Saturday, May 31, 2008

kiddy porn

Fear trumps thought. And the ultimate trump is the combination of the words 'kids and sex', and 'kids and porn'. Thought ceases, questions are shouted down and angry mobs form.

To this end, Murdoch's media thought they were in amongst a runaway success with the latest big story here in Oz. A photographer by the name of Bill Henson had an exhibition shut down by the police on account of Child! Pornography! Sure, there were no explicit caps and exclamation marks in Murdoch's media but with us all dog-whistle trained who needs 'em? Kevin Rudd PM took his cue. 'Revolting' he said, 'kids are innocent', or something or other. Not that anyone cares what the git leading the opposition said, but he agreed with Kev.

And then... something unexpected happened. It seemed everyone who knew anything about art stood up and said sensible things. Oops, that wasn't in the script. We're not meant to have sensible discussions about Child! Pornography! We're meant to wig out.

But this was Bill Henson. It's unlikely that too many people here have heard of him, but he's a Very Big Deal. Aside from his spooky sense of light, fine compositional eye and consistently unsettling meditations on modern dislocation (here), he's taught in the school art curriculum and his prints go for $25,000 a pop. Murdoch's broadsheet The Australian wasn't able to find anyone to say anything about him that wasn't glowing. Sky News saw they were on a loser and eased off on the hysteria. Poor old Kev was left swinging in the wind, all on his pat malone. Everyone in the arts community wondered at who they'd elected - shades of John Howard.

But forget all that, I want to talk about the dog whistle.

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I have an old girlfriend who told me something unremarkable. She said that she thought that paedophiles were worse than murderers. Maybe you're nodding - like I said, unremarkable. Who wouldn't think that?

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I had another girlfriend who told me something remarkable. There we were in bed and I asked her, as you do, how old she was when she first had sex. Up until that point, previous answers had ranged between sixteen and twenty-odd. This woman told me she'd been ten. It's a bit of a conversation stopper. She said something ambiguous about a neighbourhood fellow, 'fucking on her'. She seemed unhappy to talk about it and I let it drop.

The conversation picked up later. I hadn't made sense of the previous statement and she clarified it for me. It was some adult guy, who lived nearby, and who would rub his penis on her vagina. On the second explanation she didn't seem unhappy. I asked her if she was scared or had to spend her time avoiding him or staying home? 'Hardly, I used to seek him out'. Me confused, 'Why?'. 'Because it was fantastic. I had the most amazing orgasms. I've never had orgasms like that since.'

Fucking hell! Do my head in! What does it all mean?

Anyway it was after this episode that her family emigrated to the Western world and she never saw that fellow again. Nor did she have sex with anyone until she was seventeen. Just like normal people. I asked why she had seemed angry the first time we talked about it and her answer was confusing and provided no clear understanding. For mine, I wondered if her confusion wasn't due to the clash of her personal experience with the worse-than-murder societal definition.

Anyway, she left me for another guy, got married and had kids. We kept in touch for a while and then she decided it really wouldn't do to stay in touch with the fellow who perhaps still loved her. Fair enough.

But forget me. For this discussion here, the question is - Was what happened to her worse than murder? Did the person who did that to her deserve a punishment beyond that meted out to a murderer?

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I knew another woman who told me another story. In her leafy middle class home, from the age of fourteen onwards, her brothers, who were older than her, used to come into her room late at night and rape her. This went on for years. When I knew her, she was thirty, and definitely brittle. Mind you, she held a job and looked fantastic. But insecurity was the pre-dominant aspect of her personality. And for every pull on the bong I'd take, she'd do five.

About ten years after she'd moved out of home, she told her mother what her brothers had done. Her mother told her she was a liar and she didn't want to see her ever again. She did of course. In the time I knew her she was re-establishing a relationship with her mother albeit under the unspoken rule that what had happened with her brothers was a taboo topic.

And here's the question again - Was what happened to her worse than murder?

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That's the micro. What of the macro? Through the lens of time how long have humans not been having sex following the onset of menstruation? If a million years of human existence was twelve hours on a clock might it be a minute or two? Even now there are societies where it still happens.

