Paedophilophobia

Warning – this is one of those posts where I write something that can easily be misunderstood. Read everything I have to say before responding to just one section.

Ready?

An article in today’s Guardian has caused a bit of a stir…

Silhouette of a young maleIn 1976 the National Council for Civil Liberties, the respectable (and responsible) pressure group now known as Liberty, made a submission to parliament’s criminal law revision committee. It caused barely a ripple. “Childhood sexual experiences, willingly engaged in with an adult,” it read, “result in no identifiable damage … The real need is a change in the attitude which assumes that all cases of paedophilia result in lasting damage.”

It is difficult today, after the public firestorm unleashed by revelations about Jimmy Savile and the host of child abuse allegations they have triggered, to imagine any mainstream group making anything like such a claim. But if it is shocking to realise how dramatically attitudes to paedophilia have changed in just three decades, it is even more surprising to discover how little agreement there is even now among those who are considered experts on the subject.

A liberal professor of psychology who studied in the late 1970s will see things very differently from someone working in child protection, or with convicted sex offenders. There is, astonishingly, not even a full academic consensus on whether consensual paedophilic relations necessarily cause harm.

Damian Thompson over at the Telegraph (who I usually enjoy) had this to say,

Britain’s most persecuted minority have found a new advocate. An article this morning in the Guardian by feature writer Jon Henley addresses misconceptions about paedophiles, quoting one “expert” who believes that: “It is the quality of the relationship that matters”.

No, this is not not some sick send-up on my part. “If there’s no bullying, no coercion, no abuse of power,” says Tom O’Carroll, “if the child enters into the relationship voluntarily … the evidence shows there need be no harm.”

O’Carroll is a former chairman of the Paedophile Information Exchange with a conviction for distributing indecent photographs. The Guardian acknowledges this, but gives him a respectful hearing and points out that “some academics do not dispute” his views.

Hmmm. At this point it’s worth reading the whole Guardian article to see what is or isn’t being claimed (or advocated for).

So what, then, do we know? A paedophile is someone who has a primary or exclusive sexual interest in prepubescent children. Savile appears to have been primarily an ephebophile, defined as someone who has a similar preferential attraction to adolescents, though there have been claims one of his victims was aged eight.

But not all paedophiles are child molesters, and vice versa: by no means every paedophile acts on his impulses, and many people who sexually abuse children are not exclusively or primarily sexually attracted to them. In fact, “true” paedophiles are estimated by some experts to account for only 20% of sexual abusers. Nor are paedophiles necessarily violent: no firm links have so far been established between paedophilia and aggressive or psychotic symptoms. Psychologist Glenn Wilson, co-author of The Child-Lovers: a Study of Paedophiles in Society, argues that “The majority of paedophiles, however socially inappropriate, seem to be gentle and rational.”

Legal definitions of paedophilia, needless to say, have no truck with such niceties, focusing on the offence, not the offender. The Sex Offenders Act 1997 defined paedophilia as a sexual relationship between an adult over 18 and a child below 16.

There is much more we don’t know, including how many paedophiles there are: 1-2% of men is a widely accepted figure, but Sarah Goode, a senior lecturer at the University of Winchester and author of two major 2009 and 2011 sociological studies on paedophilia in society, says the best current estimate – based on possibly flawed science – is that “one in five of all adult men are, to some degree, capable of being sexually aroused by children”. Even less is known about female paedophiles, thought to be responsible for maybe 5% of abuse against pre-pubescent children in the UK.

Now that’s an interesting series of numbers and observations, key to which is that most “paedophiles” never act out and many of those who commit sexual offences against children are not themselves true paedophiles.

What about causation?

Debate still rages, too, about the clinical definition of paedophilia. Down the years, the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – “the psychiatrist’s bible” – has variously classified it as a sexual deviation, a sociopathic condition and a non-psychotic medical disorder. And few agree about what causes it. Is paedophilia innate or acquired? Research at the sexual behaviours clinic of Canada’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health suggests paedophiles’ IQs are, on average, 10% lower than those of sex offenders who had abused adults, and that paedophiles are significantly less likely to be right-handed than the rest of the population, suggesting a link to brain development. MRI scans reveal a possible issue with paedophiles’ “white matter”: the signals connecting different areas of the brain. Paedophiles may be wired differently.

This is radical stuff. But there is a growing conviction, notably in Canada, that paedophilia should probably be classified as a distinct sexual orientation, like heterosexuality or homosexuality. Two eminent researchers testified to that effect to a Canadian parliamentary commission last year, and the Harvard Mental Health Letter of July 2010 stated baldly that paedophilia “is a sexual orientation” and therefore “unlikely to change”.

Interesting ideas. What about pastoral care?

For convicted abusers, Circles UK aims to prevent reoffending by forming volunteer “circles of support and accountability” around recently released offenders, reducing isolation and emotional loneliness and providing practical help. In Canada, where it originated, it has cut reoffending by 70%, and is yielding excellent results here too. The goal of all treatment, Findlater says, is “people achieving a daily motivation not to cause harm again. Our goal is self-management in the future.”

For Goode, though, broader, societal change is needed. “Adult sexual attraction to children is part of the continuum of human sexuality; it’s not something we can eliminate,” she says. “If we can talk about this rationally – acknowledge that yes, men do get sexually attracted to children, but no, they don’t have to act on it – we can maybe avoid the hysteria. We won’t label paedophiles monsters; it won’t be taboo to see and name what is happening in front of us.”

We can help keep children safe, Goode argues, “by allowing paedophiles to be ordinary members of society, with moral standards like everyone else”, and by “respecting and valuing those paedophiles who choose self-restraint”. Only then will men tempted to abuse children “be able to be honest about their feelings, and perhaps find people around them who could support them and challenge their behaviour before children get harmed”.

Nothing there that most of us should disagree with. However, back up a few paragraphs and we get to some real meaty contention.

Social perceptions do change. Child brides were once the norm; in the late 16th century the age of consent in England was 10. More recently, campaigning organisations of the 70s and 80s such as the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) and Paedophile Action for Liberation were active members of the NCCL when it made its parliamentary submission questioning the lasting damage caused by consensual paedophilic relations.

Even now there is no academic consensus on that fundamental question – as Goode found. Some academics do not dispute the view of Tom O’Carroll, a former chairman of PIE and tireless paedophilia advocate with a conviction for distributing indecent photographs of children following a sting operation, that society’s outrage at paedophilic relationships is essentially emotional, irrational, and not justified by science. “It is the quality of the relationship that matters,” O’Carroll insists. “If there’s no bullying, no coercion, no abuse of power, if the child enters into the relationship voluntarily … the evidence shows there need be no harm.”

This is not, obviously, a widely held view. Mccartan uses O’Carroll’s book Paedophilia: the Radical Case in his teaching as “it shows how sex offenders justify themselves”. Findlater says the notion that a seven-year-old can make an informed choice for consensual sex with an adult is “just preposterous. It is adults exploiting children.” Goode says simply: “Children are not developmentally ready for adult sexuality,” adding that it is “intrusive behaviour that violates the child’s emerging self-identity” and can be similar in long-term impact to adults experiencing domestic violence or torture.

But not all experts are sure. A Dutch study published in 1987 found that a sample of boys in paedophilic relationships felt positively about them. And a major if still controversial 1998-2000 meta-study suggests – as J Michael Bailey of Northwestern University, Chicago, says – that such relationships, entered into voluntarily, are “nearly uncorrelated with undesirable outcomes”.

Most people find that idea impossible. But writing last year in the peer-reviewed Archives of Sexual Behaviour, Bailey said that while he also found the notion “disturbing”, he was forced to recognise that “persuasive evidence for the harmfulness of paedophilic relationships does not yet exist”.

Ouch! It’s interesting to examine one’s response to such research because it betrays how you approach the “critical method” of thinking. Do we reject such research because we think it’s poor or incorrect or simply because we don’t like the outcome? Certainly, consensual paedophilic relationships emerge from time to time in the public domain (by all accounts Kevan Roberts’ sexual relationship with Thomas Marshall who he murdered was consensual) and Theo Sandfort’s research (and he had no axe to grind unlike others) clearly challenges the idea that proper consent cannot ever be given by a minor or that such relationships will always cause harm.

Of course, none of the above should be read as an advocacy for such relationships (I have consistently stated that I believe that the only moral place for sex is within a marriage of a man and a woman, so that pretty well rules out all of these relationships as immoral), simply an observation that such consensual relationships do exist contrary to what some may claim. I’m far more interested in the pastoral notions that are raised and Damain Thompson’s response to it.

