« Previous | Main | Next »

The Glass Box for Thursday

Post categories:

Eddie Mair | 16:26 UK time, Thursday, 2 August 2007

The Glass Box is the place where you can comment on what you heard on PM. Did we get the right lead story?

Were the interviews terrible, or the reporting bad? Or was it all great?

Just click on the "comment" link.

If you want to post a comment about something that is on your mind but was not on the programme - use the link on the right to The Furrowed Brow. Also on the right, you'll find FAQ: try it. And why not visit The Beach?

Comments

  1. At 05:22 PM on 02 Aug 2007, Susan Austin wrote:

    When TV channels deceive the public over phone ins, two people lose their job.

    When an innocent man going about his business is killed on a tube train, no one loses their job.

    Now it seems likely that someone will lose their job for failing to inform his boss that a likely mistake had been made.

    But still, no one accepts responsibility for the death of an innocent man.

    Interesting priorities!

  2. At 05:30 PM on 02 Aug 2007, Jonathan Keane wrote:

    Why is that so much attention is being focused on whether communication was sufficient within the met. Surely this fades into irrelevance when you look to the the real issue - how it came to be that an innocent man was killed in cold blood. Who is responsible for this and how and when are the lad's long suffering family going to get the justice they deserve?

  3. At 05:41 PM on 02 Aug 2007, Sid Cumberland wrote:

    Re your link with Minnesota. I like intermittent. It suggests that it's real.

    Sid

  4. At 05:49 PM on 02 Aug 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Oh, how right he is! Clapping between movements - just like clapping when a wellknown actor comes onto stage in the middle of a play - is just so gauche! And, more seriously, changes the experience for the other listeners.

  5. At 05:51 PM on 02 Aug 2007, mac wrote:

    From The Beach


    A guy goes to the Post Office to be interviewed for a job.
    The interviewer asks him, "Are you ex-services?"
    The guy says, "Why yes, in fact, I served three tours in Afghanistan & Iraq."
    "Good," says the interviewer, "That counts in your favour. Do you have any service-related disabilities?"
    The guy says, "In fact I am 100% disabled. During a battle, an explosion removed my private parts so they declared me disabled. It doesn't affect my ability to work, though."
    "Sorry to hear about the damage, but I have some good news for you, I can hire you right now! Our working hours are 9 to 5. Come on in about 11, and we'll get you started."
    The guy says, "If working hours are from 9 to 5, why do you want me to come at 11?"
    "Well, here at the Post Office, we don't do anything but sit around and scratch our wotsits for the first two hours. Don't need you here for that!"

    Ho, ho!

    You'd think he'd be ideal for working with children.

    No need to check his genital blood flows, of course, but he'd still have to have his brain's sex centres wired up to monitors, if Cleopatra's eunuchs were telling her true, to check for thought crimes.

    'Cos the thought is the crime, whether the thought as such, or the thought tied up in gratifying outrage at such thoughts in others.

    A lot of this abuse - prosecution stuff sounds like 'Prostitiutes and Salvation Army girls' to me. (And what a party that was).

    On a lighter note maybe the sounds during the Mahler were the death rattles of the terminally bored.

  6. At 05:52 PM on 02 Aug 2007, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Sorry Eddie, I just applauded through your moment of silence. I hope it didn't ruin anyone's concentration.

  7. At 05:52 PM on 02 Aug 2007, Sid Cumberland wrote:

    Re your link with Minnesota. I like intermittent. It suggests that it's real.

    Sid

  8. At 05:55 PM on 02 Aug 2007, JimmyGiro wrote:

    North Poleski

  9. At 05:58 PM on 02 Aug 2007, JimmyGiro wrote:

    Putingrad

  10. At 06:00 PM on 02 Aug 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    And - How Priceless! - appropriately placed applause for our Eddie.

    I enjoyed the show tonight, Eddie, though I could see the lighting boys waiting in the wings.

  11. At 06:02 PM on 02 Aug 2007, John Pringle wrote:

    It's not often that I find myself agreeing with Norman Lebrecht's views (especially on his preferred pronounciation of his surname), but for once he seems to me to be dead right. Nicholas Kenyon's response is further evidence, if any is needed, of dumbing down on Radio 3. As one might expect, Ilan Volkov was the perfect guest, but this hardly constitutes a ringing endorsement of Kenyon's views.

    Throughout this season's Proms, applause between movements has self-evidently not been a consequence of an uncontrollable surge of enthusiasm or of unfamiliarity with concertgoing etiquette - the insistence on applauding every two minutes during John Eliot Gardiner's concert confirms that.

