Everything that is Wrong with some Conservatives

Read the blog post by David Lindsay.

Rape As Most People Understand It
And as committed in Manchester.

If Peter Tatchell had his way, then a conviction in this case would be practically impossible, since the age of consent would have been lowered to 14. If anything, the victim would be liable for prosecution for sex in a public place, although Tatchell has, shall we say, eccentric views on that one, too. Tatchell would also have rendered legal almost every act of which any Catholic priest has ever been so much as accused. Furthermore, in The Guardian on 26th June 1997, Tatchell wrote:

“The positive nature of some child-adult relations is not confined to non-Western cultures. Several of my friends – gay and straight, male and female – had sex with adults from the ages of 9 to 13. None feel they were abused. All say it was their conscious choice and gave them great joy. While it may be impossible to condone paedophilia, it is time society acknowledged the truth that not all sex involving children is unwanted, abusive and harmful.”

In 1981, Michael Foot refused to endorse Tatchell as a candidate for the House of Commons.

In 2010, David Cameron offered Tatchell a seat in the House of Lords.

How the world turns.


Am I understanding David’s argument correctly? Is he saying that if the age of consent was down to 14 that would make this sexual assault legal? What kind of argument is that? Does he believe that if an older adult rapes an 18 year old, given that under the current law the age of consent is 16 that rape could never be prosecuted? What is that about?

Seriously folks, help me out here. Am I completely misreading this or is Mr Lindsay basically just claiming that Tatchell wants the age of consent lowered to allow older men to rape younger teens? And yes, I get the point that Tatchell is advocating adult / child sex, but he is very clear that such sex should be consensual – even if we disagree with him on his basic premise (which I assume most here do) that doesn’t mean that we believe he is advocating rape.

Help me here.

217 Comments on “Everything that is Wrong with some Conservatives

  1. No, Peter, you are not misreading this. That is exactly what David Lindsay has said. I have left a comment on his blog pointing out this error. Whether he will allow it to appear remains to be seen. It is, of course, entirely characteristic of Anglican Mainstream that it has uncritically re-posted Mr Lindsay’s foolish comment on its own website.

  2. Yes, he is rather muddying the waters. I’m coming to the conclusion that we should just give up on this row for the moment. When activists actually start campaigning for lowering the age of consent/ recognising polygam/ taking church’s to court for refusing to marry gay couples, then we can object. For now, I think accepting defeat graciously might be a better move than constantly trying to hint that allowing adult couples who are committed to one another with a couple of adopted children and a cat to get married is really a cover for having sex with children.

        • It’s difficult to see what other response would be appropriate in the circumstances. My mother always taught me that it’s a sin to waste good swearwords – they should be saved for an occasion when you really need them ;)

        • Are only valley-girl americanism allowed, or does this mean that Glasweigan priests are allowed to say GIRFUY! ? ;-)

    • Some might say muddying the waters is letting him off too lightly; others might say he is kicking up a shitstorm. Or is it just sloppy journalism/internet posting? Has Lindsay got form on any of this? Catholics are generally more tolerant/liberal than evangelicals or their hierarchy but there are some gooky exceptions. (I base my right to make such a sweeping statement on 1) personal knowledge and observation, 2) on the surveys in Peter Vardy’s excellent The Puzzle of Sex.)

      • When I wrote that, I wasn’t actually aware of what had happened in Manchester. I think even the radical end of the queer umbrella, who do think sex with young people can be a good thing, would advocate kidnapping a teenager in a lift, threatening him, and then assaulting him in the loo.

        • Aside from which NAMBLA are very far from being included within the legitimate queer umbrella. Note the Family Resource Council, identified – legitimately – as a hate group recently offered as “proof” for the gays-as-paedophiles line the fact that gay organisations deny such links publicly (!).

  3. I’m not familiar with this blogger, David Linsday, but is he actually endorsing what Tatchell says? Or is he just reporting Tatchell’s views, and allowing us to draw our own conclusions?

  4. To be fair to David Lindsay, I think what he’s expressing is the alarm that some people feel that somebody with views like Tatchell’s should be treated as a hero in the way that he is at the moment. He’s just doing it rather badly.

    What we really need to be asking is ‘Where are we going with the everything’s moral as long as it’s consensual argument’? As far as I understand him, his vision is a kind of utopia where nobody represses others or needs to repress their own desires – everybody communicates, nobody is jealous or domineering. This isn’t a new idea. As far as I understand it the Family of Love believed something like this in the seventeenth century. Didn’t somebody write a dystopian novel about this ‘Brave New World’ where children were taught self-play in school.

    Understandably, people are concerned, but the problem with reactions like Lindsay’s is that they just reinforce the idea that conservatives are too closed-minded and stupid to understand what free love is actually about. In Tatchell’s world nobody would rape anybody. In a world without repression, people wouldn’t be angry enough to want to treat somebody else that badly.

    Do you think I’ve got him right?

    • Disagreeing with some of Peter Tatchell’s rather barmy opinions is absolutely fine. I disagree with them too. But the recent incident in Manchester, while absolutely appalling, is irrelevant, and the way in which he tries to use it as a peg on which to hang his disagreement is either dishonest or plain stupid. He misrepresents his adversary’s views and thereby does nothing to strengthen his own case.

    • Yes, but like many a bad old “error has no rights” (as the late great Gore Vidal pointed out, a stance rather contrary to the Bill of Rights) Roman Catholic Lindsay appears to not differentiate between “moral” and “legal”. The RC, taking the Catechism of the Catholic Church seriously, should regard masturbation and heterosexual fornication as illegal but I can’t recall many recent attempts to enshrine such views in law.

    • Aside from which I do not thing “expressing alarm”, suggesting as it does more heat than light, is any kind of excuse or justification. “The fags are after our children”! dogwhistling is as inane and hateful now as is was 30 years ago.

  5. To be honest, I’m surprised that you’re surprised. Such demonisation is the rule rather than the exception.

    As for Tatchell’s heroism, here’s an article from many a ”conservatives” favoured source of Revealed Truth

    Tatchell is not, never was, has no intention to be, never will be, the Pope of homosexuality. And of course if he IS wrong about everything because he’s wrong about the age of consent, then should the same standard not be applied to saints and scholars throughout historical Christendom (how old were Romeo and Juliet – let alone the B.V.M. at the Annunciation – again?)

    • Yes, I am aware of Tatchell’s bravery. He’s clearly a man of conviction and endurance. He’s a utopian – an idealist. The communists were also utopians and idealists. Irish Republicans were utopians.

  6. Please let’s not have another unconstructive knit-picking argument over who said or meant what. The whole reason I’m a bit confused about govt figures endorsing Peter Tatchell is precisely because he is not ‘the pope of homosexuality’ (as you choose to put it). So why not leave him on the fringes with all the radical heterosexuals calling for an end to monogamy? Until fairly recently he saw gay marriage as a sell-out to patriarchy, so he’s hardly a poster boy for Cameron’s ‘I support gay marriage because I’m a conservative’.

    I think we’re all agreed that Lindsay is rather undermining his own position. Let’s not argue over that. Are Tatchell’s views concerning or not? Would we be less willing to accept them if he was heterosexual? Is there a certain amount of ‘well, it’s ok for homosexuals to hold those views, you can’t expect them to settle down with a flat and a dog and a baby or be faithful to one another’ going on, but when heterosexuals suggest you can cheat on your wife, people get worried?

  7. I had another look at the website to see how Lindsay would respond to comments, and I think I understand him better. What he’s pointing out is that rape convictions are very low. Yes, it’s illegal to have sex with someone without their consent, but it’s one of the most difficult crimes to prove, and so the vast majority of rapists go unpunished. If the age of consent were lowered to 14, it would be up to a young person who had been raped to prove that they had not given consent. As it is, they’re much better protected by the law, because it’s the adult’s responsibility not to initiate sexual contact in the first place, not the child to refuse.

    The problem is that he then links this to Tatchell’s comments about accepting the possibility that, in some cultures, in some circumstances, child-adult sex might not always be exploitative. Yes, anybody who doesn’t share Tatchell’s radical view that all consensual sex is natural and good, goes into shock at this point, but there’s no comparing the two incidents. Also, Tatchell has qualified his statements by saying that he thinks that, in practice, it’s not possible to condone any adult-child sex because of the impossibility of ensuring exploitation wasn’t taking place. His comments were made in the context of an academic study of practices in another culture, not UK law.

    I don’t agree with Tatchell’s views on sex and monogamy, but this culture war strategy of trying to portray your opponent in the worst possible light (‘the conservatives want the death penalty for homosexuality’, ‘the gays are after our children’) just generates heat, not light.

      • Yes, Ryan, good point. I used to know all the statistics, but I can’t find them at the moment. But that sounds about right. But you’ve got to remember, that’s not the conviction rate of reported rapes, it’s the conviction rate of rapes *that go to court*. The police will only take a case to court if they think they have a good chance of winning (and even then it’s only 58%!). In a large number of cases they say ‘We believe you, and we’re going to get you the recovery help that you need, but I’m sorry, we can’t take this court, there’s not enough evidence’.