I’ll leave you to make up your minds about this argument, but here’s a point to bear in mind. It was precisely this sort of “enlightened” attitude that persuaded Catholic bishops in the 1980s to adopt a mild, nuanced approach to suspicions of clerical paedophilia.

Really Damian, is that actually what you think? You think it’s wrong to both make sure that those who do commit sexual crimes are brought to justice and yet at the same time try to help those who come to the Church looking for pastoral support to not act on their sexual orientation? You think this is wrong?

No wonder some Roman Catholics have a bad press.

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131 Comments on “Paedophilophobia

  1. I too enjoy Damian’s blogs, but he’s previously tried to smear Harriet Harman as a paedo-enabler (as if one needed further reason to criticise a man-hating wingbat like Ms Harperson). Interestingly, there was some recent callers on Dan Savage’s Savage Love podcast, who are struggling with paedophilia. One of them had to resort to buying arousal-suppressors on the internet because they know, sadly, that if they go to their MD and confess to paedophilic desires they will, in all likelihood, be locked up. Is that not likely to be a big problem on this side of the pond too?

    NB it’s unfortunate that you conflate moral and legal judgments on paedophilia, stating that you yourself believe that only male/female marriage is moral. That might be true (although it’s not ;-)) but the law can surely still make a distinction between immoral acts involving consenting adults and paedophilia, which is intrinsically abusive? I hope also, before Jill shows up with some ”The Homo/Paedo Alliance – Exposed at Last!” nonsense, that she notes the prevalance of the ”Lolita phenomena” , “Schoolgirl” porn etc etc in the straight world. There’s a reason why ”Baby Spice’ was both so popular and so icky…

    • “paedophilia, which is intrinsically abusive”

      Is it? Isn’t the whole point of highlighting the research that it might not always 100% of the time be abusive in any popular sense of the word. If it’s consensual and if the partners report later on no harm, how is it abusive? Immoral perhaps, but abusive?

      • I agree with :

        “it shows how sex offenders justify themselves”. Findlater says the notion that a seven-year-old can make an informed choice for consensual sex with an adult is “just preposterous. It is adults exploiting children.” Goode says simply: “Children are not developmentally ready for adult sexuality,” adding that it is “intrusive behaviour that violates the child’s emerging self-identity” and can be similar in long-term impact to adults experiencing domestic violence or torture.

        As for reporting later on, is a Stockholm syndrome style rationalisation, offered on the part of those who were children at the time, any kind of validation of the relationship?

        • as for consensual – are 7 year children (say) really capable of ‘consent’ in the full sense? Of course not.

            • well, feminists would say that (for example) a fourteen year old girl ostensibly consenting to incestous sex with her father is the victim of an unfair power dynamic, not making a legitimate free-will, freely-taken conscientious decision. Isn’t something similar true of ephebophilia? However you dress it up, it ultimately comes down to non-adults doing what adults tell them surely?

                • which is in itself problematic surely, because a twenty something (say) would much rather have memories of ” ‘consensual’ childhood sexual exploration” than ”the time I was sexually abused”, irrespective of the reality of the original encounters?

          • Well, what kind of harm are we talking about? Childhood trauma can be a factor in the development of, say, Personality Disorder, but personality disorders are ego-syntonic, precluding an easy recognition of ”when I was 13 I had a sexual relationship with a 40 something, and it did me no harm” type cause-and-effect.

    • ‘…before Jill shows up with some “The Homo/Paedo Alliance – Exposed at Last!” nonsense…’

      Forewarned is forearmed.

  2. Re. Damian’s assertion: Actually, I don’t think the soft approach of US (and other) Catholic Bishops was caused by the notion that pedophilia / ephebophilia is not abusive, but by the notion that it is pathological rather than sinful or a moral failure. Therefore clerics with this “illness” were sent to experts who promised to “cure” them, and once pronounced healed, were sent right back into a parish. And since one does not reveal to a parish the entire health history of an incoming priest, there was no perceived need to reveal that particular illness either — after all,the guy had been pronounced cured by the experts.

    As to the general abusiveness of all adult-child sexual activity: I think I like Goode’s take on the subject best: “Children are not developmentally ready for adult sexuality, … it is intrusive behaviour that violates the child’s emerging self-identity.”

    No interview with children currently in such relationships can negate that, precisely because children are not yet developmentallly ready to assess and judge such relationships; and I am not aware of any studies where the subjects of pedophilia were interviewed decades later and looked back fondly on the experience.

    There seems to be consensus that even when age does not enter into it, sexual approaches by someone in authority to someone under his authority are inappropriate because of the power differential; by that principle alone sex between adults and children is inappropriate and should remain illegal.

    • I think we’re all pretty well agreed that those below around 12 are incapable of understanding the consent they are being asked to give. On top of that, most sexual abuse is non-consensual. It’s the 12+ age group that is the focus of the research and it’s very challenging (and frighteningly so) to modern presumptions.

  3. Damian Thompson’s last paragraph seems to imply that the policy, or at any rate the practice, of covering up sexual abuse by clergy and moving offenders quietly around from parish to parish began only in the 1980s. He also apparently claims that what lay behind this practice was the “liberal” attitude to paedophilia that a minority of people in the secular world were at that time contending for. He offers not a shred of evidence for either assertion.

      • Well, it is peripheral, but it ties in with Damian Thompson’s strange suggestion that the wicked secular world’s ALLEGED liberal attitude to paedophilia was responsible for the way that clerical sexual abuse was treated by the church hierarchy with kid gloves.

        • Indeed. On the one hand we have the tactically naive Jills of this world who appear to believe that blowjobs, porn and anal are the USPs/quiddity of homosexuality per se. On the other, we have a sex-negative culture that demonises the usual sexual impulses of (in most cases) men. However disgusting the Christian may find porn, it remains true that your average, everyday MILFs and first time lesbians masturbators remains disgusted with rape and child sexual abuse (whereas unhinged feminists at the guardian would have you believe that a fellow reading FHM differs only by degree from the men who rape and abuse women and children)

          Thompson’s thesis is nonsense of course. Packing off boy-raping priests to a different parish is hardly consistent with the treatment (e.g.. chemical castration, libido-suppressors) or DSM understanding – “the course is usually chronic, especially in those attracted to males” – that the secular world offers.

  4. We’ve been here before with the emboldened progressive theory of sexual liberation, so let’s rehearse the Ten Sickening Steps to Puerosexual Liberalisation:

    Step 1: Explain away the body of current empirical case evidence of child harm through paedophilia as lacking in scientific rigor.

    Step 2: Promote among the politically powerful intelligentsia the need for further research into the child attraction mechanism. Note that the occurrence of this is mirrored elsewhere in the Animal Kingdom. Tender this as proof that it is *natural* variation and need not always be exploitative.

    Step 3: Claim that the current blanket ban criminalises puerosexuality (the new fashionable term coined for paedophilia) unnecessarily.

    Step 4: Write Guardian articles on technically progressive civilizations, such as ancient Greece that have accepted such relationships within clear legal boundaries. Hint that blanket rejection is an intellectually weak response, especially in the light of some more recent studies.

    Step 5: Identify and publicize examples of puerosexuals, adults who began with a partner slightly below the current age of consent. Highlight the long-term relationships that have survived the constant threat of assault and vilification. Focus on the plight of the younger partner, someone who feels that the relationship was misunderstood by their family, friends and the law.

    Step 6: Find a political party, desirous of modernisation and, in 10 years time, willing to view this as the next frontier of anti-discrimination legislation. Dismiss every opposing concern as a CLASSIC slippery slope argument.

    Step 7: Find ‘brave’ authors, scriptwriters and actors willing to tell the untold story of a misunderstood celebrity called Jimmy Saville. Look for one who will campaign to remove the terrible stigma against Jimmy Saville’s name.

    Step 8: After a long, hard fought 10-year campaign against those labelled right-wing pubephobic bigots, announce a fundamental change to decriminalise adult-pubescent orientation and to make it a protected characteristic.

    Step 9: Fire any public employee who expresses disgust at puerosexual behaviour.

    Step 10: Define the content of this post as hate speech!

    • Is that a reductio ad absurdum or a serious argument Dave? The problem with slippery slopes is deciding where they start. Gay liberation follows naturally from “the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation” (which is a conservative principle, no? You can’t exactly believe in a small state and yet also give it the power to dictate what consenting adults do in their bedrooms!) and the sexual revolution of the sixties. If you, or any conservative, thinks that things were better before the pill and pine for a world where heterosexual fornication is criminalised, then they ought to have the honesty to say so. Do even the Jills and Stephen Greens of this world think homosexuality can be made illegal without breaking key principles of UK and international law?

