July 17, 2003

Hunting for Bambi

Rome rose at the expense of her Greek teachers largely because she did not entirely consent to be taught these tricks. She had a much more decent domestic tradition; but she ultimately suffered from the same fallacy in her religious tradition; which was necessarily in no small degree the heathen tradition of nature-worship. What was the matter with the whole heathen civilization was that there was nothing for the mass of men in the way of mysticism, except that concerned with the mystery of the nameless forces of nature, such as sex and growth and death. In the Roman Empire also, long before the end, we find nature-worship inevitably producing things that are against nature. Cases like that of Nero have passed into a proverb, when Sadism sat on a throne brazen in broad daylight. But the truth I mean is something much more subtle and universal than a conventional catalogue of atrocities. What had happened to the human imagination, as a whole, was that the whole world was coloured by dangerous and rapidly deteriorating passions; by natural passions becoming unnatural passions. Thus the effect of treating sex as only one innocent natural thing was that every other innocent natural thing became soaked and sodden with sex. For sex cannot be admitted to a mere equality among elementary emotions or experiences like eating and sleeping. The moment sex ceases to be a servant it becomes a tyrant. There is something dangerous and disproportionate in its place in human nature, for whatever reason; and it does really need a special purification and dedication. The modern talk about sex being free like any other sense, about the body being beautiful like any tree or flower, is either a description of the Garden of Eden or a piece of thoroughly bad psychology, of which the world grew weary two thousand years ago.
-- G.K. Chesterton, Saint Francis of Assisi

Since Lawrence v. Texas, I've been surprised by the near unanimity of social conservatives who have called the Texas sodomy law stupid. I suspect that this is a result of constant propaganda by the gay lobby and effective silencing of opponents by the Gay Brownshirts (a la Dr. Laura). Our social mores have changed, and homosexual acts are no longer taboo. I have a strong suspicion that "stupid" is a substitute for "I disagree" (this is a favorite liberal tactic, and it is distressing that conservatives have adopted it in lieu of argument).

It seems that these social conservatives accept the libertarian argument that the state has no business in the bedroom. I intended to point out that these social conservatives would not call prostitution laws stupid. Yes, there are some streetwalkers, but that would not justify a police raid on a suspected house of ill repute. Other than to shame these social conservatives about their inconsistency and to point out that I would vote for a law against sodomy, there just wasn't enough verbiage there to make an essay on a narrow topic and directed toward a narrow audience.

But all that changed as I noticed a Drudge link about a hunt for nude women using paintballs. It looks like Hunting for Bambi is probably a hoax, and it is really a scam to get free advertising for DVD videos from the local and now national media. Using 20-20 hindsight, the reactions were predictable: from the "what's so wrong with that" corner to "it's degrading to women" corner. The arguments were serious until people started to point out that a paintball can take an eye out and that no business can afford this sort of liability. It's interesting that the prurient nature of this business blinded folks (and a local TV station) to the suspicious aspects of the story. (In a bit of irony, after discovering the interest in this hunting activity, the proprietors of the business may actually try to make a go of it).

But the actual Hunting for Bambi story is not important in itself. Gears started turning for me. It is a story with sexual overtones. After all, a welt from a paintball is no different from a welt by whip. We are dealing with consent. I remembered a raid on a BDSM party in Attleboro (BDSM = Bondage Discipline Sadism Masochism; there are permutations on the abbreviation). And so the cogs turned some more, and I associated the murder of Jesse Dirkhising. Jesse was a thirteen-year-old boy who was bound up and sodomized. The defense argued that Jesse had consented.

To those who tire of it, this is not really a slippery slope argument. It's to point out that BDSM and homosexuality are validly associated; the whole BDSM, gay-lesbian-transgendered pride parade stuff represents a rainbow coalition of sexual deviancy. It's all part of the multicultural cornucopia that has room for everything except Western Tradition.

And if it were not for the scandal in the Catholic Church, cultural conservatives would be worrying about blurring of the lines on pedophilia. It was a shock that has dealt Mary Eberstadt's Pedophilia Chic only a temporary setback. Why do I make this bold claim? Well it's no secret that "To B GLAD day" has been sponsored in Massachusetts's public schools. It's no secret that the issuance of condoms in public schools sells newspapers as the sexual prudes face off against the sexual progressives. The sexual progressives argue that they're going to have sex, so why not insure that it's safe. They also argue that a minor child can have an abortion without parental consent. And the gear turns some more, for abortion is an extension of the condom. We have a minor consenting at thirteen.