        But, yes, the police have been trying to correct that statistic to encourage people to report it and get the help that they need. Thank you for pointing that out.

  8. I don’t think David Lindsay would appreciate being called a Conservative. He isn’t. He is, however, a Roman Catholic, and follows RC teaching on matters of human sexuality.
    While I don’t think the Manchester case was the best example to produce, I agree with the main thrust of his argument, that the age of consent is the best protection for young people, with a much higher chance of conviction of the offender. And I share his distaste of Peter Tatchell’s views of free sex.
    What I think he is doing here, too, is reiterating the point that most of the so-called paedophile Catholic priests abused boys (not girls) in their early to late teens, not pre-pubescent children. Consent is a notoriously slippery concept. Young people will often ‘consent’ if their abuser is a trusted adult. The age of consent law really is the best protection. I think that was his point.

    • Is there not a contradiction in you simultaneously advocating the need for a reasonable age of consent whilst claiming that those in their early teens are not children so you can call the catholic priest abusers “homosexuals” not “paedophilies”? And, if w’ere playing that game, would you call someone who sexually abused a 14 year old girl a “heterosexual” or a “paedophile”? And, aside from that, surely you’re aware that most men who abuse boys are not necessarily gay?
      Perhaps studying the history of age in consent in Christendom would be a more fruitful line of inquiry than yet more “gay are paedophiles!” nonsense.

      • The trouble is that there has been far too much playing around with the word “paedophile”, people using it when it suits them and arbitrarily rejecting it when it doesn’t. For example, back in the time – which isn’t very long ago, actually – when there was a ridiculous and unjustifiable gap of 5 years between the heterosexual and the homosexual ages of consent, some people would have foolishly called a 21-year-old gay man with a boyfriend of 18 or 19 a paedophile, whereas they wouldn’t have dreamt of applying it to a 21-year-old straight man with a girlfriend of 18 or 19.

        Strictly speaking, the word indicates an adult who is sexually attracted to pre-pubescent children of the opposite sex, the same sex or both. But it is often popularly used to describe an adult who has sex with anyone below the age of consent, even if they are post-pubescent.

        Most people on here will still remember the recent appalling affair in Rochdale where schoolgirls were seduced and recruited into prostitution. One of them, I think, was 12; the rest were all in their teens; and all were old enough to get pregnant and were therefore post-pubescent. But I more than once heard the gang of pimps referred to in the media as a paedophile ring. Jill, did you write to the media furiously pointing out that this wasn’t a paedophile problem but a heterosexual problem? I don’t know the answer to that, of course, but I’d bet any money that you didn’t and that you wouldn’t.

        • Yes, Jill has long been on record as regard the rape of children by priests as involving “homosexuals” rather than “paedophilies”. I think when you find yourself invoking such horrors in such a way – as if the poor paedophiles are being blamed for the behaviours of the evil gays – that it might be time to reassess your beliefs.

          • Most paedophiles are heterosexual. So most paedophile abuses by RC priests would
            be upon little girls, would they not?
            But they are not – they are on adolescent boys. (Nearly 90% in the US.) So are RC priests not heterosexual, or are
            they not paedophiles? You decide, Ryan. You can’t have it both ways.

            Paedophilia is generally understood to mean sexual
            attraction to pre-pubescent children. As
            puberty can occur at various stages it is a bit of a grey area as to when it
            becomes ephebophilia or one of the other paraphilias. RC Canon Law decrees the age of consent to be
            18, so statutory rape applies to sexual relations with anyone under that age –
            whether they consent or not. Peter
            Tatchell would have the age of consent lowered to 14, which, had this been
            applied to the ‘paedophile’ priests, would have let most of them off the hook.
            This is why Tatchell is such a hypocrite.
            Just read his blog to see what he thinks about the Pope and RCs in
            general, and the age of consent.

            There is of course the question of the age difference
            between abuser and abused, which in all the RC cases would have been more than
            two years, so I think it is quite right that these priests should be considered
            abusers (though not paedophiles) – but this would apply to anyone in a position
            of trust such as teachers and social workers and, sadly, even some parents –
            but Tatchell doesn’t seem to have much to say about them, even though sexual
            abuse has been shown to have been much more prevalent in some of these
            situations. No, he wants to pin his bile
            on the Catholic Church. He knows that
            there is no way they will change their doctrine to suit his proclivities, so
            they must be vilified. And people still
            believe him.

            David Lindsay has a towering intellect. He scares me half to death. And he is a leftie. But I agree with him on this. I think that the age of consent is critical,
            and what is wrong is that there are not enough prosecutions of men who have
            sexual intercourse with under-16s, girls or boys, whether consensual or not. I am glad that he brought this topic up, as
            he has done several times in the past.
            It should be of great concern to every Christian, now that gays are a protected
            species and it is open season for priests.
            We should be heeding the persecution of Christians worldwide, which is
            going largely unnoticed by the media, and will rapidly spread here if Tatchell
            and his cohort’s poisonous material is allowed to go unchallenged. We are already seeing the start of this.

            Of course this is not helped by drippy Anglican bishops
            signing up for ‘Out4Marriage’ – it’s enough to make you want to convert.

            • Jill, the point is that they are paedophiles. DSM-IV does require the clinician to specify if the paedophile is sexually attracted to males, female or both. These are subsets of the disorder itself, not variations of normal homo or hetero (or indeed bi) sexuality. Most serial killers are white males – that does not mean that most white males are serial killers.

              Again, do you regard a sexual abuser of a 12 year old girl as a heteorosexual or a paedophilie? Both?

              People do not need to “believe” Peter Tatchell when it comes to Catholic sex abuses by paedophile priests. In the US, it is estimated that $3 BILLION has been paid out in compensation to victims. Again, you are defending an organisation that covered up the rape of children (c.f. Brendan Smyth) so you can have a pop at gay people.

              And you keep ignoring the point about ages of consent in Christendom. Do you REALLY think that the RC church has always been the heroic defenders of having it at 18, to protect the children?

              Persecution of Christians? If you mean the kind of attacks on middle-east Christians that conservative Catholic Damian Thompson has addressed
              then I’m right behind you. But the lying bigots of the ‘Christian Institute’ say? Not so much. This country used to have the death penalty for gay people. That’s persecution. Fag-baiting not being as de riguer in middle-class dinner party circles as some would like is, to riot in understatement, not. I recall the time when you flat out admitted that you had no idea and didn’t care whether Paul Cameron’s anti-gay statistics are true or not (guess bearing false witness ain’t the sin it used to be, eh?). They demonise gays, and that’s the main thing, truth be damned! I’m sure you’d much rather live in a world where no-one challenged your homophobic rhetoric: that does not make you ‘persecuted’.

              • Let’s get past the hyperbole at the bottom of Ryan’s comment (one of these days Ryan you’ll learn to let it go) and concentrate on the key point Ryan and others have raised.

                Are those Roman Catholic priests paedophiles (or ebophiles) or heterosexual / homosexual? It’s an interesting question. I’m at work so don’t have the relevant research to hand, but off the top of my head this is an interesting question with an interesting answer. Whilst some people who have sex with children have no sexual interest in adults, others do. How do we classify them? Some men who operate heterosexually with women operate homosexually with children. For some it is the opposite. How do we classify them. Some paedophiles are sexually attracted to just one sex of child, some both. How do we classify them? Some paedophiles have sex with children out of genuine sexual attraction, some out of power motives. How do we classify them?

                The key to this is that it’s too easy to bandy around name and labels without understanding the reality of people’s sex lives and attractions. We need to be much more precise and use far less sweeping statements.

                And no, it’s not wrong to say things like “Some surveys suggest that gay men are more likely to report sexual attraction to children then heterosexual men” but you would need to support such a contention with a link to the actual academic paper that demonstrates such a result, not just a blog report about it somewhere. There are TOO many sites on both sides that cite so-called research without ever actually reading it.

                For the record, I would love to do a blog piece on such a piece of research. Anybody got reference of one?

                • Hi Peter, the DSM IV criteria for paedophilia already allows for simultaneous attraction to adults (“Non-Exclusive Type”) as well as child-attraction only in the patient (“Exclusive Type”). The paedophile priests are , well, paedophilies. DSM iv does not that the recidivism rate for male-abusing paedophilias is twice that of the female-abusing paedophilies but, again, we’re discussing subsets of paedophilia, not subsets of healthy homo and heterosexuality (serious question for Jill: you do, for the record, concede that the overhwelming majority of LGBT people have no interest in sex with children, yes?)

                  DSM also notes “the person may be attentive to the child’s needs in order to gain the child’s affection, interest, and loyalty and to prevent the child from reporting the sexual activity”. The label already allows for such variations.

                  • As for sexual abuse of the post-puberty children, is it not still far closer to the definition of paedophilia than it is homosexuality? Afterall the latter is about attraction to same, which is what the conservative Christians (two men can’t create a genuine one flesh relationship etc,) indeed posits as its intrinsic structural deficiency!

