot support it.

I will watch the programme, though, through gritted teeth. As long as I am publicly engaged in blogging and such like, I feel I have a duty to keep myself informed. It will not be easy. One of those taking part, unless I am greatly mistaken, is Ian McFadyen, who is fast becoming a full-time professional victim. I don’t relish the thought of having to watch this self-righteous bully’s “dignified exchange”, as the programme info puts it, with a paedophilic self-sacrificial lamb.

McFadyen, to be sure, was genuinely the victim of a sadistic rapist on the staff of Caldicott Preparatory School if his story is true, and I have no particular reason to doubt it. As a result, it seems, he is now determined to victimise anyone who crosses him, including his old school pal Nick Clegg – yes, that Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat MP who has been deputy prime minister of the UK since 2010. McFadyen was recently quoted as saying, “I’m definitely really angry with Nick Clegg… he’s been a real disappointment. I’m actually ashamed to have gone to school with him.”

Gosh, you might wonder, what’s poor old Cleggie been up to now? Nothing illegal, it turns out, though it might be thought so from McFadyen’s wrath. It’s just that Clegg had failed to back McFadyen’s demand for a massive inquiry into historic sexual abuse. See what I mean about the “bully” thing?

McFadyen has plenty of reason to feel traumatised and angry, of course, and it behoves us heretics to advocate for a more open society (including more accountability in schools) so that dreadful experiences like his are not repeated. But it is characteristic of so-called sympathetic programmes, including this latest Channel 4 one, that their purported sympathy for non-active paedophiles tends to be yoked together with truly extreme and appalling cases of abuse. Far from increasing sympathy for the average paedophile, the likely outcome of this pairing is to crank up the fear of paedophilia to a heightened extreme, so that even the most virtuous VP will come under ever more intense suspicion and scrutiny – and insistence that they do not go anywhere near kids.

For a bit of realistic balance, we could do worse than turn to some recent revelations by TV personality and former Tory MP Gyles Brandreth. He told the Daily Mail a couple of months ago he had been “abused” by a choir master at his prep school.

“I suppose I liked him,” said Brandreth. “At least, I was flattered by his attention. I think I felt it was my due. I was 11, 12 and 13 when this was happening, and quite full of myself. Mr Harkness took lots of photographs of me. We both admired the results.”

Also:

“Has this experience of being a victim of child abuse had a lasting effect on me? I certainly don’t feel traumatised by it, nor even resentful. I did not complain then, and I am not complaining now.”

It is no accident, I feel, that neither Brandreth, nor anyone with a comparable experience, is being featured on the Channel 4 programme so far as I can tell. They wouldn’t want to spoil their “misery memoir” narrative with any happiness, would they?

Paedophilia more popular than icecream in 2007

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Pedophilia has been more popular than icecream since about 1979. Paedophilia, however, has always been less popular than icecream except in just one year, 2007, when it enjoyed a brief moment of glory, pulling ahead of icecream only to fall back again the following year.

Heretic TOC was inspired to make these discoveries following comments on Boy Chat about Ice-Cream Hands, the short film introduced here in the previous blog, ‘Harmless’ paedos venture out of the shadows. In the BC thread, “cabinet maker” found the film “creepy as shit”, adding “the ice cream man is a pedophile? how much more stereotypical can we get?” On the other hand “Kit” said “Love the ice cream-man cliche.”

While opinions of the film itself ranged from rave to rubbish, nobody disputed that it was indeed a cliché to make the paedophilic Mr Sprinkles an ice-cream seller.

I wasn’t so sure. Yes, any ice-cream van is a kid magnet, so it would make sense for the connection to be a cliché, but I couldn’t immediately think of another film, TV programme, book, painting or any other medium in which this connection was expressed. Then I recalled Chester the Molester, the comic strip character from Hustler magazine. The strip ran for years, with Chester depicted comically (feminists of the po-faced variety will disagree) setting up all manner of ruses to get into kids’ pants, so surely he must have been depicted selling ice-cream? I was never a Hustler reader myself so I can only guess, but googling soon revealed that others have made their own connection, and in the following case linked it to evidence (albeit unsourced and with no details) from news stories involving errant ice-cream vendors:

Chester Molester The Ice Cream Truck Driver
Tuesday, October 11, 2005

It has been brought to my attention that this summer has been a time for creepy, mullet wearing, goatee sporting, shit eating grin men to come out of the woodwork and mess with our young ones.
On the news today I heard of three…Count em three cases where Ice cream truck drivers have bribed children into taking there clothes off for free icecream. Not only that These molesting mother fuckers are taking photos of it too!
Apparently the story goes as followed:
Chester the Molester finds unsuspecting children on the streets while riding around in the molester mobile…Otherwise known as the ice cream truck. Once the kids stop the man, if they’re right for the picking Chester offers them a ride in his pimp ass ice cream truck. Now, if I were a child and was offered a ride in an ice cream truck I probably would have gone too…So don’t blame the kids, they’re just kids.
Once inside the truck, Chester starts his molestation trap. Next thing you know the kids walk out of the truck slightly confused but with a bombsicle tightly gripped in there hands.
Chester gets off easy with his photographs with his naked children…And then he’s off to the next neighborhood.

It turns out that comedian Tim Minchin, has very effectively milked the ice-cream theme too. His Häagen-Dazs-level performance is probably the cream of the cream but, not to be licked (sorry!), the amateur jokesters are hanging in there.