    I suspect that it's mainly a form of dogged exhibitionism. The insistence of a handful of serial applauders on destroying the continuity of Mahler's 9th was a form of vandalism.

  12. At 06:02 PM on 02 Aug 2007, Jim Holder wrote:

    Whilst I agree that audiences should moderate their behaviour during performances (preferably by dying - quietly) there is one exception. During performances of anything by Mahler they should collectively sing 'Rock and Roll Is Here To Stay' very loudly and out of tune.

  13. At 06:13 PM on 02 Aug 2007, b carbury wrote:

    Brilliant.So glad didn't miss final seconds.Just brilliant.

  14. At 06:28 PM on 02 Aug 2007, orange pekoe wrote:

    I would have commented on this issue earlier but only got hooked up to broadband today.

    I have found the daily updates on the Chris Langham court case to be excessive, and also almost breathlessly sensationalist at times - admittedly this could be due to the subject matter.

    What was reported today as the verdict came in was fine and appropriate, but I had begun to wonder if there was a little *wearing of hairshirt* by the BBC, not wanting to be seen to be sheltering *one of their own* so going over the top on the coverage.

  15. At 06:34 PM on 02 Aug 2007, Rachel G wrote:

    I was dismayed by the prominence you gave to the Langham verdicts. I've been at a loss to understand the intense interest PM seems to have had in this story, and to give it precedence over the Stockwell 2 report seemed a misjudgement. Doorstepping Langham's neighbours was also unneccesary and added little. I think I know your justification - that this was the fresher story and we'd had a lot of coverage of the Stockwell report all day. But I still think the 6 had their priorities much more in order with the Langham trial about fourth.

    Anyway, the rest of the show was great. Loved the report from Japan, liked the Russia stuff and the applause - excellent. Take a bow!

  16. At 06:54 PM on 02 Aug 2007, capt sensible wrote:

    Great show. Liked the bit on the police corruption case in Notingham. But I'm a bit non-plussed about the concept of a 'secret police station' having to be set up for the investigation. Was it inside a large hollow oak tree in Sherwood Forest? Or do they have like an emergency pack of freeze-dried instant police stations complete with accelerated-growth policeman embryos that you just add water to or something? And how did they keep it secret from the 'normal' non-secret police? Apart from all their surveilance cameras everywhere aren't they likely to know the local area quite well and notice a new police station appearing overnight? It all sounds a bit improvised to me. If they had to go to those lengths to catch one leaking junior rookie plod, what chance is there of serious cases being exposed?

  17. At 07:42 PM on 02 Aug 2007, mac wrote:

    Well I've just been watching the police murder of the Brazilian on Channel 4.

    These days I need the visi aids to understand anything (Thank you, Flyswat, on The Beach)


    What comes across to me is the huge INCOMPETENCE of the police.

    7/7 - they just didn't have a hint it was going to happen

    21/7 - they couldn't capture anyone for days. One person escaped to Paris on the Shuttle!
    Oh, dressed as a woman.
    (Second best bet, disguised as a stupid policeman)

    But having said that I think there is a repsectable reason for thier incompetence.

    They see themselves as white and British required to defend a tradition which is dead and indefensible.

    Their incompetance in these anti - imperialist cases requires a social psychologist to get the force on the couch. Surely the incompetance is their only way to express the hopelessness of what they are required to do - to turn back an unstoppable tide of history.

    So they join the British diaspora through out the world (sometimes as plods elsewhere) and pray to be put out of their misery by the advent of a genuinely multicultural society here.

    (The couch won't be at Chris Langhams clinic - but that's another topic where the police just wish they could be put out of their misery.
    Look at the way the psychiatric profession has run away from saying it can be cured or from telling us whether Freud got children right . It was cowardice on their part. They didn't want to be lynched for saying it).

  18. At 08:36 PM on 02 Aug 2007, Peter Bolt wrote:

    Can I just say to Susan Austin at (1) To compare the Police Officer in a life or death situation to the deceit for pure moneatry gain practised by "wannabe celebs" is very unfair to put it midly.
    I most sincerely hope, and I really do mean that, that you Susan Austin are never in a situation where fairly cheap jibes can be made at you.
    Of course the poor lad was innocent, but that does not mean the Police Officers are guilty.

  19. At 08:45 PM on 02 Aug 2007, Annasee wrote:

    To start at the end - loved the applause. Who thought of that? And Eddie's moment of silence. Really, you spoil us.

