Recently if you have been following long threads of arguments on Twitter, you’ll have heard about a controversy involving our new Minister for Children. If you have only a vague idea of it, it will probably be an impression of several headline buzzwords; “paedophilia” “far-right” and “homophobia” being among them.
People with vague impressions of the controversy will fall into one of two camps. Fans of conspiracy theory, or “truthers”, will think that the tendrils of a vast, global satanic child-sacrifice cult have extended themselves into the elites of Irish society. Somehow 5G probably plays a part in this conspiracy, but how it does is anyone’s guess.
Meanwhile, people who fancy themselves “the sensible ones loike” will think that all the claims are only the product of the “truthers” and “thowse Gemma toipes” whipping themselves up into yet another hysterical frenzy. Such a dismissal is often followed by “how froigthening those Russian bots are, loike,” without a hint of irony..
The truth, as it often does, lies a little between these two. It neither fully condemns nor absolves, it is more mundane. And yet, exactly because it is more mundane, it is more condemning.
So what are the exact facts? Roderic O’Gorman stood with Tatchell at a Pride Parade, because he admired the work he had done. However, Minister O’Gorman claimed that he “did not know” about Tatchell’s alleged apologism of paedophilia. One could dismiss this as a lie, but in my opinion it is likely to be the truth, a far more eerie fact. It is not that paedophilia and paedophilia apologism, are openly pushed and promoted, as this is not the case. Instead, there is an almost deliberate blind eye turned to these things.
In society at large, there is an attitude of “hear no evil, see no evil” around this problem. The outrage at the Catholic Church was not that they conspired to promote paedophilia when it happened, but to keep it hush and hide the guilty. And although it was for this reason that Catholic Ireland was cast out, this same problem rears its head again in the institutions of liberal Ireland. Whenever you bring up the suspicions of paedophilia in high places, the response is never denial, but a denial of knowing about it. It is a conspiracy of ignorance and silence.
Virtually all defences of O’Gorman are attempts to make it seem like a small, trivial, and isolated incident. However, no man is an island, and it is precisely because this event is not isolated that it’s neither trivial nor small.
O’ Gorman’s own party currently sits in the European Parliament alongside members of Germany’s Green party, who have themselves been rocked by scandals. Scandals revealing their somewhat old, but quite open and extensive connections to paedophilia advocacy. Not least among these was the former vice-president of the European Green group, Daniel Cohn Bendit, writer of several disgusting works, including descriptions of sexual encounters with children as young as five. O’ Gorman also inherits his Ministerial seat from a woman who partook in questionable Wiccan sects.
To be sure, many of these examples are connections that are at one remove from O’ Gorman himself. Yet when he proceeds to retweet and post images of a performance artist emulating Saturn consuming his children, as though Goya’s great painting was a funny and novel thing, and not a serious picture of existential evil, it raises reasonable suspicions.
When a slogan like “Epstein didn’t kill himself” floats with ease about the halls of universities and across drinks with friends, can we seriously be expected to handwave it as a quirky, artsy silliness?
Paedophilia apologism is rarely a brazenly advertised belief, but instead is always to be found as a footnote, and more often a set of small questions and complaints, always intended to undermine. Apologetics for paedophilia is rife throughout the prominent figures of Queer Theory, and the criticism and attack of such ideas virtually non-existent. While the track record of this is worth a whole article in itself, it should suffice to understand this much; that such defences rarely receive whole tracts, but often appear as throwaway comments, as small collateral conclusions of their larger arguments.
Tatchell, a bargain basement Foucault, truly does work in this spirit, and his comments are in keeping with this. His own tweet , featured in the Irish Times reinforces his doublethink. He insists that he calls paedophilia “impossible to condone” yet in the same sentence in that 1997 letter to the Guardian he writes: “it is time society acknowledged the truth that not all sex involving children is unwanted, abusive and harmful.”
In the article he links in his defence tweet he repeats his dissonant reasoning. He opens with condemnation of sexual abuse but, repeatedly blaming “adult chauvinism” and “sex-negative attitudes”, he leaves us only to conclude that the best defence for minors is for them to be even more sexualised from a younger age.
“The ten-year-old killers of James Bulger were declared by the courts to be old enough to understand, and to be held responsible for, their actions – and mature enough be convicted of murder. But if they’d had sex with each other and said they had consented, the courts would have ruled that they were too young to understand what is involved in a sexual relationship – and therefore incapable of giving their consent.”
Now, are there people below the age of consent who both want and have sex? Of course! But the purpose of the age of consent is not that it restricts well, but that it simply restricts. Apologists use rhetoric that minors need the legal ability to consent because they have a desire for sex, totally ignoring that the entire point is that we, as a society, have judged that minors are by definition unable to know what they want, much less separate what they desire from what is best for them!
Would young teens truly be better able to fend off abusers if they gained “sexual experience” from the lowering of the Age of Consent to 14 (as Tatchell would have it)? Or would they only become infinitely more vulnerable to predators who can now stay safe by grooming and convincing their victims to profess their consent to such abominable relationships in front of the law?
O’ Gorman, now under pressure, has stated recently that he supports keeping the Age of Consent at 17, and yet already under his administration the state has continued its consultations (using panels without any doctors of medicine present) for facilitating “gender transitions” of those under 16. If O’Gorman agrees that those younger than 17 are not capable of making decisions about having sex, how the hell does he think that they are capable of making decisions about changing their sex?
At the same time the teacher’s union hosts speeches for activists from an NGO patronised by Tatchell, telling Irish teachers not to inform or consult with parents on Sex Education in schools. The only conclusion would be that children are to be atomised away from their parents, for if they have a right to transition their sex there are no consistent justifications to say that their parents can prevent this, and if that is true then there is no consistent justification to say that children cannot have sex, or that their parents can prevent them in that either!
So is this a shadowy conspiracy? Is a cabal networking and planning to implement paedophilia throughout our society, or are we tilting at windmills?
As I said, it is worse than both of these, because it is neither, because all of this is a product of permissiveness by others, and irresponsibility by us. A failure of vigilance and a failure of understanding about how the politics of permissiveness have led us to this.
The slippery slope is all too real, we have been descending it for a long time, as though hiking down a great glen. Low clouds and rain obscure the peaks, and prevent us from knowing how far we have already come down, while fog obscures the valley floor and prevents us from knowing how much further we can descend. We are left only with a sudden sense of panic and disorientation, as suddenly we find ourselves stumbling and slipping on the green and rain-soaked grass.
Image from Twitter used for reporting purposes