Putting up some admirable resistance to this damning image is Lenore Skenazy at her admirable Free-Range Kids website (“How to raise safe, self-reliant children”). Skenazy, as some heretics here will surely know, hit the headlines a while back after allowing her nine-year-old son to ride home alone on the New York City Subway, and has written a book on less paranoid parenting. In an article titled “Does Ice Cream Man = Pervert?” she notes the fusion of the two in popular culture, “like the twin sticks of a Popsicle”. She objects vigorously in this piece to a proposal for state and federal fingerprint-based criminal history checks on people applying for ice cream van vending licences.

Some of her readers backed her up, pointing out that ice-cream vending is a very public business, and anyone selling from a van is firmly separated from his customers. The traditional department store Santa Claus has a much greater chance of a grope in his grotto. As for teachers, scout leaders and sports coaches, they all enjoy a long-term lust licence, while the opportunities for illicit intimacy open to close relatives, including siblings and parents, are absolutely endless and not infrequently taken.

I was an ice-cream man myself, as it happens, so I can speak from some experience! It was just a brief student job before I went into teaching. It was nice to make the kiddies happy (only with the ice-cream!) but also a much tougher job than might be thought: you have to work hard at building up a profitable round and it isn’t always easy: there are turf wars; a good pitch will be fiercely contested. Yes, you can bribe kids with free ice-cream and invite them into your vehicle, but only at tremendous risk to yourself. Not that bribery would be necessary. Kids ask if they can come aboard and plead to be taken for a ride.

You wouldn’t think that, though, from the supposed victims’ tales of woe in a tabloid yarn earlier this year headlined “Jimmy Savile’s mayor pal ‘preyed on young lads.’ ” This was a Daily Star story about an alleged “paedophile ice-cream tycoon known as the King of the Cornets” who was mayor of the English seaside town of Scarborough. He was said to have employed boys part-time and molested them going home in his van at night after work – while actually driving, it seems. Clearly, a very dangerous man! Nothing was ever proved against him and conveniently for the paper he died in 1999 so is in no position to sue for libel. In fact, it’s a great tab story for three reasons: there’s a villain who is a major local employer and politician, hence too big to prosecute; the guy is a pal of super villain Savile and appeared on his TV show; and last but not least, he panders to the ice-cream man stereotype. Tasty!

Whatever the realities, it seems the Boy Chat thread was quite accurate: people do think ice-cream guys are paedophiles, or might well be. So it is indeed a cliché. At least, it has become so in recent times, as expressed in jokes and comedy sketches if not necessarily in cinema (though I may be wrong, in which case please tell me). There was a 1995 horror film called Ice Cream Man which sounds great fun judging by the IMDB synopsis:

Poor Gregory. After being released from the Wishing Well Sanatorium, all he wants to do is make the children happy. So Gregory reopens the old ice cream factory, and all the unappreciative brats are reprocessed into the flavor of the day.

More Winy Wonka than paedophilia, methinks.

As for novels, there is the very recent The Ice Cream Man by Katri Lipson (the original Finnish title is a wonderfully exotic single word: Jäätelökauppias), which won the 2013 European Union Prize for Literature as a “playful and charming story”. I’m guessing there’s not much paedophilia then.

So what about my claim that paedophilia was more popular than icecream in 2007? What’s that all about?

Books, actually. For the first part of my cliché quest, I thought I’d try the quantification route via references to ice-cream in books. If I could search millions of volumes and see a tight correlation between increasing appearances of the word paedophilia (and pedophilia for American books) and increasing appearances of the word ice-cream, then Heretic TOC could reasonably hypothesise the rise of an ice-cream man cliché as the cause. OK, so a third variable could be the cause of both phenomena, which might require some investigation, but I thought I might be onto something all the same. I probably have junior genius James to thank for this thought. New readers: search recent comments for Bayes (of Bayes’ theorem fame) and consequentialism, which are just two of the knotty notions James is into.

It was a fun exercise, but in terms of useful information I think I came a bit unstuck. So here’s a warning: Never take ideas from a Strange Boy (or Girl or Non-Binary Person) unless you are prepared to be amused 🙂 by your own inadequacy :-(.

And also perhaps by the data. So let’s come to that (or those, for any pedantic grammarians here: Heretic TOC wants to keep everyone happy, even if they are virtuous). So, where was I? Ah, yes, the data.

Google n-grams, that’s the tool. The demonstration graph when you go to the link shows the percentage of books published from 1800-2000 in which particular words occurred, the demo ones being Frankenstein, Albert Einstein and Sherlock Holmes.

What I did was create my own n-gram for paedophilia, pedophilia and icecream. This was a bit limiting because the system does not accept ice-cream with a hyphen although it will take ice – cream when a hyphen or dash is separated from the words by spaces. Weird! But n-grams are also wonderful, as I hope will be agreed.

I have put one of my creations on the blog (see below).

Paedophilia and its American variant derive, as is well known, from Richard von Krafft-Ebing’s first use of the term “paedophilia erotica” in his book Psychopathia Sexualis. The book’s first edition appeared in 1886 but it was not until the 12th and final one in 1903 that his new term is to be found. Richard Fridolin Joseph Freiherr Krafft von Festenberg auf Frohnberg, genannt von Ebing, to give his glorious full appellation, included it in the “Psychopathological Cases” section of Chapter Five, on sexual crimes.