                    • Complicated to the point where paedophilia uses its usefulness as a label? Don’t most disorders have disputes about aetiology and various subsets, which hardly removes the merits of/need for diagnostic labels themselves?

                    • I’m sure you’re right – and far more complicated than Jill wants it to be.

                    • In fairness to Jill, she seems to regard anal sex and taking drugs as gay-specific behaviours too, suggesting that her understanding of heterosexuality is fatally ignorant too. One of the finest bits of inadvertent comedy on this website was Jill defending the ex-gay conference’s use of slides of male/male/female double penetration as it showed the horrors of the “gay lifestyle”. I don’t know many (actually) any gay men with an interest in anal sex with women. Now, *straight men* on the other hand….

                    • I’m addressing her ideas and arguments. I’ll happily concede that Jill, as person, may well be a wonderful human being. If you, to use a CS Lewis line, regarded all my arguments as “damned nonsense” I would of course interpret that as ad hom.

                    • I have no objection with you directly quoting her to ask a question (as you have just done below) but it’s the incessant snide comments without such quotes that is beneath all of us.

                    • I don’t know what you’re talking about, Ryan. I don’t recall ever seeing such a slide.

                      If straight anal sex were as common as you would like to believe, then it would have given rise to more cases of HIV aids in women – anal sex being the most efficient transmitter of the virus – but it hasn’t. New cases have doubled amongst young gay men over the last decade, though.

                      I don’t know where you have dredged up my views on drug taking from. I certainly don’t think anything of the sort. Straw man, Ryan.

                      But I’m not going to get sidetracked. I have given my defence of David Lindsay, and I believe I have read him correctly. I hope so, anyhow.

                    • You made the comment in the “Stats Watch! Number 1”, your exact words being:
                      “The same-sex attracted strugglers already mentioned are as disgusted as the rest ofus with the material presented at the conferences. This is the kind of life they want to escape.
                      These materials are there to warn the uninformed of the horrors of the gay
                      lifestyle – while this is suppressed by the mainstream media it is important
                      that as many people as possible are kept informed”

                      Do you stand by that view? If not, my apologies for appearing to misrepresent your opinions.

                      If you DO stand by that opinion, let me ask: are things like double anal MILFs, or teen lesbians, or any other forms of pornography that straight men can (and do) google frequently indicative of the horrors of the STRAIGHT lifestyle? If not, why not?

                    • There is a useful comparative block diagram in this link. It makes the figures of those enjoying anal sex plainer, and it comes from the US Government’s Center for Disease Control so I would expect it to be pretty reliable Jill.

                      “The U.S. Government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that about 40% of heterosexual Americans aged 15 to 44 have or have had anal sex with a member of the opposite sex.”


                    • Oh and the drug taking comes from your reference to the Terrrence Higgins Trust supposedly, rather than being a charity for HIV/AIDS, trying to indoctrinate our children into drug taking and fisting etc. It’s not a Straw Man if you actually said it, although I will concede that most of your positions are fairly straw-like in nature ;)

                    • Yes, Jill, but HIV is very difficult to catch. Ask a doctor. Evangelical churches, in my experience, tend to be full of them. We are not talking about “beliefs”, we are talking about facts. To be honest, if you started claiming that receiving fellatio is something that gay men do but that straight men have no interest in it would it would be perfectly consistent with your “understanding” (!) of male sexuality demonstrated to date.

                    • And ‘science’ wise, I hope you can do better than Judith Reisman. She has INVENTED the concept of “erototoxins” ( I suppose we should be glad she didn’t cal them Reismanparticles eh?) and is seeking funding to “prove” their existence in order to claim that people who have used porn (i.e.: most men) don’t warrant First Amendment protections. I’m sure she has fine credentials of course, but, if we’re going to play that game, how about I supply (say) 2 gay-affirming MDs or comparable for every wingnut you dredge up? The sphincter is a *muscle* you know.

                    • Then why the urge to rebrand “paedophiles” or “sexual abusers” as “homosexuals”?

                • “We need to be much more precise and use far less sweeping statements.” Well said, that man!
                  Such tactics (as Keith Cardinal O’Brien has recently found) are invariably own goals and injure the very cause you seek to promote.

                    • I’m afraid not, and I don’t know how to get hold of it. I thought that you just possibly might. Do you have access to e.g. a university library which might hold it?

                    • Yeah, I can access the piece via institutional login (but I’m not about to paraphrase the whole thing!). If yourself or your wife Peter have any current uni affiliations you can probably get it from there.

                • Slightly off topic Peter but I think this is the sort of research question that would be perfect for this blog’s themes: it’s oft-said that homosexual couples have less favourable outcomes/higher rates of harm than straight couples. However, it is also noted that those in partnerships have better health outcomes than bitter singletons (like me!). Let us also say that most gay people do not experience gay-to-straight changes in their sexuality. As such, does it not make it highly disengenous to compare smug married singles to promiscous gays? An interesting study would be comparing “single, celibate, no heterosexual interests” gay men to “in a happy committed partnership”. That might tell us something of interest.

              • I would regard an abuser of a 12-year-old girl as a sexual abuser, not a paedophile. 12-year-olds can be pretty precocious. If it were an 8-year-old girl I would regard him as a paedophile, regardless of HIS age. There are lots of tricky areas here – for instance if a 15-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl have a consensual sexual relationship, is that sexual abuse? If the same girl were to have a sexual relationship with a man of, say, 23, then it is most definitely abuse, even if the girl is willing. This is why we have an age of consent – to safeguard young people. If every case of sex with a minor were prosecuted there would be far fewer STIs, teenage pregnancies and unhappy girls. It would also deter the 15-year-old from having sex with his girlfriend if it were made plain to him that it was illegal. I bet most 15-year-olds don’t even know that, or certainly don’t worry about it.

                This sensible approach doesn’t seem to apply to the Tatchellite view of the Catholic Church, though. All priestly sexual relationships – consensual, homo- or heterosexual, are paedophilic, in his view. He needs to make sure that the RC Church is smeared as much as possible, and there is no word better than ‘paedophile’ to arouse the public to anger. My view is that the guilty ones are abusive, that priests should be held to a higher standard of behaviour, but the majority are not paedophiles. But they are homosexual! We are not of course allowed to know that.

                • Jill, do you regard him as a “heterosexual sexual abuser” or “just” a “sexual abuser”? If the former, then you’re talking about a subset of a disorder. As I said, DSM-IV already allows sub-classifications (Attracted to Male Children Only/Female Children Only/ Neither… attraction to adults too) .

                  If the latter, then why are those who abuse female children just “sexual abusers” but those who sexually abuse male children are “homosexual”?

                  Billy Connolly, for example, suffered sexual abuse from his father. Do you regard the perpetrator as a sexual abuser, or a ‘homosexual’?

                  And the Catholic Church was not just the case of a few bad apple priests. There was a systematic cover up, evidenced in the fact that BILLIONS have been paid out in compensation. You are defending an organisation that covered up the rape of Children.

                • Prosecuting every instance of below AOC sex, Jill? I am not sure that would work. For a start they would be entered on the Sex Register, maybe for life. Perhaps you think that is a suitable disincentive but surely swamping it with such cases would weaken it as a tool in the fight against really serious cases of abuse, such as paedophilia and rape. I agree we need an AOC but the crucial question is where it should be set for maximum benefit. As I said earlier on this thread, setting it too high would be counterproductive. I am sure the Church’s case for a differential in the age that marriage is allowed was based on an idea that girls mature earlier than boys. But I would agree that just because a girl may come into her menses even as early as 12 should not give licence to assume she can be married off, which sadly happens in some cultures. Here western values are right and we need to teach people about such matters – in Africa they will without a doubt call it imposition of western cultural values (just as some do over female genital mutilation) but in this case the medical facts are against them, I have compunction in asserting – and I hope you would too..

                  But back to your point about prosecution. I am just reading _The Origins of Sex – A History of the first sexual revolution_ by Faramerz Dabhoiwala, a Senior Fellow in History at Exeter College, Oxford. He shows that in England there was a rise in surveillance and punishment of sexual sins from the later Middle Ages to well after the Restoration. It was managed, as it were, by the secular and Church courts, but the real impetus that got it working was the observation by ordinary people of their neighbours. Punishments for sex outside wedlock were very severe, stripped to the waist and tied to the cart’s tail the offending couple were whipped through the town, often with added days or weeks of hard labour and afterwards exile. Adulterers of either sex were branded on the forehead or cheeks. Despite all this, illicit sex still took place everywhere and bastards were born, to become a drain on the parish resources if the parents had been banished. Sex was policed not only by the Church and secular authorities but by the neighbour next door because people believed, (as they still seem to in the USA) that God would be offended by all sexual sin and send metereological tribulation to any community which allowed illicit sex to take place. Nevertheless sex out of wedlock carried on and bastards were born. History shows that your common-sense solution to sex between under-age teenagers by increased surveillance, stepping up prosecutions and doling out exemplary punishment do not work – and is less likely work in a world where we no longer live in tight-knit village communities (except on the Isle of Lewis perhaps) where everyone knows everyone’s business. All that we would achieve would be the increased criminalisation of many more teenagers and finally the utter defeat of the usefulness of the sex-register system.

