Many heretics here will be familiar with AliceLovers Magazine, a colourful occasional publication aimed mainly at GLs and produced to a high standard of attractive graphic design. Today’s blog, written by me, is due to appear in the next issue of ALM and was originally intended for first publication there. Unfortunately, the new issue, originally scheduled for 8 August, has been delayed by Covid-19, I am told, so I have decided to go ahead here with my own article while its somewhat time-sensitive content is still fresh. It is a big one, so I’ll run it here as a two-parter. Thus if ALM can get their show on the road quickly, they will still be able to scoop Heretic TOC by running the whole article, including the second part, before I do. So to the fine folks at ALM, good luck with that! 😊 As will be seen below, Part 1 focuses on an oppressive new prosecution in the Netherlands, and reaction to it. Part 2 will examine the future for freedom of expression and sexual radicalism globally in the light of current trends and whether they are likely to intensify or change direction.
PART 1: DISASTER IN THE NETHERLANDS
Who would have thought it, in the Netherlands of all places? Who would have thought a country where brilliant, high-profile advocacy for sexual liberation at all ages led the world in the 1980s – and where the age of consent was effectively lowered to 12 in the following decade – would now be prosecuting people just for proclaiming the truth that children have their own sexuality?
Yes, you did read that last bit right. Earlier this year Marthijn (with letter “h”) Uittenbogaard, formerly prominent in the pro-paedophile Martijn (no “h”) Association, which was banned nearly a decade ago for “glorifying sexual relations between adults and children”, found himself faced with a criminal indictment, charged with reviving the organisation together with three other activists (Public Prosecution Service, 2021). After outlining the alleged revival activities – running websites and so forth – the indictment names the associated “crimes”:
a. denying and/or downplaying the harmfulness of sexual contact between children and adults, and/or
b. the glorification of sexual contact between children and adults, and/or
c. presenting children as sex objects/sexual beings, and/or
d. removing barriers and supporting or nurturing the belief that sexual contact between children and adults is something good, and/or
e. creating a subculture/community in which sexual contact between children and adults is considered normal/acceptable/beneficial, and/or
f. the pursuit for oneself and/or for others of being able to have sexual contact with children
Take a good look at item, c: “presenting children as… sexual beings”.
Sigmund Freud, spinning in his grave, must be glad he is no longer around to face arrest on a weekend break in Amsterdam for claiming that little kids are not only sexual but kinky with it (“polymorphous perverse”), and that they lust after incestuous sex with their parents (the Oedipus Complex).
As for “downplaying the harmfulness of sexual contact between children and adults”, this is not a crime even in the sex-phobic United States. Dr Bruce Rind and his colleagues famously made themselves unpopular with their act of “downplaying” such alleged harm, and both houses of Congress voted to condemn the research in question (Rind et al., 1998). But they were not arrested and whisked off to a federal penitentiary for their work, which demonstrated in an authoritative large-scale survey that children do not typically suffer significant psychological damage from sexual contact with adults. Indeed, they went further: they thought that if their meta-analysis had been able to exclude coerced and forced encounters, focusing only on consensual ones, such contacts might emerge as not harmful in the slightest. Subsequent scientific research has supported this hypothesis (e.g. Daly, 2021; Helweg‐Larsen & Larsen 2007; Rind, 2020).
It is important to emphasise consent because Martijn Association always favoured children’s sexual freedom and self-determination, which plainly implies they were against coercion and force. My understanding is that none of the individuals now charged were trying to revive Martijn Association –including Marthijn himself, whose adopted first name (changed from Matheus) reflects that of the association. But our focus of concern should not be on whether they have obeyed an oppressive, censorious law. Far more important is that they still oppose real child abuse of all kinds, including neglect and cruelty in “normal” family life. Accordingly, the use of such an indictment to smear them by association with harms they would patently deplore is itself a grievous injustice.