It will be seen that the n-gram dutifully records this first appearance of “paedophilia” in 1903, with the American variant hot on its heels. Both terms remained in medical obscurity, though, until the 1970s, since when the graph has shot upwards for both spellings. Unsurprisingly, pedophilia has raced ahead, reflecting the greater number of American publications in general and medical, legal and scientific ones in particular. Fiction probably lags well behind, thanks to imaginative alternatives such as “monster, “scumbag”, and “lowlife”, as deployed by the likes of popular novelist Andrew Vachss.

Pedophilia, but not paedophilia, leapt ahead of icecream just before 1980.

If you go to this n-gram for the period 2000-2008, the latter date being as recent as the tool goes at the moment, you will see my headline point about paedophilia just above a very steady-looking (with zero “smoothing”) icecream.

What, then, may we conclude about icecream as a literary cliché in connection with paedophilia? Bugger all, perhaps. But if the paedophilic ice-cream man ever became a cliché, wouldn’t we expect to see icecream rising in the graph along with the P words? There are similar n-gram results also for “molester” with “icecream”.

Perhaps this is what has happened: in popular culture the ice-cream man as paedophile is such a strongly entrenched figure that seriously creative people, such as film-script writers and novelists, try to avoid what they fear may be seen as a cliché. As a result, it never actually becomes one.

Anyway, I hope everyone is relaxing and enjoying this little ice-cream break after some rather intensive discussions here. 🙂

 

Icecream n-gram 1800-2000

We fight for more than Love or Pleasure

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Heretic TOC presents a guest blog today from “Sylvie”, who has the unusual and possibly record-breaking distinction of having been openly an advocate of decriminalising consensual sexual relationships between adults and children since the age of 13, arguing the case passionately with friends, classmates, and even teachers! Her liberal parents, she tells me, were the kind of people who would keep a close eye on their child without interfering. What follows is part of an email I received recently from Sylvie. With her approval, it has been edited for this blog.  

I have wanted to write to you for a long time. I feel the time has now come. Many times l have tried to sit down and write but it seemed I just could not get my head around it as my story begins when l was 13 and me being 38 now, that’s quite a frightening length of time! To make a long story short: like you, l advocate for the decriminalisation of consensual sexual relationships between adults and children, and have relentlessly been doing so since l was 13. Does that make me the youngest activist who has ever lived? 🙂

I was an intellectual child, listening to classical composers at 8, reading Oscar Wilde at 10 and EM Forster at 11. I was fortunate enough to have parents who granted me unconditional freedom. Yet not everyone was as sensible so I sometimes ended up surrounded by adults who mistakenly took me for a “poser” claiming that, at my age, l could not really understand what l was reading. How pathetic are adults who belittle children! Truth is: my books were my best friends and literature has taught me more on the human condition than one could ever hope to learn in a lifetime without it; and l can assure you that not only could l understand everything l read as a child, but my understanding was real and deep.

One day – l was 13 by that time – upon returning home from school, l found this magazine and l learned that behind the story of the girl who falls down a rabbit hole was an Oxford don who went by the name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, and that this whimsical, magical man happened to be, among other things, a lover of children. For the first time in my life the words “paedophile” and “paedophilia” appeared before my eyes. It struck a powerful chord deep inside, and my path has been clear to me since that day. To me it just seemed OK to love children and l could see nothing wrong with it, provided no coercion was exercised. I vividly recall looking at the image of Lewis Carroll and thinking to myself these very words: “I like you”. That was the start of a lifelong friendship between Mr Dodgson and l.

It was also the start for me of my advocacy for the rights of paedophiles. Throughout the following year l researched the subject, growing more and more aware of the discrepancy between hysteria and reality, more and more indignant at the social stigma that affects paedophilia, forcing too many paedophiles into the darkness, making them unable to open up to anyone, with the dire consequences on many levels that this forced isolation brings about.

As I had always been interested in issues surrounding civil liberties, l had from time to time magazines at home that dealt with either women’s rights or gay rights. One day I noticed an ad in the Contact page of a gay magazine. In the ad it was stated that a pressure group called “Gruppo P” had been formed to promote discussion of intergenerational relationships and that anyone who was interested in joining was welcome to contact them. I immediately did. In my letter I explained that I was a 14-year-old, that I believed that consensual contacts between children and adults existed and could be desired by both parties, that such contacts did not necessarily result in harm, and that therefore this type of non-coercive relationships had to be decriminalised. I said I was willing to actively help and join the group.

Soon afterwards I received a letter from the group’s founder, asking me to contact him at his work phone number, which l did. In retrospect l now think he wanted to make sure that l was who l claimed l was. When l called him we agreed to meet.

I was not scared. All l wanted to do was to go out and march, head up high, banner in hand, for the advancement of our cause (how much l miss the naivety of youth!) Unfortunately l was too young to formally join (minimum age required was 16) so I remained on the sidelines, eagerly waiting for the day when l could become a full member. Sadly, that day never came as the police investigated Gruppo P. The founder phoned to let me know the police might pay me a visit, although he believed that as I was a young girl they would not try to pursue a case against me. He was right: they never came. Not that I was intimidated by the thought of encountering them. On the contrary, I was eager to meet the police so I could “preach” the legitimacy of our cause (such is the folly of youth!).

The founder was in due course arrested, accused of “conspiracy”. I can testify that there were absolutely no illegal activities inside Gruppo P. Its aims were not criminal but political. Nevertheless the founder and others were arrested and held in custody awaiting trial: evidently the coming together of dissidents who challenged the current laws was considered a crime in itself. As we who hold these beliefs well know, Orwell’s concept of “thought crime” becomes a reality where discussion of paedophilia is concerned.

