Okay first let me say right from the start, for anyone who has any doubts about where I stand - child sexual offences aren't just against the law, adults making children perfom sexual acts are wrong to do so. I was molested over the course of a few months, by a trusted family friend, as I went from being six to seven years old. The nature of the way I was handled, and my own personality, mean that I came through with only very minor issues.
Many aren't so lucky as I.
I wish that it hadn't happened, but at the same time, if I was to put together a list of awful things that I have gone through, it's nowhere near the top. This gives me an interesting perspective from which to ask the following question -
When did we, as a society, become worse than the molesters?
When did we cross the line, deciding that almost any action was worth it to protect the kids? When did it become okay to demonise people who may be innocent? When was it that we all decided that anyone who so much as appeared to think of children in a sexual way, automatically become a monster?
If someone is accused of child sex offences or of possessing kiddy porn, even without evidence, they are treated as though they are guilty by the media and public right from the word go. And even if it is found that they are completely innocent, their lives are often ruined, because people think that there must have been some reason they were suspected.
When did we decide that the ends justifies the means?
- The Salem Witch hunts were about protecting the innocent.
- The House Un-American Activities Committee were about protecting the
- Everything Bush has done in the last five years is about protecting the
What history has shown again and again is that you can't protect the innocent by stomping on people's rights. But that's what we do regularly when it comes to the suspects in child sexual offence cases.
Five years ago, there was a successful small businessman, a maker of circuit boards. He and his partners had won awards for innovation, such as using plastic videotape cases to protect the boards they sent out. The business employed over 40 people. While in the US on a business trip, the owner bought two legal asian porn tapes of women in uniforms. On his way back into his home country, the customs censor told him the vids were illegal, and seized them. No problem other than that, the man went on his way.
The customs officials, without any research, decided that the women in the videos must be underage, possibly based on the uniforms. The police were contacted and told that the guy had tried to bring underage porn into the country. The police acted on this information without ever having seen the tapes in question. They checked out his factory on the sly, and saw through the windows that he had videotape cases. They got warrants to raid the man's factory, his home, and the homes of his business partners, because they now believed him to be a maker and distributor of child pornography.
The raids occurred while the man was in the Ukraine on another business trip. Comments were made by officials that he was probably trying to source new pornographic material. His staff, including his daughter, were locked in one room of the factory for most of the day while the police and customs officials searched. One of the officers tried to pressure the daughter into admitting that she had been molested by her father.
Customers who rang the company got questioned over the phone as to why they were calling, it being made obvious that the factory, and by extension its clientele, were under investigation for the distribution of child porn. The man's family and neighbours were questioned regarding whether they thought he might have been dealing in kiddy porn. All the computers in the factory and in the homes of the businessman and his partners were seized. When they were eventually returned, most were damaged in some way and a quarter of them never worked again.
News that the business was being investigated spread.
The man returned from overseas and voluntarily went straight to the local police station, expecting it all to be a terrible mistake. He was immediately arrested for distribution of videos featuring illegal content, not child pornography, even though no porn of any description had been found. While he was never formally charged, the case was never closed, and his name was entered into the sexual offender database. His business was ruined, forty people lost their jobs, he was unable to go back to his old job of teaching because he was listed as a sexual offender, and his marriage barely survived.
Because the case wasn't closed, he was unable to sue for damages. When he wrote a letter of complaint to the customs office, their reply was that they have a duty to protect the public.
This is not an isolated case.
There was a web-based company in the US that actually had child porn on its site. You could purchase a membership to see it. The police raided the company and seized their credit card records. The company had members all over the world, so the police passed on the info to the various countries with a warning - due to credit card fraud and identity theft, the names on the list were only to be used as possible leads, they were not lists of the guilty. In America, police set sting operations based on the names and out of 35,000 names, netted 200 arrests.
Other parts of the world were not as careful. In one country, police raided 4,000 houses out of their list of 7,000, with no more evidence than a name appearing on the list.
A doctor lost his job at a hospital when he was brought in as a suspect. He was cleared, thanks to overwhelming evidence, but he never got his job back.
Another man was suspended from his job for the 14 months it took before he was cleared, but by the end of that his marriage was over.
In some places, the media was given names and ages of people on the list. In one country a police official stated that the one thing that linked all the names on the list was their disregard for children.
One man had his family, friends and neighbours questioned, enquiries made as to whether they thought he might be into child porn. He was eventually cleared. His reputation in tatters, having lost friends and family, he committed suicide.
He was innocent, but couldn't live with the stigma.
From that one list of names, mainly from stolen credit cards on one adult website, there were forty suicides. We know for a fact that one of those was found to be innocent before he ended his own life. How many other innocent people didn't wait to find out if they'd be charged?
How easily could this happen to you?
Many of the people who read my LJ are sci-fi fans. Based on a single case where a man convicted of possessing child porn had a Star Trek poster on his wall, the police launched Operation Star Trek, investigating fans of the series and clubs to see if there was an underground kiddy porn market there. I was unable to find out if they made any arrests.
