Friday, September 26, 2008

Moelita (Torches and Pitchforks Ahoy, part 856)

Do you remember the McMartin Preschool abuse trials? I do. In fact, I bet a lot of folks recognize it when it's mentioned, though I bet fewer actually know how it turned out.

It was, at the time, quite the sensational scandal. Our Kids! Being Abused by Teachers! Satanic Rituals! How Could This Be Happening Under Our Very Noses???

Only, turns out it wasn't, at least not in any way anyone could prove. I will bet you dollars to dunkin' donuts that you, Dear Reader, if you recognized the name of the incident, had a brief inner monologue that went something like "oh, yeah, that thing where the people molested those kids", which is the kind of response I've heard about 90% of the time I've ever mentioned it to anyone else post-1990 (which, to be fair, isn't really all that much, it doesn't really come up in conversation easily).

People tend to remember the accusation, remember the media storm, the public outrage, the assumption of guilt, but few, if any, recall that ultimately all charges were either dropped or the defendants acquitted. Not to say that everyone believed no abuse at all took place, but that there simply wasn't enough evidence to support those accusations.

Was there really abuse or not? A bit of Occam's Razor applied here would seem to tilt probability in the favor of there being no abuse at all, if we cannot truly know the entire truth of what went on. For what is more likely: that the McMartins were fiendishly clever abusers that could conceal mass abuses enough to avoid conviction over several years of prosecution and testimonies, or that the accusations were either overhyped overreactions or even in some cases, blatant forgeries?

It was, I think, the beginning of the wave of Child Abuse Paranoia, the turning point where life began to be filtered through the assumption that Everyone Wants to Rape Your Child (or You, if you are a child). And while it seemed that (if you watched the news, at least) the country was simply awash in horrible tales of child abuse and murder, it's difficult to say with any certainty what really increased: the instances of abuse, or its being reported on the news.

Now, push that jerking knee back down, I'm certainly not saying there haven't ever been just dreadful instances of child abuse, or that the media attention hasn't helped produce great strides in protecting children. I would, however, suggest that some of it treads into some pretty hysterical territory.

Skorts, for instance. Not that I have anything against them in particular, but I remember the first time I saw one hanging on the rack at some store, and I mentioned it to the person I was with, in a "what the heck is that?" manner, and was introduced to The Skort, which apparently had been around for a couple of years without me noticing.

"If you're wearing a skirt, why do you need to also wear shorts?" I asked, thinking it was all simply some sort of fashion trend, and even as the other person fumbled for some answer, I realized it was to keep people from seeing young girls' panties if a skirt should flip up. Who would care about seeing that? Why, pedophiles, of course! I mean, really, they ought to just call it PedoShield™, though "skort" probably charts better in marketing studies.

In a similar vein, I happened to be looking through an old department store catalog from the early '80s, and saw, in the clothing pages, a section featuring girls' underwear being worn by teen and pre-teen girls. My first thought, upon, seeing the images, was "well, I bet they aren't doing that anymore!" And sure enough, the next time I was in a department store I quickly ruffled through one of their more-recent catalogs: if girl's underwear was featured at all, it was pictured as laid flat on a table, certainly you wouldn't want to show how it looks on an actual girl, for fear that some pedophile somewhere might also see it and, you know, like it.

Look, this isn't the fall of Western Civilization or anything, but there's a thousand little things like this that have crept in over the last couple of decades that show just how utterly worried sick the general public is about the relentless tide of Pedobear's over 9000 penises. And the unutterably vast majority of it all is predicated on the one notion that, should a pedophile see something that appeals to his/her pedophiliac tendencies, they will be compelled to immediately assault a child.

It's as simple as that. "Look there! That girl tripped and fell, and her panties are showing under her skirt! Let the raping begin!" That's EXACTLY what people fear when they get worked up about this stuff. And, frankly, I think that reasoning falls on the wrong side of the stupid line.

Which is why, when I see well-reasoned statements like the following, it warms the black, moldy cockles of my heart:

And for moe that can be interpreted by its readership as sexual? That’s like calling something slashable, and as we all know, everything is slashable.

[...]Making broad statements about a culture that produces a particular type of popular niche media is a very, very dangerous game to play. And saying all media aimed at men has to be somehow sexual? Why, because men only care about sex? That’s pretty much the most unfair thing I’ve ever heard.

[...]Why do some critics think a girl niche genre is okay but a boy niche genre isn’t? A lot of this reeks of misandry, and that ain’t feminism, I tell you what.