I recall very well the innuendos that were made. It was put about that an enormous quantity of illegal material had been found, but no such material circulated at Gruppo P! It was claimed that members were actively seeking children to groom, but l for one had never been approached in a sexual way. I was always treated as an equal; no one tried to take advantage of me.

What l also recall is the ugly ostracism of Gruppo P by the gay organisations. The police raid made their dearest dream come true: get rid of paedophiles. The gays said they “abhorred” paedophilia, insisting that homosexuals stand for sexual liberation and paedophiles are opposed to it because they force themselves on individuals who cannot consent.

I wanted to appear in court as a defence witness, but the lawyers ignored me, and my friend was eventually found guilty of conspiracy. In the following years I have seen or heard of former activists who have grown disillusioned, gone underground, given up…. For me, it is something l will never get over. I have seen or heard of too many people living a death-in-life: I cannot accept it; I will never accept it, and it brings me anguish.

I have had your book Paedophilia: The Radical Case since 2003. I have always told myself that sooner or later I would contact you, and as soon as the PIE “scandal” came out this year, l googled your name and, voilà, I saw that you have a blog. [For the “scandal” see Paedogate puts the past in the pillory]

I agree with you that this reign of hysteria will eventually come to an end. You and l might not see it, but future generations will. It is for these future generations that we must now stand our ground. Refusing to be silenced is one way, and a dignified one at that. Familiarity is another: reaching out to people who are close enables us to help them see through this fog of lies surrounding paedophilia. l have always taken every opportunity to discuss the issue. I have never been afraid or ashamed to share my beliefs. A propaganda-fed mob might bay to see paedophiles hanging from a rope but individuals will listen. For almost 25 years now I have taken the time to sit down at a table with a friend, a colleague, or a stranger, and say something like, “Look, things are not exactly what they seem. Please, let me explain.”

I spoke from the heart and from the mind; through rationality, compassion, and truth, l had them listen, ponder, and challenge their prejudice. I saw people genuinely persuaded of the unjust treatment reserved for paedophiles. I saw people genuinely sorry. I saw people, including my own mother, grow indignant at injustice. And l always thought that if we can persuade them that they are all being lied to through toxic and hysterical propaganda, and that there are fellow humans in this world who are being persecuted for the simple reason that they exist, then there is hope that they will perceive the terrible injustice suffered by paedophiles, and no man or woman of good will can tolerate a modern witch-hunt without starting to question its legitimacy.

And through questioning comes change. Am l being overly optimistic? Maybe. But l refuse to be cynical. We must work to create a society where paedophiles can lead normal and productive lives, within the boundaries of the law. Paedophiles also need to be educated: it is not only immoral, but dangerous as well, to have people indoctrinated on a daily basis, stuffing the idea down their throats that they are “molesters”, that their affections and inclinations are nothing but a “disorder” to be treated. This is a lie, and we must fight it.

As EM Forster put it, “For we fight for more than Love or Pleasure; there is Truth. Truth counts, Truth does count.”

I am willing now as much as l have been for the past 25 years, to speak up for truth, and actively help in any way l can.

My greatest pride is that in my youth I was an independent thinker. My beliefs sprang from within, and these beliefs prompted me to reach out to like-minded people, in whose company l could share what mattered most to me. These are the people I am most grateful to have met, to this day.

Love is confoundedly complicated!

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A lingering social death by contempt, humiliation and shame is the daunting prospect I face when I go ahead with my next planned blog in a few days’ time. It is not the enemy’s scorn I fear – the more resilient of us can live with that – but, far worse, that of my friends.

So, in a bid to ease the anticipated sting of your withering rebukes, I am going to use today’s Heretic TOC to set the scene in what I hope will be a disarming way. What appears below is a book review I wrote a few years ago for Berlin University’s Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology, which is now independent and known simply as the Archive for Sexology – a great resource, by the way: the Growing Up Sexually section is superb on childhood sexual acculturation beyond the modern developed world.

The review is of a memoir by Margaux Fragoso, who had a long childhood relationship with a paedophile. I briefly mentioned this book once before in The consequences of consequentialism last year, a piece which might particularly interest those heretics here of a philosophical bent.

As for why my next blog could be a source of such utter mortification to me, and why the review is relevant, you’ll just have to wait and see!

 

Margaux Fragoso, Tiger, Tiger: A Memoir, Penguin, London, 2011

Seven-year-old Margaux sees a grey-haired old man at the local swimming pool. Two little boys are frolicking with him in the water. The three of them are having great fun, whereas she has no playmates. Her mentally ill mother is sitting at the poolside; her father, an emotionally abusive alcoholic, is not around.

Quickly sensing the man must be an exceptionally friendly adult, she approaches.

“Can I play with you?” she asks.

“Of course,” he answers, playfully splashing her face.

It is the start of a relationship that almost immediately becomes sexual, in ways graphically described; it continues as romantic through her teens and ends only when his death parts them after fifteen years. She tells of being in love, “addicted” to her elderly lover’s company; of her lover, she says, “I was his religion”.

The echo of Nabokov’s Lolita is clear, with its famously rapturous opening paean to a beloved “nymphet”; but Tiger, Tiger is billed as a memoir, not fiction – and certainly not a work of paedophilic pornography, or propaganda, as might otherwise be suspected from my introduction. Even though it reads like a novel, author Margaux Fragoso has been at pains to insist, in the face of reviewers’ scepticism, that it is a faithful record of a well documented relationship with Peter Curran, a hard-up, long-term unemployed invalid and girl-oriented paedophile, who committed suicide at age 66, when she was 22. He had not been sexually interested in the boys at the pool, who were the sons of his landlady-cum-not-quite-girlfriend: he was just good with them anyway.