                  • Of course illicit sex still took place, Tom, because of our fallen nature, but not on the scale it does today! And that’s without modern birth control methods, where we still manage to rack up 200,000 abortions a year, increasingly amongst under-age girls. A deterrent must be in place – which it is; the age of consent – but it must be applied. After all, you wouldn’t say that theives shouldn’t be punished just because some people steal.

                    I don’t think adultery and other sexual irregularities are so prevalent in coutries with Shariah law! Why would that be?

                    A few exemplary sentences would probably do the trick. (No, I don’t mean stoning to death.)

                    I remember watching an episode of Rumpole of the Bailey years ago (I love Rumpole) where a very precocious 15-year-old girl, just short of her 16th birthday, aided and abetted by her boyfriend, seduced her hopelessly romantic and naive English teacher (played by Nigel Havers) as an act of revenge for something or other. Anyhow, the poor sap got 2 years. I remember thinking at the time that this was grossly unfair as the girl was an absolute cow and he was a babe unborn, but now, having brought up four children, three of them girls, I tend to regard that as a warning to men not to mess with young women.

                    • Yes Jill but here you’re in the area of gender stereotypes. The lying morons of the “Christian” Institute invariably speak of youth sex as being about evil boys pressurising pure, innocent, angelical teenage girls who’ve never had a sexual thought in their life into premature sex. Absolutely nonsense. Girls “maturing” before boys extends to more than just study habits. A similar habit is the way in which fallen expressions of male sexuality, such as pornography, are condemned vigorously by the church (and our misandrist society) whereas Fifty Shades of Grey, or Ann Summers are all jolly good fun. The mental MIlFs who haunt evangelical churches so are not at any real risk of hearing *their* fallen sexual tastes condemned from the pulpit. Monotheism is supposed to be patriachal, but you wouldn’t know it from your average “conservative” church who recognise that they need to suck up to modern professional women in order to fill the pews.

                      As for Islam, I’m not sure what kind of ”conservative” or traditionalist looks with a fond eye at brutal theocracies. Civil and religious liberties for all are what the (to riot in understatement!) not exactly liberal, but Christian and patriotic, Orange Order celebrate. Free will is God given. Tangentially, I do hope you realise that, if a bill was proposed tomorrow to recriminalise buggery, the vast, vast majority of straight men would oppose it, and not solely for selfless reasons.

                    • The misogyny on this site is incredible sometimes! In my experience, the underage nymphomaniac intent on seducing every forty-year-old man in sight is a male fantasy found only in Colin Dexter novels. When I was at school, most underage girls were being pressured by older boys. Far from being desperate to follow their ‘natural’ inclinations and have sex, they wanted to wait, but were afraid of looking ‘frigid’. They would have been relieved if a teacher or some authority figure had said ‘well, there’s this contraception stuff that it’s useful to know about, but, you know, it’s totally normal just to wait until you’re a bit older’.

                    • misogyny? Seriously? Why not go ask some feminists if the notion that recreational/sex for pleasure is “naturally” for men only and see what they think about who’s the ‘misogynist’. You might want to look at booming vibrator sales and or condemnation (perhaps in the guardian’s online women’s articles) of male “slut shaming”
                      Dare one ask when you were at school? Why not check out university guides, aimed at young people and (crucially) written by them. You’ll find lots of “always keep condoms in your purse” style advice and rather an absence of “watch out for nasty boys who want to have nasty sex!” stereotypical guff.

                    • But we’re not talking about university students, we’re talking about teenagers around the 13,14,15 age – big difference. In general, women gain confidence in their twenties, but the 15-year-old girl who pretends to be very sexually experienced and confident is probably putting on a show. I was at school in the 90s – it wasn’t that long ago! And lots of people I knew lost their virginity in first year at university, not at school (admittedly we were all nerds, but still …)

                    • I cited university guides as, you know, potentially pertinent evidence. I’d maintain it stacks up better than “sexual fantasy cliches as presented in Rumple of the Bailey” as means to truth.

                      And you’re conflating desire with experience, confidence and many other factors. I think we can all agree that teenagers, by definition, are liable to be less experienced on average than 20somethings (say). My point was that teenage girls are closer to being horny as boys than they are sexless virgins with no desires. You can argue that girls, on average, have more emotional investment in sex, but that means that the sexual impulse has other connotations, not that the actual fierce desire actually doesn’t exist. I will say stereotypical boys might be happy to lose their virginity to any old hoe in a way not true of stereotypical girls. But the fact that female sexuality (conceding for the sake of arguments) is intertwined with other factors in a way perhaps not true of (some) boys doesn’t make the driver per se any weaker. I’d maintain that your accusations of misogyny was an absurd ad hom.
                      Did the girls you know regard “losing virginity” as purely or largely a capitulation to male desires, or would they not rather have viewed it in a manner supportive of my points above?
                      And of course if lust per se is a sin, then that only reinforcing my point about Fifty Shades of Grey being (in this context) no better than run of the mill pornography aimed at men.
                      I too was at School in the (mostly late ;-)) 90s.

                    • Of course young girls aren’t ‘sexless virgins with no desires’. I never made any such ridiculous claim. Nor has the Christian Institute ever claimed that youth sex is about ‘evil boys pressurising pure, innocent, angelical teenage girls who’ve never had a sexual thought in their life into premature sex.’ I refuse to discuss this subject with you any longer if you’re going to keep making stupid, belittling comments like that.

                    • Gee, I’ll really miss being called a misogynist! *rolls eyes*

                      Knock yourself out. I shall (whilst conceding to an element of hyperbole) in contrast, of course supply relevant URLs to ‘Christian’ Institute documents (you do realise that Peter and many another conservative has had good cause to take issue with their ‘journalism’? at one point their website had three stories about the Scottish Episcopal Church 2 of which contained flat out lies and distortions. Hardly an impressive strike rate, eh?) supportive of my position. I have been subscribing to the CI’s weekly news bulletins, for example, for as long as I can recall.

                    • Ryan, I know I was replying to your comment, and so it looked like I was calling you a misogynist, but I find in general there can be some misogyny on this site. Not coming from you, in the main, though (in fact, the main perpetrator has been consigned to purgatory, so I guess I can breathe now.) Perhaps I should have used something less explosive like ‘sexist’, but I guess the ‘girls are up for it’ thing pushes my button. And it annoys me even more when it’s presented as ‘up for it’ or ‘frigged virgin’, as if those were the two options! Yes, girls have sexual feelings, yes, they want to have sex with a guy, but perhaps not now, perhaps not tonight.

                      I didn’t reply to your question because I don’t really understand it. They saw losing their virginity as something that they wanted to do when they felt ready with somebody who really cared about them in some kind of stable relationship (not necessarily marriage). Actually, this is still what most teen girl magazines encourage – it’s not some ultra-conservative evangelical thing. Losing your virginity can be an awful experience if you do it with the wrong person or at the wrong time.

                    • Oh and I note your misrepresentation; my quote was
                      “My point was that teenage girls are closer to being horny
                      as boys than they are sexless virgins with no desires”
                      i.e. we’re discussing points on a continuum, which is not the same thing as saying the CI DO LITERALLY posit girls as BEING sexless virgins with no desires.

                      That you steam in dishing out ad hom (misogynist being up there with racist as one of the worst things you can call someone in polite society) and then expect ME to change/apologise speaks volumes.

                      Oh and I also note that you ignored the key point that the rhetoric was in service of, namely:
                      “Did the girls you know regard “losing virginity” as purely or largely a capitulation to male desires, or would they not rather have viewed it in a manner supportive of my points above?”

                      But, no worry, I’m sure there’ll be another ”liberal” you can take the huff with along in a minute. Being offended is not a serious form of debate. “I find you offensive for finding me offensive”, as a great “misogynist” once said ;-)

                    • Oh and I thought that you thought young girls WERE virgins, hence emphasising the first year of uni as virginity losing time.

                    • Ryan, don’t you think misogyny is often practised women themselves, just like the worst homophobes are in the deepest closets of Narnia? I thought Jill’s comments about her daughters was sailing a bit close to the wind. Women are often the harshest judges of other women in my experience.

                    • Hmm, I’m not sure I’d be comfortable expounding on what women should regard as misogynistic (I get enough hassle for being a fan of “hoe and bitch” laden hip-hop) but I can certainly recall many a female writer pointing out that the Daily Heil, say, is preoccupied with attacking women for their looks (c.f. the Samantha Brick story,which the Mail obviously threw the poor,albeit somewhat egotistical, women to the wolves) , exaggerating the proportion of false rape claims and so on.

                    • And of course, we were talking about mutual sex between young people, not nymphomaniacs, let alone forty year olds. Straw man much?