    Too much Chris Langham. Do we need to know any more about him? I think not. Have realised I would be totally useless in jury service as I inevitably believe whatever the last report from the court was, whether for the prosecution or defence. But really, I imagine the man's career & family life are ruined, I think we could draw a veil over whatever else happens now.

    Re the applause question at the Proms. Interesting that the "protector" of culture in the form of classical music, Norman Lebrecht, was more uptight about it than the practitioner, Maestro Volpov.

    Speaking personally, it's just nice to play to a full hall of enthusiastic people, whether they applaud in between the movements or not. Mobile phones & loud unstifled coughing & sweet wrappers & talking are much more annoying.If other members of the audience get upset by the applause, that's a whole other question.

  20. At 09:22 PM on 02 Aug 2007, Paul wrote:

    Regarding 22nd July I find it difficult to imagine how it must feel to have a child killed in such circumstances. I also have a great deal of difficulty in understanding the complex situation that the police were faced with on that day. It was a tragic chain of events and I'm sure lessons have been learned.

    As for Chris Langham. I think the PM coverage was well balanced, factual, not in the least sensationalist. I'm pleased the verdicts were given prominence by PM for the simple reason that doing so may make some people realise that behind the pictures he was viewing are real children suffering the most horrendous sexual, physical and emotional abuse.

  21. At 09:50 PM on 02 Aug 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Peter Bolt @ 18, the point surely is that police were *not* in a 'life and death situation'. The complaint ought to be that they were misled into thinking their situation was extremely dangerous, when it was no such thing.

    There was something horribly wrong with the comms that day, but it wasn't particularly the character who forgot to tell his boss that they'd all made a terrible mistake. That's really unimportant: what the devil difference did it make to anyone apart from the dead man's parents what Blair of the Met told a bunch of reporters, or didn't tell them, or what his briefing had or had not been and from whom *after the event*?

    Comms said "there's a potentially armed and dangerous man in that house", which may or may not have been true; comms said "he's coming out now and going towards the Tube station", but this was quite certainly not correct. The man the armed policemen were pursuing was not dangerous and was not armed, and this was known to at least some of the surveillance team. That was where the comms fell down fatally, and that was the comms failure that mattered, and I for one really don't care too much whether or not after the event there was a further comms failure that embarrassed the Met a little. I want to know why the people who knew that man was not an armed terrorist did not manage to communicate their knowledge to the men on the ground. He died of bad comms, and what the press or the Commissioner was or wasn't told afterwards may have been bad comms but it didn't kill anyone.

    Seems to me, in fact, that the present fuss is about the wrong thing. It's a red herring.

  22. At 10:11 PM on 02 Aug 2007, Anil wrote:

    The Bridge

    There was wall to wall coverage of the bridge collaspse. It was not such a big deal and insurance guys will take care of the claims and there will be litigation. Millions will be paid in damages and punitive damages. Cliamants will be quids by millions of Dollars.

    At least four people are confirmed dead with up to 30 missing. Heart breaking. Lets have a 3 min silence. Why not show the funeral services live.

    There was another bridge disaster where some 950 people got trampled. Guess where? Iraq.
    Oh Iraq!!!!!!!!!! never heard of it

    Claims $0.00. BBC just reported this as another story. Was there any time devoted by PM. Very little. Only a 1000 Iraqis. Not a big deal.

    I think the bridge collapsed because there were too many fat arse Americans on the bridge. Frankly I don't care about the bridge.

    Does any body care about the bridge collaspse on this blog??????

  23. At 11:22 PM on 02 Aug 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    On the Chris Langham trial, I agree with Paul. The importance of this story lies not with the individual so much as with the crime, but the identity of the perpetrator in this case, along with his conduct at certain points of the trial, has helped to highlight that there are absolutely no excuses for the viewing of child pornography.

    I've long been a fan of Mr. Langham's comedy output, and continue to admire what he created on radio and tv, and this has made me follow this story more attentively than I might had the accused been Joe Bloggs. It has made me think a great deal more deeply about the issue, as well as making me much more aware of the type of ghastly stuff that is out there, along with all the implications for the victims in each instance.

    If the high profile of this case has had the effect of making others, like myself, more aware and thoughtful of what is involved in this issue, then some good may have come from it.

    I am grateful to the BBC for not playing this case down. Unlike another blogger, I don't think this coverage reeked of hairshirts or anything like it, but did demonstrate that nobody, but nobody, can be above the law in a matter such as this.

  24. At 12:01 AM on 03 Aug 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Chris Fish,

    Absolutely clearly correct!

