Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Hypocrisy Over Sex Scandals Is Massive And Not Confined To Any One Group

The question of which sex scandals get taken up as the focus of a general online hate fest is ripe with potential to show us something more about various online communities*.

The current one  is focused on a pretty unattractive guy raised in a pretty awful milieu of the "Quiverfull" patriarchal cult and promoted by cabloid TV as some kind of beacon of virtue.   Of course I'm talking about the accusations made against Josh Duggar that when he was 14 years old, a child, or at least a young teenager,  he fondled five girls, at least some of them his younger sisters, sexually.

I will interject here that I'd never heard the name Josh Duggar before last week, I never saw the now cancelled TLC cabloid show promoting his parents and their ginormous family of 19 children and their right-wing, anti-LGBT, would-be "Christian" cult and their right wing politics.

Though I was somewhat aware of the Duggars from noticing what was already being said about them online.  I am not predisposed to think well of them, apparently they pretty much are everything I'm engaged in struggling against.

That doesn't mean they are not due to be judged by the same standard used to judge the behavior of someone I like and agree with, something which would seem to be rejected in online discourse and in the general culture of, at least, my country.   Pretty much the entire culture has been cabloidized, the practices of FOX "news" generalized.

The various details as to the scandal of this as-seen-on-TV paragon-of-virtue's teenage sin, the handling of it by his parents, the timing of his father dropping a dime on him, his encounter with the police due to that, the "counselling" venue he was brought to as "treatment" are all over the internet just now, all of them an occasion for postures of outrage and anger and group hatin' on and, as could be predicted, since it is a politically charged, culturally stereotypable (if that's a word) made for cabloid TV scenario, also his defenders.

I will, also, note that there have been reasonable people who are discussing this pointing out such things as the focus being on Josh Duggar, his father, to a lesser extent his mother, the policeman who interviewed him and the "counselling" he got while the girls he fondled are seen as an afterthought.   Which is certainly a valid point but which, I contend, is also symptomatic of what the nature of this current sex scandal mania is and it isn't about what's wrong with young girls being groped by a 14 year old boy.   Josh Duggar in this discussion is a stand in for other and larger group identities, resentments  and hatreds on one side and as the opposite of those for another side.  A lot of the online babble over this has insisted that you have to be in one or the other side of this when no one has to be. And I would say no one should be.

That can be seen by comparing other accusations and documented pedophile sex scandals which have not resonated in the same way.

The first of those which came to mind the first time I realized this was going to be, as they say, "a thing" was, of course, the ongoing revelations of massive, organized pedophile rape in Britain, the documented police and government cover up of that and the massive evidence of that being released on an ongoing basis.  I am certain that the reason that massive scandal has failed to take much of a hold on the attention spans of those online is that it is largely secular figures involved with a minor tie-in with religious figures.  Which would seem to be the major attraction the issue has for the online babblers.

Famous people and rich people, the reason for the British governments covering it up, because they're "people like us", entertainment figures, businessmen, etc.  none of them from the American South, none of them members of an odd political-religious, patriarchal cult, though some of them on the lower brow venues of pop entertainment.  But the sheer size of that pedophile scandal, the evidenced, documented certainty of it, the horror of the abuse which includes imprisonment, sadistic torture, the group rape of very young children, the deaths of children abused, shows that the relatively little attention it has been given in the online outrage machine is not really concerned with the victims of such crimes but the identities of those who raped, tortured and murdered them.  And it's hardly confined to Britain.  I don't recall this story of a massive international pedophilia operation involving the rape of hundreds of children being busted getting as many pixels as the Josh Duggar story.  Or, for that matter, Lena Denham's publicity confession, only that one was concentrated on by the right, the pseudo-left's outrage being confined to the outrage of the right making hay on it.