The heavy-handed use of power to suppress and “downplay” scientifically established facts has a long and inglorious history. When the Pope moved against Galileo for “downplaying” the key role of planet Earth in Catholic cosmology by giving it the subordinate role of revolving around the Sun, rather than the reverse, it was never going to end well in the long run. Ditto denials of Darwin’s theory of evolution.
What about “glorification” as per item b? What does this even mean? The term was used in the initial judgement against Martijn Association by a judge in Assen in 2012. The decision was later overturned on appeal but supported again in the Supreme Court two years later (Supreme Court of the Netherlands, 2014). In none of these court settings was an attempt made to define the word “glorification” in a way that would limit the scope of what might be illegal. The first court simply noted that Martijn Association “glorifies” child-adult sexual contact “and presents it as something that is or should be normal and acceptable”. This was then held to be “a serious violation of the fundamental values within our society”.
We might feel one such fundamental value should be to live in accordance with truth, not falsehood. In which case, why would it be against fundamental values to draw attention, as Martijn Association surely did, to scientific work such as that of Rind et al.? Why would it be wrong, indeed, to “glorify” particular child-adult relationships by showing them functioning well, as Dr Theo Sandfort did in his pioneering research on man-boy relationships in the Netherlands (Sandfort, 1984)? Speaking of whom, does the Dutch state now have its eye on prosecuting Sandfort, who later rose to eminence as an internationally renowned AIDS expert and was honoured as President of the International Academy of Sex Research?
The courts and prosecutors are silent on these matters. They avoid any reference to research, or to scientific findings, preferring to rely on popular opinion and prejudice. Astonishingly, this is actually spelt out in the Supreme Court ruling as though it were a good thing. Apparently as a way of reinforcing the lower court’s hostility to Martijn Association, we read:
According to the social views prevailing in the Netherlands [my emphasis], sexual contact between adults and young children is an actual and serious violation of the physical and sexual integrity of the child, as a result of which the child can suffer major and permanent psychological damage.
According to the social views! Never mind that these views are incited by populist politicians and sensationalist media whose child “protection” racket has all the objectivity of Nazi anti-Jewish propaganda. Never mind that their grotesquely distorted narrative is resolutely blind to the rational distinction that should be made between forced acts, which can of course be seriously traumatic, and those between willing participants. Judicially, this is a scandal, an ugly blemish on the face of European civilisation.
OTT? Too agitated? Too extreme? It might be but for the fact that this is not just about abstract principles as to how the law should be administered. It is about the all-too-real injustice and suffering that is caused when the might of the state is used deliberately to crush its victims into silent submission.
Marthijn Uittenbogaard is one of those victims, who in recent years has devastatingly felt the full force not just of this latest prosecution – which could end in a significant prison sentence for nothing worse than expressing his opinions – but of a state that has actively incited violent mob rule against him. Some 10 years ago, a 200-strong mob gathered to intimidate him outside his home – with the permission of the local mayor. A biker gang hurled a rock through his window in the same year and poured paint over the front of the house.
Worse, this was not something that went away. The attacks have just gone on and on. His house is a fortress now, with smash-proof polycarbonate windows installed after finding the ordinary glass ones repeatedly broken by rocks and even by powerful fireworks. Extra locks and security likewise followed regular death threats and actual assault.
Last year an intruder armed with a knife broke into his house in the night. Fortunately, it proved possible to beat off the attacker with a baseball bat kept close by for protection. Ranting and hurling death threats as he retreated, he was soon arrested nearby. He appeared in court last month, where he was let off with a ridiculously light non-custodial sentence (community service) despite showing no signs of remorse or contrition. Marthijn could easily have been killed. So could his partner, Lesley, who was never active in Martijn Association but found himself caught up in the police raids and then thrown into prison for six months, based only on a suspicious interpretation of a few items in his possession. He has since been released, but from what I have heard of the case against him it seems to be purely one of guilt by association with a paedophile activist rather than anything of substance.
As may be imagined, living for a decade or more under constant siege has been an ordeal for Marthijn and Lesley. So when their home was raided by the police in January last year, bringing a further burst of hostile publicity, leading to the intruder’s knife attack in May, 2020, the pressure against them was cranked up to a near unendurable level of hardship and emotional turmoil.
