Standing up for justice and diversity

Galen Baughman is a star, a master of stand-up. Not stand-up comedy, although he is surely smart enough for that, but stand-up persuasion. Telling a personal story with modest, dignified eloquence, this presentable 32-year-old weaves a narrative that artfully compels the sympathies of a mainstream audience who might be expected to loathe him, for he is speaking as a so-called “sex offender”.
He stands, alone in the spotlight, for a TEDx talk delivered late last year to college students in New York about his nine-year imprisonment for sex with a willing 14-year-old boy, and his close brush with indefinite incarceration under civil confinement as a “sexually violent predator”. His presentation was released on YouTube on 26 January.
I was alerted to this by “Salem21” in a comment here on Heretic TOC last time, and emailed my enthusiastic congratulations to Galen after seeing the video. He replied saying “…we’re hoping that this breaks 100k views in the first thirty days and really raises some eyebrows”.
It should, so you might want to click over to YouTube yourself for a bit of that action.
Galen was still a teenager himself,  a 19-year-old college student, when he fell into the clutches of the law. He had been at the University of Indiana, studying at the university’s prestigious Jacobs School of Music to become an opera singer. He was sentenced in a Virginia court in 2004 to 30 years in prison for sex with a minor after having been charged initially with soliciting sex over the internet. The younger teen was a “sexually mature” adolescent, willingly involved. The boy did not want to prosecute, but his parents did.
A Guardian report significantly describes Galen as “gay”, which these days is a liberal media signifier of good-guy status. It is possible to tell a story of state injustice against a gay person but would the same sympathy have been extended to anyone perceived as “paedophile”, as could easily have happened in this case? No way! Not in the present climate, for sure. It is to Galen’s great credit that he has managed to present himself through TEDx and elsewhere as a likeable, regular guy – gay being the new normal – without putting anyone else down. Yes, he notes the “maturity” of his erstwhile boy partner, but the title of his talk, “Are we all sex offenders?”, hints at a bigger message, a message that is truly big on inclusivity and diversity.
The state, he says – and as all of us here know only too well – has gone crazily punitive, especially in the sex-law field, with more and more people, including children, being labelled as sex offenders for offences that give no offence, and for crimes that are not criminal. Instead of being reserved for a relatively small number of cases in which real harm is caused to real victims, the state lashes out indiscriminately with draconian measures. Anyone could be a sex offender, so the term becomes meaningless.
Because the laws have become so overly broad, he says, and because so few people commit a new crime after release, a child is “more likely to be labelled a sex offender, than to be abused by a sex offender” – and if that isn’t a killer observation I don’t know what could be.
Part of Galen’s long sentence had originally been suspended by the judge, meaning that after six and a half years he was due to be released. But the authorities told him they thought he might be too dangerous to let go. In 2007 he was informed he might qualify for civil commitment. A psychologist eventually arrived at the prison to conduct an assessment interview, to decide whether he was a “sexually violent predator”. He refused to answer questions unless he had a lawyer present. Instead of allowing the state to stitch him up with a biased official report, Galen hoped to introduce testimony from his own expert witness, a leading doctor who would have said he was not suffering from any condition making him likely to engage in sexually violent acts.
Galen took his case to a jury trial in a Virginia court. Even though the judge refused to allow evidence from Galen’s own medical expert, a jury of six women and one man decided he was not likely to be a “sexually violent predator”, thereby removing the rationale for holding him indefinitely in civil commitment.
He was the first person in Virginia ever to win such a civil commitment jury trial, and one of only a few nationally. He was released on probation, and subject to a state policy based on a “containment model” involving polygraphs and therapy sessions with a great deal of intrusive non-confidential questioning (anything said to a therapist could end up on a prosecutor’s desk) about sexual behaviour, including masturbation.
He wanted to resume his studies at the Jacobs School of Music but being on probation meant he needed permission from the governors of both states, Virginia and Indiana, to move from one state to  the other. He managed to overcome the Virginia block, but didn’t have enough political clout in Indiana to secure their cooperation. It would have needed plenty: after all, what state governor would want to be seen letting in a sex offender?
He does not drive a car because he fears any cop who runs his plate will notice he is on the sex offender registry and look for a reason to pull him over, if only to harass him. He still had six years on probation ahead of him at the time of the Guardian’s story in September 2013.
But all is not gloom. For Galen, unlike many whose lives are so routinely trashed by an uncaring system, there would appear to be a future in advocacy.
Following his release in 2012, Galen Baughman spent two years as the Director of Communications at International CURE, a grassroots advocacy organization, where he focused on policy analysis, direct advocacy, messaging strategies and grassroots organizing.
More recently, he resigned from CURE when he was awarded a Soros Justice Fellowship. That’s Soros as in George Soros, the fabled progressive-liberal business magnate and philanthropist behind Open Society Foundations (OSF) an international grant-making network. The fellowship sees him at the Human Rights Defense Center, embedded in DC with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs. He is working to end the practice of civilly committing youth as sexually violent predators. He is a campaign strategist on issues related to sex offender policy and trains advocates around the country to build movements against mass incarceration.
He is a JustLeadershipUSA 2015 Leading with Conviction cohort member, and also serves on the Board of Directors for the Center for Sexual Justice.
Not bad, eh, for a guy who lost almost the whole decade of his twenties behind bars?
You might also like to read his article “Questionable Commitments”, published by the Cato Institute, which looks at the history and development of civil commitment.
 