And we can point fingers at these societies as barbaric but meanwhile here in the West, puberty is arriving earlier and earlier for young girls. Hormones in meat and other environmental poisons have lowered the average age of menstruation from 14-15 or so, to 8 or 9. I read this in a Time magazine years ago. By now I expect the age is even lower. Does anyone think anything of this? Where's the media hysteria over this perversion? Perhaps they're too busy scheduling Saturday morning pop-clip shows full of pelvic thrusting prostitutes and their gold-laden pimps. God forbid they should screw with the revenue from the corporations that make that hormone-laden food. And then there's the make-up, the sexy underwear, and the sexy dolls - all designed for five year olds. Unbelievable.

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I expect that there are people reading this right now who imagine I'm apologising for underage sex or somesuch. I am not. I am merely attacking the extremity of the counter proposition. Underage sex is worse than murder. Why do we think this? We don't even think that murder is worse than murder. We have first degree, second degree, third degree etc. Nor do we have a register of where murderers live. You could be living next door to someone convicted of murder and have no idea. Do murderers inspire an hysterical mob demanding that they get out of town? Certainly I haven't seen it on the media. What does this mean? That people would rather their daughters were killed than have some fellow rub his penis on their vagina?

It's the nature of a dog whistle subject that things are viewed as either/or. We go from zero to a fully hysterical 100mph in the blink of an eye. Thought is banished and the middle ground becomes a killing field. Fear is the key - it short-circuits thought. Truth is - paedophilia is, like everything else, a continuum. At one end is kids chained in dungeons and the other is a fellow who rubs his penis on a vagina. Keep in mind that that aforementioned ten year old grew up to be as normal as anyone I ever met.

And then there's a thirteen year old girl in a moody back-lit photograph in an obscure art gallery in Sydney. If the media gets their way, her life will be made hellish. Without the media, I (in future positing mode à la Gone Baby Gone) imagine her going on to live a perfectly normal life. In her adulthood she'd show the Bill Henson photo on her wall to her friends, proud to have been an antipodean version of the The Girl With The Pearl Earring. And when she had kids of her own maybe she'd take it down. Or maybe not. But with Murdoch's media hysteria? God help her.

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Certainly I understand a parent's fear that their children might be interfered with. You can't make hysteria out of nothing. It has to have a basis. But don't be mistaken - hysteria can be, and is, manufactured.

And then there's the question of - was it always this way? Before television were there such hysterical media campaigns pivoting on under-age sex? Who knows. But let's flip the question - In the time before there was endless sex on the TV and porn in every computer (in which significantly every woman, by way of pubic hair, or lack thereof, precisely resembles a pre-pubescent girl), might underage sex have been less prevalent than now? These questions are unanswerable, sure. But either way you have to wonder at precisely what role the media is playing. They seem to be having a buck both ways. They promote and they punish. It reminds me of the snipers in Iraq who put out some goodies and then shoot whoever picks them up.

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What if I suggested that what we have here is the perfect weapon, the ultimate blackmail tool? It's a twofer with fear running in dual directions, one unfocused, one focused. Think about it -
-There are more and more ever younger girls with breasts and bums resembling eligible sex partners.
-These young girls are, to an ever greater degree, taking their cues from a relentless sex-promoting media.
-There are ever greater avenues for viewing porn, every single example of which says, 'What you want looks like this', which is to say, 'hairless'.

This is the set-up, the tempting snare. And then there's the Big Don't Argue - the hysterical, dog-whistle, mobs-ain't-in-it, response that awaits anyone who acts on these urges. And that weapon is us, the fearful unfocused. We are the implacable, unthinking judge, jury and executioner. Underage sex is worse than murder. What choice might the focus of this, the one so ensnared, have? None at all. Sell out your nation, send off your constituents as war fodder, sign on for whatever that shitty little country wants. Yes, yes, anything you say, anything but that.