                    • On the BBC website dealing with AOC questions aimed at teenagers it says this:

                      “What happens if you have underage sex?The law sees it as sexual assault – it’s a criminal offence. This is because in the eyes of the law we are unable to give informed consent to sex when still a child.A boy who has sex with a girl under 16 (17 in NI) is breaking the law. Even if she agrees.If she is 13-15, the boy could go to prison for two years.If she is under 13 he could be sentenced to life imprisonment.A girl age 16 or over who has sex with a boy under 16 can be prosecuted for indecent assault.”


                      Do you really think a boy of 12 or 13 should be in danger of being sentenced to life imprisonment if his girlfriend is, say, a week under her 13th birthday? What about the other way about, the boy under 13 and the girl over? Could she be sent to prison for life? Can you (or anyone else) say when this legislation was enacted? I have a horrible feeling it is another example of sloppy ill-thought-out legislation exposed in the recent “extreme pornography” trial at Kingston Crown Court:

                    • I think that’s where the judge’s discretion comes in, Ryan. The law simply tells you what’s illegal and the maximum possible sentence if you’re guilty, and then it’s up to the judge and jury to look at the circumstances and decide the sentence. If the law was lowered to 14, you’d still have that 14-year-old having sex with a 13 1/2-year-old, and people like you complaining that the law is ‘criminalising’ their ‘natural’ behaviour. Following your logic we would’nt have an age of consent at all!

                    • People like being what exactly? ‘Liberals’ I never said that I actually agreed for Tatchell. As well as Tatchell, why not add Allen Ginsberg to the pile. Two prominent names in the last fifty years; compare and contrast with NAMBLA’s reputation among teh ‘gay lobby’.

                    • I’ve just realised the post I replied to was written by Tom, not Ryan. Sorry. The ‘people like you’ came across as more accusatory than I meant it to be. I was just following the logic of the previous post, and pointing out that you’ve got to draw the line somewhere. Yes, only the judge sentences, but the jury has got to decide whether the person was culpable or not.

                    • No I don’t accept that. I have stated clearly a couple of times now that I DO believe in an AOC but you insist on reiterating your view that I really don’t (because you have me and Ryan down as some kind of liberals, I presume, who have to believe that anything goes). You say you are following the logic of my concerns but in fact you are just offering a simplistic hard-line solution which in no manner responds to the problem in any ethical kind of way. It is just easy uptight moralism of the hang ’em and flog ’em kind. As Faramerz Dabhoiwala demonstrates, harsh punishments didn’t work in the past and they won’t work now. Do you really want 13 year-olds sent to prison for life? Aren’t you in the least bit concerned if Jill’s solutions were put in place that’s what we would get. She said it herself “A few exemplary sentences would probably do the trick.” Though she draws the line at stoning to death. I can’t believe if you thought about it you really would but it is not safe enough to trust in the goodness of judges, as we saw from the Bolton 7 case, or even twelve good men and women true – though in the recent case it was the common sense of the jury which acquitted Simon Walsh on all counts – no thanks to the CPS or the members of parliament who allowed such a regressive and illiberal law to pass.

                    • Accept it, or don’t accept it. It’s no skin off my nose. My comments aren’t aimed at you personally. I feel strongly about this issue because we’ve got to find some path between the abstinence programmes in the South US that compare girls who’ve had sex to used toothbrushes, and treating teenagers like a bundle of hormones that you can do nothing with but throw condoms at. It’s very difficult to progress with that in an atmosphere when chastity, and anybody who tries to teach it, is constantly ridiculed. There’s nothing dirty about sex with someone you love, but people can also live very full, healthy and fulfilling lives without having sex.

                      If it makes you feel better, I actually thought Jill’s suggestion that we should have longer sentences, and that countries that execute people for adultery (and homosexuality?) are onto something, were quite extreme. Perhaps I should have said so. The age of consent is there as a deterrent and a guideline, but mainly we need a change in culture.

                    • Perhaps if you felt a bit less and thought a bit more you might be able to cobble together some half-decent arguments? Just an observation. Tom has been if anything overly gracious in your consistent attempts to smear him as a child-sex enabler, in the same way that moi is supposedly a misogynist. Dare one say that being less extreme than the “stoning adulterers” lobby is not exactly a shining credential ;-)
                      Perhaps we could all as Christians agree that the ideal situation would be no teenagers having sex. That doesn’t necessarily make abstinence education per se (as distinct from the “slut-shaming” southern extremes you identify) the best approach for secular Governments to adopt. There’s a reason why Dan Savage coined the term “saddlebacking” ….

                    • Thanks for that support Ryan. Suggesting something along the lines of the government sending a commission to see what the Netherlands is doing better in this matter than here in the UK with a much lower level of teenage pregnancies would, I fear, only get my head bitten off by Jill who has relatives in Holland, if I remember right, with the rebuke that Dutch society is so much more family oriented that we in the UK can learn nothing useful from them. But they clearly are doing it better – and it ain’t Abstinence Only because that has been shown to fail when the crunch comes. Children do need facts – but that does not preclude relationship teaching alongside, so it is not just the bare biology – but without the facts they will be left all at sea when the crucial moment comes and they decide against all the prohibitions that they are going to have sex, whether parents, priests, teachers and good ladies of the parish wag the finger or not. Threat is a hopeless way of teaching anything – did Fr Arnall’s sermon on Hell ever stop one Irish boy masturbating?

                      “Now the time for repentance has gone by. Time is, time was, but time shall be no more! Time was to sin in secrecy, to indulge in that sloth and pride, to covet the unlawful, to yield to the promptings of your lower nature, to live like the beasts of the field, nay worse than the beasts of the field, for they, at least, are but brutes and have no reason to guide them: time was, but time shall be no more. God spoke to you by so many voices, but you would not hear. You would not crush out that pride and anger in your heart, you would not restore those ill-gotten goods, you would not obey the precepts of your holy church nor attend to your religious duties, you would not abandon those wicked companions, you would not avoid those dangerous temptations. Such is the language of those fiendish tormentors, words of taunting and of reproach, of hatred and of disgust. Of disgust, yes! For even they, the very devils, when they sinned, sinned by such a sin as alone was compatible with such angelical natures, a rebellion of the intellect: and they, even they, the foul devils must turn away, revolted and disgusted, from the contemplation of those unspeakable sins by which degraded man outrages and defiles the temple of the Holy Ghost, defiles and pollutes himself…..”

                    • Ryan, I have no desire to smear anybody as a child-sex enabler. I didn’t realise Tom’s post was in reply to Jill – I didn’t have the context – and I’ve apologised for sounding so accusatory. The ‘misogyny’ was a half-throw-away comment intended to get a discussion going about how helpful the ‘up for it’ notion is when discussing teenage girls. I wouldn’t have made it if I’d known it was going to cause this much trouble.

                      It seems to me that you don’t want to have a discussion. You want to have the freedom to come on this site making snide comments about conservatives or ‘Daily Heil’ readers, as you call them, accuse organisation you disagree with of being ‘lying morons’, and then take umbrage when anybody writes anything that remotely offends you. Some of your comments are amusing, but you certainly make no attempt to be balanced or understanding. You can’t write the way you do and then be overly sensitive when people question some of your views. If you can’t take it, don’t dish it out.

                    • No, she’s misrepresenting. I find it slightly concerning that you’re leaping to the defence of someone who called this blog misogynistic just because she’s disagreeing with me….remember the time you also bigged-up “Dad”, because he was disagreeing with me, before he revealed his true trollish colours?

                    • Tell you what – try going 7 days with ONLY engaging the actual points people here make rather that referring to anything else?


                    • Peter, Annalee accused everyone else of negativity more than once; I think the tone of her posts often not all that helpful yet she was quick to chide the rest of us e.g. “Please let’s not have another unconstructive knit-picking argument over who said or meant what.” I don’t think Ryan is the guilty party (he was quite a knight in shining armour coming to my defence against what I felt was wilful misconstruing of what I was trying to say)……and if he passionate against what he sees as lies and half-truths it is because there is true nobility in his character, even when he engages issues widely.

                    • Is it not even more tedious when some posters – not you – pretend that any criticism of the Daily Mail is a criticism of orthodox Christianity per se? Dare one say that a paper that writes a lesson on the good lessons to be learned from concentration camp signs deserves, perhaps, some crticism?

                    • You do realise what you did there don’t you? As soon as someone challenged you your response was to point a finger at something else and go, “But, but, but this person is really awful”. This exactly what I’m talking about.

                    • You’re a fair guy. I’m assuming the same rules apply to everyone. All I ask is for a clarification of them. Your blog, your rules: if no more mentions of the Daily Heil or the ‘Christian’ Institute is one of them, then : to hear is to obey :).

                    • Again, specifically in regard to what? No mentions of the CI or DM ever again? It’s a bit odd that I asked for a clarification of the rules and you responded by saying that I should obey them without actually saying what said rules are!

                    • Fair point.