The others targeted in the raids were: Ad van den Berg, a septuagenarian old warrior of my own generation, who had been president of Martijn Association; seasoned activist Norbert de Jonge; and young radical Nelson Maatman. Much of interest could be said about all of them, but it is with Marthijn that our story takes its next significant turn. I will pause only to mention, for the sake of avoiding possible confusion, that in addition to their involvement with Martijn Association, which was a club like NAMBLA or PIE, Marthijn had co-founded a political party in 2006 with Ad and Norbert, called The Party for Neighbourly Love, Freedom, and Diversity (PNVD).
Keen to maximise diversity and liberty, as the name suggests, they had proposed allowing youngsters from 12 upwards to vote, have sex, choose where they lived and much more. They also wanted to end marriage as a legal institution and institute a comprehensive animal rights platform. It was quickly dubbed “the paedo party” in the media. PNVD was dissolved in 2010 after falling short of the supporting signatures and finance needed to get onto the ballot paper and contest elections.
Last year, in a defiant response to the police raids, there was a move to revive PNVD. This initiative has foundered, for the moment at least, for similar practical reasons to the ones faced earlier. The party was never banned, unlike the association, but it was simply difficult to get off the ground, so there were no PNVD candidates standing in the recent elections.
So, there we leave the PNVD and return the focus to Marthijn Uittenbogaard, whose personal response to the outrageous police raids has been both courageous and more successful than the directly political idea of presenting a party programme to the public.
This year he has engaged in a remarkable collaboration with one of the world’s oldest student magazines, which has a long and distinguished history as a bastion of free expression. This is the Dutch journal Propria Cures (PC), founded in 1890 by Amsterdam students. The tone is said to be “often satirical and contrarian”. The name translates from the Latin as “Look after your own affairs”, which I guess is intended to convey the idea of being independent-minded. In 1975 the paper featured a cartoon depicting the prime minister in sexual intercourse with the queen – a gesture of stunning bad manners and taste, perhaps, but one that clearly demonstrated its irreverent independence of authority.
This independence was demonstrated again in May, when a special issue of PC appeared, edited by Marthijn himself. The invitation to be a guest editor came in a very significant way. Marthijn had already written an article for PC earlier in the year. Then, as an editorial in the special issue by the regular editors explained:
…we received the message that the Public Prosecution Service is prosecuting him in connection with the continuation of the pedophile club Martijn. Included in the criminal file: his piece for PC. It comes down to the fact that the prosecution, by framing him as an organisation, tries to destroy the private person, as if the rest of the foaming Dutch had not already taken up this task… A child’s hand is easily filled, but not so Marthijn’s. He came up with the counter-proposal to make one whole issue about free speech, specifically about paedophilia.
The 16 articles that comprise the special issue include several by Marthijn himself, explaining the background to the prosecution he faces, plus an interview with leading Dutch novelist and free speech defender Arnon Grunberg. Another featured writer, Anton Dautzenberg, daringly joined Martijn Association shortly before it was banned, to protest over the “witch hunt against pedophiles”. In his special issue contribution he lauded Marthijn as a freedom fighter:
He defends freedom of speech and freedom of association to the full, and we should cherish that, not despise it. Moreover, he abides by the law, although he questions it at the same time. That is his right…. I have come to know Marthijn as an honest, reliable man who is open to dialogue. I therefore wholeheartedly support his struggle. Dreams, fantasies and desires should never be punishable. And people have the right to bear witness to them and to talk or email about them with each other.
Surveying the special issue as a whole, we see a clear defence of free speech. At a time when a whole generation of students, especially on the left, appears to have forgotten the importance of this principle in their laudable struggles against racism, sexism, transphobia, etc. – one even hears the concept mocked as “freeze peach”, i.e. meaningless mumbo jumbo – I find this reassertion of its value encouraging. It could also rattle the prosecution against Marthijn and the others by its demonstration that these persecuted individuals do not stand alone.