ROOM WITHOUT A VIEW
If word reaches you that the first half of a two-hour movie is set almost entirely in a single small room and has garnered four Oscar nominations, your curiosity might be piqued. Mine was when I heard BBC film critic Mark Kermode raving about Room, an abduction drama that he rightly insisted, repeatedly, “is not what you think”.
What Kermode thinks we will think is that it’s all about “Old Nick” (Sean Bridgers), the evil abductor of a young woman who is kept locked in a windowless garden shed (there is just a skylight) and routinely raped for years on end while her toddler son is kept out of the way in a cupboard. Plus an escape drama in which the plucky kidnap victim triumphs against the odds.
Room has these elements but they are not the point. This is not a simple goodies and baddies story. The first half focuses not on the kidnapper or his dastardly deeds but on the small room where the victims are held captive, hence the title, and how mother and child make a life for themselves there – a surprisingly bearable one for the child as an infant because this is his whole world and he knows no other, except through the screen of a small TV. Indeed, the illusion that no other world exists is one the mother strives to maintain for the child as long as it is viable, much like the fiction of Santa Claus. In the second half, once the obvious baddy has been vanquished, subtler issues present themselves.
To say much more risks a spoiler so let’s switch focus to an Oscar nomination Room deserved but did not get: Best Actor in a Leading Role, for Jacob Tremblay, who is now nine, was seven as shooting started and plays the little boy, Jack, as a five-year-old. He is on screen for almost the entire movie and carries it off with apparently effortless perfection: not a single syllable or gesture is strained or unconvincing. In truth this probably owes a lot to director Lenny Abrahamson, up for Best Director, who allowed Tremblay to ad lib: an imaginative child will say interesting things that a kid would say and do things a kid would do better than any adult could script it – although another of the nominations is for Best Adapted Screenplay, by Emma Donoghue, from her own best-selling novel of the same title. Another is for Brie Larson, as Jack’s mother, “Ma”, who is nominated for Best Actress.
The film is also up for Best Picture, for Irish producer Ed Guiney, and I would put in a special word for Joan Allen as Grandma, and Tom McCamus, in a small but significant role as Grandma’s wise and sympathetic boyfriend. He is kind, and could easily be Kind.
Ultimately, though, it may be thought that no movie, even a beautifully crafted “arthouse” offering such as Room, would win plaudits in Hollywood without conforming rather tightly to mainstream mores. A film can ask some big questions, as this one does, about what it means to be a good parent and a good person, but it cannot afford to hint at the “wrong” answers. It cannot be subversive. That may be so, but this is a film worth seeing for all that.
 