    Bust the top, because they deserve it, but clean up the jerks at comms!
    xx
    ed

  25. At 12:56 AM on 03 Aug 2007, jonnie wrote:

    The two lead stories were the wrong way around.

    The real (UK)story today was the IPCC story - without a doubt!

    Chris Langham was largely a pre-determined case. It was covered in the 5PM News and should have been a secondary item, after the Andy Hayman story.

    I take on board Paul and BigSis's comments as regards to highlighting the abuse that the children go through, however that is largely well known.

    Chris Langham downloaded material - horrific events, however he didn't actually murder anyone - which is what the Metropolitan police did - and then chose not to reveal that they had murdered an innocent person.

    I cannot, in anyway, see how a very low profile actor, in general, has managed to secure so much publicity? The Thick of it, People like us, not a lot more really?

    People are being prosecuted for far more serious offences which are on the bottom of the news diaries on a day to day basis?

    Another example of it's not the offence that makes the news, but the celebrities within!

    However - you normally 'do' get it right, and there are more listeners at the end of the programme than at the start - or so I've been told?

  26. At 01:07 AM on 03 Aug 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Oh and I forgot to add,

    Mahlers 9th - fantastic - I was playing with the Internet radio last night and it was also broadcast on Radio 4 in the Netherlands and on ABC Classical FM in Australia - amazing how the audience goes so much further. Didn't warm to Norman much! though he is right about the conductor's importance

    The audience don't always realise -- Nicholas had the right point of view!

    However do you realise how many people didn't listen to the proms on BBC Radio three,

    Ed I?

    All those transmitters?

    DAB

    God knows how many mega Kilowatts on FM!

    the offices occupied at Broadcasting House?

    Interestingly all housed with Mark Damazer!

    Answer: Less than a million!

    There is an answer? make it more accessible.

    And now the proms - with Simon Bates?

    Well perhaps not :

  27. At 01:14 AM on 03 Aug 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Whoops - apologies!

    I believe the Proms are getting more like 2.5 million on Radio 3! - sorry Roger,

    We all make mistakes :-(

    Nearly as many as Eddie :-)

  28. At 01:29 AM on 03 Aug 2007, jonnie wrote:

    I meant, the Proms gets nearly as many listeners as Eddie does on PM - to clarify any confusion.

  29. At 09:06 AM on 03 Aug 2007, Belinda wrote:

    Heard the show.

    I agree with those who said that the top two stories should have been switched. It is this issue again of breaking news always being considered the most important news and sometimes this just isn't so.

    I, in my TVless state, must admit that I had never heard of Chris Langham before the trial and frankly, wouldn't mind going back to my state of blissful ignorance. I don't think the PM coverage was sensationalist but I do think that too much time was dedicated to the case simply because the man happened to work in the media.

    The audience/proms thing was very funny (intentionally?) and the applause at the end of PM made me laugh out loud. Thank you PM team for that.

    Can't remember much else as I was drifting into oblivion at the time.

  30. At 10:25 AM on 03 Aug 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    Anil (22)

    Although I agree with your sentiments about the comparative losses of life on bridges in America and Iraq, I personally was a lot more interested in the Minnesota bridge story than in a certain Chris Langham (of whom I had never previously heard)

    But really the bridge story was best presented on television, where they even had a film of the collapse. Ah, the joys of CCTV surveillance.

  31. At 10:29 AM on 03 Aug 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    I've been thinking further about the Chris Langham affair, in part prompted by an interesting item on the Today programme this morning.

    Firstly, I disagree completely with those who think that this has taken up too much airtime.

    For one thing, the issue is not openly discussed in many circles, which means there are possibly a number of 'respectable' folk who are getting away with indulging in this activity because they imagine no-one in their immediate circle would suspect them of such behaviour. Such, no doubt, was the case for Mr. Langham. There was a great deal of interest in the Pete Townshend story when it came out that he was suspected of downloading, or viewing, child porn pictures, although I believe he was acquitted in the end.

    For another thing, and it is an important one, people in the past have used the excuse of 'research' to provide a cover for viewing child porn. This case has kicked that defence into touch forever, and a good thing too.

    Similarly, Mr. Langham tried to mount a defence based upon his troubled childhood. Again, this has been dismissed as a defence. On Newsnight, a victim of child abuse spoke very movingly about this and how such an attempt to justify viewing child porn is deeply offensive to the victims.

    Lastly, and the Today item touched on this point, the internet is a wild wild wood. I've had reason of late to pursue an issue relating to internet porn and it is extremely easy for the unwary to tread into some very dangerous places. Some providers of porn are laying out some tempting titbits to draw people into those areas which a reasonable person would not want to visit.