However, as Marthijn recently told me, he was not given an entirely free hand in the editing. For instance, he had wanted to include a shortened version of an article by Dr Frans Gieles that cites academic research (including that of Rind et al.) in direct contradiction of the state’s dogma that sexual contact between children and adults is necessarily harmful (Gieles, 2020). Perhaps the regular editors felt it would be too legally risky to include such an article. But Gieles is a good scholar; his work is academically strong. If even the editors of a “daring” magazine are afraid to publish it, what does that say about free speech in the Netherlands? Or perhaps, like many of their student readers, these editors are so much in the grip of the mainstream anti-paedophilia narrative they feel it would be wrong to give too much space and credibility to a factually well-grounded counter-narrative?
This is very much the impression I take from the final article in the special issue. Allowed to stand as “the last word”, it forms a sort of verdict on Marthijn’s position. The author is identified only by the initials “AS” but the context tells us this must be the Dutch novelist and literary critic Arie Storm. If the authorship is slightly opaque, the message is not. Titled “There is no one as mean as a paedophile”, the intention is clearly to be as woundingly hostile as possible. I will not dwell on the most offensive passage. We have all heard similar diatribes before. What is worth mentioning, though, is the basis on which the attack is made. Plainly, Storm occupies a mental universe steeped in fiction. He begins:
You can’t live your life thematically, but sometimes it seems that you have to deal with recurring elements all the time. I translated the novel Snow (just published in Dutch as Sneeuw) by John Banville, a dark novel in many ways, which revolves around child abuse in the Catholic Church, something that eventually culminates in murder. Banville, among all his other merits, is also considered a writer who is a kind of imitator of Vladimir Nabokov. Nabokov, of course, wrote the famous paedo novel Lolita. I decided to reread that book when I finished the Banville translation. And then I saw on social media a post by writer Jamal Ouariachi, drawing attention to the book Lolita in the Afterlife, edited by Jenny Minton Quigley. At about the same time, I heard that one of the editors of PC wanted to do a pedophile issue…
You can certainly “live your life thematically” if you keep your head stuck in novels in which paedophilic characters (fictional, made up, not real) are continuously, imitatively, presented as horrible people who end up as murderers, as in Nabokov’s “paedo” novel, or are deservedly murdered, as in that of Banville, the “imitator”. The problem with Storm and his literary ilk is that they make the mistake of confusing fiction with reality. They forget that imaginative writers often just make stuff up out of their own heads without ever bothering to check – especially by consulting real-world research like that of Bruce Rind and Theo Sandfort – whether what they are saying has any correspondence with reality. Blinded by their own creative cleverness, their talent is then triumphantly vindicated not by its proven truthfulness (compared with science, which has to be correct, otherwise things based on it simply would not work, such as everything from vaccines to vacuum cleaners) but by its strength in the marketplace: as long as the story they tell is one that readers want to hear it really does not matter if the story is true. It just has to seem true, or ring true, which only means it is in line with readers’ prior expectations – which in the case of child-adult sexual relations are very unlikely to be well informed.
So, what does all this tell us, if anything, about the wider situation of GLs, BLs, CLs, and where we might be heading? We started by noting how shocking it is that the Netherlands, a country long fabled for its tolerant, “live and let live” ways, should suddenly have gone sharply into reverse from its remarkably permissive history in the last decades before the new millennium. Can we expect just as bad, and worse to come, in countries elsewhere around the world that we might have thought of as developed and “progressive”?
[To be continued in Part 2. For REFERENCES, see below.]
SUDDENLY, CHILDREN CAN CONSENT
After insisting ever since Victorian times that children are incapable of giving consent, suddenly the UK has woken up to the startling revelation that, yes, they can!
When the government announced recently that children from age 12 upwards will be able to consent to be Covid vaccinated, even if their parents are against it, the response in politics and the media to this remarkably radical stance appears to have been one of confusion and awkward silence. Not that the government can be blamed this time for any confusion. Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi was entirely coherent and correct in law when explaining the policy on Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday. It has long been established, he said, that children with “Gillick competence” (i.e. if they have “sufficient understanding and intelligence to understand fully what is proposed”) are able to consent to their own medical treatment, without the need for parental permission or knowledge. This was based on a House of Lords decision in 1985 in a case brought against an area health authority by Victoria Gillick.