The second venue of child rape that came to mind is, of course, the abundant evidence available to view at will of child rape by the porn industry, much of it incest themed, presented as fathers, uncles, grandfathers and, yes, brothers, raping smaller, younger relatives.  If even 5% of those presented as such are actually being raped by their male relations are actually as presented, online porn, available with a google search, is certainly as worthy of  being discussed than the crimes of Josh Duggar. The size of the pedophile porn industry and the related trafficking, marketing and destruction of children by the sex industry dwarfs  even the British pedophile and universally discussed Catholic priestly pedophile sex scandals, yet it is entirely ignored in the discussion, never to my knowledge the focus of the outrage fixed on the sins of a young teenager.   I would go so far as to say that, today, the porn and even the prostitution industries are held to be sacrosanct by the inverted morality peddled by, first the "free speech" industry and, as they realized they could game it to damage the right of people to accurate information and, so, effective self-government, the right wing of the Supreme Court and others on their ideological side.  That such "free speech" includes massive advertising in porn to encourage pedophile rape is certainly relevant to this discussion, though a forbidden topic.   So, naturally, I will commit that thought crime.

Also ignored are the accusations made by his half-sister and nephew, that a man who I used to admire and agreed with on many things, Gore Vidal, was an active pedophile who had sex with rent-boys, one of whom he is accused of beating up along with Stephen Spender.  And it was an ongoing thing for decades, apparently.

And he (Vidal's nephew) added, pointedly: ‘Gore spent a lot of time in Bangkok, after all.’ 

The Thai capital is infamous for child prostitution and Gore would visit every year. Friends say he had sex there with young male prostitutes.

Mr Steers said Gore appeared to condone child abuse perpetrated by Catholic priests: ‘He would say that the young guys involved were hustlers who were sending signals.’

He added that when Vidal’s half-brother, Jamie Auchinloss, was caught with child pornography, ‘Gore would not condemn him’.

In the Seventies, Vidal even spoke out in support of paedophiles who formed a notorious group set up to campaign for legalised sex between adults and children called NAMBLA, the North-American Man/Boy Love Association.

That last one is something which is fully documented,  I heard a recording of his speech on that occasion and it was covered in the Boston media, back when they actually did reporting.  I seem to recall that he made a joke in response to a question that he didn't know of anyone who would want to kill Anita Bryant other than music lovers.   Which I thought was, actually, funny, at the time.

And, interjecting, again, the Thai sex industry is a decades long and massive example of the international hypocrisy on this issue, one with clear racist overtones as the children raped in their sex-tourism industry are considered to not matter.  It is an industry which extends around the world in its promotion and enablement but which is relatively little discussed and seldom the focus of the kind or outrage that is being focused on what one 14 year old boy did.  If Vidal was in the habit if visiting Thailand as often as that, given his public statements, the suspicion that it was for sex tourism is a reasonable one.

Still there was no trial, no evidence presented to be tested.   The blackmail file which his arch enemy William F. Buckely is believed to have kept on him, though it was not revealed or examined for veracity.   Christopher Buckley has admitted to have destroyed a file his father kept on Vidal, I don't believe he's ever said what was in it.  What is known is that Gore Vidal certainly supported organized pedophilia before it became a hot-button issue as did many others who misidentified as liberal when they were merely libertarians.**

Mr Steers says he ‘doesn’t know for sure’ whether his uncle had sex with underage men and doesn’t want to know - but it is clear he suspects it.

Vidal himself revealed in his memoirs that he was ‘attracted to adolescent males . . . like most men’. [Speaking for myself, let me say that Vidal speaks for himself on that one.]

One of his friends admitted he was astonished when Vidal once told him: ‘You know I’m a pederast.’

Was he being serious? Or was he once again trying to shock? 

When I brought up some of these issues in the online discussion, even though I stipulated that I certainly had no admiration for the Duggars or the "counselling" method he was "treated" by, and that I thought he had probably done what he's accused of,  I was accused of defending him because I asked why the massive and documented British sex scandal, the scandal of online porn with sadistic rape of children - with the evidence being peddled, massively online, and the rumors about Gore Vidal were all mostly or entirely ignored.   If you want to see excuses being made for someone, you can read this article from The Guardian by Mark Lawson, asking a question that, as far as I have seen, no one proposed, in effect "Must We Burn Vidal".   Of course not, unlike the sex degenerate that Simone de Beauvoir asked that question about, Vidal's likely peodophile inclinations didn't figure highly in his published work, though, as mentioned, any complete edition of his speeches would have to include it.  It does, though, need to be considered when analyzing his thinking in other areas, the misidentification of his libertarianism as liberalism and any accurate thinking about his character.  I know I didn't see him the same after hearing his speech.  But that's not my goal in raising the issue.