      Take your point 1 – what did CS Lewis say about the unfairness of ‘Mohammadans’ seeking to stop others from drinking again? Even if ‘homosexuality’ was intrinsically unhealthy, that would not logically call for a ban on the right of two consenting adults to have some gay sex, unless you propose to ban adults from smoking, drinking, eating crisps or doing any other of the 1001 things that are ’empirically’ bad for them. Plainly the ‘consenting adult’ qualifier hardly works for paedophilia.

      • It’s a serious argument against a typically flawed immoral political strategy. Yet, the pattern of sexual liberalisation is tried and tested. Tactically, the Step 1 argument reads like this:

        ‘What is consent? Can those savvy street-wise teenagers consent? A 2002 US study reported that 25% of males have had first sexual intercourse by age 15. In England, there is a 7.8 conception rate between 13 and 15. These can’t all be young impressionable lives grooming each other for sex, so it’s mostly consensual. So why vilify a man like Jimmy Saville? Some of these were just savvy teenagers. The image of the preying paedophile is a vile caricature that should be rehabilitated’

        The Step 1 argument is wrong and it’s an unpopular cause now, but give it 10 years in a progressive legislation think-tank.

        Then, trot out a famed activist, like Peter Tatchell (who advocates lowering the age of consent to 14), to stir things up. A rogue CofE cleric might also highlight foreign societies, where young women become responsible mothers at 12 and boys of the same age go to war.

        For the hungry intellectual, the appeal of an unchallenged taboo will be too much to resist. The Guardianista chorus will eventually respond: ‘Why indeed?’

        And so to Step 2. All wrong, but all too predictable!

        • Personally I’m pretty convinced that sex between consenting adults is often abusive too. I’ve seen too many sexual relationships where one “Partner” (usually the man) isn’t really as committed as the other and eventually walks away having found someone better – leaving the other person to sort out their broken heart, sometimes their children, and very often their career – which they had had to sacrifice in order to try to make the relationship “work”.

          I think we shouldn’t just be arguing about the *age* when adults should be having sex, as the *context* in which people should have sex – ie a permanent, exclusive relationship between one man and one woman.. Anything less is always abusive.

          • *Always* abusive? Your evidence for this being what exactly? Given that most relationships don’t lead to marriage-until-death (and so are hardly permanent) that would logically suggest that most traditional relationships are abusive, let alone open relationships et al! And of course there’s lots of battered wives and lots of not-battered male-partners-of-men out there.

          • I see no reason why that context applies to me, as I don’;t find women attractive and don’t believe in your god. Lots to be said for permanacy and exclusivity, though, but you don’t have to be either straight or Christian to see that!

        • And again, do you regard gay liberation and enabling paedophilia as morally comparable?
          Before the sexual revolution, people could be fired for being gay and women (lacking the pill) often died in back street abortions. It is your average man on the street ,not ivory-tower guardianiastas, who (wanting the right to have sex with other consenting adults) benefits from and maintains sexual liberalisation. Take anal sex – it’s not the case that many straight men would oppose its recriminalisation solely out of concern for the gays. Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if the straight evangelicals on this list are bigger bummers than the gay liberals!

          And Jimmy Saville , among other crimes, roamed the wards at Broadmoor preying on the literally vulnerable. If you really think ‘Guardianistas’ (check out Julie Bindel or the zoomers from the ‘Vagenda’) are ok with – legal, let alone Saville’s appalling crimes – predatory male sexuality then I have to wonder if you’ve ever actually read the grauniad.

          Tangentially, it’s curious how ‘conservatives’ suddenly become fans of intrusive Nanny States when it comes to the sex lives of gays! “An Englishman’s home is his castle, unless he intends to get naked with another man, in which case the state ought to swoop in as it might in Communist China” ;-)

          • “women (lacking the pill) often died in back street abortions”

            This is an urban myth. The introduction of abortion had no effect on the rate of decline of deaths from complications from abortion.

          • ‘And again, do you regard gay liberation and enabling paedophilia as morally comparable?’

            I’m not sure why you’ve turned this into a debate about the comparative morality of gay liberation. My focus was on the political tactics, not comparing relative sexual mores.

            Politically, the tactics are remarkably similar in efforts to rehabilitate an image that had hitherto been steeped in public shame.

            It was the 1957 report of the commission chaired by Lord Wolfenden (whose gay son benefited from its sympathetic findings) that first prompted the decriminalisation of private homosexual acts, not some ‘average Joe’ grassroots movement. You start with the intelligentsia and allow it to pervade through to the rest of society.

            The key aspect of this was to present same-sex attraction as part of a continuum of normal sexual behaviour, rather than an aberration. Legally, it segregated the criminality of gay sexual encounters in a public place (cottaging) from private acts between consenting partners. The fact that word ‘ephebophile’ is employed by the writer to distinguish those attracted to teenagers is the beginning of the attempt at decriminalising aspects of paedophilia.

            Hence, Step 2 cites the need for further research: research that would arrive unsurprisingly at the need for a thorough revision of consent laws.

            • I’m questioning not only the validity of your analogy but what, if anything, it tells us. The tactics and rhetoric of gay liberation owed much to women’s liberation and that of anti-racist campaigners. Are women’s lib and campaigns for racial equality similarly invalidated by their similarities to a hypothetical paedo-lib, or just the gay lobby?

              Pre-Wolfden, the ruling classes were able to gad about sexually in a way not true of the lower orders. There was something a tad overcompensatory about the reaction to Wilde’s misdemenours. But I take your point.

              As our own dear Jill is fond of pointing out, paedophilia rightly only refers to pre-pubescent children. This is made clear also in the DSM entry on paedophilia. As such the Guardian writer seeking to use a more accurate term hardly necessarily indicates an endorsement of the sexual practice the term denotes.

              • ‘The tactics and rhetoric of gay liberation owed much to women’s liberation and that of anti-racist campaigners.’

                The difference is in the use of a partially similar strategy to promote a behavioural determinist view of some aspect of sexual attraction (whether orientation or child attraction).

                In contrast, women’s lib and anti-racism opposed the idea of invincible gender or racial determinism. They rejected the notion of biologically predicated predisposition (to inferiority and subservience) as a societal stereotype. In contrast, the gay liberation movement sought to identify a biological predicated predisposition (called sexual orientation); one that was supposed without variation to determine homosexual attraction and expression.

                It’s not political strategy per se that invalidates any campaign. It’s the blatant abuse of it: echoing liberation rhetoric to promote biological determinism of human behaviour.

                ‘As such the Guardian writer seeking to use a more accurate term hardly necessarily indicates an endorsement of the sexual practice the term denotes.’

                Whatever the precious DSM states, sex with a minor is illegal. The tone of the piece was not to highlight the key types of child sex offenders. The author re-iterated these distinctions as an attempt to whittle away at the criminalisation of adults who indulge their fantasies towards adolescents without actual contact.

                He said: ‘But not all paedophiles are child molesters, and vice versa: by no means every paedophile acts on his impulses, and many people who sexually abuse children are not exclusively or primarily sexually attracted to them.’

                Just to re-iterate the Sexual Offences Act:
                1)A person aged 18 or over (A) commits an offence if—
                (a)he intentionally touches another person (B),
                (b)the touching is sexual, and
                (c)either—
                (i)B is under 16 and A does not reasonably believe that B is 16 or over, or
                (ii)B is under 13.

                • Orientation doesn’t imply anything other than that is ‘what is’ – it makes no claims for specific cause, but does reflect the bulk of experience.
                  Its also accepted as the basis of the equality laws and within society – including the medical and caring professions.
                  You are entitled to disagree, of course – but really, its not in the least important. I haven’t a clue why I am gay and couldn’t care less. I just know I am, and see no reason to concern myself with ‘why’. Only those who have a problem with being gay see the need to do this – that’s why its so much yesterdays debate, because its utterly unimportant

                  • ‘Orientation doesn’t imply anything other than that is ‘what is’ – it makes no claims for specific cause, but does reflect the bulk of experience.’

                    That’s only because your movement has reached Step 8. All that’s left is to demote unsupportive employees, like Adrian Smith, and condemn the contradiction of gay liberation orthodoxy as hate speech (Step 9).

                    HE WAS UTTERLY UNIMPORTANT TOO, EH? Well done!

                    • Perhaps you could check out the rates on LGBT youth suicide. Unless you reject the notion of ”hate speech” in and of itself (i.e. so it’s no more valid when used for the racial variety), then speech that operates in a continuum with and supports actual anti-gay violence might (speaking theoretically) qualify. What about those charming evangelicals who helped whip up anti-gay sentiment in Uganda, to the point where the death penalty for gay people was considered? if that’s not ‘hate speech’ (encouraging the literal death of a particular group), then what is?