ETHICAL  CARTOGRAPHY
Like Galen Baughman’s work, Cart O’Graph’s new channel on YouTube is far better than Hollywood for delivering usefully subversive content. Our host makes use of his moral compass to guide us over the ethical territory he has mapped out in over half a dozen videos so far. He writes:
“On this channel, I provide information and make rational arguments on the topic of Minor Attraction and Child Sexuality. I also speak with people who are Kind, to show that we are human beings. If possible, I will also engage non MAPs in discussions or debates. This is an informative channel, but I do hope to entertain as well.”
I checked out “Is Minor Attraction Wrong?”, a 12-minute talk piece, illustrated with well chosen stills, including wittily amusing ones. Cart, if I may be so familiar as to use his first name (!), modestly disclaims much knowledge of philosophy, but argues reasonably and presents some useful information. He cites James Prescott’s work, familiar to many of us here, on the link between a sexually repressive upbringing and the genesis of harsh, aggressive, violent attitudes and behaviours as kids grow up, and into adulthood.
He also mentions an “Express newspapers” report comparing the benign upbringing of French children, who typically get a lot of parental and other adult affection, including kissing, with that of their less fortunate American counterparts. Good information, but I found myself wanting to know the research source it was based on, or an exact reference for the press report at the very least.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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[…] response to Standing up for justice and diversity earlier this year, Heretic TOC received a comment containing a request for some advice about UK […]

Salem21

At least they accede to child sexuality in this Green, Amber, and red traffic light warning designed to spot what is ‘appropriate’…http://www.parentsprotect.co.uk/files/traffic_light_helping_you_understand_the_sexual_development_of_children_under_5.pdf

Salem21

On the subject of films..Belgian film…’Alleluia (2014) about a male gigolo who enjoys seducing women: But this one particular women falls in love with him, and starts murdering those whom he sleeps with; After a while, they’re befriending women so he can seduce them, then steal their property..As for the MAP related stuff, one of them has a daughter about eleven, and the man strikes up a friendship with her, and it does not go without his partners descry
It all ends badly, but he does save the girl, without giving too much away!
And one for the boylovers, many may have seen this…Brad PItt ‘Seven years in Tibet’…About the famous mountaineer who had a great friendship with the Dalai Lama during WW2:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Years_in_Tibet_%281997_film%29

YoungBL

Stories such as this really breaks my heart but it also gives me reasons to keep going. It seems that the world is getting gradually close-minded but at the same time we can see that more and more people advocate on the internet via blogs, forums and so on. It’s hard to try to predict what’s coming next but again these stories plus the audience reaction is a good thing for me in terms of CL activism.
I don’t like watching movies such as Room due to this ‘nasty’ kind of character but I may watch it soon. I prefer the “lost soldier”-like movies.
Nice story Tom, You’ve been doing a great job (you must be tired of reading this but this is the truth) hope you’re fine! 🙂

A.