Although a whole clutch of memoirs, especially in the “misery lit” genre, have been exposed as fake in recent years, Tiger, Tiger strikes me as the real thing. It is clearly not written as pornography, because the sexual descriptions are utterly unsexy: while Fragoso portrays herself as a willing, and at times even a demanding, participant in under-age sexual acts, her own lively sexuality is always at odds with the sense of grossness and disgust she feels towards the wrinkled, decrepit body of her aging lover and the whore’s repertoire of tricks and role plays he nags her into performing.

Nor can she be accused of propagandising in favour of a child’s ability to consent to sex with an adult. Ultimately, the author is plainly of the opinion that the relationship was harmful to her in many ways, and that men like Peter need treatment.

As a paedophile myself, throughout my adult life I have resisted all the conventional arguments against children’s willing participation in sexual contacts with adults, especially when the older party is affectionate and loving. None of these arguments, or the evidence adduced in their support, has ever made much impression on me. I have even written books saying exactly why they are unconvincing.

But I find Fragoso’s work is strikingly more effective than all the usual moralising, with vastly more persuasive clout than the endless plethora of one-sided and even dishonest victim narratives so beloved of our cultural media, from tabloid yarns to TV documentaries, to films and novels. Tiger, Tiger is an immensely powerful testament. I am in my mid-sixties, with a typical old dog’s shortcomings over learning new tricks; but Fragoso is making me think again.

How so? What is the source of this extraordinary power? It is simply that Fragoso’s account is not one-sided. Tiger, Tiger comes across as a determined attempt by the author to examine all aspects of her relationship with Peter with the utmost candour, and calm honesty. Rather than simply vilifying and demonising him, “letting out the anger”, as “survivors” are often encouraged to do, she strives for an objective, almost scientific, description of how things came to pass, her feelings at the time and what they led to. In an Afterword, she speaks of having “learned through my writing”: through pondering, and describing, she leads both herself and the reader towards a reasoned assessment.

It is also a balanced and fair one. We are told, for instance, not just that Peter could be violent and was often “pushy” in his sexual demands. No, we are additionally told that far from being “innocent”, little Margaux as a child could be calculating and manipulative, and she spells out exactly how. Ultimately, of course, there is no moral equivalence: the adult must take responsibility.

The author’s judicious even-handedness is what makes Tiger, Tiger such a stand-out from the many hundreds of learned journal articles and books I have read on adult-child sexual encounters. For me, this is one of the most impressive and important of the lot. As a set text for reading and discussion by participants in sex offender treatment programmes I suspect it would be more successful in helping reduce recidivism than the crude brain-washing usually served up.

The only caveat to my recommendation – but it is an important one – is that there are severe constraints on what can reasonably be concluded from any one account. Fragoso herself makes two major mistakes: she over-interprets what can be learned from her own experience, and then over-generalises these questionable conclusions, seeking to apply them invalidly to all child-adult sexual contacts. To take the second point first, a properly scientific account demands the investigation of hundreds, indeed preferably thousands, of cases before general statements can be made with any confidence, and even then effects associated with the data do not necessarily reveal a particular cause. I suspect Fragoso would be surprised to learn that the most rigorous statistical studies of the available evidence do not support the conventional view that such contacts are in general very harmful.

On the first point, there are many ways in which the book leads the reader towards the view that the relationship with Peter was deeply traumatic: to take the most serious of these, the sexual side compromised her, making her feel she was “corrupted” and that others would regard her as worthless. Even the “romantic” aspect was awful because it locked her for year after year into emotional dependency on a partner who had no future, and whose attentions kept her unhealthily alienated from her peers – which may have been why, in a belated act of redemption, Peter ultimately killed himself, setting her free at last.

While these terrible facts are undeniable, what the author’s own conclusions ignore is the serious possibility that without Peter’s love and support her life might well have been even worse. It was her father, after all, not Peter, who would habitually rant and scream at her, telling her she was a worthless burden, before she had even met Peter. Her response as a small child had understandably been one of aggressive “acting out”: she would randomly kick other people in the street. After meeting Peter, she transferred that aggression to him, lying and playing mean tricks on him. His reaction, by contrast, was generally one of patient, almost saintly restraint: Margaux’s admittedly delusional mother even thought he might be a reincarnation of Jesus, “so wise” was he, “and pure of heart”. The presumably non-delusional author would commend his consistent support for her creative side, and the praise he habitually lavished on her, boosting the self-worth so sapped by her father.

So, as one feminist reviewer grudgingly conceded, “it’s complicated”. In terms of what caused the bad outcomes in her life, a scientist would have to note that there were “confounds”: in other words, there were other factors apart from having an early sexual relationship that could account, wholly or in part, for all that went wrong.

And, hey, despite the extremely unpromising start of having two massively unsatisfactory parents, a lot eventually went right for Fragoso. She is now a best-selling writer, after all, as well as being in a stable adult partnership which has seen her become a mother. These successes might have come despite Peter’s role in her life or thanks to it: those confounded confounds make it hard to tell which.

Ultimately, though, Tiger, Tiger should be judged not as a failed work of “scientific” self-observation, nor in literary terms as an inferior imitation of Nabokov, as some critics have maintained. Her style and subject matter admittedly invite comparisons with the celebrated novelist, but we must remember that this work is a memoir, not a novel. As such, it is simply an apparently honest account that does far more justice to the complexity of the issues than most of the “child sexual abuse” literature.