                      No problem referring to the CI and DM, just use their proper names.

                      I’m going to close this thread now – I think we’ve all made our points.

                    • The irony being that Annalee compared me favourably to Steven; if I stopped posting here not doubt she’d talk about how fair and balanced you are, before the smears and huffiness started up again! This “off hand” nonsense is up there with the twinkie defence.

                    • It didn’t go unnoticed; if I were paranoid I’d think there was mischief afoot to get rid of all of us until she and Jill had the blog to themselves – even get rid of Peter! Just kidding :-)

                    • The only 2 “normal” people left in the world! It’s like an episode of Doctor Who ;) (just kidding ladies, you know I love you ;-))

                    • Yes, and do you see what happened there? Instead of responding to question, Ryan ridiculed me with his ‘Peter Tatchell is not the pope of homosexuality’ comment. I, in turn, didn’t responded less than graciously by asking that we should please not get into another unconstructive conversation.

                      This thread did not turn sour because of me. I’m not going to let you pin this one on me!

                    • I would maintain that “Peter Tatchell is not the pope of homosexuality” is a legitimate ,indeed fine response to attempts to make overmuch of Tatchell’s personal views in order to demonise gay people – which Lindsay was doing, which is what the original blog post here was about!

                      And if you want the thread to stop being sour, perhaps you could stop throwing out smears of misogyny, or child sex enabling, or sexism, and deal with points? Afterall, you accused me of misrepresenting the CI. I responded with links. Don’t you feel any sense of duty, since it was YOU who were accusing me, to see if you’re right or not?

                    • That presupposes that any points to be made or that have been made have nothing to do with the CI or Daily Mail, which I disagree with. Annallese accusing me of misrepresenting the CI is a charge I take seriously, hence my responding with factual statements, which she will of course ignore. At the risk of sounding a bit Kanye West, a famous Nabokov quote about his response when people challenge his scholarship comes to mind ;-)
                      To be honest, I’d have thought someone with a big glowing MOD beside their name would take issue with Analeese’s “charming” use of gutter-smears (misogyny, child sex enabling) and then claiming later that they were ”off hand”. Would you really tolerate the “off hand “excuse if someone compared YOU to a racist, for example?

                    • Well, I’m very sorry for that and will bear it in mind. I would maintain it’s still a million miles away from using appaling smears and then showing up a few hours later with an “off hand comment” excuse.

                    • My apologies. Any and all references to the Daily Heil and the ‘Christian’ Institute were merely “off hand comments”. *style guide updating..* ;)

                    • I was discussing consensual sex between teenagers. You brought in the example of 40 year old men thinking that teenager girls were “up for it”, which had nothing to do with what I was saying.

                      Daily Heil: check out the link about the Daily Mails’ recent advocacy for Arbeit Macht Frei, I used “lying morons” to refer to the Christian Institute, not anyone who disagrees with me. Nice try.

                    • Yes, Ryan, and when your own points are more balanced, we’ll do our best to always be fair to you.

                    • Is that an ex cathedra we?
                      Perhaps you should start with Peter’s own blog posts about the Christian Institute’s misrepresentation of data relating to the gay blood ban, and his post on the Jan Moir Stephen Gately article. Unless he’s a liberal too?

                    • Or not so much.

                      Ah, so you don’t actually care whether my characterisations of the CI and the Daily Mail are accurate or not! Thought as much.

                    • I can do this all night long. Looks like only one of us cares about the veracity and integrity of the Christian Institute, eh?

                    • Oh and analees, perhaps YOU could ponder how many “liberals” you have to go in a huff with before you think the fault might be yours…

                    • Oh and I called the Christian Institute liars because they, you know, lie. Do you need some examples of shoddy journalism in regard to the Daily Mail to support that contention too? How about we start with Jan Moir and Stephen Gately eh?

                      And the fact that you “only” (!) smear people as misogynists or child-abuse enablers in off-hand comments isn’t quite the sign of a fair-and-balanced commentator you appear to view it as….

                    • Oh and I “took offence” at being called a misogynist, and Tom would have been more than justified at taking offensive at being smeared as a child-sex enabler.
                      You’re “off hand comment” oops silly me playing innocent crap doesn’t negate the venom of the original accusations. If you call someone a racist in a “off hand comment” you are, still, calling them a racist.

                    • Pots and kettles come immediately to mind. Annalee, you need to lighten up a bit. Don’t be so tetchy. That is why Steven got to you

                    • You’re rather proving my point about the sexism … and you and ryan are both very much proving my point about the ‘who said or meant what’ off the topic line of posts …. however, I will try to read your posts more carefully in the future, and do my best not to misrepresent your views.

                    • Sexism? Really? How so? Is this, like “misogyny” another one of those “off hand comments” that you apparently get a free pass for?

                    • Oh, and I’m discussing the CI because you claimed I was misrepresenting. I’ve responded with links to facts. You’ve ignored these.

                    • No. I’m being very serious. That Violet Elizabeth Bott remark was extremely sexist. And now Tom is backing him up. This is not an off-hand remark. I’m sorry I used the word ‘misogyny’ – it was too strong. But women aren’t going to post on this site any longer if people get away with making that kind of demeaning remark.

                    • Sexist? Do you believe that Tom is using that character as being indicative of womankind as a whole? Or are you claiming that any criticism of you is de facto sexism?

                    • No offence, but women posted on this blog long before you showed up and will, I’m sure, be here long after you’re gone too.

                    • And annalee, myself and Tom post a lot because we actually engage with points. Compare and contrast with your “chap door runaway” technique, coupled with the use of smears that, in polite society, are up there with calling someone a racist and then claiming you didn’t mean it.

                    • The amusing thing is that on this very blog Peter has pointed out distortions of the CI and (c.f. his piece on the Moir Gately article) the Daily Mail.

                    • Oh and your last paragraph is inane. Here’s a good analogy. The Family Research Council are labeled a hate group by the SPLC. They oppose gay marriage. I disagree with them. Yet the Roman Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts also oppose gay marriage and are NOT labeled a hate group.

                      Conservative, Orthodox Christianity deserves respect. The Daily Mail and the Christian Institute do, in my opinion, not. And I can of course give facts for those opinions; compare and contrast…..

                    • Annalee, please!, 1) the jury has no part in deciding the sentence and
                      2) it is an indication of sloppy parliamentary draughmanship when legislators leave judges to do their work for them – and dangerous if you get some religious anti-sex Judge Jeffreys-type sitting in court. Remember the Bolton Seven case? In case you are too young see here
                      2) I have just said above to Jill that I DO believe there should be an age of consent and 3) “people like me” as you put it, do not automatically suggest that by not wanting young people prosecuted and dragged through the courts, confined to jail, given prison records and put on the Sex Offenders Register for life at the tender age of 13 or so means that we think that they should be given no boundaries at all. I think my answer to Jill was more considered than you give me credit for. I would say your penultimate sentence sounds more like something out of the mouth of Ann Widdecombe – she who as Prisons Minister had women in labour handcuffed to their hospital beds – than the usual more considered posts you place.

                    • Jill: “I don’t think adultery and other sexual irregularities are so prevalent in coutries with Shariah law! ” Is that a good thing, even if it is really true?

                • Jill, you keep on trying to simplify matters so drastically as effectively to falsify the picture. You say that 90 % of the RC priests who sexually abused minors abused post-pubescent boys. I’m not sure if that figure is absolutely accurate, but it will do for present purposes. But whatever the exact figure, that’s not the full story.

                  Firstly, although there is no certainty about the proportion of RC priests who are homosexual, no-one who has any close acquaintance with the RC Church (as I have) can doubt that the proportion is decidedly higher than in the population at large. But none of the many gay RC priests whom I have known has ever been convicted or even accused of abusing minors. The vast majority obviously don’t.

                  Secondly, how many of those priests who molested post-pubescent boys also molested girls? I don’t know precisely, but nearly all the most notorious ones (e.g. Sam Penney, Brendan Smyth, James Porter, Oliver O’Grady) did. Oliver O’Grady molested altar boys in their early teens, but he also raped daughters of parishioners, and his youngest victim was a girl of three. A former work colleague of mine (not a priest) who was a married man (until his wife divorced him) and the father of 4 children, and who is a repeat offender, has targeted boys aged 10-14, so some of them were pre-pubescent and some post-pubescent. He also sexually harassed a woman at work. I know that you want homosexuality to be the key to it all, but it patently isn’t; it’s far more complicated than that.

                  You speak of Peter Tatchell wanting to make sure that the RC Church is smeared as much as possible. I have already made it clear that I am no fan of Peter Tatchell. But speaking as a Catholic myself, I have to say that the Church has been smeared quite enough already by its own hierarchy through its disgraceful cover-up over many decades of sexual abuse by its clergy; so much so that a bit of extra smearing, just or unjust, by Peter Tatchell is really of no consequence.

