Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Reply to a Facebook Note

Original note by James Tipler: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=15871229842&id=506214909&index=0

My reply (too protacted for facebook's comment field!):

I afraid I'm going to have to totally agree with you; the only argument for outlawing created images of child abuse, where no one was actually abused, is the tenuous hypothesis that said graphics may contribute directly to causing actual abuse.

In antiquity there were some good reasons to ban homosexuality: gay couples could sire no children to contribute to the economic growth of a nation, and, before effective prophylactics and medical treatments, where more prone to certain contagious diseases. 

The Wolfenden report (of 1957) eventually turned the tide of public opinion, it stated: "homosexuality cannot legitimately be regarded as a disease, because in many cases it is the only symptom and is compatible with full mental health in other respects." 

It wasn't until 1967 that this more liberal view was legislated, and we've only recently given gay couples full legal rights. But it does finally seem to be widely acknowledged that sexual preference is an oxymoron; there is no concious choice involved. 

The reason that a 16 year old can be branded with the stigma of the sex offenders register, purely for enjoying one of the best, free experiences that this life can offer, with a consensual 15 year old partner, is that the legislation totally misses the point on purpose: defining what 'consent' is and verifying whether or not it was given, is far too bloody hard compared to checking someone's birth date. 

'Paedophile' and 'paedophilia' are also ill defined terms. They can refer to someone who, while having sexual desires for prepubescents, has never acted on then, but is equally used to describe the worst examples of convicted child abusers. While there is this linguistic obscuration of the issue, reasoned debate will always be too handicapped. 

I think the 'ham fisted', age based, policing approach is no long acceptable. It obviously does nothing to protect persons over the age of consent against rape, who's victims must massively outnumber cases of paedophilic rape. Better understanding of consent is needed to help rectify this bigger problem anyway. Also, stigmatising these rare but natural desires is only going to isolate and traumatise those individuals more, reducing the chances of such a person seeking help before reaching the point of abusing a child.

That's not to say that all 'paedosexuals' (to invent a term) are ticking abuse time-bombs. I'm a heterosexual guy who, naturally, lusts after women, but I'm definitely not going to force myself on any vulnerable ladies, just because I'm sexually frustrated. I assume the vast number of 'kiddie fanciers' are closet cases who are otherwise normal, caring members of society. Ironically, they could be an extremely useful asset in finding actual child abusers; They would be more able to flag cases up to authorities if they knew they, themselves will not be tarred with the same brush, just for having (seen) copies of images.

Men having sex with young girls can hardly be a new phenomena: girls used to be married off at any age and, in a fair few parts of the world, probably still are. It's brilliant that our society recognised the need to protect children from such situations and that abuse is now rare. But, as is the case with massive shifts in culture, we went a little too far. It would be nice to be able to take a innocent photo of one of the kids my mum child-minds, for her, without the dreadful and inappropriate worry, gnawing at the back of my mind, that my actions might be horribly misconstrued by someone.

There will come a day when paedophiles (or whatever less loaded name is used) are just another harmless minority. For those (paedophiles) who decided not to re-engineer their minds, there will be adults who choose to re-engineer their bodies, thus meeting demand. Charles Stross came up with a name for these, yet to exist people: “lolitas”. Briefly mentioned in Iron Sunrise, not sure if it's supposed to be specific to girl-women?.

Anyway, while we're reforming laws, age restrictions on media graphically depicting consensual, adult sex should, frankly, be abolished. Parental guidance warnings are appropriate, but stopping a 17 year old from seeing, on screen, the kind of things they are perfectly entitled to do first hand is, at best, idiotic. In contrast, I've been a little shocked by how realistically harrowing some 12 and 15 rated movies are these days....

....Opsy. Got totally carried away there; switched into assessed, online discussion board coursework mode. I was doing a fair bit of it the end of last term, really got into it. And I'd just written a rant to send to Virgin Media about the whole BPI lunacy (posted bellow). Oh well, have an essay!

1 comment :

  1. Anonymous12:37

    I think you're right to be careful about defining terms. "paedosexual" is probably a loaded term (although what isn't?) but there's a whole world of difference between someone who's sexually attracted to a certain group of people - be it children or whoever - and someone who is a predatory rapist targeting said group. This is no more acceptable when the targets are adults than when they are children, but we are all so emotionally invested in our young for obvious biological and social reasons we tend to react in a particularly extreme manner to anything involving them.

    As I said in a reply to Jo's comment, the concern for me is that laws such as this are in effect criminalising a pattern of thought. It can be reduced to "We don't like X so thinking X should be a crime" There's all sorts of shit that goes on in this world that I don't like, but as long as I'm not actively being harmed by it, and neither was anyone else involved in it, then I don't see that my offended sensibilities are anywhere near enough to justify outlawing something.

    It would concern me less if law set less store by 'precident', but as it is once one law has been passed that says "This kind of thinking is a crime, regardless of actions taken as a consequence." then there's a precident for another to pass in the future that's more likely to affect a minority group that I am a member of.