    I hope that this trial will highlight these issues further and perhaps lead to ISPs becoming more responsible about what is allowed on their territory.

  32. At 10:34 AM on 03 Aug 2007, Paul wrote:

    jonnie (25)

    So you are saying that Chris Langham downloaded material - horrific events however, he didn't actually murder anyone. You don't think that this sort of material contributes to the deaths, abduction, ruined lives of children. I think there is clear evidence to show how wrong you are on that point. Your post shows how ignorant people really are on this issue.


    I don't believe the police set out on the 22nd July to murder anyone. If that were the case that particular scenario would have been replicated by now. There have been enough opportunities specifically on terrorist threats.

  33. At 10:44 AM on 03 Aug 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Yes, Paul, I totally agree. The victims of child pornography are victims for life, and we have a moral duty to fight this disgusting industry.

  34. At 12:30 PM on 03 Aug 2007, Belinda wrote:

    Big Sis - hello!

    I agree with your above post, and if the story had been explored as such, then I would have no problem at all with the amount of air-time given.

    But on PM at least, as far as I heard, the daily reports solely revolved around the trial proceedings and repeated the facts of Chris Langham's perceived fame/success/'celebrity', rather than any actual depth, discussion, or expansion to the wider issues at hand. I'm not saying that PM should have gone down that route, but it may have been a better way of justifying the numerous reports in my view.

  35. At 12:38 PM on 03 Aug 2007, Paul wrote:

    Bis Sister 31,33

    Yes, I agree with what you say. I think your point on 'respectability' is fundamental in how the issue of child pornograpy, child sexual abuse per se is perceived. In other words, people have a tendency to think it's the domain of the 'lower classes' when this clearly is not the case.

    There is large market for child pornography, images of children being sexually abused and the child sex industry as a whole. It's been established that Paedophilia is a sexual orientation, so it has to touch all groups of people yet, it's only when a high profile case is reported on that this issue is raised and people's ignorance on the subject becomes apparent.

    As a society we have a strange attitude towards children. I beleive there is currently an advertising campaign by a childrens charity in an attempt to counter some of the negative attitudes we have towards children.

  36. At 12:47 PM on 03 Aug 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Hi Belinda:

    The problem was, though, that until there was a verdict, the issues couldn't really be explored that way (innocent until proven guilty, etc. etc.). The way was opened, however, for the discussions to begin once the verdict was out, which is what has happened.

    Had the profile not been kept high during the trial, it is unlikely that anyone would have listened to the follow up once he was found guilty. Also, it gave an opportunity for the listener to hear the case as it went along, thereby forming their own judgements, as the evidence, etc., was explored.

    I'm sorry to disagree with you on this, but the matter is so important that I feel extremely strongly that it was the right way to go.

    I hope that the issue will continue to be a topic for discussion. Mr. Langham's is just one case of many, but being a celebrity (and, although you aren't familiar with him, many others are) gave the case a wider 'audience' than otherwise. I cannot take issue with it being followed by PM or any other programme.

  37. At 01:30 PM on 03 Aug 2007, Belinda wrote:

    Big Sister

    I think you'll find that we disagree on very little with this issue - I also feel very strongly about it and few people would not take the moral high-ground with this.
    But there are ways of exploring the issues at hand without 'convicting' the person in question. Perhaps a look into the laws, perhaps seeing why Peter Townsend was released with a caution for the same crime, perhaps looking at how widespread this behaviour is in the country. After the reports this week, I have no idea to the answers to these questions yet I do know that the formerly unknown-to-me Chris Langham has won a Bafta, worked with Paul Whitehouse and I know lots of details about his personal life. I just think the time dedicated to the trial could have been better spent while keeping the crime in the spot-light.

  38. At 01:51 PM on 03 Aug 2007, Belinda wrote:

    er..not Peter Townsend. That music person...whose name I have completely forgotten. I'll ungracefully retire from this conversation now.


    :)

  39. At 02:06 PM on 03 Aug 2007, witchiwoman wrote:

    Belinda - I thought you meant the guy from The Who and was certain he's called Pete Townsend...maybe we are both misinformed!

  40. At 02:46 PM on 03 Aug 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Big Sister and Belinda, as I understand it Langham never denied having the images on his computer, so discussion about having such images wasn't sub judice, was it? I mean, what he was arguing about was *why* he had them: a verdict of guilty of having them was never in doubt, and in fact the judge directed the jury to that effect, or so it seems from the reports.