                      This country used to have the death penalty for homosexuality. That’s persecution. Fag-baiting no longer being as socially acceptable in the workplace as some conservatives would like is, frankly, not.

                    • NB I’ve personally said that of course Smith shouldn’t have been demoted. Don’t tell The Overlords of the Gay Agenda, lest they take away my conspiracy card ;-)

                      As for other persecuted-for-their-beliefs stories, note that the ‘Christian’ Institute tend to have their cases thrown out of court for a reason, and that PUBLIC servants are exactly that. Picking-and-choosing which subsets of the public one can serve is both intrinsically unfair and a route to chaos. Perhaps LGBT public servants could stop serving fundamentalist Christians. I’m sure that all the freedom of conscience purists will leap, sword of truth in hand ,to the gay’s defence. Or not so much ;-)

                    • ‘Perhaps LGBT public servants could stop serving fundamentalist Christians.’

                      You mean like banning them from fostering kids, or running adoption agencies. I know what you mean.

                    • Perhaps you could make a list of all the things that I, as advocate for equal rights for LGBT people, am supposedly de facto in favour of. Wouldn’t want the Gay Conspiracy to take my membership card away ;-)

                    • So, in your book, an employee posting, in his own time, on his personal Facebook page that gay weddings in churches were ‘an equality too far’ is comparable to homophobic assault and fag-baiting because it operates in a continuum with advocating actual violence.

                      Yet, on this same comment thread, you claim that we should maintain a moral distinction based on the perpetration of harmful contact.

                      Steps 9 and 10.

                    • No, I’m personally a free speech live-and-let-live type. You already know that I think Smith shouldn’t have been disciplined.

                      I’m asking, generally: do you regard the concept of ‘hate speech’ to be invalid generally, or just when used in reference to LGBT indivdiuals? If the latter, why?

                    • To be clear, I think we can all agree that disablist hate speech is indeed wrong, and so too with the racist kind. Of course UK subjects should be free to go about their business without being verbally abused, or called a ‘paki’ or a ‘spazzy’. Isn’t there something a tad jarring about the concept that identifying anti-gay ‘hate speech’ on the other hand, is Politically Correctness Gone Mad ?

                    • And conservatives are fond of differentiating between the supposedly non-behavioural identities such as race and gender, and homosexuality. But take antisemitism. People convert to Judaism. It is a religion. As such many of its features are indeed ‘behavioural’ (attending temple is a behaviour). Does that make criminalising anti-semitic hate speech problematic? Of course not.

                    • The concept of hate speech is valid. However, the onus of prima facie evidence should not discard the Waddington amendment: ‘the discussion or criticism of sexual conduct or practices or the urging of persons to refrain from or modify such conduct or practices shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred’

                      So why did police officers challenge Dale MacAlpine, regarding the biblical view of homosexuality, and Stephen Green for anti-homosexuality pamphlet distribution, only to arrest them for calling it sin?

                      Does the amendment mean a person can carry a sign that says: ‘”Jesus Gives Peace, Jesus is Alive, Stop Immorality, Stop Homosexuality, Stop Lesbianism, Jesus is Lord”?

                      Does the amendment prohibit any public claim that the widespread subjugation of women in Muslim societies is based on religion?

                      There is such a thing as hate speech. There is also such a thing as exploiting police powers to advance militant liberal activism.

                    • Green is not the most nuanced of thinkers (and he also defended the Uganda death-penalty-for-gays). As such it would not be difficult to find him referring, pejoratively, to ‘homosexuals’ . And making wide-scale dehumanising judgments along homosexuals ARE x, y and z lines is hardly merely a discouragement from particular practices, unless we’re to accept that ”Blacks ARE” or ”Jews ARE” placards are perfectly acceptable?And note also that Green usually targeted gay pride parades and the like. Would it be acceptable to hand out anti-Catholic pamphlets at a Catholic event? Christians want Jews to embrace Christ. Does that make a ”Leave Judaism and embrace your Saviour!” placard no different than an overt ”’Reject Jews like they reject Christ!” anti-semitic one?

                      There is also such a thing as wackadoo alarmism. Under Section 28, much beloved by ‘conservatives’, libraries could not stock LGBT titles for fear of being seen to ‘promote’ homosexuality. ‘Christian’ Voice picketed Jerry Springer the Opera. Here in Glasgow, the woman responsible for the GOMA Faith and Sexuality exhibit received death threats and the opprobrium of the ‘Christian’ Institute. In contrast, the gay lobby tends to not be calling for the censorship and criminalisation of conservative Christians. Perhaps they’re too busy taking drugs and fisting strangers ;-)?

                    • Whatever Green’s stance is, an open society allows for criticism.

                      Your critique fails when you can permit internal criticism levelled within the same group. For instance, could you imagine Colin Coward held by police on a charge of inciting religious hatred for claiming that the CofE is institutionally homophobic? Or a black community leader arrested for deploring the unprecedented widespread escalation in inner city black-on-black gang violence without a balancing mention of other races facing a similar level of the same kind of problem?

                      You cannot simply assume that any of these statements become magically intended to incite hatred when expressed by a person who doesn’t possess the all-exonerating protected characteristic themselves. That’s just a liberal witch-hunt.

                      ‘Would it be acceptable to hand out anti-Catholic pamphlets at a Catholic event?’ If the police are notified beforehand, it demonstrates a conscientious approach to protest. A direct challenge, if presented through reasoned arguments without the threat of unlawful violence (write to MP, donate), is morally beneficial. What you appear to want is a blanket ban on the public criticism of homosexual conduct. How is criticism ‘calling for the censorship and criminalisation’? You can’t claim that all criticisms lead to Section 28 prohibitions ad infinitum.

                      The arrest of a person, who without police notification, distributes such material is more used as a means of avoiding an unpleasant escalation in hostility: an affray. It’s as much for their own safety as it is for others. The measure is to ‘prevent a further breach of the peace’

                    • BTW, can you end the confounding of behavioural traits, such as homosexuality, with genetic traits, such as race and gender?

                    • If homosexuality is to be classified as a “behavioural trait”, is heterosexuality also a behavioural trait?

                    • but of course! As Jill would say, homosexuality= ‘the gay lifestyle”= taking drugs, watching porn, fisting strangers, eating shit and dying at forty. ”heterosexuality” = Monogamy, Family and Loveliness.

                      ;-)

                    • Because you’re the perpetual victims of negative stereotyping by stereotypical conservatives who without exception agree with what Jill said at some point. How ironic!

                    • Er – not so much ‘what Jill said’ sheppie as ‘what Jill read on the Terrence Higgins Trust website!’.

                    • The THT regards male male female double anal and bukkake as features of the gay lifestyle? Really? Got a link?

                    • Oh, Jill didn’t invent said anti-gay stereotypes. They’re the same crap that was around thirty years ago, and consistent with the Cameron etc statistics which I’m sure you’re aware of.

                    • You clearly miss the irony of decrying anti-gay stereotyping while endeavouring to bolster your own argument with conservative caricatures! (Sigh!)

                    • No, because it’s an artificial distinction. Feminism, say, has moved quite a way beyond assuming that ‘male’ standards are ‘objective’ but that women, free from biology’s determinism, can meet them too. Men and woman, the feminist would say, may indeed be different (and this is manifest in behaviour; women’s working, relational styles etc) but this doesnt’ make women inferior. And of course it’s not my fault that conservatives appear to view ”is gay” to mean ”engages in dodgy sexual behaviour”.

                  • Substitute ‘gay’ with ‘paedophile’, Mike, and you will see what Sheppie means. Paedophiles have feelings too, you know. They feel they were ‘born that way’, just as you do.

                    • And maybe they were Jill. We really can’t say yet, but with increasing advances in the research into brain development with the use of MRI technology and so on we make get an inkling into such things….even eventually into the circuits that control your own religious feelings, eh and whether you have any free will in the matter, or were you in some way programmed by nature? But the conversation going on here on this thread which has been fascinating is about whether we can act on such feelings or not. Invariably consent and harm have to be taken into account but religious people like the Pope add in further constraints, what they believe the ancient holy texts dictate. Scientific reason must exclude these and we are left with the two factors – consent and harm. If I have understood him that is the ground on which Mike makes his stand.

                    • You rightly identify Mike’s ground, which is utilitarian. The issue is whether we can reason to a point of teleological certainty regarding what constitutes consent and har. How far can any reasoning foresee consequences? Who decides on which consequences are negligible, once a society considers that the argument is won?