 

MILESTONE

One other thing, a milestone worth noting in passing: there have been over 100 comments in response to the last blog, Hail to a hero of ‘transgressive expression’, largely on account of some very lively discussion prompted by young “adultophile” James. That’s three figures for the first time. Great, keep it coming on future topics!

Can you tell who he is yet?

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Rolf Harris you are 84 years old. You have no previous criminal convictions or cautions recorded against you. You are no longer in the best of health. For well over 50 years you have been a popular entertainer and television personality of international standing – with a speciality in children’s entertainment. You are also an artist of renown. You have been the recipient of a number of honours and awards over the years. You have done many good and charitable works and numerous people have attested to your positive good character.

So began the sentencing remarks by Mr Justice Sweeney at Southwark Crown Court, London, before handing down a prison term of five years and nine months on Harris last week. Unfortunately for the star, who was massive in Britain and his native Australia, the rest of the judge’s 3,000-word speech was to be no encomium. Instead, he rebuked the man in the dock as a serial sex attacker of girls and young women who had abused the trust placed in him as a famous children’s entertainer.

Those who remember the TV shows of his heyday, as I do, will recall a man who was brilliant at his job. A speciality was rapid painting, so his young viewers could see a picture emerging before their very eyes in a matter of moments. “Can you tell what it is yet?” he would ask. It became a catchphrase. In his later years he was taken seriously as an artist, with an exhibition of his work at the National Gallery. In 2006 he was even commissioned to paint a portrait of the Queen on her 80th birthday.

The question for us now is somewhat different. Unlike Jimmy Savile, who was never put on trial, Harris has been found guilty by a jury. But is he really the monster painted by the media in their own post-verdict instant artistry? Can we see who he is yet? There are plenty of reasons to suppose the genre of painting going on here is one of optical illusion, like the famously impossible Escher staircase.

We can look at the Rolph Harris case, just like the staircase, and be struck immediately by an impossible disparity: the offences, even if the jury made correct decisions on the facts, bear no relation to the spin being put upon them.

The main facts are that Harris was convicted of 12 counts of indecent assault committed decades ago, between 1969 and 1986, against four females. These ranged from one-off incidents of groping in public to a long involvement in the life of his daughter Bindi’s best friend (Victim C). The youngest was an eight-year-old girl (Victim A) who asked for his autograph at a public event. He twice put his hand up her skirt and felt her vagina over her underwear.

In a Victim Impact Statement, Victim A said this incident had caused her “physical and mental pain” and that “in the space of a few minutes my childhood innocence was gone”. She said, “I became an angry child unable to express myself and unable to trust men. I took this with me into my teens and did not like to be touched. It made having normal relationships difficult….I have carried what Rolf Harris did to me for most of my life. It took away most of my childhood.”

Victim C and her family were friends with Harris and his family in the mid 1960s. In 1978 when C was aged 13 and Harris was 48 he was allowed by C’s parents to take her on holiday abroad with his wife and Bindi. That is when he started touching her sexually. After the holiday, and while she was still under the age of consent (not that she ever did consent, by her own account) there were further incidents at C’s own home. While his wife and C’s parents were downstairs he went to C’s bedroom upstairs, where he inserted his finger into her vagina, in the words of the judge, “for about a minute until she managed to get away”. Several further such incidents, the last when she was 19, were specified in the indictment, including ones in which he licked her vagina. The judge said to Harris “Whilst I do not sentence you in relation to what you did to C in the decade that followed that offence, I am sure that offences against her continued until 1994.”

Harris also faced four charges of possessing indecent images of children on his computer following a police raid on his home in 2012. This case was dropped following his conviction on the other charges.

So, in summary, we have groping incidents including one against an eight-year-old over her clothing which robbed her of her childhood and has been a cross she has had to bear for the rest of her life. And we have a series of assaults over a period of 16 years against one victim, several of them while her parents were in another room of the same house at the time, until she was 29 years old. And a porn case that was dropped.

Does anything begin to seem a bit unlikely, or even impossible about this, like the Escher staircase? Can you tell what it is yet? I’m guessing you can. But let’s go on. Let’s paint the final brush strokes of the picture.

In her Victim Impact Statement, Bindi’s friend Victim C said, “The attacks…made me feel dirty, grubby and disgusting. The whole sordid saga has traumatised me. I have panic attacks and suffer from anxiety. The effects of the abuse have been with me for many years. I started drinking at the age of 14 to 15 years old. This was to block out the effects of what he was doing to me. This had an effect on my relationship with my parents and people close to me. The slightest thing would upset me, I would get so angry, my reaction would be so disproportionate and over the top. As a young girl I had aspirations to have a career, settle down and have a family. However, as a direct result of his actions, this has never materialised. I have never had a meaningful relationship whilst sober. I have also never been able to hold down a job. This was down to the need to block out what he had done to me through drink. Rolf Harris had a hold over me that made me a quivering wreck….He made me feel like a sexual object. He used and abused me to such an extent that it made me feel worthless…”

So there we have it. Can you see the full pattern and paradox now? The pattern is one of relatively mild sexual impropriety, or even consensual sex with a mature adult: what else can we seriously suppose it to have been when the “assaults” on C continued until she was 29? The paradox is the huge, life-wrecking consequences that are said to have resulted from these acts.