As many of you know, I play Santa Claus. Every year I have to get a police check done before I work. The women who are my elves don't have to have police checks. Common wisdom is that women won't hurt or abuse children. That many men are behind the vast majority of child sexual offences is of no doubt, but there's a lot of women out there doing it as well. Even so, women are still considered safe, whereas I am treated as a potential offender simply based on my gender.
When I was looking for recent examples of women raping men for the previous 100-days-post, I found dozens of recent cases of women sexually abusing children. In fact, and perhaps unsurprisingly, there were substantially more cases of child abuse at the hands of women than of men being raped by them. The examples below are cases where the women weren't acting as a part of a couple, with a man 'pulling the strings,' these were women acting on their own.
Some had started child porn rackets. There were sisters sexually abusing younger siblings, teenage and adult babysitters molesting children as young as two. One mother would invite men she met on the internet over to have sex with her daughter. A behavioural psychologist was caught on hidden camera sexually assaulting a four-year old autistic boy. A grandmother sexually abused her seven-year old grandson, much to the shock of her own son, who claimed she had never done anything remotely like this before. Twenty percent of reported sexual abuse of boy or girl students in the US was by a female teacher.
And for the record, many female teachers get suspended prison sentences, while their male counterparts go to jail. The argument that the boys wanted it, so it's not as bad, doesn't wash. Many female students profess love of their male teachers, say they wanted what happened. In either case, a person in a position of authority over the child acted illegally, the punishment should be the same regardless of the gender of the teacher.
A point I made yesterday was that rape is treated substantially more leniently than child sexual abuse. Why? Why are rapists not required to go door-to-door when they move into a new neighbourhood, telling people that they raped someone but are rehabilitated and getting counselling? Why don't we publish the names of thieves and murderers in the paper when they move into our area?
It's because we are told by the media and society, over and over again, that all paedophiles are evil.
Someone who murders in cold blood during a robbery can be allowed a second chance at life, because they may have only made a mistake, it doesn't mean they are evil. However, the grandmother I mentioned before, she was evil. She must always have been evil and always will be evil. It couldn't be that she made a mistake, was weak, is ill, has a problem.
If our society is to be believed, there's no such thing as grey with paedophiles. There is nothing that exists beyond what they have done that has any value. They aren't merely bad, don't just have a problem, aren't maladjusted, troubled, sick, weak, confused, or even just different - they are all EVIL!
Which means that Leonardo Da Vinci, who was 38 when he took on 10 year-old Gian Giacomo Caprotti da Oreno, was evil.
Why does the media and the public still hail Da Vinci as a genius, and downplay the fact that he had sexual relations with an underage boy? Two, if you count 15 year-old Francesco Melzi. If all those who become intimate with the young are evil, then so is he.
It couldn't be because he was talented and famous, could it?
Surely we aren't so fickle as to forgive the weakness of the famous while denouncing 'ordinary' members of the community. Society says that all who enjoy the idea of sexual intimacy when it relates to underage children must be evil.
Gary Glitter isn't a talented Rock 'n' Roll star with a weakness or a problem, he's evil.
Rob Lowe was videotaped in a threesome with an underage girl. So anytime you see him in a film or a rerun of the West Wing, remember there is no good in him. He's beyond redemption. He's evil, as is anyone who has downloaded the video to watch.
The next time you listen to The Who, you can ask yourself was Pete Townsend really researching internet child porn for a paper? If you're not sure, he's probably evil, and has no value as a human being any more. He nearly committed suicide over the issue, well maybe he should have, cos then we would have been sure he was evil. Only a guilty man would have killed himself, right?
Some of my friends are into slash fiction. This includes Harry Potter slash. Legally in Australia you would be arrested for having Harry Potter slash fiction on your computer if it involves the kids. Even if they have been magically aged to 18 years old, it is child porn. There is no good in the souls of the people who read or write this stuff, nothing they could ever do has any merit, there is no way for them to make amends. Those friends of mine are evil. They must be, they wouldn't even be remotely interested in that stuff if they weren't, would they?
Legally in Australia, anime porn in which the female characters have no pubic hair can be seen to be child porn too. Doesn't matter if the women have breasts the size of Datsuns, according to some, the oversized eyes and general appearance is catering to the kiddy porn market. It basically depends on whether the person judging you is aware of all the cultural influences on why it looks that way. But anime is everywhere, how could they not know?
How could a customs official not know?
Human beings are fallible, we make mistakes, do things we feel we shouldn't, do things because they seem like a good idea, even if later we detest ourselves for it. If you've teased someone until they cried, deliberately manipulated someone to get what you want, viciously backstabbed or betrayed a friend, gone through someone's private effects out of curiosity or to gain information, told another's secrets to other people, hurt someone just because you could - it doesn't make you evil, it makes you human.
The man who molested me wasn't evil, he was human. He took advantage of the trust placed in him, but he never once beat me, threatened me, drugged me, restrained me. He played on my natural curiosity and sexuality.
That he was wrong to do so is in no doubt.