                  You say of RC clerical abusers that “the majority are not paedophiles. But they are homosexual! We are not of course allowed to know that.” I have already referred to the recent case in Rochdale of schoolgirls who were seduced and recruited into prostitution. If you watch television or listen to the radio at all you must know about this case. By your own stated criterion, the gang of men who did this are certainly sexual abusers but not paedophiles. But they were repeatedly described in the media as paedophiles. NOT ONE SINGLE TIME did I hear anyone describe them as heterosexual. “They are not paedophiles. But they are heterosexual! We are not of course allowed to know that.” Would you agree with that? If not, why is it appropriate to say it, mutatis mutandis, of the RC priestly abusers but not of the Rochdale abusers?

                  Finally, Jill, I would be most interested to hear your views as a non-RC about what practical policies the RC Church should adopt in the future in order to protect minors against possible sexual abuse by its clergy.

            • Jill, you say the AOC in RC Canon Law is 18. Where do you get that from? AOC would only apply to marriage; all other sex is illicit and as “error has no rights” it figures that there can be be no consent given in the same meaning that is construed in English and Scottish law.

              But what about this?”Canon 1083.1 A man cannot validly enter marriage before the completion of his sixteenth year of age, nor a woman before the completion of her fourteenth year.” But the next canon says:”Canon 1083.2 The Episcopal Conference may establish a higher age for the lawful celebration of marriage.”
              Elsewhere it says”Canon 1072 Pastors of souls are to see to it that they dissuade young people from entering marriage before the age customarily accepted in the region.”
              So Peter Tatchell is not so out of line with the thinking of the Universal Church as you and annalee (and other “alarmed” readers of the Daily Mail?) suggest. In fact he only wants to equalise it at the Church’s AOC for girls. “Ah,” I hear you say, “but that is for marriage”. Well yes, but don’t you think a girl marrying at the tender age of 14 might be more inimical to her life chances than occasional sex with a boy of her own age, (even though the latter is not to be recommended)? Peter Tatchell is concerned about the criminalisation of young people which is what happens if you set the AOC too unrealistically high.

              • And let’s not forget that the Virgin Mary was probably aged c. 14yo when engaged to a man probably in his late teens / twenties. This is a challenging concept for western christians in the C21.

                • And then there is Mohammed……

                  “Aisha was six or seven years old when betrothed to Muhammad.[11][15][16] Traditional sources state that she stayed in her parents’ home until the age of nine when the marriage was consummated with Muhammad, then 53, in Medina,[16][17][18][19] with the single exception of al-Tabari, who records that she was ten.[15] Both Aisha and Sawda, his two wives, were given apartments adjoined to the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi mosque.[20]

                    • Yes, just that concepts of AOC are probably only western and modern; didn’t want to give an excuse for some muslim-bashing.

                    • Apparently hotly debated. But a friend who was a surgeon in Africa told me too many girls were married and pregnant by 12 which is far too young. Giving birth at that age can cause terrible trauma and the poor child ended up doubly incontinent. Then she was thrown out by her husband and family. He told me operated on and repaired the damage to such girls in many cases, and thereby saved them from a fate worse than death.

                • Especially those who seem to regard the RC church as some kind of perennial defender of a circa 18 age of consent!

              • Erm, Tom, where did you get the idea that I read the Daily Mail? I don’t get this stuff from the Daily Mail, I get it from my own experience of young people and from reading Peter Tatchell’s website myself. Please give me a bit of credit! I think there’s a reason why the age of consent is 16. I don’t know about 1st century Palestine, but our teenagers just aren’t mature enough to know how to handle all the emotions that surround sex. Liberals who are against any kind of abstinence teaching say that it’s unrealistic to expect young people not to have sex, but I think that it’s equally unrealistic to think that you can teach them the kind of mature skills of respect and communication that Tatchell thinks that you can – it’s difficult enough for grown-ups to learn – look at all the divorces!

                • This is a good point. 14yos in C1 Judea (I hate the use of “Palestine” in that context – just saying!) were considered adult around the age of 13. Although the modern forms of bar/bat mitzvah didn’t exist, the Mishnah / Talmud seems to indicate 13 as the age where a boy can read and understand Torah and therefore is accountable to it.

                  In today’s society we have legal culpability around 10 to 12 but adult responsibility much later.

                  • Making it highly innacurate therefore to blame LGBT people for supposed societal acceptance of paedophilia ?

                    • Not necessarily. It might be valid to trace a path of general societal acceptance to taboo sexual activity which begins with divorce, then homosexuality and then onwards to polyandry, paedophilia, ebophilia etc. However such an interpretation often gets damaged by some of its proponents claiming that homosexuals WANT to have sex with children and that’s why they want AOC laws changed. The trajectory is general and encompasses a number of myriad sexual practices rather than one group wanting to legalise all the differing potential forms.

                    • But does the history of age of consent in Christendom not show that claiming that society has always identified sex involving ”children” as a taboo and that LGBT proponenents are challenging this is demonstrable ahistorical nonsense?

                    • and of course if you’re talking about divorce then you have to deal with the point, oft noted by liberals, that the Catholic Church is not exactly campaigning to make divorce illegal for everyone.

                    • surely annulment retroactively treats a marriage as invalid, which is hardly synonymous with UK divorce law?

                    • My thanks. If memory serves, the Catechism of the Catholic Church also says that pornography should be illegal. I’m surprised, or not remotely, that Keith O’Brian is focusing on teh gays instead of risking a tabloid reputation as the “bongo bashing bishop!”

                    • O’Brien used to be liberal but with the Cardinal’s hat came aspirations, it is said, for a curial post and a nice sinecure in the Eternal City, a more appealing place to spend one’s dotage than draughty St Andrews. So a Damascus-road conversion to trad conservatism in line with the thinking of Benedict’s post Vat II return from liberalism to literalism seemed in order. I believe he has even been seen wearing the Cappa Magna, red watered silk with full pre-John XXIII un-trucated train.

                    • Hmm, I think rocking the Cappa Magna is a point in his favour! It would be great if Benedict brought the Papal Mantum back, but I suppose there comes a point where the similarity of one’s dress to a Liberace outfit makes homophobic pronouncements ever more difficult to take seriously ;-)

                    • Oh, I think Liberace and Ratzinger can’t be compared.

                      When you’ve both decided to do sensible debate again instead of just constant snide (though admittedly at times slightly witty) comments, let me know and I’ll join in again.

                    • Actually, we were talking about particular outfits. Never had you down as an over defensive fan of camp vestments. Perhaps you’d like some photos of liberace outfits beside comparable papal vestments to sustain our thesis?
                      and ”slightly” is, amusing we’re being graded against the curve ’round here, just rude ;)

                    • Hmm, I have a (LGBT-themed!) masters thesis to finish for tomorrow, so hopefully Tom will rise to the challenge ;-) ( Although I am pleasantly surprised to see you do not regard papal vestments – including the most ornate kinds, sadly abandoned at Vatican 2 – as overly camp ;-))

                    • As a Statistician, what do you think the response would be if you showed those photos to a 100 (or 1000) people and asked them to name who those outfits most remind them of? ;)

                    • I expect you noticed that Benedict restored the papal slippers. JP apparently had a special set of white Doc Martins made (for supreme comfort). I kid you not. Perhaps Benedict is working upwards and will eventually restore the Papal Tiara. Since it is on the papal coat of arms it seems a pity not to wear it again. He has restored an earlier form of the Sacred Pallium, much more like the vestment all Orthodox bishops (no, not Wallace Benn!!) wear.

                    • Reminds me of a comment made by a friend who had never been to a Greek orthodox liturgy. We were taken to the church in Camden town by and aficionado of all things Orthodox and put in the gallery where we could overlook the eikonostasis and see into the sanctuary which was normally obscured to the laity. There were many bishops and archimandrites present, all sporting newly made vestments. My secular friend’s comment was “It was like the opening night of Kismet”.

                      Good luck with the thesis.

                    • I don’t know if you heard of him, Ryan, but the late Canon Alphonso de Zulueta who was parish priest of Chelsea used to tell of an incident that took place in Westminster Cathedral soon after Basil Hume became Archbishop. The Bishop of London turned up in full cope and mitre, which as you know, is the height of bad manners in someone else’s cathedral. The new archbishop was standing ready to process in wearing his simple monk’s cowl. The MC spotted the Bishop of London making his way up the aisle from the West door to applause. He rushed upstairs to the chest where they kept the original watered silk cappa magna belonging to Cardinal Hinsley, gathered it up and threw it over the head of the protesting new Archbishop Hume. The MC insisted: “no, you must wear it, Your Grace, You can’t let the Bishop of London appear to outrank you!”

                  • I think that is right. Was Wordsworth, along with Locke and Rouseau, among the first to consider children different from adults?

                    • Certainly Blake in The Songs of Innocence & Experience paints a picture of childhood innocence…

                    • Come on, they sign Jerusalem at cricket! Much better hymn than Shine Jesus Shine or other evangelical favourites ;-)

                    • In fairness – as a big U2 fan! – I did quite like the evangelical songs with electric guitar solos. Although I’ve attended some supposed Holy Communion services where the actual “liturgy” was brutally truncated because the guitar solos and egotistical preaching overran. And they say ”liberals” are too ruled by the flesh… ;-)

                    • You have an unhealthy obsession with one particular evangelical Anglican church and I think you should attend quite a few more before making such sweeping generalisations about all Anglican evangelicals.