Don’t get me wrong. Sexual harassment should not be tolerated. Heretic TOC is not calling for a groper’s charter. As we have discussed extensively here recently, mutual consent is a basic requirement of legitimate sex at any age. Where the courts and the abuse lobbyists, the politicians and the media are going wrong, however, is in giving too much credence to those who seek to put everything that has gone wrong in their lives down to child sexual abuse (CSA). It is an easy cop out from personal responsibility. One thing often overlooked by those who assume a direct CSA = Lifelong Trauma equation is that lurking in the background of these damaged people’s lives there is often a history of significant trauma and mental instability arising even before the CSA took place. Rind et al., in their famous 1998 meta-analysis showed that chaotic and dysfunctional family background was nine times more predictive of psychological damage in later life than CSA, to which such damage is usually attributed.

The public are also deceived by the utterly false dogma that victims always “courageously” come forward to tell the unvarnished truth, without exaggeration. It is hard to be sure from a short public description, but Victim A in this case said she suffered physical as well as mental pain. Really? From being touched over her underwear in a crowded public place where any cry of pain would surely have attracted attention? One has to wonder. Those who think victims are always honest should catch up on the Somaly Mam scandal, as reported last month in “Victims Can Lie as Much as Other People”.

Back to Rolph. Like Jimmy Savile, he was clearly no saint. A particular grouse of mine would be his hypocrisy. Whereas Savile was astonishingly open about his attraction to young girls, Harris shored up his respectability by presenting a 1985 anti-CSA video for the NSPCC, called Kids Can Say No!

Nor was he great at loyalty: apparently unbeknown to his wife, for several years in the 1990s he kept a mistress at the bottom of his garden!

That wasn’t as uncomfortable for her as it might sound: the lady was installed in a converted boathouse in the grounds of his mansion by the River Thames, and was supposed to be his housekeeper and chauffeur.

So, can we tell who he was yet? Was he the monster the media have painted?

What he was not is a paedophile if we use that term to mean someone preferentially attracted to prepubescent children. His offences point to a degree of hebephilic interest in teenage girls; but with a wife and a long-term adult mistress, his sexuality appears actually to have been rather normal in its direction. It’s just that its expression was a little over-exuberant. Not that this is any excuse: arguably his lapses were worse than those of someone, attracted exclusively to kids, who has no viable alternative outlet for his feelings.

What concerns us more urgently, though, is not whether one particular man meets with our moral approval here at Heretic TOC. It’s the societal response to these big, high-profile cases that counts. For the most part, that response has been really bad news, and we must brace ourselves for much more of the same in the coming weeks and months as the post-Savile cultural revolution cranks itself up to some sort of crescendo.

So much for the big picture. I’ll conclude with a few brief sketches:

 

‘LOVELY TOUCHY-FEELY ROLF’

Amanda Platell, a high-profile journalist, who used to be press secretary to William Hague when he was leader of the Conservative Party, said she had been among Harris’s fans and had invited him to her fortieth birthday party many years ago. Cheekily, she said she was so thrilled to see her childhood hero in the flesh that “I took him upstairs away from my other guests to keep him to myself for a while.” We are left to guess was happened, but she wasn’t complaining! On the other hand, that’s before she knew what a bad boy he could be. But now, she says, “I can deny it no longer: the man I adored betrayed me. More than that, I’ve had to accept that Rolf Harris groomed me, just as meticulously as he did his victims.” How did he do it? By being nice. “Lovely touchy-feely Rolf had this ability to make you feel as though you were the most important person in the world.” The swine!

 

A GRIM LONDON PRISON

Eric Allison, the excellent prisons correspondent of the Guardian and an ex-convict himself, reported that in the big van that would take Harris and other prisoners from the court to prison (HMP Wandsworth), Harris would be “insulted mercilessly by the other occupants of the sweatbox. At the grim south London jail, he will be segregated during the reception process although he will still hear torrents of abuse for his indecent assault of young girls.” As an old man, he would be put in the hospital wing, where patients “tend to be medicated during the day when they can present control problems, but left drug-free to scream and shout throughout the long nights.” This sounds bleak, and the scenario may have unfolded just as Allison says. But Harris should be OK if he can get out of healthcare and into the Vulnerable Prisoners Unit (VPU) which is the usual destination for anyone in need of protection from the hostility of other inmates – which these days means mainly sex offenders, quite a lot of them almost as old as Harris. I know, because I was there myself. In fact I was tried at Southwark Crown Court like Harris too. Ah, happy memories – not!

 

NEXT SCANDAL: THE PAEDO POLITICIANS

News of fresh craziness in the cultural revolution keeps coming in so thick and fast that my last item here would be my lead story if this were a daily newspaper: a big scandal broke in the Sunday papers yesterday, when they reported that the British Home Office has confessed to losing or destroying 114 “potentially relevant” files relating to “the paedophile scandal engulfing Westminster” i.e. allegations that “paedophilia on an industrial scale” was rife among top politicians in the 1970s and 80s. This story is certain to get even bigger in the coming week and beyond. I got wind of it last week when the main broadcasting outfits (BBC’s Today programme and ITN) plus the Daily Mail contacted me to ask if I could tell them anything about naughty deeds in high places back in the day. Sadly, being more familiar with low places I had to disappoint them!

 

STOP PRESS

The very latest, Daily Telegraph this morning:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/10948796/Paedophilia-is-natural-and-normal-for-males.html

Heretic TOC is quoted. Looks like I’m adding to the problem, rather than solving it. Should I stop writing this blog?