Enter pedophilia, and the libertarian argument about privacy in the bedroom disappears (it's not really about privacy as the BDSM party shows and the gay predilection for cruising highway rest stops and public parks attests). It's a feel good cliche that doesn't require much thought. The argument proves itself. It's a truism. The government shouldn't be involved in the bedroom. So there. Well, except pedophilia. Perhaps some would say except adultery. Or perhaps incest. Or perhaps prostitution.

But these are just taboos. They can change, as I do remember time when homosexuality was nearly as repugnant as pedophilia. Yet as the DSM changed to declare that homosexuality was no longer a disorder, so it was proposed that pedophilia receive the same treatment. It was a logical argument by rational men who saw only cultural taboos that were slowly disintegrating. They followed the same rational pattern as the ancient Greek rationalists. Rational men in a rational culture gone insane.

It is thus that moral truths will be determined by rule of mob, or whatever the cultural elite represented by nine robed priests decide. It is not necessarily going to be easily to determine where this will stop, for there is no stable end point. It is wherever the prevailing cultural winds blow.

But the logic toward complete sexual license is easy to see.

If two unmarried consenting adults can have sex, why should the exchange of money be any different than a gift of flowers or dinner? Aren't prostitution laws "stupid"?

If sodomy can be carried out by consenting adults, shouldn't those who consent to derive their pleasures from bondage, dominance/discipline be given a pass as well? Why not pair sadists and masochists so as to share their pleasures? Wouldn't these laws be "stupid"?

Is the Hunt for Bambi any different from Girls Gone Wild?

What does it matter then if a hunt for Bambi does occur? Why not fulfill the video fantasy if a sadist can find a consenting masochist?

Laws supposedly prevent adults from joining in sex with minors, but meanwhile the NEA, SIECUS and the educated elite see no problem with thirteen year olds having sex with thirteen year olds. It's natural. And there is no problem in most states with thirteen paired with fourteen. We could ratchet that up to sixteen with seventeen or seventeen with eighteen. Yet sooner or later, at some point, we would no longer have consent but statutory rape?

It's been brought up that the Texas sodomy law was unfair because it only targeted homosexual sodomy and not heterosexual sodomy. I understand the argument but it assumes that homosexual sodomy is no more repugnant than heterosexual sodomy. This flies in the face of the witness of my own life. As a young sailor in the navy during the eighties I knew that anal sex was not taboo as long as it was hetero. Lesbian sex held special attraction; who could forget the famous Caligula scene? If fairness is the bar, then why are topless women on the beach considered indecent while topless men roam free? Is this fair? Are public nudity laws "stupid"? Are the arbitrary age limits for statutory rape fair? Are statutory rape laws "stupid"?

Then there is unenforceable angle of this stupidity. Apparently we are capable of sting operations to catch hookers and johns (this happens periodically in Boston, Howie Carr, a local radio host turned national, took pleasure in reading names on air -- I don't know if this continues, I haven't listened in a while), yet a sting operation in public parks and highway rest areas are unthinkable? Raids on BSDM parties unthinkable? No one suggests that every prostitute be behind bars or that every trick be punished, but somehow the standard is different when dealing with sodomy. Perhaps we missed the Orwellian nightmare as jackbooted thugs cracked down on hookers.

No, what's stupid about the Texas sodomy law was that we lost the will to enforce the cultural standard. Just as Prohibition was stupid not because it was unenforceable but because too large a segment of population was unwilling to obey (it was also stupid that a criminal law was inserted where only laws of a constitutional nature should be inserted). Just as Justice Steward in Griswold declared anti-contraceptive laws to be stupid, he was only reflecting the Protestant deterioration in sexual mores. The case invented a privacy right in the bedroom, while the arrest involved the prescription of contraceptives by Planned Parenthood. One need not bust down bedroom doors to enforce the laws, only the sale of contraceptives would need to be banned (assuming that the federal courts would ever allow state laws concerning sexual morality ever again; except pedophilia... for now).

