ACCUMULATING PERIPHERALS


Sex crimes with children (should get me some attention from the FBI) by mattsteinglass
August 19, 2008, 12:22 am
Filed under: Crime, Sex

My news assistant is down in Binh Thuan province right now covering the expected release from prison tomorrow of Gary Glitter, the British glam rock star turned pedophile who was convicted in early 2006 of having committed indecent acts with an 11- and a 12-year-old girl he had living in his house in Vung Tau. Meanwhile, my son turned 4 years old Saturday, and on Sunday we had a party for him — went to the circus, then hung out at our house with kids splashing in the inflatable pool on the roof terrace. A friend was over, a Dutch guy, whose kids are spaced just the same as ours and have consequently become bosom buddies, especially our daughters; and we got to talking about the release. He said he thought three years was too short. They should keep them in prison much longer, he said, or castrate them. The guy in question comes from a stratum of Dutch society that would have been very liberal about a decade ago, but that has turned quite brutally conservative on certain issues in a sort of “we-all-think-it-so-why-not-just-say-it?” fashion; they experience their newfound conservatism as a kind of liberation, and it’s also very blunt and honest, which is a quality the Dutch have always valued.

I said I didn’t agree, and he asked why not. I said, well, I thought the penalties for sexually abusing a child were in many cases longer than penalties for crimes that were more severe, like aggravated assault. I immediately hesitated: do I actually think aggravated assault is worse than sexually abusing a child? Yes, I think I do think that, maybe; I’m not sure that children who are involved in sexual relations with adults are always badly harmed by the experience, but I suppose many are, it depends on the length of the involvement, and so forth. Then again, aggravated assault doesn’t necessarily result in lasting damage…now we begin to get into metaphysical questions about what we mean by “hurt” or “damage”. I don’t know, I’m not sure what I think. But in any case you can’t really say something like that to a parent, and certainly not to a parent of kids who are friends with yours, because you immediately taint yourself with the stain of pedophilia. Insufficient vigilance against pedophilia = ped-symp = maybe being a pedophile yourself…?

So then I tried another tack. The thing is, I said, they don’t really get cured of it very often; it’s a deepset psychological condition, and what do you plan to do with them, lock them up forever?

Yes, he said. Or castrate them.

So now I was really struggling to express why I thought this was wrong. I was floundering. So I tried something else out, something that started with the different political contexts we were approaching this question from. Look, I said, you come from a country that hands out very light penalties for many crimes, penalties I often find ridiculously light. I, however, come from a country in which, if you have committed a sex crime — and it can be any sex crime, maybe you exposed yourself on a subway platform, whatever — your name gets entered in a database, and after you get out of prison, your residential address gets tracked in that database. And they put that database up on a website, and anyone can go to that website and see who you are, where you live, and, oh, you committed a sex crime ten years ago. You never escape. And meanwhile, it drives mothers (yes, I said “mothers”, whoops) crazy. Because they can see, oh, can’t let the kids play on this block, can’t let the kids play on that block, and pretty soon they’re completely paranoid, and you wind up with a society where no one will let their kids go outside or walk anywhere in the neighborhood, you have to put them in the car and drive them everywhere, and it’s ridiculous, it’s a bad society to live in. And it’s true that people who are sexually attracted to children are likely to try to have sex with children again after release from prison, but you can’t simply lock people up for the rest of their lives if you suspect they may commit a crime. It’s gotten to the point, I said, where nearly one percent of the US’s population is in prison. And you can’t run a society that way.

He seemed to find this a comprehensible explanation of where I was coming from, but I kept thinking about it, and some hours later I thought the other way to say this is: you say “imagine if it was your kid who was abused.” Well, okay, but imagine if it was your kid who was the abuser? What if 25 years from now your son gets arrested for trying to arrange sex with a 12-year-old? It’s a psychological disorder, it could be any of us. Castration? Life in prison?

I’d appealed to the sex offender websites as an illustration of a paranoia in American society, but I had never actually looked at one of those sites, and I wondered whether I was wrong. (In retrospect I think I was exaggerating with the “expose yourself” example; I think that’s a misdemeanor. I think you have to at a minimum solicit sex with a minor on the internet to get on the sex offenders’ list.) So I went and looked at the sex offenders registry for the District of Columbia, my old hometown. And there, indeed you can look up all the 800 or so sex offenders in DC, see what block they live on, their mug shot, and what they were convicted of. It even has the victim’s age. This black guy seems to be from Africa judging by his name, he tried to have sex with a 15-year-old in 1995. This white guy with the tie tried to cross state lines to engage in indecent activity with a minor in 2000. The victim was a stranger. You wonder: boy? Girl? Internet chat? Or the old fashioned way, creepy guy at a mall? Either way, his life as a respected, self-respecting citizen is over. Everybody in his neighborhood knows. It’s the end of his life in society.

You can’t look down that list without feeling sick at heart. And I am sure you couldn’t look down a list of the victims without feeling at least as sick at heart. Human beings are weak, pathetic creatures. I can’t look at these people and feel the response is “prison for life” or “castration”.

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3 Comments so far
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As a sort of side note: I aggregate sex news with all sorts of keywords, one of which is “porn”. What’s sad is that almost ALL (perhaps 95%) of the headlines that come up through that word are paired as “child porn”

It seems like so much effort is directed to convicting and punishing the offenders and much less so for helping them. Then again, I don’t really see that side of the story so much – but why not!

Comment by nottibits

[…] – bookmarked by 5 members originally found by ryco2002 on 2008-11-12 Sex crimes with children (should get me some attention from the FBI) […]

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In my thinking:
Rape is an assault worse than beating someone down physically. The rape of children is certainly more traumatic than someone being beat up is. There’s no registry for criminals of other sorts, which is hypocritical. If the rationale is we need to make their addresses available because they may reoffend, then thieves and murderers should be listed, as well.

As far as the broader issue goes, the definition of “child” varies from culture to culture. We all know that in the past, one would be married at 13 or 14, even in the west. Ages of consent vary by state and country. Ultimately, it is not the governments place to determine who is or is not capable of consent, but in an authoritarian society people demand government to define their truth, as well, as their laws.

Ultimately, I think nature is the best guide for what is natural. Hormones are there for a reason, and puberty occurs when it does to further a reproductive drive that is, in every way, proper. Up until that point, I do not see how one could argue in support of a child’s sexual maturity and ability to consent, unless they are blinded by their own deviancies, and looking to justify their crimes.

Comment by Bud Gallant




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