Techno-tethering globalises oppression

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David Kennerly, who debuted last year for Heretic TOC  writing about his childhood in the American Midwest, now makes a welcome return. This time his theme journeys to far horizons – places that may soon be closed to us for actual travel if restrictions envisaged by governments worldwide have their way. Yes, it’s a very alarming thought and one that has accordingly prompted David to document in considerable detail what the securocrats and fear-peddling politicians are up to and why we need to wake up to it. In his guest blog today he outlines two essays specially written for Heretic TOC but which he intends also to use as a basis for lobbying more widely. Links are given to these articles.

 

The thin wedge to immobilize citizens

An introduction to two essays exploring the unfolding war on freedom of movement

Over the last several months, I have been researching a series of legal assertions now being advanced by governments worldwide. While being enacted piecemeal in individual countries, they can only be fully understood in aggregate and in the recognition that these governments are clearly working jointly towards achieving their aspirations for tracking people’s movements and restricting our freedom of travel.

Developments in this area are very dynamic and so my findings are a work in progress. Nevertheless, enough is now known to perceive a clear and ominous trajectory in governmental ambitions to regulate the movement of all people, both within and between countries.

It is nothing new that government has always had such ambitions. What is new, and fundamentally different from any other moment in the past, is the unprecedented ability of the state to realize its dreams by means of an immensely powerful digital infrastructure. Its far-reaching ambitions for total control now lie fully within its grasp. The limits of technology that once held its desire for omniscience in check have been effectively removed, granting it an extraordinary level of power over the lives of its citizens.

So far, my writing in this area consists of two pieces:

1) A report on “The International Megan’s Law”, both as a bill recently passed in the U.S. House of Representatives (to be considered now in the Senate) and as a global concept which extends to all other nations through both international agreements and international bodies, such as Interpol (a previously backwater agency revived through the opportunities afforded by Islamic terrorism), who coordinate and implement its sweeping and dangerous policies. The openly hoped-for result of the U.S. bill is to prevent American child sex offenders from ever leaving the U.S. But it is also clear that this goal is being at least partially attained with, or without, the help of Megan. The title is: “DEAD END: The International Megan’s Law Assault on Everyone’s Freedom of Travel– The free movement of the individual is increasingly seen as a revocable privilege – not an inalienable right”.

2) A report on the current treatment of American sex offenders who return from travel abroad (from any country) by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency. Those who have traveled over many years likely noticed some dramatic changes in the way they were welcomed back home by that agency soon after September 11, 2001. That treatment has only escalated in severity since then: it is ever more intrusive, more threatening and more violative. So much so that many have decided travel is simply no longer worth the degradation they will experience upon their return. And that is, after all, the point of such harassment, isn’t it? The title is: “HOMELAND SECURITY’S ASSAULT ON TRAVEL: How America’s sex laws endanger your, your children’s and everyone’s freedom of movement as travelers are routinely detained, interrogated, searched and harassed by the Department of Homeland Security”.

I identify this trend, that of limiting the movement of people through the imposition of regimes of extreme pretextual scrutiny, as one which is running counter to another trend now emerging as a reaction: the demand to restore freedom of movement as an essential principle of freedom itself.

This counter-trend is up against powerful adversaries, as governments have always been in their dealings with a citizenry grown complacent and unsuspicious of their motives.

But, of course, there are also those who believe the government message that there are real perils requiring the movement of people between countries to be as constrained as technology allows. They fail to appreciate that the historical porosity of borders has been a bulwark against the denial of the rights of the individual and has helped to propagate free societies; they also fail to appreciate the near-limitless effects that present and future technology will have upon their autonomy and upon their future array of choices. Systems now being devised will forever limit their opportunities and constrain their interactions with others but in ways which they cannot foresee.

It would be a terrible shame to see our civilization succumb to tyranny through the incuriosity and untroubled indifference that is so characteristic of so many of its members.

Men used to go to war and die for the rights that so many now eagerly volunteer to relinquish, identifying them as, somehow, quaintly anachronistic and no longer affordable or even terribly worthwhile.

Those of us who know these rights are not just worthwhile but vital have an obligation to say so, to bear witness to the unfolding destruction of our liberties and to do all in our power to stop a dangerous movement fundamentally inimical to freedom.

Tom has graciously (and patiently, I might add) invited me to share my findings and observations on his wonderful site and, for that as well as his critical and discerning eye and valuable suggestions, I am grateful.

When I first became aware of his work through a fortuitous discovery of Paedophilia: The Radical Case more than thirty years ago (can it be?) I was immediately impressed.

Neither of us knew, or could have known, the depths to which society might submerge itself in the decades to follow. While our optimism for society’s near-term future may have since undergone a dramatic reassessment, we both (it would appear) continue to assert what we believe to be true, a fact which must – by itself – betray some indication of hope.

I also hope you will read both of my current works on freedom of movement. They are, I believe, essential reading in order to understand some of the implications of the authoritarian shift that has taken hold in society and which threatens to repay us – for our complacency – by doing its very worst.

 

TOC adds:

As regular readers will recall, I travelled to Brazil in February and was allowed entry without challenge despite being on the UK register of sex offenders. However, on the eve of the World Cup Brazil announced the start of a crackdown. A reader has alerted me to a news item in the press there from earlier this month saying that an American “convicted for pedophilia” has been deported after trying to enter the country.

The same reader also spotted a news story from 17 February. This reported that 51 “paedophiles” had been denied entry to Mexico. The text says these refusals had been “since last year” (“desde el año pasado”) but I guess what is meant is over the course of the previous year rather than just the first six or seven weeks of this one. Could be wrong, though.

 

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

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