  41. At 03:56 PM on 03 Aug 2007, Bananaskin wrote:

    Belinda and Witchiwoman, your reference to Pete or Peter Townsend is correct, the very same "Who" musician was cautioned and released for accessing a paedophile website (May 03)... http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3007871.stm

  42. At 07:21 PM on 03 Aug 2007, mac wrote:

    If this is a repeat please ignore it.


    Goodness, you froggers are so brave.

    I wouldn't voice sentiments like those of Big Sister (23).

    I'd think I'd been hijacked by the ultimate law and order mob lobby.


    Do we know the images are real? How?

    Do we help victims by declaring them irretrievably damaged or do we damn them?

    Because lynching paedophiles was high profile it was good?

    Do victims have the right to adjust to what happened to them and to live in a society which has adjusted to it too?
    Isn't one answer to make such horrific and appalling pictures commonplace? I don't mean 'Can be seen everywhere' like a Tory logo. I mean like a skull fracture in a TV programme is seen, Clinically, detached. That I think would help with the process of adjustment.

    To repeat:
    I am not talking about sensationaliisation. I am talking about them being placed in libraries for reference if the victims ultimately want that. Mentioned occassionally in responsible programmes. How else do friends help when the bad times come?


    I think if I had been ravished I would most prefer to regard the damage as desexualised, a sort of primitve assault.

    We have the advantage that in the case of children every image suggesting such acts are condemned. Making these images totally umnacceptable but ordinary, mundane, seems to me to be the quickest way to desexualise them for everyone.

    Once they are desexualised, the events themselves begin to loose their evil potency.
    That surely is when ordinary life can begin for the victimised children - when the members of their wide social group, know, in degree according to status, what happened to them and do not regard it as a sexual event at all but a hideous assault. That is what preserves the chidl's sexual integrity after such an outrage.

    And Big Sister you still haven't tackled the thought crime element to this.

    What adolescent would tell his doctor about paedophilic drives?

    Where are the one inten apparently of the population who do have such feelings?


    Look I know I've expressed this very badly. I'm trying to say that the whole subject should be de- sensationalised. Paedophilia thrives on the oxygen of sensationalism. Deflating the inflationary claims on all sides and taking less harsh (rather thantough minded) positions would help too.

    If I've offended anyone I apoligise. That was not my intention. Neither was it to in the least weaken the fight against paedophilia. I think my position strenthens that fight.

  43. At 08:45 PM on 03 Aug 2007, RJD wrote:

    Mac - you really are a plonker. I think that there is one line in your drivel that I would agree with - "I've expressed this very badly".

    To paraphrase someone of a few weeks ago - Please don't take my response as an indication that I am remotely interested in debating this with you.

  44. At 09:10 PM on 03 Aug 2007, Paul wrote:

    Mac (42)

    Is this response a so called leftist liberal academic approach or are you just barking.

    To think Chris Ghoti, Ed Inglehart, and many other thought you were me. God forbid.

  45. At 09:42 PM on 03 Aug 2007, RJD wrote:

    Paul - I did too! My apologies. And yes - he's barking.

  46. At 11:22 PM on 03 Aug 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Calling names is not helpful. Plonker, barking, leftist academic... Quite apart from anything else, don't such highly emotive and sensationalist responses rather show that the subject is being addressed not from the brains but from the viscera? And doesn't that somewhat support the very point that is being decried?

    I'm not sure mac is barking, anyhow, I think that mac is putting forward, not very coherently, a view about as popular as oh, suggesting two days after her death that DiPoW was neither a saint nor a martyr, for instance.

    I went through several times trying to establish what I thought mac's meaning to be, and although it is confused, I can see that there is actually something worth looking at there. (This has happened before. I said the same that time too. I did *not* say that I thought Paul and mac were the same person, BTW. On that occasion I said that on the whole I thought they probably weren't. I'm sure that if anyone could be bothered to go through the archives they would find that somewhere amid the heat and fury.)

    How about instead of shooting the messenger, we have a look at the message? As I understood it, what mac was trying to say was, if this is a situation that is so sensationalised that it can never be discussed without sensational treatment, how can it ever be improved?

    I don't necessarily agree with the suggested ways to go about addressing the situation, but that doesn't mean that the idea of desensationalising it is altogether deplorable.

    So I ask again a question asked by mac, and not addressed yet because we are all too busy reacting with loathing and derision to the entire post:

    "What adolescent would tell his doctor about paedophilic drives?"