                      The utilitarian view of knowledge is that once the objective, an ascendant
                      position, is achieved, there is no need to reflect any further on the credibility of the ‘science’ employed to convince society of its worth. Mike demonstrated this.

                      Your view is that scientific reason must exclude ‘further constraints’, such as holy texts. I don’t see why? For example, according to scripture, Man is told, ‘Be fruitful and multiply’: an imperative for maintaining genetic diversity that is essential to human survival. Incest contradicts genetic diversity by limiting allele variation. It is a crime under Levitical law. Some here might call it a superstitious taboo. But, why couldn’t that the Moses-mediated prohibition be based on the empirical evidence of the tribal herdsmen of that region and time regarding the threat of inbreeding depression?

                      The real danger is in pandering to any research outcomes that appear to exonerate your position and dismissing all scripture as superstitious nonsense. Once you’ve gained an ascendant political position, you can ditch the subsequent unsupportive conclusions of science and dismiss any counter-argument with blanket contempt, as Mike does. The Robespierre-like
                      antipathy is palpable!

                    • Did Man really need telling to be fruitful and multiply? Of course not, anymore than any other species. I am sure Mike would say some scripture is of its time and needs to be dismissed – but it’s a problem for you with the unsupported that it is all god breathed. As for last para, isn’t this Jill’s slippery slope in purple prose?

                    • Now with overpopulation endangering the planet is your desert deity going to rescind his “instruction”…or shall be just use human intelligence in planning families that we can feed and support without too many of them perishing in famine and poverty?

                    • Can you insult a concept? The concept of God has evolved from the first reported encounters by a desert/nomadic people and one of the prime places is reported to have taken place at the site of a burning bush and another on a desert mountain in Sinai. I do not think you can hurt the feelings of a concept but I do see that it is possible to hurt a person’s feeling about his concept of a deity. I wouldn’t want to hurt your feelings for the world, Peter, so naturally I withdraw referring to God as I did. I am sorry it caused you hurt.

                      But does anyone know for sure that anyone’s concept of their deity is the same as anyone else’s, even in the same religion? Was Julian of Norwich’s conception of God who led her to say All shall be well in anyway like God this Pope believes in? Can we know whether that is like Ann Widdecombe’s God, or Jill’s or Ian Paisley’s? If the concept of God has evolved from a deity issuing rules about how an ox has to burnt on an altar to one who no longer requires that but the sacrifice of the heart and putting other people first this seems a good thing. But the God of rules and regulations is still easier to cope with, the one who seems like an ancient absolute monarch……

                    • But just to repeat, Peter, I am sorry I offended you. As I don’t like having my own feelings hurt and so I shouldn’t hurt others’.

                    • BTW, over-population does not affect humanity’s enduring need for genetic diversity.

                      The over-population fallacy was foisted on Africa. Population density is not the most critical factor that hinders development. The UK for instance has 253 people per sq km while Kenya has only 69 people per sq km. Combine capital flight owing to political instability with debt servicing and forced migration and you limit the quality, stability and availability of the basic infrastructure and communal services that would kick-start development.

                      If you achieve the basic infrastructure, you then need to maintain a critical mass of population that supplies labour in order to sustain development.

                    • You miss the point of the text. It is preceded with the kind of spoken affirmation that only humans seek (including those who want religious marriage): ‘God blessed them and said…’ God communicates his authoritative will, affirmation and blessing in direct speech that other species cannot understand. The text does not just convey a mere statement of the obvious.

                      Slippery slope? My position regarding those who ditch unsupportive conclusions after gaining political ascendancy is borne out by the biased reaction against the Regenerus study (while dismissing the skewed survey techniques of previous studies) and their rejection of the scientific disproof of their previously espoused biological predication for sexual orientation.

                      So, you don’t have much come-back on what you surmise to be a slippery slope argument, when you adopt a giant slalom moral posture in maneuvering around every opposing argument.

                    • The religious interference with science, which is what you seem to be advocating in para 3 has to be firmly resisted by the rest of us who do not think divine diktat has any place in ordering a safe or moral world. We have seen it all before when the Church had real power, but not anymore.

                    • I could equally judge all political rationalism by the notable failures of the 20th century, such as national socialism and communism. Alternatively, I could actually judge each argument on its merit. Tough choice, eh?

                    • Except for the important ‘consenting adults’ qualifier. Do you think homosexuality should be illegal, Jill?

                      And Mike’s testimony is not uncommon. Conservatives are forever assuming that gay people are scrabbling about for a gay gene to ‘validate’ themselves, gay people themselves are largely unconcerned for the search for what (if we’re being honest) conservatives view as an aetiology. But then, given that you appear to think that male/male/female double anal is one of the ”horrors of the gay lifestyle” (!), it’s not unsurprising that you genuinely think that gay people view being ‘born that way” as not only a necessary but a sufficient condition to ‘validate’ their sexuality.

                    • Once again I have no idea what you are talking about, Ryan. Double anal? What on earth is that? What immediately springs to my mind is our local pub bore droning on and on forever about golf. So don’t bother explaining it to me – it’s probably about as boring as golf.

                    • Don’t play naive Jill. You obviously know exactly what is available on porn sites – though probably you visit more gay ones than straight. But Jill innocent? I don’t think so. You are lioke one of those FBI agents who scrabbles around in people’s dirt and trash to get your “evidence”.

                    • How right you are, Ryan. The Terrence Higgins Trust is a truly disgusting porn site – really much more like an instruction manual on how to contract hiv/aids and other STIs.

                      But you mistake my motives – I do not explore this for personal gratification, as I am far from gratified at the content, but because I have a vested interest both in the way my taxes are spent and in the future for the nation’s children, who are being fed with this vile material at our expense, and I feel people should know about it.

                      Just to make sure they do, here once again are some links to some of the vile material available to schoolchildren:

                      http://www.alansangle.com/?p=1035
                      http://www.alansangle.com/?p=1049

                    • The ‘vile material’ is aimed at gay men. Not schoolchildren. Even the blogger acknolwedges this. If you mean ”available to” in the sense of ”is on the internet” then so’s oodles of hard core porn of the straight and gay variety! This blog probably isn’t suitable for children (it’s blocked at my local library!). Lots of organisations may have material suitable for children and other material that is not. It is slippery and dishonest indeed to cite adult material in a bid to denounce the children’s material.

                      Take the most objectionable items, such as scat and watersports. Do you regard these as gay sex acts? Why? I find them quite as disgusting as you, as do most people, gay or straight. And I see above you rail against sado-masochism. Do they not have WH Smiths in your neck of the woods? What about Fifty Shades of Grey and the omnipresence of mummy porn? Is that kind of kink a feature of the straight lifestyle? If not, then why is Cock and Ball torture a supposed popular feature of the ”gay lifestyle”? Perhaps you could enlighten us on what percentage of straight people you think eat shit and fist strangers, and then provide the same figures for gay people. Let me guess – 0% v 100%?

                      And description of sex acts that people might encounter is not advocacy of them. Do you regard sex education that refers to , say, oral sex as encouraging innocent children to perform blowjbos?

                      Here’s a link to the THT website:
                      http://www.tht.org.uk/

                      Do you want a link to the most popular (and heterosexual ) porn sites, to see just how absurd your comparison is?

                    • Next time I see straight porn sites being promulgated in schools under the guise of anti-bullying propaganda, with their web addresses handed out, funded by the taxpayer to the tune of nearly a quarter of a million quid, and endorsed by the NHS, I shall be sure to let you know, Ryan, so you can protest.

                    • Just to add to the above comment, there is much disguised as sex ed which is pushed around schools, and to which I object most strongly. It’s not just about you, Ryan.

                    • Right. So why do you blame gay people for scat? Do you agree that if, people will do such practices, it’s better to teach them the less-risky ways to do so?

                      And, again, THT is not a porn site. If you have any evidence that people, as with porn, masturbate to the THT website I’d love to see it. Sexually explicit is not the same thing as pornographic.

                    • Oh, and Jill do you concede that the THT material on scat is not taught in schools, but is rather found elsewhere on their website, and aimed at adults? The blog you use as your source concedes this.

                      And of course, scat isn’t a solely gay activity. Why do you rail against the gay lobby when its really coprophiliacs you supposedly have a problem with? Do you really think that ”get our children to eat shit” is a goal of the gay lobby?

                    • Really? Despite the fact that 1) THT is demonstrably not a porn site 2) the presence of adult-aimed material on the THT in no way means that the children-aimed material is similarly explicit and 3) THT is demonstrably not being given a quarter of a million quid to get kids to try scat and fisting?

                    • Were children given links to the particular objectionable material? And the blog posts she uses as a source notes that the ‘offensive’ material was taken down.