There’s an ugly, holier-than-thou trend going around these days, especially among teen girls, that compel them to post PEDO in all caps every time they see a character in a short skirt (even when they don’t seem to mind shota-esque yaoi). I think too many people are trained to be easily offended, and the Web especially encourages their habit of knee-jerk judgmentalism.

The argument may be made that the mere existence of lolicon art is a violation of basic human rights in principle, but if that argument is made, the same argument must also apply to fictional depictions of violence against human beings that occur in television programs, movies, video games, theatrical drama, and prose fiction. Common sense has to apply in order for the conventions of society to function.

[...]At its most simplistic level, this argument is valid when conjoined with an absence of social conditioning and rational intelligence. In effect, the argument against lolicon only works if common sense is set aside. And if the argument against fictional depictions of child sexuality are applied, the same principles must also be applied to all art, sports, politics, and religion - concepts which all have a potential to desensitize and influence behavior.

[...]If a large number of people observed lolicon material then transformed into vicious sexual abusers, I would have to concede that lolicon is dangerous material with a harmful influence. However, that has never happened, and, I believe, never will happen. So I consider lolicon material no more “wrong” to enjoy than, say, a tall glass of beer - which also has a potential to influence behavior and is also restricted to consumption by only rational, responsible adults.

Let me just say, amen to all that. It does me good to hear that there's people out there who actually have two sticks of common sense to rub together in order to make a fire of enlightenment, because (before my metaphors get any more ridiculous) there's days when it all seems to be along these lines:

I want you to know: sexualizing underaged kids is wrong. I have personally suffered because of it. An older family member, one who I trusted and loved dearly, decided that his boner was more important than my well-being and sexually abused me. His temporary sexual pleasure was more important than my psychological health.

Open your mind for a minute. You dislike the eeebil feminists because they don't give you sexual favors, which you see as a god-given right. I am apprehensive about boys like you (because you are not worthy of being called a man) because I have been FUCKING RAPED.

If there were any justice in this world, you would be tied to a post by the docks and used as nothing but a squirming human jizzjar.

Well lets see, you’ve now for the second time accused me of saying lolicon is harmful which I’ve repeatedly denied. You’ve also told me “what I must think”. So yeah, I’d say you’re straw-manning.

Your assertion is flawed. Lolicon is not simply “depictions of immoral acts”. I have no problem with pedophilia or even child molestation being depicted. However, lolicon goes way farther than that. It panders to that “immoral act”. (That’s your choice of words here by the way, not mine). When someone watches violent anime, it is not because they want to go around killing people but can’t in real life.

I do not have a problem with the depiction of immoral acts. (obvious)

I have a problem with people indulging in something that panders to their desire to perform a despicable act.


So what's wrong with these bits, you may ask?

Let's start with the former comment, left on one of my own, earlier posts. I've wondered for a while whether this was a serious post or a troll; for now, we'll assume it's a genuine statement and the person really is that stupid.

Because it is, really, it's a pretty stupid thing to say, on many levels. Right off the bat there's the equating of drawn fantasy images with someone actually physically raping a real person. It's capped off with a wish that I endure the poster's graphic yaoi fantasy for the crime of defending the right of people to draw what they want and for others to see it, if they want. Assuming this isn't a troll, it'd have to be a mind with little sense of proportion, a very off-balanced perspective on "justice".

But that, although moronic, is at least an open and more-or-less honest viewpoint - they hate my opinion and hope I meet a bad end for expressing it. It's the vacillation of "ikillchicken" that really rubs me wrong as he/she continually protests that lolita-themed manga isn't bad while at the same time stating it's bad for people to read it. (This is ludicrous just on the face of it; extended logically it would mean that people could create and publish stacks of lolita manga without any sense of wrongdoing but that they'd have to be crated up and sunk to the bottom of the ocean to keep them out of the hands of readers.)

The dichotomy of those people who don't want to seem like censors or prudes but at the same time want to tell everybody how much of a sin it is to do certain things, well, that's bound to be fertile growth medium for years of therapy down the line.

It's been a couple decades since the McMartin case began, and that's enough time for kids to be born and grow to young adulthood in a world where it is drilled into their heads repeatedly that THE RAPIST IS GONNA GET 'EM and under these conditions, it isn't too surprising that, as Jape suggests, we've produced a generation that not only resists taboo sexuality, but a lot of other sexuality as well, as well as reacting to the slightest hint of sexuality or things that could possibly maybe by someone else be considered a little sexy.

This would explain why you have people calling a picture of a little girl that features no nudity, no lascivious posing, no overt sexuality in the least... "gross". Because that person seems to think someone, somewhere will find it sexy, thinks that the artist made it that way to appeal to perverts.

