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Anorak | On Gary Glitter And Paedos

On Gary Glitter And Paedos

by | 21st, August 2008

GARY Glitter. Let’s have a paedo amnesty. Hand in your paedo pics and videos and tell the cops where you got them. No action taken against you. How about it?

Carol Sarler writes in the Times:

With impeccably spun timing, while Gary Glitter hunkered down at Bangkok airport to avoid police interrogation at Heathrow, Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, took to the airwaves yesterday to announce new initiatives to prevent paedophiles from travelling as “sex tourists”. Snatch their passports, she cried. Ground them for five years. Nail their filthy feet to the floor.

Yeah, keep sexual deviants at home in the UK. Much better…

Her plans, no doubt, resonated with public opinion. In announcing them, however, she reinforced a largely unacknowledged muddle at the heart of all debate on the subject of paedophilia: is it an illness, or is it a crime?

Both. Would anyone want to be paedophile?

At the moment, galvanised by the desire to be as punitive as possible, we mix and match. When it suits us to invoke the idea of uncontrollable urges, we do exactly that – look how readily the tabloid press appends “sick!” to any mention of child abuse. On the other hand, when it suits us to argue for the throwing away of keys, as befits any rotten but otherwise common criminal, we do that instead. The truth is, it’s time to choose.

But there will be no choice. Peadophilia is a crime.

If we accept that paedophilia is an illness – and there are reasoned voices who say that it is – then, by definition, we accept it as being beyond the control of its sufferer in exactly the way that we accept schizophrenia. Therefore, we should respond as such: if a man, for reasons not remotely his fault, is posing a risk to others, he should be subject to sectioning under the Mental Health Act, with all the appropriate regret, sympathy and kindness that accompanies such a move. Given the grip of the current bogeyman frenzy, it is hard to see that one playing in Peoria; nevertheless, it would be the only humane response.

If we accept that it is a crime, however, then it is something which the perpetrator can control. He may choose to offend or not, and if he chooses what is unacceptable, again we should respond as such. We catch the bastard, try him, lock him up by way of penalty and then – this is the crucial bit – once he has served his sentence we restore his liberty. In full.

And that is the crux. Do the crime. Serve your time. And then..?

This has been the fundamental principle of justice, at least within crime and punishment, that has stood us in reasonable stead since Magna Carta. Now, just because one particular category of behaviour is exciting public consciousness – pressing, as it does, all the right buttons such as “sex” and “children” – is collective gut revulsion really enough to challenge copper-bottomed, tried, tested and trusted legal tradition?

There is so lityle meaningful debate on peadophilia, least of all in the tabloid press. What is the best way forward..



Posted: 21st, August 2008 | In: Broadsheets Comments (11) | TrackBack | Permalink