                      To be clear: Jill is claiming that THT is going to schools and indoctrinating children into scat and fisting. She is citing material aimed at adults to do so. It is simply untrue to claim that THT are being given a quarter of a million quid to indoctrinate children into fisting and shit-eating. It is simply untrue to claim that THT is a “pornographic website”. The offensive material was taken down in any case.

                      Oh, and if we’re playing that game – any organisation that goes into schools must ensure that all items on its website are children-appropriate, even if the organisation also caters to adults – then the good old NHS is at fault too!

                      http://www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/3050.aspx

                    • The difference between that link and the THT material is that the NHS link is a clinical answer to a clinical question whereas the THT material is geared around a guide to sex.

                      Now, I understand entirely that to get to the dodgy THT material you need to go and search for it, but let’s be very clear – I am not claiming that the THT material that goes to schools educates about dangerous sexual practices but it does provide links to material that is more explicit. Are THT being paid £250,000 to promote scat? No, of course not. Does some of their material have dubious reference points that might lead a teenager to experiment sexually with a dangerous practice? Arguably yes.

                    • Oh and Jill, you really need to do better than citing demented blogs to support your points. Alan Craig? The Alan Craig who wrote the ‘Gaystapo’ piece, comparing gay people to Nazis? Even although gay people were deliberate, targeted victims of the holocaust? You really think gay marriage advocates want to stick you in a concentration camp?

                      Here’s a good piece by +Alan Wilson on Craig’s nonsense

                      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/nov/09/gaystapo-alan-craig-gay-rights?INTCMP=SRCH

                    • If you don’t know what double anal is then why do you regard it as one of the horrors of the gay lifestyle?
                      https://www.peter-ould.net/2012/01/30/sobering-reading-on-changing-attitudes-blog/

                      She distributed several ‘information’ sheets including a list of the most popular acts advertised and depicted on the internet such as ‘double anal’ in which ‘a woman is penetrated anally by two men at the same time’, ‘multiple men ejaculating onto a woman’s face’, ‘a penis thrust so far down a woman’s throat that she gags’ etc etc.

                      https://www.peter-ould.net/2012/03/09/stats-watch-number-1/

                      jillfromharrow Peter Ould • 10 months ago
                      “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”

                    • And of course, even if the THT was as vile as you say, what logical sense would it make to damn homosexuality on that basis? Is every gay man in THT? Does every gay man do all the sex acts that THT are supposedly in favour of?

                    • Ryan, I am sure Jill doesn’t hate gay people per se. After all she’s got a gay nephew or son but she does hate the condition which challenges her worldview. How can the God of family life and all things nice allow people like us? It must be our own fault – or our mothers who overindulged us. She likes to make much of the medical material she digs up because she thinks it helps promote the disgust or annoyance she personally feels that her ideal of the family is spoilt by homosexuality. And if your are homosexual the best thing you can do is keep your head down and be a confirmed bachelor. That’s why activists like Peter Tatchell and THT draw so much ire….

                    • Jill has a gay nephew or son? That’s (surprising!) news to me. It does sound strange when she says that parents don’t want their kids exposed to gay sex lessons. It might be true, but how many parents are comfortable with thinking of their children having any kind of sex? If Jill has no problem contemplating her female children/grandchildren performing fellatio but does object to her male relatives performing said acts then she is, I think, in a minority. Wouldn’t most parents prefer their children to lose their virginity, in marriage, at about 21 instead of behind the bus stop at 16? Yet how often does the former happen? Note the ”daddy’s little girl” phenomena. In our Sex and the City/HBO ”Girls” culture, promiscous young women plainly enjoy having at least one man who will mistake them for a virgin. The reality of course is that said young women, rather than contrasting with those dastardly promiscous gays, will spend a lot of time at uni playing with vibrators and having casual sex. Parents wishing their children won’t have sex doesn’t work with the straight kids – why would it work with the gays?

                    • Well, Jill used to talk about having a gay relative a lot, as well as the gay friend she had who died of AIDS. That’s why I have some sympathy with her, though I don’t think it makes her arguments any better.

                    • Aids has certainly broken many a heart. The bleak irony is that it was anti-gay attitudes, Reagan refusing to help mere homosexuals as the corpses piled up, that meant that the AIDS crisis was like a holocaust. Had I known personally people who had died of Aids, then I would think that the amount of money pumped into HIV/AIDS research and treatment, which Jill is wont to bemoan, should, if anything, be substantially increased. But she of course has my sympathies.

                      Also worth stating that the fact that gay youth today get safer sex advice in schools, and may even feel free to start dating like their heterosexual peers, compares favourably to the closeted repression and subsequent overindulgences in bath houses that led up the AIDS crisis.

                    • Ryan, I think you will find that most parents do not want their children indoctrinated with any kind of sex. There is far too much explicit material in schools already, which most of us would consider to be grooming for sexual activity. If some of this material were shown to a child by, say, an uncle instead of a teacher, he would very quickly have the social services breathing down his neck.
                      My reasoning is that if we don’t want our children engaging in early sexual activity we should stop pumping them with details at an early age.

                    • Jill, would you agree that sex education is aimed in preparation for those children becoming adults? Would you also agree that (human nature being what it is) most teenagers will indeed have sex? To use your own analogy – if you don’t tell youths, reliably, the risks associated with anal or oral sex then the kids will find out via the internet equivalent of a dodgy uncle. Anal sex and the desire to have it is as old as human nature, not the latest trendy things that children are encouraged to try because of sex ed.

                    • Most people’s opinions are shaped by their situation in life and experiences, Tom. It is true that I have a real horror of AIDS having watched someone I cared for a great deal die slowly and horribly from it (and his long-term partner not long afterwards). Now I see new cases of HIV skyrocketing among young men, and feel absolute despair. You might sneer at the biblical model of sexuality and sexual behaviour, but if everyone adhered to it AIDS would be a thing of the past.

                    • Jill – would you agree that HIV is not the death sentence it was circa the 80s? Would you also agree that this is due to the lobbying attempts of the much-demonised (not least by you) ”gay lobby”, including organisations such as THT?

                      The Bible also says that the desires of man’s heart are evil from his youth. As such, I don’t think your notion that people can just be talked out of having sex is biblical (or sensible)

                    • Well, Jill, you are not alone. Many of us have lost friends to AIDS, myself included. But that doesn’t account for the despicable way in which you vilify gays and attack our sexuality and our relationships. It’s clear that even if AIDS could be wiped out tomorrow, if all gays were non-promiscuous and monogamous, and if the minority who engage in the far-out practices that you call “the horrors of the gay lifestyle” were reduced to zero, you still wouldn’t be satisfied.

                    • Yes, browsing the supposedly ‘pornographic’ (!) THT website, one sees a letter from HRH Prince William and HRH Prince Harry applauding THT for their work. One recalls the days when their mother hugging someone with AIDS was indeed revolutionary. There is a section, on 30 years of THT, outlining its achievements (such as, to take one example at random, doubling gay men’s awareness of PEP, their chief executive being knighted for his efforts in combating HIV/AIDS).

                      Jill – do you really believe there would have been less death from HIV/AIDS without the Terrence Higgins Trust? Or would you regard more people dying as an acceptable price to pay for preventing an organisation that has (for adults) sexually explicit material on their website speaking in schools?

                    • Please don’t project your own prejudices onto me, Guglielmo. I have never vilified any gay person, and would not do so. What I oppose is the way some gay activists thrust their odious propaganda into the faces of the innocent. If you have lost friends to AIDS you should be asking yourself why these people are trying to normalise destructive and degrading behaviour, thus encouraging the young to experiment, resulting in skyrocketing cases of HIV and both physical, emotional and financial cost. I would call that a horror. What skewed morality you must have.
                      If people want to destroy themselves by engaging in such practices, well, that’s up to them (and to some degree to the rest of us, having to finance the inevitable outcomes – and this applies to heterosexuals as well, before you start whingeing) but leave our children alone.

                    • Jill, you villify and dehumanise gay people all the time. You talk of the ”horrors of the gay lifestyle” , supposedly including male/male/female double anal, and then you claim you don’t know what double anal is! You portray LGBT people as shit-eating, children-corrupting, AIDS-spreading perverts. You assume,solipsisticaly, that your retired, disgusted-of-tunbridge-wells world is objectively normal even though you appear to know nothing of male sexuality. Encourage the young to experiment? Porn is a multi-billion pound annual industry. Most of it is heterosexual. Lots of straight people take drugs and have anal sex. They have done since time immemorial. What evidence do you have that this is the fault of the gay lobby? But of course, evidence isn’t your thing. You ”just know” that the gays are to blame for all societal ills, a bit like the antisemite who just knows in his bones that ‘the Jews control the media’.