Wow! Galen Braughman, what a guy!
The gay card was also used to garner support for Kaitlyn Hunt: http://www.bradenton.com/news/local/crime/article34582503.html It didn’t hurt, of course, that she was a good-looking blonde cheerleader.
It must surely be true, at least, that a child is far more likely to do something fun that could, if they are unlucky enough, put them on the sex offenders register than to be the victim of a sex offender. Sometime soonish I’ll try and work out the stats on that.
Interesting about the French children and touch, because my impression was that the French are kissier but less cuddly. But perhaps it’s not all about outright cuddles: things like ruffling hair or a hand on the shoulder count and matter too, surely. Mind you, which America are we talking about and which France? Working-class southern Frenchmen shock Parisians by routinely greeting each other with the cheek-air-kiss; Latin Americans have become a majority in certain areas of the US and by and large they are a lot touchier with their kids.
A MetaFilter poster who has taught in Canada and Japan says this: “…in Japanese junior high school [pupils aged about 12-15] there is a *lot* less fighting between boys than in JHS back in Canada (although bullying does exist). One reason (or so I like to think) is because it’s more acceptable for boys to hug each other, sit on their friend’s lap, or just reach out absently and grab each other. Boys *need* touching, which is why they fight in Canada. It’s more socially acceptable.”
There are a couple more films like Room that come to mind. Austrian director Marcus Schleinzer’s 2012 film Michael is about an obsessively neat, socially isolated 35-year-old insurance agent who keeps a 10-year-old boy locked in his basement, raping him when feels like it, buying him Harry Potter books and taking him on cautious trips to a petting zoo. Warning: very grim. French director Jacques Doillon’s 1979 film La drôlesse (The Hussy) is more like an odd love story. 20-year-old François might today be diagnosed with mild learning difficulties and autistic traits, something like that. In the 1970s in rural northern France, he lives a stunted life under the control of his parents and one day kidnaps 11-year-old Madeleine, who doesn’t get enough love at home either. Gradually they become fond of each other and — this happens to an extent in Michael, too — the balance of power starts shifting in her direction. They cuddle, and she tells him she used to play sex games with a boy at school and would like to do that with him, too. In fact, will he make her pregnant, please? Shocked, he refuses. When one day Mado decides that she wants to leave, she just ups and leaves. Doillon won the Young Cinema Award at Cannes for the film. The talented and beautiful Madeleine Desdevises, who played the girl’s role superbly at the age of 11, tragically died of leukaemia at 15.
I wonder about Doillon, actually. Was he Kind? He provided breakthrough roles for several young, though not child, actresses. Childhood and adolescence were among his special subjects. In La Fille de quinze ans (1989), a 15-year-old girl and her boyfriend’s father try to deal with their attraction to each other; La Vie de famille (1984), a father-daughter story, features the beautiful actress Mara Goyet, then 10 or 11 and now a teacher and prominent writer on education. Doillon had international success with Ponette (1996), the story of a 4-year-old grieving for her mother. The film’s 4-year-old lead actress Victoire Thivisol became the youngest-ever recipient of the Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival.
Some more trivia: Doillon was the father of Lou Doillon, actress Jane Birkin’s second daughter. Her first daughter is actress Charlotte Gainsbourg, who at 12, in 1984, recorded the controversial song Lemon Incest with her dad, Serge Gainsbourg, and a couple of years later acted with him in the father-daughter incest film Charlotte for Ever. Around the same time she won a César award for her performance in L’effrontée, a realistic piece which I like a lot: it’s about an awkward, unhappy 13-year-old who, among other things, starts a relationship of sorts with a 20-year-old and then hits him over the head with a globe and escapes when he tries to rape her. Shortly after that, someone tried to kidnap Gainsbourg in real life. She went on to play a teenager having a relationship with an older man in The Cement Garden, based on an Ian McEwan novel and directed by her uncle, Andrew Birkin. Now this Andrew Birkin is the world’s foremost J.M. Barrie expert and author of the book J.M. Barrie and the Lost Boys: The Love Story that Gave Birth to Peter Pan and of the script for the 1978 TV mini-series based on the book. Among his other films is Burning Secret, about a boy of 11 or 12, played by the beautiful David Eberts, who becomes close to a man he meets at a spa and is then devastated to find out the man is really interested in his mother. The film, based on a story by Stefan Zweig, won the Young Jury Prize at the Brussels Film Festival in 1989. Charlotte Gainsbourg recently turned up in the Australian film The Tree (2010), alongside the bright and beautiful 7-year-old Morgana Davies, who won the heart of many a GL. Let’s backtrack a bit. Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon acted with their mother in Agnès Varda’s Kung Fu Master (1988), the story of a love affair between a 40-year-old woman and a 14-year-old boy. The boy was played by Varda’s son, Mathieu Demy, who in 2011 appeared in Céline Sciamma’s Tomboy as the loving dad of a 10-year-old girl who wants to be a boy.
Phew, what a lot! We are everywhere, as the gay-rights groups used to say.
The Guardian just put up this surprising piece: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/jan/30/how-to-talk-to-children-even-if-you-dont-have-any . The illustration is of a man and boy, but of course the article is written by a woman. A man would not get away with it. A few years ago some works of the Northern Irish BL novelist Forrest Reid were brought out in new editions and one reviewer scathingly described Reid as “the kind of man who makes friends with other people’s children”. Heaven forbid!

leonard sisyphus mann

There are a few films out at the moment that I’m hoping to watch.
I must say that ‘Room’ wasn’t one of them as the subject matter seems so disturbing. But there have been enough glowing reviews and enough Kind folk recommending it for me to overcome my reservations.
Another must-see film that has been making quite a noise is ‘Lamb’ – it seems to be a film that might smudge and blur some of the moral certainty that surrounds child-adult love.
The trouble is it’s on very limited release and I have no expectation that it will visit any of my local flea pits. It’s already available as a torrent, but I don’t want to see it that way because small, low budget film like this deserve all the viewing figures and revenue they can get. (If anyone can explain an above-board way to watch films like ‘Lamb’ on my computer screen I’d be grateful).
I was very impressed by Galen Baughman, his poise and evident humanity prove an important point that might not be evident to those who have no access to any other narrative than the conventional one: that ‘sex offenders’ are REAL people.
The media is so dishonest in their presentation – taking great pains to select photographs which show them in their worst light (think of how one no longer sees nice photos of Rolf Harris in the media) that a lot of people think they can identify a paedo by their look (I sometimes wonder to what extent the Jimmy Saville affair has happened because the media/public needed something like this witch-hunt and Saville, with his weird manner and looks, was an ideal vehicle to project these fantasies onto).
I was thinking about this question of presentation while listening to Cartograph’s videos – he’s got a great voice and manner – educated, but not posh, easy-going, clear, calm and friendly. I guess ‘normie’ or ‘anti’ listeners will be unburdened of some of their most shallow preconceptions simply by hearing that a paedophile/MAP sounds not like Golum but more like a good and trusted friend.