Most interesting about this is what it shows about the intellectual and moral nature of  online and offline culture, how the most massive crimes are routinely covered up because we like who committed those or which are focused on because we despise them.  Libertarians, as opposed to liberals, generally end up making allowances for those who they favor, whether as individuals or representatives of a class of people they favor, covering up or excusing what they do.   The acceptance and practice of that kind of double standard will end up favoring the rich, the famous and powerful, that's one of the advantages gained by joining those group.  As the British pedophile scandal proves, yet again, even a nominal democracy dominated by an aristocratic class can cover up the worst and most depraved of crimes targeting the most powerless and vulnerable people. I don't think the United States can expect to do any better than that with the nominal liberal side of things adopting that practice.   If liberals don't insist on a single standard in justice and in society,  I can guarantee you conservatives won't take up the slack, creating and maintaining double standards is one of the real life features of their ideology in practice, no matter what their pretensions are.

As to the public persona of Josh and the other Duggars, well, his father is the one who, eventually, dropped a dime on him.   I can believe that lots of parents wouldn't do that, so I can't fault the Duggars on that count.  As to how else it was handled, that would depend on whether or not the behavior or behavior like it continued.  I haven't read anywhere that it has.  But if I were a member of such a family, I would concentrate very hard on the verse in which Jesus said that if someone corrupts a child it would be better that a millstone be put around their neck and be drowned.   What he did is certainly not consistent with following the teachings of the man they claim to believe spoke with divine authority.   Maybe they need to take their profession more seriously, though the guy was 14 years old when he fondled girls.  If the girls he did that to ever want to speak for themselves and give their side of what happened, that is their choice to make.   If he can't be shown to have done anything else like that, the controversy concentrating on that,  full of wild, unevidenced accusations, stereotypes and assumptions, would be better spent focusing on the facts about other crimes done by adult men.

* When I say "online communities" I don't mean like a well ordered, rational and just polity, I mean more like a clique terrorized jr. high school or a gang bullied neighborhood.  The platitudes often asserted about the internet are as hypocritical as any and, considering the degenerated standards allowed by anonymity and the ability to assume multiple personalities for the purpose of slandering and brow beating, potentially as bad as the worst of those.   The internet has promoted the worst in us just as TV has.

**   Since a lot of those I'm hearing from on this are blog atheists, the last time I looked, even within the last few years the prominent "skeptic" and academic Vern Bullough's high status in the pedophile promotion group Paidika was still listed as among his "accomplishments".   He never to my
knowledge was denounced for it by any of his atheist colleagues or those who admire them.   James Randi's shady activities with what are believed to be underage hustlers, documented on tapes that were found admissible in a law suit, are considered untouchable when discussing him. That includes his public and documented shifting claims about the tapes, starting by claiming they were forgeries, to saying they were made as part of a sting operation he and the police set up, to, apparently, claiming he was "blackmailed" over them, all in a clear cover up of a kind that is ubiquitous in Randi's career.    Clearly who is being accused matters more to such blog babblers than what they're being accused of doing.


  1. I am less concerned with "sex scandals" than I am with treating people like objects. We do this on a daily basis; "unskilled" workers deserve to earn less than "skilled" workers, no one really deserves to earn a living wage if it raises the cost of my cup of coffee or cheap hamburger or pasta meal at a chain restaurant, etc., etc., etc.

    Interesting that stories involving genitalia (not really "sex", but physical contact with "naughty bits") are what get our attention. We pay attention to what Lena Dunham confessed to, or that Josh Dugger was forced to admit, etc., etc., etc., and ignore the daily exploitation of people in our own country, let alone in "Third World countries."

    If they are "sex slaves," we are horrified. If they are "wage slaves," well, too bad, but I'm not gonna pay a lot for that sweater!

    Selective outrage is so selective. And sex is so much at the root of our identity, we can't see how it distorts our view of the world, and the people with us in it.

  2. It's all left me with thinking about what seems to be the total dissolution of anything like integrity as the meaning of meaning has turned into some kind of manipulable fluid that you can shape however you want to. I would like to know how that came about, what mixture of psychological-psychiatric theorizing in the last century might have set off that decline. Or if late 19th century philosophy had a hand in it.