What Zahawi did not go into, though, was that the Gillick case was about allowing underage children in a sexual relationship to decide for themselves that they need access to contraception. This was what Roman Catholic “morality” campaigner Gillick had tried to put a stop to by going to court. She lost her case. Ironically, her defeat is memorialised in the legal ruling that bears her name. So children can in effect give legally valid consent to sex.
No wonder Zahawi did not mention it! No wonder parliament, in its latest Covid debate, focused on matters other than children’s consent to vaccination! No wonder the media have turned a blind eye to the implications, with some commentators, either in confusion or embarrassment, fudging the issue by wrongly claiming the policy applies only to children aged 14-15, as did Martin Bentham of the Evening Standard on the BBC’s The Papers (13 Sept., 11.30pm edition)! It’s a can of worms nobody wants to open!
REFERENCES (Parts 1 and 2 of main blog):
Bey, H. (1991). TAZ: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism. New York, NY: Autonomedia.
Daly, N.R. (2021). Relationship, of child sexual abuse survivor self-perception of consent to current functioning. Florida: Nova Southeastern University. PhD dissertation. Retrieved from https://nsuworks.nova.edu/cps_stuetd/136For Liberation (2021).
Propria Cures Issue on Pedophilia and Free Speech. FreeSpeechTube. Retrieved from: https://www.freespeechtube.org/v/15dt
Gieles, F. (2020). Hasty urgency does research no good. Retrieved from https://www.human-being.nl/Bibliotheek/commentaar.html
Helweg‐Larsen and Larsen (2006). The prevalence of unwanted and unlawful sexual experiences reported by Danish adolescents. Acta Paediatrica 95(10): 1270-1276.
Levine, J. (2002). Harmful to minors: The perils of protecting children from sex. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
Levine, J. and Meiners, E.R. (2020). The Feminist and the Sex Offender: Confronting Sexual Harm, Ending State Violence. New York, NY: Verso.
O’Carroll, T. (2015). After the Ball and After the Fall. Heretic TOC. https://heretictoc.com/2015/09/15/after-the-ball-and-after-the-fall/
O’Carroll, T. (2016). LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM – WTF? Heretic TOC. https://heretictoc.com/2016/10/05/lgbttqqfagpbdsm-wtf/
O’Carroll, T. (2018). Childhood ‘Innocence’ is Not Ideal: Virtue Ethics and Child–Adult Sex. Sexuality & Culture 22: 1230–1262. Open access: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12119-018-9519-1
O’Carroll, T. (2020). The feminist and the sex offender. Heretic TOC. https://heretictoc.com/2020/11/09/the-feminist-and-the-sex-offender/
Public Prosecution Service (2021). Concept indictment concerning M.H. Uittenbogaard. Netherlands: Openbaar Ministerie. Retrieved from https://marthijn.nl/pdf/Concept_Tenlastelegging_MU.pdf. [In Dutch. The word “concept” in the original (“Concept tenlastelegging inzake M.H. Uittenbogaard”) may be intended to mean “provisional”.]
Rind, B. (2020). First sexual intercourse in the Irish study of sexual health and relationships: current functioning in relation to age at time of experience and partner age. Archives of Sexual Behavior 50:289–310.
Rind, B., Bauserman, R., & Tromovitch, P. (1998). A meta-analytic examination of assumed properties of child sexual abuse using college samples. Psychological Bulletin, 124(1), 22–53.
Sandfort, T. (1984). Sex in pedophilic relationships: An empirical investigation among a non-representative group of boys. Journal of Sex Research, 20(2), 123–142.
Supreme Court of the Netherlands (2014). Case number: 13/02498. Retrieved from https://uitspraken.rechtspraak.nl/inziendocument?id=ECLI:NL:HR:2014:948