Nada

Re: “Lamb” can, according to IMDB, be bought and streamed from Amazon.
I’ll humbly add my recommendation, it’s as close to a love story as we’re likely to see.

cartographmap

Hey, Tom. (Are we on first name basis?)
Thank you very much for this article. Galen’s talk was very informative, and I could hear the emotion in his voice. His story broke my heart, but left me more hopeful for the future. You weren’t wrong in saying he’s good at stand up. He’s also very brave for admitting to his love so openly.
And there’s a sentence I hope to never need to type again. It’s just wrong that it’s accurate.
On a lighter note, with you and Leonard Sisyphus Mann, my entertainment is secured for a while. 5 books and a few movies on my list, with Room now added. It sounds amazing.
Here is the location where I’ve prevented myself from gushing thanks. I am ecstatic that you mentioned me, especially with such praise. I freely admit that I feel out of my depth, but I guess I’m not drowning.
As to that article from Express Newspapers, I found the article on IPCE, but the link provided was defunct. Luckily, there’s the WayBack Machine:
http://web.archive.org/web/20001018113250/http://www.lineone.net/express/00/01/18/news/n0720cuddle-d.html
You seem to have found the scholarly article that I couldn’t find. It’s unfortunate that it’s behind a paywall, though. Still the abstract gives an indication of the numbers, which is good. I didn’t realize what a small sample was used. It’s hardly conclusive in that light, but it shows some precedent, and definitely needs more research.

Dissident

Your channel on YouTube has already become one of my favorite places to visit for insights on this topic. No way are you out of your depth amongst an august body like Tom and Lensman, but rather with very Kind-red spirits (sorry, couldn’t resist). Keep up the good work! 🙂

Salem21

I started doing Martial arts again, Someone was looking through my bag accidentally; To which i replied; There’s nothing on the hard-drive, They all laughed; And some of them have kids…you got to know when to risk these sort of jokes. another time was in my Gym..mate said, what’s the difference between girls and women when the subject of age of consent came up; I replied…puberty, I guess its about judging who is open minded and who is a rabid anti!

eqfoundation

I agree with Dissident…You are doing phenomenal, with your YouTube channel.
Having had a YouTube channel back in 2008/2009…I’m overjoyed to see other MAPs taking up the torch, and moving back into the realm of media creation…It’s good for our online culture, I think. It helps solidify our identity, as a community.
As to feeling out of one’s depth…If it’s any consolation, EQvideo lasted for about a year, before being terminated by the actions of scoundrels…In that time, I created and uploaded 55 videos, making up roughly 35 unique projects…Even though most were important, in my opinion, I’d say what you are doing makes my projects pale in comparison.
We all feel inadequate at times…The thing to keep in mind, is that someone has to seize the reigns and give direction, at some point in time…otherwise, we will continue going nowhere in particular [or nowhere we want to go]…So, my philosophy is that, so long as nobody better at something is already doing that something, it doesn’t hurt for us lesser refined “fish out of water” to try our hand at things, and nudge things along…There is no shame, in standing up to carry our torch.

stephen6000

This link between violence and lack of physical affection in childhood could be very significant indeed. It suggests that the big CSA crackdown of recent decades, even if it does protect some children from genuine abuse, may be doing overriding harm by indirectly causing kids to become more violent.

Ronnie

Hi, Tom, I hope you are doing well. Another bang-up blog as usual. Galen Braughman and Cart O’Graph boldly put the case forward. More exposure can’t do any harm and can do a lot of good. Freedom of and for affection were once it was closeted is starting to open up.

Christian

The “Express newspapers” report is probably the article reposted here:
http://www.tegenwicht.org/26_peril/cuddle.htm
The source is dated 18 Jan. 2000. The researcher is Dr Tiffy Field. Maybe you can find something about her work in a science database such as Google Scholar or Scopus.

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