It lasted for a few months, then stopped and he went back to being the friend to me and the family he had always been. Why? Was his behaviour a temporary aberration, a mental illness, a problem? Had he always wanted to do something like that and finally saw his chance, finally weakened? Was it a surprise to him, had he never had those urges before, never known that he was capable of such things? Was he lonely, stressed, depressed, aching for the touch of any other human being, of the unconditional love that children give so easily? Was I the only kid? Was I the first, the last, one of many?
He died in a car accident a couple of years later. Was it an accident, or did he kill himself? Did what he had done haunt him, did he forget about it, want to do it again?
I don't know the answers to any of those questions. I do know this - I'm okay with what happened. I've had worse happen in my life. In fact most of my real 'traumas' come from being brought up by a paranoid schizophrenic (there's nothing like your mum trying to kick in your bedroom door while screaming and accusing you of poisoning her), and at the hands of various partners and supposedly trusted friends.
I have forgiven him and gotten on with my life, just as I have forgiven so many other people over the years.
There's no denying that what he did was wrong.
But he was not evil.
He was a human being.
As are we all.
YouTube (and its evil twin)
I love YouTube. It's a wonderful, amazing place, and has given me hours of joy and the chance to see some truly awesome, and occasionally pathetic, stuff that I otherwise would never have seen.
I think I have to start with the Numa Numa Dance. One newspaper commented that it 'single-handedly justifies the existence of webcams.' I agree. When Gary Brolsma put this up he brought joy to millions with the zest for life that comes through in the clip. If I'm having a flat day, and I watch this, it can't help but bring an enormous smile to my face and give my flagging spirits a huge boost.
Gary has done a sequel, New Numa. While not as immediately lovable as the original, and lacking a lot of the energy, it still has a couple of inspired moments. The original Numa Dance spawned hundred of copies and parodies, most not terribly good. The two best to my mind are this one, by eight students from the University of British Columbia, and this one by Brookers.
Brookers has a special place in my heart, doing a lot of the sort of things I was doing twenty years ago, but without the equipment, talent, or interwebbynet. She started on YouTube around a year ago, and quickly built up a following. Making short films like Chips, lip-synching to a variety of songs (like Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, for instance), appearing as a number of characters (the 'paste' kid), accurately sending up Video Blogs, and doing other things, like Brooker's News, she's usually been a fun watch.
Sometimes the editing is rough and amateurish, but there is always an energy to her work, a zaniness that at times reminds me of the Kenny Everett Video Show. And I'm sure Brookers never expected to be picked up by a network. Her Everything Changes video is open, honest and well put-together. I don't know how far she'll get, but television needs more with her raw energy.
Speaking of things television needs, please God, let us get someone like Keith Olbermann on Australian TV. The first time I saw Olbermann was in this video, and I was moved almost to tears by the raw honesty as he examined the Bush administration and accused the President of textbook cowardice for trying to blame S11 on Clinton. The thing about Olbermann is, he does it well! He doesn't rant incoherently, he gives intelligent, carefully thought-out, well-researched, passionate arguments against what is happening in his home country. I have yet to see one of his Special Comments speeches without being moved, impressed or both.
Back to slightly sillier fare, as one of the writers on Skeletor & Hordak - Partners in Crime (and yes, I'll get the next parts up, been a bad week, health-wise), I can't miss the chance to see what other people are doing with the characters from the Masters of the Universe franchise. While variable in quality, some of the episodes of the Skeletor Show are inspired. But I think my big fave has to be Unemployed Skeletor's Video Blog of Evil. Having done over 30 episodes now, he's gaining popularity and even recently got to interview adult move star Stormy Daniels.
Rube Goldberg Devices
Some guys had too much time on their hands and an office full of supplies. Inspired lunacy.
A kid turns on the CD player and sets it running.
A collection of Japanese machines, including the most inspired use of a tape measure to start one.
These French kids have something against that little turtle. All their devices end with something happening to it.
Tim Fort's effort is pretty amazing. I don't normally like it when the camera has to cut away, in case the edit is to hide that it's not really a continuous sequence, but there was no other practical way to film this 6 minute opus! Every time it starts to get samey, a new tweak is added.
And of course, there's all the random bits and pieces that crop up. Here are a few of my favs...
Spin - Forwarded to me just last night by tikiwanderer, this is a fabulous short film.
Banana Spider - One of the coolest looking spiders I have seen, with a grub in its web. Love its freaky weird legs!
Folgers Commercial - Inspired, bizarre and funny.
Last but by no means least, I should mention YouTube's evil twin - PornoTube. Like it says on the tin, it's mainly porn, with a smattering of other stuff. I'll post two links here, both Japanese. Neither are safe for work, they contain nudity and sex.
The first is bizarre. Women beating drums as they have sex. Why? I don't know, but the fact that someone thought this should be done fascinates me. Glad they did, but I just want to see the finish now!
This one contains group sex presented in a way that only the Japanese would think of. However, that's not the reason to watch it. If you choose to watch it, close your eyes right at the start and listen - is it just me or does that sound like a huge flock of weird birds?