                      And of course the THT trust are not, in fact, presenting information on scat to school children, which even the blog you linked to acknowledges. So this is just another of your homophobic lies. Safer sex advice is ‘odious propaganda’ is it?

                      And again: compare and contrast HIV/AIDS in the 80s to now. ”We die, they do nothing”, the AIDS crisis to a point where having HIV is not a death sentence. That’s due (in part) to the lobbying efforts of the ‘gay lobby’.

                    • as for degrading – Jill, the prostate is the male g-spot. Most people who have anal sex do not die of AIDS. Lots of straight evangelicals are down with up-the-bum action. But then, such is your apparent ignorance of sex and sexuality generally that I wouldn’t be surprised if you started calling mere oral sex ”degrading”

                    • Oh, and JIll you can’t have it both ways – is the ”odious propaganda” the work of a minority of gay activists, or is representative of the general nature of the ”gay lifestyle”? If the former, then what sense does it make to damn homosexuality per se because a minority of gay people are into fisting or eating shit?

                    • Jill, I have no knowledge that you have ever vilified any INDIVIDUAL gay person, but if I were to claim that the kinky and dangerous practices that a minority of heterosexual people get up to typified “the horrors of the straight lifestyle”, then I am sure that you would regard that as vilifying straight people; I am surprised, therefore, that you fail to see that you are vilifying gay people by doing the equivalent.

                      AIDS is a terrible tragedy. But you talk as though the problem of AIDS in the developed world can be solved by abolishing homosexuality. That is as absurd as proposing to solve the problem of AIDS in Africa and other developing countries by abolishing heterosexuality. That kind of thinking is simply detached from reality.

                      You speak of “the way some gay activists thrust their odious propaganda into the faces of the innocent.” To what propaganda are you referring? And propaganda for what exactly?

                    • See, Ryan, how Jill always avoids the question. You asked her if homosexuality should be illegal and she has no idea what you are talking about by slipping to the subsidiary para to light on double anal. I don’t believe she is incapable of responding to two ideas in a post so Jill too tries rhetorical sleight-of-hand but she is not quite as polished in its practice it as David, who probably honed his skills at the Oxford or Cambridge Union.

                    • I don’t have to answer any questions, Tom. Who cares what I think? Is it going to make any difference? I only glance casually at these blog comments and only occasionally feel inspired to respond. Just this once, for your information, I don’t think it should be illegal, no, any more than adultery or sado/masochism, but I do think it is immoral and harmful to practitioners and to the wider population, the fruits of which we see today.

                    • Then we are all talking to the hand here, indulging in nothing more useful than giving vent to feelings? Is that what you think, that poor old Peter is wasting his time providing a forum where no one listens or ever changes their minds? That’s not what you say when you want to justify going on ” vile” pornsites like THT.

                    • Indeed, let’s not forget the time when Jill had a go at Peter for his criticisms of the dodgy Paul Cameron’s statistics. Peter asked Jill, flat out, if she doesn’t concede that the Cameron notion that gay men only live till 40 was (not least statistically) absurd. Jill replies that she doesn’t know, or care, and that numbers aren’t her thing! Well, which is it Jill – do you want a discussion about the truth of homosexuality, or do you want to be content in your disgusted-of-Tunbridge-Wells world of invented anti-gay ‘facts’?

                    • So, here goes honesty. CofE baptised and confirmed choirboy. Disaffected by the verger who made a very racist comment (that I relayed to my parents) on one occasion.

                      I emigrated to Barbados from the UK at 12. I went to the University of the West Indies in Trinidad (no Oxbridge pedigree). In the second year, I went to a Catholic Charismatic Renewal retreat because I didn’t want to stay on campus alone on that weekend and the good Christian folk guaranteed company and warm home-cooked food. I know: really poor motives!

                      The people seemed nice enough, but I paid scant attention to the talks about God’s love coming into a person’s heart. It made no sense to me, but I just nodded and impatiently scurried to a better lunch and dinner than I would ever have on campus. The religious bit would just be a lost cause, I thought.

                      So, forgetting the retreat’s purpose on Sunday morning, this acne-faced 19-year old who had never really come to terms with his father’s constant disapproval and belt beating went on a mile run through the Laventille valley. At first, I noticed a few flowers, then the entire flora of the area, then the Michelangelo sky. It all flooded in to overwhelm my incredulity. Love was only bestowed on those who deserved it, I thought. Lovelessness, my experience, meant you didn’t deserve it. The epiphany (timely word) overwhelmed the stubborn childhood belief (inculcated by a stern, unforgiving father) that I was unlovable with one statement that I couldn’t stop repeating as a question first and then an exclamation because it was beyond my belief: GOD LOVES ME!

                      Emptied of my self-contempt, but emotionally hollow, I returned to the retreat. There was the laying on of hands, something they called the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and in that moment a childlike connection was made with whatever it was that I encountered earlier. I could be understood, I could experience waves of loving assurance. I only needed to be open to the change wrought by that assurance. So, I am an Anglican-baptised and confirmed, charismatic Catholic renewed, personal-epiphany converted, evangelical mish-mash.

                      I do know that the debating skill was not there before. I just found immediately after the experience that I could and I was able to memorise whole swathes of scripture without the effort that I applied to the technical literature that I studied. I might be completely blank and then a bit of insight would flood in from something I saw a moment later.

                      So, there you have it: a very earthen vessel into which something and I believe Someone whom I now treasure was poured.

                    • Thanks. If I could put what I experienced in a bottle and give it to you, I would. But I can’t, for all of the adroit ripostes, I wish everyone could run into that wall of other-worldly love and assurance without having to negotiate a church’s chequered history.

                      I was just a blank canvas: ignorant enough of theology, church history and dynamics to be open to receive it, in the most unlikely of environments.

                    • Oh Jill, is this the start of another of your ‘Accepting homosexuality means accepting paedophilia’ arguments? If so, replace ‘HETEROSEXUAL’ with ‘paedophile’. Paedophiles have feelings too, you know. They feel they were ‘born that way’, just as you do.

                • Gay liberation was operating within a framework where ”homosexuality” was medicalised, and treated as a pathology; positing it as a natural biological variation is a legitimate corrective to this. Both women’s lib and campaigns for racial quality challenged biological determinism, where being of a particular race was linked to negative behaviours. So, too, with gay lib, which (accurately) posited that ”homosexuality” is not necessarily or even usually made manifest in paedophilia, recruiting children or societally destructive sexual behaviour. Tangentially, isn’t it funny how ‘conservatives’ tend (these days) to not compare behaviours, IQ etc between different racial groups and make overarching dehumanising conclusions on the racial group per se? After all, that MO is supposedly perfectly acceptable when applied to teh gays!

                  I think we can all agree it would be much better to prevent sexual abuse of children before it happens. That necessitates differentiating between ”child molesters” (caught, convicted) and paedophiles, who may wish to alter their ‘orientation’. I am not defending the Guardian piece per se. But wouldn’t it be a much better world if paedophiles who don’t want to be paedophiles felt able to come forward, in order that they may receive medical treatment (e.g. chemical castration)? Currently, a paedophile will only come to light (for fear of being run out of town as a ‘beast’ or ‘child molesters’) after they’ve already sexually exploited children (downloading child porn surely counts). By that point, is it not, for their victims, far too late?

                  • ‘So, too, with gay lib, which (accurately) posited that ”homosexuality” is not necessarily or even usually made manifest in paedophilia, recruiting children or societally destructive sexual behaviour.’

                    That’s just opposition to pejorative stereotyping, it is not a rejection of biological determinism. Biological determinism tries to establish a biological cause for a behavioural trait. The difference is that a sexist, or racist will attribute an inferior behavioural trait to biological characteristics. Gay liberation attributed sexual orientation to a biological characteristic, thereby rendering it beyond human control. Over the years, the link between sexual orientation and biological factors were supposed to be proved by twin studies, chromosome linkage studies, epigenetic studies, birth order correlation, female fertility comparisons and comparative brain structure.

                    In spite of all of these yielding simplistic, inconclusive results (Hamer, LeVay, Sanders, Bocklandt), the politically correct view is now that sexual orientation is, in some way, biologically determined. Compare this with the intellectual rigor of the social science testimony that proved the actual impact of educational segregation in the US.

                    In respect of your last point, prevention is not facilitated by drawing a legal distinction between child molesters and paedophiles. It would be wrong to assume that the cloak of patient confidentiality should be extended to the latter by profiling an acceptably lower risk of actual child molestation. It would afford them impunity. With children, there is never a tolerable level of molestation risk.

