Protecting children from paedophiles is in the news again, when it transpired that a few gentlemen with crimminal backgrounds had been cleared by the Home Secretary to work in schools. Two men had be caught possessing indecent images of children. Another had been convicted of indencent assault of a 15 year-old girl.
Personally, I think these cases are pretty clear cut. All men have committed not just a sex crime, but one that involves children. However, it is the way we treat people with paedophillic tendencies that I would like to comment on here. Once more, it is the nature of these men and their fetishes that is being discussed. Howard Jacobson went so far as to suggest that all teachers are weird, and that being a pervert is almost a prerequisite for working in a PE department.
But should being a paedophile per se be banned? That is, should harbouring sexual desires for children be illegal? Even if one never acted upon it, and never, ever, exploited children through pornography? To paraphrase the Church of England: The crime is not the impulse, but acting upon it. In any case, banning the very thought would be impossible to police, impossible to eradicate. This is especially true these days, with atrocities like S-Club Juniors singing dance-hall classics such as Grandpa’s Secret Cuddles and Mommy, What’s All This Blood? (although I think that’s a B-side). It seems as though the sexualisation of our youth is complete.
Many types of fetish, kink and ‘deviance’ exist in the world, most of which centre around some sort of unconventional sexual partner: amputees, the elderly, the helpless, the dominant. If there exist people who get off on consuming their partners excrement (and there are plenty), then simply to be sexually attracted to pale young boys seems… well… unimaginative.
How then, to allow people the freedom to explore their sexuality, something they do not have total control over, without recourse to something that is harmful to others? It seems to me that if they had a moral way to do this, then threat they present to society at large could be diminished. Via Andrew Sullivan I found a fascinating picture, an entirely computer generated image of a woman. The photo-realism is quite astonishing. And it
begs the question: If technology can create images so real, could it create pseudo-photographs of a more sexual nature? If paedophiles could view images that satisfy their desires, without harming one hair (or indeed, synapse) of any child… where is the moral line, and have we crossed it?
Some might say that being this permissive will nevertheless encourage people to act upon their desires. However, computer games and films that regularly depict grotesque violence and murder, are commonplace. There are many people who use these offerings to relieve their agression and satisfy violent desires. Why not the same for sexual desires? Paedophilia is not the only perversion on the table: necrophilia, beastiality and the goulish Christina Aguilera are up for grabs too… although I have a notion that Christina may be computer-generated anyway.