To make a Don't Argue this perfect isn't easy. It takes years of patient work - something not unlike the thirty year campaign to make us all hate Arabs. If you thought big, and your ambition ran to dragging a superpower around by the nose, and you had no compunction about blackmail and total control of the media, it'd all make perfect sense. Murdoch's machine neither knew nor cared who Bill Henson was. He was just another sacrifice on the altar of fear. Fortunately he'll walk, insulated by his talent and fame. But the campaign of fear will not stop. There's kids and adults aplenty and their lives aren't worth tuppence ha'penny.

9 comments:

the Silverfish said...

To tired to comment, but I would say that you might think of learning how to duck on this one.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what you say. There always will be in society those who look for anything to turn into a tool (for good or bad use, as the case may be).
However, aside from the extremes and sensationalism this sort of thing generates there are genuine concerns and desperate (to the individual) needs in our society along these lines that should be addressed but like our mental health problems, are swept under the carpet and it is the fragile and vulnerable amongst us who genuinely suffer.
More big subjects brother.
Tony

nobody said...

Hi folks,

Glad to see no one's hysterical yet.

And Tony you're right of course. Had I been the father of that ten year old and found out about it, I'd have smashed that guy's teeth in. Like I said, the media campaign isn't made from nothing.

On a completely separate note, I might have to absent myself for a bit. My back has packed it in to such a degree that I can barely breathe. I just now walked down here to the internet cafe and was in agony. What was I thinking of? It's Sunday now and I'll hit the Osteopath tomorrow and hopefully find some relief. Yoroshiku.

nobody said...

Hey kikz,

Just a quick note. Have you checked out curtmaynard lately? Les and your good self have been deemed worthy of posts devoted solely to you. And I get a mention too. One wonders why curt bothers. It seems he and app are good mates. yoroshiku.

Anonymous said...

Tip for bad back: Sleep on floor.
If I sleep on any type of 'proper' bed, after a week or so, my back's crook.
I have a 2" piece of denser foam, on the floor, as a mattress - no crook back.
My grand daughter loves it; she uses it as a gym mat. My friends and family … smile (more of Tony’s eccentricities – I love that!). Does the trick though.
Tony

Anonymous said...

As an aside to my mental health reference in my last comment, I note in an ABC article the chap who bought the Henson photo for $5000 is quoted as saying re the people who are complaining over the exhibit, ‘To be honest, I think it's been perpetrated by people that need to switch the light on and off seven or eight times before they leave the room.’
Tony

kikz05 said...

shakin head.. 'it' really is.. just eaten up.

and more.. what does that tell ya bout maynard.. that he would give 'it' venting space?

i sort of understand in the interests of fairness, why les allows it..
i wouldn't be so magnanimous to put up t/it, especially if 'it' had expressed such derision and called for my death.
the screed never varies, it's fanatically obsessive.

disagree on a point of its circular logic and it brands you 'enemy'.

that to me says simply, ego-puncture.

i've wondered if the persona is somebody's idea of a joke, but the development/execution energies expended indicate to me that 'it' is genuine. what a horrible place its mind must be...i shudder to even attempt to imagine it.

who knows 'it' could even be a maynard alter ego.

in any event, i've given it my last attention.

no more.

nobody said...

Ha Tony, crack me up. I like that comment. I might pinch it and use it later in conversation and pretend it's mine. Otherwise I'm currently on a crap mattress. The old man has offered to get a posturepedic or something. I expect I'll take him up on it. Otherwise he loaded me up with codeine. I'd never had it before. Nice! I felt better than good.

And kikz - everything you just said. I've had the same thoughts and arrived at the same conclusions. I do wonder at Curt. Well not really. He popped in here and said nice things on the holocaust thing I wrote. Well he would. For me, it's one subject amongst many. For him it's something of an obsession.

And I'd been over there a couple of times after he was linked by wrh. But really, as best I can make out, he's a one-track racist of the white supremacist variety. He had some post complimenting a white couple on having their 14th white kid. They can bag me out if they want. I'll leave 'em to it. No skin off my nose.

nobody said...

If anyone is still here, there's a new flick at the cinema. Smut, brutality, racism - this one has everything!