    It's actually a damn' good question. Let me tell you a short story.

    A man in his early thirties, who suffers from depression and is being treated by a State-funded shrink on the NHS (let's call him A), has a friend with a daughter aged twelve. A mentions, in passing and in confidence to his shrink, that if he met someone like that girl but about ten years older he would fancy her no end.

    Within about a week, every single colleague and friend that A has ever mentioned to that shrink has been visited by anxious social workers, and if there is a child of either sex and any age living in their household has been warned that A may be a risk to that child.

    How many friends do you suppose A now has? How many of his colleagues, do you suppose, chat with him easily as they used to do? How many times do you suppose he will attempt suicide before he succeeds?

    And A wasn't even saying that he fancied little girls: he was saying that he would fancy a grown woman who resembled one particular child. The rest is purest sensationalism on the part of the person he trusted.

    If I were an adolescent who feared that he had an unhealthy interest in girls just a little too young for him, and if I had ever observed or heard about any case like that of A, I don't suppose *I* would mention my fears to anyone in the health service. I would quite reasonably suspect that the consequences might destroy me. So I would be debarred from seeking counselling, or help of any kind, and I would be forced either into isolation or into the company of the only people who might understand me: adults with the 'same' feelings, but more pronounced because being adults their interest in girls of thirteen was even *less* acceptable than mine. Secrecy, shared 'sin'... and influences of the worst possible kind, at an impressionable age. Not at all helpful, I wouldn't suppose. And it might all just have been that at sixteen I fancied a girl of thirteen, something that if we had been twenty-six and twenty-three would have been entirely acceptable.

    That's one possible bad effect of making it impossible for this subject ever to be mentioned calmly.

  47. At 11:23 PM on 03 Aug 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    "Sigh"

  48. At 12:53 AM on 04 Aug 2007, Anil wrote:

    Does any body care about the bridge collaspse on this blog??????

    Not a sausage bar one

    A new bridge will be built so lets move on.

  49. At 03:24 AM on 04 Aug 2007, mac wrote:

    Anil, (48). Thats not until tomorrow.

    Grateful, Chris (46). I hope Paul, (44), in recovering from being taken for me, is not too upset to be mobbed up by RJD, (43),(45). for his own purposes.

    Look I'm sorry I don't have a pre - prepared position on such a difficult subject.

    But saying child abuse is a sexual orientation Paul, suggests to me that it is for you incorrigible.

    Now I thought that attitudes had changed as the psyches get braver and danger to them recedes.
    So that George Monbiot (whose heart is usually in the right place if his grasp of science is often distressingly sub GCSE) on Any Questions last week said it was curable. By techniques a little less severe I assume than brain surgery or chemical or physical castration.

    I had always assumed that sexual attractiveness was at least partly cultural. Visually the presentation of Japanese courtesans would I would have thought have little appeal to Western males. No doubt such an appeal could be learnt or aquired from a different upbringing - in Japan.

    So when we say there is a sexu orientation called child abuse we are saying that there is in some sense (remember the Geishas and Jayne Mansfield compared with Twiggy) something sexy about it - albeit to others.

    So what signal does that put out to the exploring adolescent?


    One problem is the way the pornographic images are defined as sexual. In the atmosphere of sensationalism about child abuse itself it seems to me that this sort of definition becomes self - realising for many.

    That is why I want to reconsider these abuses of children as non - sexual assaults. I thought that was what the women's movement was recomending when they talk of some male sexual abuse as about power, not sex at all.

    That sort of distinction is surely needed to protect the sexuality of victims in recovery.

    Dismissing claims that sexulaity is at work at all is also surely the way we talk out claims that children are erotic.
    Here the way children are invited to copy fairly provocative aspects of adult sexual appeal cannot be helping.

    Whilst sexual ambience and signals (clothes, hairsyles etc) can be associated with very high lvels of sexula arousal in repsonse, I doubt we are looking at cause and effect here. It seems to me that we are looking mainly (I talk of ordinary sexuality) at a set of encoded mutual permissions - perhaps the most powerful of aphroodisiacs.

    We may unconsciously be teaching our children these permisison signals prematurely in the way we clothe etc them but also in the way we mediate child abuse to them. We may unconsciously be explaining to them how they can become erotic to others within the child abuse syndrome.

    How easy that all is to swallow depends partly on age. The age range 18 to 40 (approx) is entrusted with the task of first line defence for children and would not take kindly to the suggestion that their teaching may be encouraging children in the wrong ways.