Whenever I complain that there is no difference between homosexuals and pedophiles, I'm told that the great difference is one of gravity. In an age of shifting sexual mores, I'm not certain that it will hold, but I can be an optimist about it. Some will patiently explain that an adult defacto in position of authority places an unfair burden on the child with respect to consent. Well, if it's about exploitation, we can talk about the cash dangled in front of the girls in Hunting for Bambi or the cash dangled in front of destitute prostitutes? Invariably, I will be told that the child will be harmed, if not physically, then at least psychologically. But the claim of NAMBLA is the opposite: that the child is brought to sexual fruition by the gentle mentor. How pray tell is that so different from a school teacher on "To B GLADD Day" explaining the intricacies of anal sex or a schoolteacher explaining the use of a condom for safe sex? Am I to believe that once a teacher expounds on how to do it, that the expertise of age thirteen on thirteen sex will cause no psychological harm? I assume most adults were once teenagers and have the memories of how cruel that age could be. Could not sexual theory be followed by sexual lab administered by competent, trained and licensed pedophiles?

If harm is the determinant, then the welts on Bambi are harmful. If harm is the determinant then sodomy is harmful. Not only physically from an unnatural act, but harmful not just to society but to the individual. Not just this, but any sexual act or fantasy that is not open to life is a cancer on the soul.

There are points on fairness that I'm willing to concede. I agree that it's unfair that homosexual sodomy is targeted. All sodomy should be illegal. But I would go farther and go after all sex acts that are outside of marriage and outside the purpose of procreation. Rather than explain the specific ins and outs of my last statement, it's easier for me to say that I accept Humanae Vitae and Catholic teaching on sexual matters. I find her teachings to be the most rational and defensible (rather than the current shifting mores and attitudes). It is a simple rule to follow, and one that promotes self-mastery rather than servitude to sex ("The moment sex ceases to be a servant it becomes a tyrant." -- Chesterton).

Additionally, I am not unmindful about the arguments of enforcement. I do recognize that law is a poor tool in shoring up loose morals. But while nearly everyone likes to spout the cliche about Prohibition, I note that Mothers Against Drunk Driving have made great strides toward temperance, by both getting laws in place and changing attitudes about drinking (especially while driving). I cannot ignore the efforts of tobacco fascists in their advertising campaigns about the evils of tobacco while concurrently tightening the screws on public smoking (even to the extent of interfering with private smoking). It is possible to teach and promote sexual mores all the while we are campaigning for laws to enforce those sexual mores.

And finally, I have a few words to address the concerns of those who might be dismayed that I link homosexuality with pedophilia. I made this link long before the Catholic Church's scandals became public, and I do not claim that homosexuality will lead to pedophilia, although I think Mary Eberstadt makes some very good points. How we deal with homosexuality is indicative of how we deal with pedophilia. How we deal with pedophilia is indicative of how we deal with homosexuality. As far as I'm concerned, the APA's proposed change in the DSM regarding pedophilia is the logical conclusion of the change in the DSM regarding homosexuality. When people excuse homosexuality because it's "natural," I wonder that they can't recognize that the same excuse could be made for pedophilia. I'm not for weakening the taboos against pedophilia. I'm not for strengthening the taboos against homosexuality. I certainly don't support the repetition of Matthew Shepard, but I'm easy on whether sexual taboos should increase or decrease. If it's suggested that I should learn to love the sinner and hate the sin, I can go with that. If it means that I should accept homosexuals in society, I wonder why pedophiles remain pariahs. It has been suggested that homosexuals are capable of being holy and chaste priests and I wonder why it would not be possible for pedophiles to be holy and chaste priests. If homosexuality is incurable, would not pedophilia be incurable? If we as a society can progress such that homosexuals are no longer pariahs, that it is no longer acceptable to express violent hatred toward gays, I have to wonder why we do not continue that progress with regard to pedophiles. Are we not asked to love our enemies? It's not an excuse for the terrible sins of pedophiles any more than it is an excuse for the terrible sins of homosexuals or any others who are held thrall to sex. It is a desire to bring all of God's children to God.

[This was first posted at GIGO.]

Posted by Bob at July 17, 2003 07:48 PM

There have been some replies to this at GIGO. The replies are here. I respond here with solid back up from boilermaker Greg.

Posted by: Bob at July 21, 2003 08:39 PM