                    • Did you notice that Pussie Riot quoted a bit of an Russian Orthodox kontakion during their song to the Virgin to get rid of Putin?

                    • I read a very good piece on how it would very likely have been illegal over here as well, regardless of the underlying political issues involved.

                    • Ironically of course I can think of a few evangelicals who encouraged people to heckle +Gene Robinson whilst he was in the country, which would also run afoul of the same laws on disrupting CoE services of worship ;-)

                    • Well worth your attention, Peter. “Tiger, tiger burning bright….” and “Little Lamb, who made thee? Dost thou know who made thee?” And this:

                      “The Little Black Boy”

                      My mother bore me in the southern wild,
                      And I am black, but O! my soul is white;
                      White as an angel is the English child:
                      But I am black as if bereav’d of light.

                      My mother taught me underneath a tree
                      And sitting down before the heat of day,
                      She took me on her lap and kissed me,
                      And pointing to the east began to say.

                      Look on the rising sun: there God does live
                      And gives his light, and gives his heat away.
                      And flowers and trees and beasts and men receive
                      Comfort in morning joy in the noon day.

                      And we are put on earth a little space,
                      That we may learn to bear the beams of love,
                      And these black bodies and this sun-burnt face
                      Is but a cloud, and like a shady grove.

                      For when our souls have learn’d the heat to bear
                      The cloud will vanish we shall hear his voice.
                      Saying: come out from the grove my love & care,
                      And round my golden tent like lambs rejoice.

                      Thus did my mother say and kissed me,
                      And thus I say to little English boy;
                      When I from black and he from white cloud free,
                      And round the tent of God like lambs we joy:

                      I’ll shade him from the heat till he can bear,
                      To lean in joy upon our fathers knee.
                      And then I’ll stand and stroke his silver hair,
                      And be like him and he will then love me.

                • Apologies annalee. Perhaps that should read “So Peter Tatchell is not so out of line with the thinking of the Universal Church as you and annalee, as well as the “alarmed” readers of the Daily Mail suggest. Better :-)

              • Talking of the Daily Mail, Tom, did you hear about the recent fuss when they suggested (I am not making this up) that unemployed graduates can learn from the Arbeit Mach Frei sign outside of Auschwitz? (opening line : ”
                The German slogan ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ is somewhat tainted by its connection with Nazi concentration camps” ) . The conservative Daily Telegraph, among other tomes, of course wrote articles objecting to this. Perhaps Jill will bear it mine next time she’s tempted to (solipsistically) boast that most “normal” people are Daily Mail reading homophobes!

                  • Thanks, but that’s not a nickname I invented! If ‘conservatives’ want to invoke Godwin’s Law (which, unlike all the other intellectual fallacies which they should bone up on, is no such thing) then they might want to check that they’re not actually speaking positively about Nazi slogans…. ;-)

                • He is a barrister, not a canon lawyer as far as I know. When he says “Under its current rules for example the church sets the age of a minor as being up to 18” I don’t think he is talking about AOC but about something Peter mentioned below, responsible adulthood. The Canons I quoted define AOC (i.e. licit age of marriage – the ONLY context fro sex). The differing ages he mentions across Europe are the ages defined by the secular laws of the various countries under which priests might be prosecuted or not by secular law.

                  • No, you’re right, it doesn’t refer to the legal age of consent. The legal age of consent in Vatican City is the same as in Italian national law, i.e. 14 or 16. Which of the two applies is complicated, and depends on the circumstances, including the age of the other party and whether or not he/she is in a relationship of trust or authority (e.g. guardian, teacher, priest etc.)


            • “It should be of great concern to every Christian, now that gays are a protected species…”

              Gays are not a protected species in any way that straights aren’t.

              • But don’t you see Guglielmo, that’s the problem! Despite the RC opposing (say) torture as it violated the innate, God-given dignity of *all* humans, Jill appears to believe that human rights should only apply to straight people.

                • Yes, cerebusboy, I believe you’re right. Her reasoning appears to be that if the law decrees that gays are to be treated exactly like everyone else, that makes us a protected species. But then, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, Jill is hardly a paragon of logic.

            • Irrespective of anything that Peter Tatchell says – and I couldn’t care less what he says – it is a fact that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church systematically covered up sexual abuse by its clergy and routinely transferred offending priests from one parish to another. It also frequently intimidated the families of those who had been abused into keeping silence. It has been doing this since time immemorial. As a gay Irish Catholic recently pointed out, the Irish bishops were trying some years ago to bully the Irish government into not repealing the absurd Victorian legislation that criminalized consensual gay sex between adults at the very same time as they were busily engaged in covering up sexual abuse by priests. It’s enough to make me want to convert too – in the opposite direction.

              Jill, you say that you can’t see any of the cardinals getting away with supporting gay marriage. I suggest that you do some serious research into the history of clerical sexual abuse and find out exactly what they DID get away with. Didn’t Jesus say something about straining out gnats and swallowing camels?

              It always struck me as fascinating that a Catholic priest who came out as gay and said that being gay was fine was likely be suspended a divinis indefinitely, even if he was keeping his vow of celibacy, whereas a priest who had merely molested the altar boys or the girls in the confirmation class could be quietly reassigned to another parish, and then, if events necessitated, reassigned again, and then perhaps yet again, and subsequently…

              Here is the then Conservative MP for Cheadle speaking against the de-criminalization of consensual gay sex between adults in the debate on the on the Sexual Offences Bill, 11th February 1966. It comes from Hansard, which is online:

              “I made inquiries and as a consequence it came to my knowledge that the Church of England re-employs clergymen in parish duties who have been convicted of offences against young persons. This is not true of the Free Church OR, I UNDERSTAND, OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH. [Emphasis added by me]

              Ha bloody ha.

  9. I must say I find this site really difficult to navigate. I read an interesting post by Tom yesterday and was going to respond to it today now that I have more time, but I’m blowed if I can find it! I usually pick things up from the ‘recent comments’ in the sidebar but the one I wanted has been buried. I have now run out of steam after 15 minutes of searching! I’m sure there must be an easy way of finding things, if somebody could enlighten me???

    • Hi Jill, do you get email alerts for new messages on the post?
      It’s not perfect but I use Ctril-F to search the website. For example, if I wanted to search for your comment above, having been seen an email alert, I would use CTRL-F and search for “difficult to navigate” or another key phrase. That would also bring up the wee synopsis of your message on the sidebar too, but it’s easy enough to flick to the original message. Hope that helps.

      • Ryan and Jill, I found you can see all the posts a person has made if you click on their name in blue on the main page. It lists all their comments in order with the latest at the top. Then when you find the comment you want you click on its ‘comment’ and that navigates you back to its place on the main page again. I have found it really useful. Thanks Jill for saying my post was interesting :-)

  10. I’ve just read a news item about a woman teacher who has been charged with 16 cases of sexual assault on boys at the school. Nowhere in the article was she called a paedophile. Now, had she been a (male, obviously) Roman Catholic priest …

    • link and ages of children please?
      And of course, that sounds like another example of sexist double standards. Female teachers having sex with male students gets lots of leery ” wish I had a teacher like that!” comments, Male abuse of female pupils is regarded as sexual abuse. Surely *both* instances are forms of sexual abuse?

    • And Jill, who does that help YOUR case? Numerous people on this post have pointed out instances of sexual abuse of members of the opposite sex that are not called “heterosexual abuses” – you kept ducking the question, but, unless the article was headlined “Heterosexual Abuse scandal” it sounds like you yourself have evidence to negate your own gay-bashing credentials!
      And dare one say that if you want reasonable journalism you might want to abandon your beloved Daily Heil? ;-)

    • Oh and Jill, how do you think it should have been reported: “Sexual Abuse” or “Heterosexual Sexual Abuse”? If the former, then why should sex abuse directed by a grown man at boys be referred to as “Homosexual Sexual Abuse” ?

      • Just got round to reading today’s Times. Is the story you’re referring to Jill the one about a “Emma Webb, 41” in Reading. If so, this passage stuck out:
        “She was arrested after into investigation into claims that she had become over-friendly with the boys, aged 15-17, after an end-of-year prom party”

        Is 15-17 the average age of the boys sexually abused by Catholic priests? No.
        Is your analogy therefore accurate?No.

        It does crack me up when you or similar ‘conservatives’ claim that you can’t say things, when what you really mean is that you can’t spout nonsense in public without people pointing out deficiencies in your “logic” and “arguments”. No doubt, but that’s what public is all about! If you can’t stand the heat… ;-)

  11. Right folks – I’m closing this comment thread. I think we’ve all made our points and it’s time to talk about something else. Look, there’s a new thread on Chichester…

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