88worst

In the public’s mind paedophiles molest children rather than have consenting sexual relationships with them.Paedophiles are seen as preying on children rather than attempting to relate to them and corrupting children rather than showing them affection.

We will see some of these reactions in other parts of this book. In the Revere case in Massachusetts, for example, the media headlines claimed that the twenty-four men indicted for having had sexual relations with boys were involved in rape and pornography. There was no evidence presented during the trial of force being used or of pornography found. Similarly in a forerunner to the Revere case in Boise, Idaho, five men were arrested for similar offences and found guilty by the press before the case came to court. Headlines and editorials in the local paper such as ‘Crush the monster’ led to further police purges resulting in an additional twelve men being charged.

In Britain the first public meeting of the Paedophile Information Exchange showed the strength of the paedophile folk-devil stereotype. The meeting was broken up by a hostile crowd. Mocking and punching the speakers and participants and shouts of ‘animals’, monsters’ and ‘filth’ eventually forced the conference participants to literally run for their lives. As one participant put it, ‘Of course I realised for a long time that our society viewed sexual relationships between children and adults with horror. An affair with a boy of eleven when I was sixteen made me painfully aware of this. But until the events (at the PIE. meeting) I was not aware of the ferocity of this reaction.’

Whether it be in Revere, Massachusetts, or Brisbane, Australia, men who love boys are seen as violent, depraved and evil people who symbolise an end to the prevailing moral order. And the violence born out of this paranoia is not dissimilar to the violence displayed by the Spanish and English Inquisitions towards people who were alleged to be witches.

Consider, for example, the public reaction to a case of paedophilia occurring in the same town that Osborne lived in a short time after revelations concerning him were publicised. In this case a man pleaded guilty to charges of having attempted to have carnal knowledge of a girl, sodomy of a girl and her brother, and to charges of having indecently dealt with the girl and the boy on occasions during 1978 and 1979.

Details surrounding the case made it apparent that the children co-operated in the sexual acts, and indeed sought them on many occasions. While the man’s behaviour could, on a variety of counts, be severely criticised and while in my opinion a jail sentence was not inappropriate, comments made by persons concerned with the case hardly assisted the community in dispassionately considering the issues involved in man-youth relationships.

The mother of one of the girls was reported in the local newspaper to have stated that she ‘just wanted to tie him (the accused) on an ants’ nest and pour boiling water over him’. The newspaper publicising these remarks frequently referred to the man as a sex monster’ and criticised the leniency of the nine-year sentence given by the judge.

While the mother’s anguish is perhaps understandable, her comments on the case were puzzling. To begin with she was reported to have told the press that, ‘My little girl was abused and abused. She probably knows more about sex than I do. It sickens me to have to say it, but I think she came to like it. She must have, she was always excited when he came around to the house.’ Even so, the mother was quite clear on how she felt towards her daughter. According to the Sunday Sun the mother said that ‘when police told me what he had done to my little girl I thought she would be better off dead’.

Such is the community feeling towards men who have relationships with children. And in a very real sense ignorance about paedophiles leads to the creation of the monster myth which in turn leads to increased paranoia about their alleged effects on the children or adolescents. It is a classic triple play. But while everyone knows that paranoia is the fear of unreal dangers, little can be done to educate the public about the reality of adult-youth relationships while we cling to the monster myth.

American paedophile spokesman Tom Reeves has suggested that we need a word to describe a person who is the opposite of a paranoid: a word to describe those who should be afraid of activities which society condemns but are not at all afraid. If such a word was invented then probably the majority of young males who met Clarence Osborne could usefully be described by it. For according to the scientific evidence generally and Osborne’s past partners whom I interviewed specifically, the paranoia exhibited by the media and the police was unwarranted.