                    • The fact that less emphasis is placed on ‘born this way” rhetoric in contemporary gay lives is indicative, perhaps, that the studies were not overhwelming. And in any case they do broadly indicate a mixture of biological and other factors; i.e. biology is not of no influence. Compare and contrast with the wholly unscientific, pseudo-Freudian weak father/strong mother ‘aetiology’ proposed by the anti-gay lobby.

                      You dodged the point about race. Are there particular racial groups with higher rates of convictions etc than others? Perhaps. Does this tell us anything negative about the groups per se, or in some senses invalidate them? Of course not. Why not with homosexuality?

                      Forced treatment orders are not impunity. A situation where self-reporting paedophiles had to co-operate with (e.g.) chemical castration or (for example) told that they are now, having shunned the medical option, a problem for the police would surely stop many paedophiles from progressing the actual abuse of children. I agree about the molestation risk point. We’re discussing prevention. Self-reporting from paedophiles would be unlikely to have false positives (i.e. nobody’s going to traipse to their doctor, pretend to be a paedo and sign up for chemical castration!). In contrast, moral panics are a poor basis for accurate diagnosis of potential offenders (one can just imagine The Sun, say, ”Potential Paedo Watch! Is one of your co-workers or neighbours a paedo? Here’s our handy cut out and keep guide! Is your potential paedo married with kids? If not, why not strike up a conversation and see if they’re a homo. If not, then they might well be a paedo! Does your potential paedo spend a lot of time online, instead of reading the Sun and socialising like Normal Family People? ” etc)

                    • ‘biology is not of no influence’. In scientific terms, not of no influence means nothing. It’s whether a factor is statistically significant. In the case of sexual orientation, biology isn’t a proven causal factor. The compare and contrast exercise is just resorting to guilt by association. Since the anti-gay lobby opposes your view and (also) proposes an unscientific hypothesis, if you oppose my view, you are unscientific. Very weak logic.

                      Since you only mentioned race tangentially, I didn’t dodge the point about race. Let’s see then. A race has higher conviction rates. This could be due to racial profiling methods, relative poverty and lack of opportunity, racially profiled stop and search policing. A change in any of these factors might yield a significant change in the conviction rates. Ultimately, race is not a behavioural definition.

                      For example, it is a statistical fact that African Americans consume less than half the amount of vegetables that Caucasian Americans consume. This poses an inordinate health risk demonstrated by the fact that among women of African American ethnicity, there is the highest prevalence of overweight and obesity. African Americans are at higher risk for hypertension than any other race or ethnic group. It tends to be more common, it happens at an earlier age, and it is more severe for many African Americans. The traditional recipes that were historically prepared with butter and salt need to be adjusted to use herbs and spices. Baking and broiling needs to replace deep-fat frying.

                      Oops! I’ve just ranted against my own race, haven’t I? How dehumanising. This way of preparing food, the use of fat, the calorie content and portion size connects black people to their forbears in ways that many Caucasians might never understand. How dare anyone challenge what little this overbearing world permits us blacks to retain of our IDENTITY.

                    • You’d agree that biology is of some significance in the development of sexual orientation? And no other factor is ‘proven’ either, so I don’t know how this helps us. Does the state need some kind of biological proof of the ’cause’ of a minority group characteristic before said group can be protected? I am challenging the Gagnonian et al line that homosexuality is a pathological behavioural tendency whereas race and gender are not only benign but are non-behavioural. Biological sex does indeed have behavioural manifestations. Sexual orientation is in essence exactly that – not primarily a tendency towards particular behaviours, such as fisting (or listening to Madonna ;-))

                    • Biology is a factor. Environment is a factor. The lack of an overriding biological factor does help us.
                      1. It means that society ends the blanket race/gender response regarding all forms of homosexual activity as involuntarily determined.
                      2. It means that there is no ‘born this way’ rhetoric. It means that change is possible and, if wanted, can be sought. Religion is a protected characteristic, too. It doesn’t mean that we ban proselytisation.
                      3. It provides a level playing-field for an honest debate about sexuality of all orientations and the level of personal choice that we can exercise.
                      4. It says that a gay man *could* partner with a woman and parent a traditional family without harming a part of his identity that society considers innate. Rather than our society simply lauding the bravery of closeted gays who come out.

                    • 1. No, because it’s innacurate to claim that that race or at least gender do not potentially have behavioural manifestations. Discourse that regards colonialist patriachal standards as objective but, charitably, claims that women and racial minorities, free from biology, can live up to them, had its time/place but does not reflect modern understanding. Men and woman may indeed be different. Gender equality is , today, not necessarily predicated upon gender interchangeability in all spheres.

                      2. It doesn’t necessarily mean that change is possible and can be sought. There is no Personality Disorders Gene. That does not alter the fact that the notion that Personality Disorders can be cured is not justified and that a therapists offering such therapy would be a quack at best. I’d imagine most people would self-report that their sexual orientation is as primary and enduring as their personality (isn’t yours?)

                      3. One of the problems with anti-gay generalisations is that they do indeed ignore the realities of personal choice. Barebacking and fisting are dangerous? Then people can stop doing them. This has nothing to do with claims to turn gays straight or opposition to homosexuality per se. There are lots of celibate gay people and lots of promiscous straight people, although I will (like Dan Savage) concede that its’ easier to be promiscous in the gay as opposed to straight world.

                      4. Straight women tend to value primary romantic love and sexual exclusivity. Would they want a gay man as a partner? And societal homophobia still condemns gay parents, and I do not think Jill-types would give a free pass to gay parents who are, now, with a particular woman. In any case isn’t the UK full of children that need adoptive parents? Wouldn’t gay men who do that deserve as -more? – credit than those who hook up with straight women?

                    • 1. Race and gender may have behavioural manifestations, but, absent a biological imperative, they are no more involuntary manifestations than a particular mode of sexual expression. Behaviour may even differ, as you say, from ‘colonialist patriarchal’ standards. The issue is whether there is a significant element of choice: if a person wants to change, is the behaviour innate, thereby preventing it? Without proof of a biological cause, the behaviour is not innate. It may be difficult, but it is not necessarily impossible.

                      2. It does mean that change is not necessarily impossible. It does not mean that testing a therapy for change is not a waste of time. Much of the human personality is as primary and enduring as sexual orientation, it does not mean that change is impossible.

                      3. Whether the underlying orientation is amenable to change is not the real issue. Why do we concern ourselves with change beyond behavioural manifestations? A heterosexual male may get married, but continue to find attractive women attractive. Nevertheless, he remains faithful to his wife without a glance of a roving eye elsewhere. We may be sceptical of his marital devotion, but as far as we should be concerned, he is a faithful husband.

                      If gay male continues to find attractive men attractive, but may want a traditional family and, once married to his wife, does not manifest same-sex attraction in overt behaviour. We may be sceptical, but as far as we should be concerned, he is a faithful husband. Again, I am not addressing the issue of what is advisable, but what is possible.

                      4. That’s straight women stereotyping. Many straight women claim that their straight spouses lack sensitivity, romance and commitment; that all he wants is to have his end away and then ignore her. Perhaps, some might view a man with a gay sexual past as a refreshing change. A stereotype of my own, but how often would the ‘You don’t bring me flowers any more’ accusation be levelled at such a man?

                      But seriously, why couldn’t such a man, if change is possible, provide romantic love and sexual exclusivity to a woman? Why should the couple cave into the societal prejudices that you mention? We don’t have to marry to gain societal approval, so why should credit for lowering the number of orphans without good homes matter?

                    • I enjoyed the diet skit. Presumably it’s meant to have some parallels with the gay community. For the record, I (like Dan Savage) regard things like barebacking and bugchasing as destructive, not USPs of the gay identity that ought to be protected. But then, I think we’ve already established that my views differ from the supposed party line of the gay lobby.

                    • Yes, we have. Surprising to some, diabetes and obesity are not USP’s of the black identity, They’re just a concomitant of my race’s high-risk food habits. I know you know that. I don’t waste time questioning whether they are amenable to change.

  5. Ages of consent are inevitably going to be difficult to see as anything other than fairly arbitrary and dependent on social mores
    However, in legal terms, they exist as a way of protecting those who are seen as likely to be exploited – its not really so much about ‘morality’ as such, but protecting those seen as unable to protect themselves
    Of course, there are always going to be contradictions and cases which defy the law, and generally cases where the partners are relatively close in years are not pursued (and when both under age, who exactly is doing the exploiting?)
    Its interesting how there manages to be both paranoia at the idea and practice of paedophilia alongside increased commercial sexualisation of children….

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