Monday, October 02, 2006

Preventing perverted thoughts is impossible

New member of my blogroll, Tezza has pointed out how Gymnastics New Zealand is requiring all spectator's cameras to be registered. According to Stuff "SAFE sexual offenders programme director John McCarthy said there was a small risk paedophiles could attend the event". Really? I wonder if he will spot them. It can't be the coach can it? Or how about Sarah's dad? Or Tania's brother? or Tiffany's mother? You can spot them you see. You know who they are.
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Of course it is up to Gymnastics New Zealand to do as it wishes on its own property. However this is part of a bigger trend. There is:
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- UK Post Office banning 5yo's passport photo because her exposed shoulders might offend a Muslim country (later overturned;
- FBI calling on schools to not put photos of their students on their website;
- This blogger banned from taking a photo at an Irish dancing championship;
- Air NZ and British Airways not seating men beside unaccompanied children.
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Now nobody is going to question the need for children to be protected from pervs. However, there is palpable hysteria out there about the likely risks. The number one risk of children getting sexually abused is from people the child knows. Why? Because a stranger has to be brave or stupid to start randomly approaching children - it used to happen more in the past when there was some perspective on these things. I remember being warned about strangers, and some man invited me to his cabin on a holiday and my parents told me it wasn't a good idea. Having said that, I wandered the streets alone as a child quite a lot from age 8 upwards, in ways I bet few parents allow now - nothing happened to me, and if an adult scared me (which happened occasionally) I ran - it helped I lived in a suburb with wide open streets and footpaths, so it was difficult to do anything without being seen.
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So after mum's boyfriend, stepdad, dad, grandad, uncle, cousins, neighbours, family friends and brothers - you've knocked out most of the risk factors. The next level would probably be sister, mother and aunt (yes there are female child molesters, they are in the minority, but certainly there). Then you can worry about the photographer.
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You see, I remember being at school swimming sports and there was a father of one of the children who took photos of many of the kids by the pool, for the school magazine. He was always a kindly man who was very sweet, and there was never an issue of his motives. Now one can never really know who is turned on by what. I can bet you that odds are that you know someone who gets aroused by things that might shock or disturb you, or maybe it is you. You'll never ever know - because, after all, it's rather easy to use your imagination and masturbate. It is reasonable to protect your children from being sexually assaulted (or assaulted full stop), it is also reasonable to avoid strangers taking photos of them without your permission - but when does this start to become a ridiculous restriction on freedom of expression. If you allow your child to perform in a play, you probably want to take photos - other parents probably do too - if the local perv does as well, then really what IS the harm? He isn't peeking in changing rooms, where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.
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The problem is that people masturbate about other people all the time. It has probably happened to you and you can be grateful you probably don't know the people who have done it. If you're really hot you'll have had thousands get aroused for you, and there were almost certainly pedos who got aroused for me when I was a child. The fact I never saw them or knew about it means it doesn't matter.
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Pervs putting gymnast photos on the internet is disconcerting. However, there is little doubt that there is a fetish for professional gymnasts. There is also a fetish for girls smoking, fetish for school uniforms and fetish for girls in football clothes etc etc. There is probably a fetish for women wearing the burkha. People will sexualise whatever arouses them, and as long as they don't act on it, except with consenting adults, it is nobody else's business.
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So hopefully the hysteria will die down - and the law will never get involved, except to protect private property rights.
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Hopefully it wont get to this stage.

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