    I have come to the conclusion that you have to try, really hard to avoid that kind of manipulation or you start cutting corners and giving allowances up to entire cartes blanches based on whether or not you like someone, and the opposite of that when you hate them. I am, daily, shown how radical and how impressive the egalitarian morality of the Jewish-Christian tradition is and am ever more convinced that is the real reason that it is and has been under constant attack. I don't know if it's related but I would really like to look into how the various sins of Christianity, those both in opposition to the scriptures and, also, official teachings agreed to by the major traditions, are more consistent with either pagan or atheist positions. I've pointed out that Vern Bullough, one of the big wigs in CSICOP. the atheist publishing house Prometheus Books and other atheist-"skeptic" circles was, at the same time, an active proponent of making child rape legal. And the fury you get from the atheists hatin' on Josh Duggar when you bring things like that up is intense. I never heard of Josh Duggar before and find him entirely loathesome but I'm not allowed to magnify his wrongs because I don't like him. Maybe that's something like what The Reverened Martin Luther King meant when he said you didn't have to love someone because you liked them, you had to love them because God loved them.

    1. My sympathies for Josh Dugger extend only so far as his "defenders" who through some bizarre mixture of "forgiveness" and an adherence to their "Big Idea" (which can never fail but can only be failed) insist he is guilty but cleansed of his crimes. It's a disgusting mess of hypocrisy and criminality and exploitation of female minors (and women in general) that wants to sweep under the metaphorical rug anything that disturbs their view of themselves as "pure" and "apart" from the rest of humanity.

      It's a toxic stew, in other words, and he was raised in it. Took it in with his mother's milk, so to speak. And of course the American Way of Life is making money off the freakshow that is the Dugger family (I had no idea how freakish, I just knew them as the people with too many kids). I understand TLC only canceled a "marathon" of their show, not the show itself. Seems they can't quite bring themselves to do that, yet.

      The whole thing is repellant, but not because Josh Dugger fondled young girls (and his own sisters). He needs therapy (I'm no fan of punishment) and the entire family needs...well, at the very least, to be ostracized. Even sideshow freaks aren't as twisted and perverse as this clan. I wouldn't go so far as to condemn them, but they really don't deserve the oxygen of attention and small-bore fame and political clout they clearly have in Arkansas.

      It says something rather disgusting about Arkansas, too; but then, "it's money that matters/in the U.S.A."

    2. Oh, I've said from my first comment on this that Josh Duggar, his parents, his promoters, fan base, the politicians and hucksters attached to him are all repugnant. All I've done is extend the standards I've used to come to that conclusion to people I once liked, such as Gore Vidal and to others.

      TLC and, really, all of the cabloid stations are a continual freak show. I remember hearing or reading, can't remember which it was, in which the fine actor Maury Chaykin talked about how "Arts and Entertainment" cancelled the very good Nero Wolfe series he was in, despite its winning awards and getting good ratings so they could put on reruns of Dog, Bounty Hunter. Cabloids took what was a dreadful American TV medium and made it much, much worse. Newt Minnow had no idea how bad it could get. What is on regularly now is worse than the appallingly awful Italian TV of thirty years ago.

      It's not just Arkansas, though I think a lot of the legs under this story are based in it supporting regional stereotyping. I would suspect as bad and much worse, complete with hypocritical politicians, bogus, ideological "counselling" and pseudo-Christian content is probably found in my state and in virtually all others. It is certainly evident in the accounts of Gore Vidal's 1977 speech I've mentioned, held in a major venue of the Unitarian Universalist Arlington Street Church, attended by big wigs in the Boston political, academic and even religious establishment, though I would imagine a lot of them didn't really get what it was they were going to be attending. Vidal certainly knew as his speech was an outrageous defense of, not men innocent of preying on children, but of what they'd done. One of the things I came across in researching this is an obituary on a pedophile board, it's pretty remarkable how the active and open pedophile promotion on the internet is.


      How that is different from or not at least as bad as what Huckabee and the others are doing is something I'd like explained to me.

      My opinion of Gore Vidal took a nose dive when I heard that speech, not long after it was made. I guess that counts me as one of the "accomodationist" LGBT guys, but I've never thought that the kind of "liberation" that would leave all of the privileges of class, gender, race and adulthood in place, making everyone who was in a weaker position an object for use was worth having. One that destroyed those inequalities is worth putting up the flack and garbage for.