That person is a dumbass. I'm sorry that there's no politer way to put that, but sometimes you just gotta stand up and say, "hey, you got a wrong thought in your head, there, and you're an adult, you should know better than that".

I have yet to hear any argument against lolita manga or other similar (let me stress, fictional) works that doesn't turn on some unprovable assumption. Many of same people who will agree with the premise that Grand Theft Auto isn't really going to make a whole lot of people go out and murder people for their cars for real somehow can't accept that a lolita comic, by and large, isn't going to make someone rape a child. Certainly those who argue against lolita imagery have a whole rash of reasons why that is an exception to the "media does not control peoples' actions" rule, and I defy anyone to prove how any of those reasons make a lick of sense.

Ikillchicken's series of statements seems to revolve around the idea that one shouldn't "pander" to one's base fantasies, on the assumption that lolita material in comics appeals to pedophiliac desires. Somehow it's implied that this is different than pandering to violent urges with videogames and movies, that pedophiles want to rape children while most people don't want to kill other people.

But this line of reasoning only works (as far as it goes) if you assume those things to be true; that pedophiles do want to rape children, and that those who play violent video games don't want to hurt people. And even assuming that, you have to play kind of loose with the definition of "want".

I believe that anyone who says they've never wished to hurt or kill anyone else in their life, not even a little, deep down, is probably deluding themselves. I can't imagine a human being that has never been enraged by another at some point in their life, that has never once had a fantasy bubbling around inside them where they take vengeance out on whoever did them wrong. But the fact that most of us successfully keep these urges in the realm of fantasy and never act them out in real life does not mean that we don't want these things on some level; we just want other things more, like preserving our empathy to our fellow humans, or not going to jail.

It seems obvious to me, although apparently not to others, that "child molester" and "pedophile" are not necessarily the same thing, that what differentiates the two is carrying out the act in real life. You could be the latter without ever being the former, just as you could be homosexual but never have sex with a man.

To imply that pedophilia is somehow a more potent desire, more inevitably bound to cross over into real life, well, there's no real way to know that, is there? It's an assumption based on personal revulsion, no basis in reality.

Plus there's the chicken-or-egg factor to it: does material that "panders" to a base desire trigger an urge to commit an act, or is it (I feel, more likely) that such material is sought as an alternative to indulging such base desires in real life, until such time as a person loses their self-control?

Whichever: ikillchicken offers no basis for these statements, and little in the way of consequences (that is: so what if someone reads something that appeals to their pedophiliac desires? What does ikillchicken think's gonna happen if they do?), or even an explanation of why it's bad. At best it's spouting off generalities and implications, at worst it's more of the same knee-jerk i-hate-it-and-therefore-it-must-be-bad rationale that drives most would-be censors.

We're at that point now, in this post-McMartin world, where people are not only attacking expicitly sexual "lolita" comics, but anything that can be slightly construed to be appealing to pedophiles. Are we heading for a world where all persons under 18 must be dressed in a burqa to keep them safe from the eyes of perverts?



Andre said...

You have want to ban lolicon. Failing to point out how wrong it is ups the chances others will think your a perv.

Anonymous said...

You have want to ban lolicon. Failing to point out how wrong it is ups the chances others will think your a perv.

Something I've learned in my life, which speaks to this very thing, is that EVERYONE is a perv to one degree or another. We all have our little kinks, our fetishes, those little things that get us off. Anyone who says they aren't perverted at all is a liar, a fool, or a robot. In otherwords, all things you can't trust or believe.

Andre said...

Right but no one wants to be a sick perv, and if your not a sick perv then you don't mind taking pervs out and shooting them in the street right? I mean your not a sick perv are you?

Failing to scream louder then the other guy could be a incriminating sign.

Anonymous said...

Failing to scream louder then the other guy could be a incriminating sign.

That would require you to give a damn about what the other guy (which in this case, is some online nobody busybody, who's opinion of you isn't worth the bandwidth it is taking up to proclaim it) thinks about you.

Personally, some sexually uptight jerkwad's thoughts on me, don't matter to me in the slightest. But that's only bacuase THEY don't matter to me in the slightest. When they end up dying from ulcers, or going nuts and blowing their own brains out, that'll be all the proof I'll ever need to know i was right not to give their thoughts of me a tinker's damn.

Also, those who scream the loudest, oftentimes are covering for their own indiscretions. Whe you are gulity, the thing you want to do is distract everyone from the truth. And an empty barrel makes the most noise (or so my mother always told me). So, screaming louder than them really makes you look MORE guilty. Not less.