    The persecutory atmosphere surrounding the syndrome is likely to make it difficult for them to admit they have problems with their children's presentations. They would have to admit failing as protectors and specifically as preventing abuse -the most serious of charges.

    Such presentations are perhaps tried out on the parents themselves. And perhaps ruthlessly dealt with. (In some foolish cases, encouraged). Then strangers or peripheral figures to the family group become the guinea pigs for these (at home forbidden, but taught there) presentations.

  50. At 03:35 AM on 04 Aug 2007, mac wrote:

    Sorry the above was sent by mistake at what was planned to be a hefty editing and read stage.

    Still, this will do as the quote for RJD to express his contempt. I was going to add one for him anyway. ('The whole Comment consists of nothing but such quotes')

    As for the barking bit, Paul. 'They lock up the mad to prove themselves sane' is Foucault at his most double edged.
    'They persecute perpetrators of child abuse to prove themselves free of it' seems the most appropriate re - write here.

    Anyway with the premature Send instruction (I don't have room to put the mouse on this small desk so it sits on the floor and I knocked it) I shall be reading my previous comment with the same sense of forboding that no doubt you and RJD will feel and Big Sister expressed so well. (48).

    I think I escape these problems because of some asexulaities in my childhood family environment.

    But enough. I'm going to take Anil's advice, (48)and move on.

    But I promise to read the torrent of indignant blows rained down on my head.

    This Send is deliberate.

  51. At 08:41 AM on 04 Aug 2007, Paul wrote:

    Sorry Chris but on this occasion name calling is appropriate. It's a part of real not academic life (allegedly) and in no way diminishes the real issue which is the protection of children who need it, from all walks of life, which quite frankly acadaemia does not give a toss about.

    Without wishing to sound rude if you had to read through Mac's post in an attempt to understand Mac's meaning well you prove my point.

    If you look to history you will see that when people have had to fight for their rights, they have done it in a highly verbal often robust way e,g sufragette's, on poverty, social justice (or an attempt at it) what I am trying to say is that when people have suffered their contribution may not be as quiet and academic as yours but it is no less valid. It is probably more valid in some respects because they have the experiences and not the theory to add to the discussion.

    As for peadophilia it is a sexual orientation which is found in all groups within society and ought to be discussed appropriately. Psychiatrist's who spurt rubbish about finding a cure are only showing their ignorance and perpetuate the problem.


    Mac, you need to get in touch with your inner feelings, before doing some research on the issue.


  52. At 09:18 AM on 04 Aug 2007, Paul wrote:

    Chris (49)

    On the point of my suspected identities. I think that the very fact that, that particular conversation was going on proves my point.

    It's the content of the posts which matter not the grammar, not the user name, etc,etc,etc

  53. At 05:46 PM on 04 Aug 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Paul @52

    You seemed (@44 above) to be under the impression that I had thought you and mac to be the same person, and I corrected your impression; I can't see anything in that apart from me putting the record straight.

    What point of yours are you suggesting is proved thereby?

  54. At 05:50 PM on 04 Aug 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Right, this time in two parts:

    Firstly, can I just say that my sigh was registered before Chris G's comment was posted, and refers in no way to what he wrote. I say that because I think his points are very important, and cover things about which I've also been thinking.

    Yes, indeed, young people will, quite appropriately, fancy others around their own age, and that shouldn't necessarily be interpreted as wrong if it mirrors the example you gave. Similarly, we've all heard remarks like: "He/She'll break a few hearts when he/she grows up." But this is a million miles away from craving child images to provide sexual gratification. It is a million miles away from viewing pictures of a little girl giving oral sex to a grown man - as, I believe, was the case in one of the images which Mr. Langham viewed. We cannot, surely, as a society consider that this is acceptable as it lays open all our children to the risk of suffering from extreme and highly damaging abuse.

    part 2 to follow

  55. At 05:55 PM on 04 Aug 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Part 2


    Where normal development is allowed to occur, children ' sexuality usually doesn't develop until they reach adolescence, in other words, when their bodies develop sexually. But even then, they remain extremely vulnerable, which is why activity between adolescents and adults is frowned upon (on the basis, amongst other things, that there is the potential for abuse of power and serious corruption).

    Now, what about individuals who do rely upon such fantasies - or even worse, who risk putting such fantasies into practice? - I entirely recognise that such tendencies may be involuntary, and that there needs to be support out there to help individuals who experience such desires. I don't think anybody could argue with that, it being considerably more dangerous for inappropriate urges to be driven underground. But, as a society, I think the markers have to be set out clearly: We do this for a number of behaviours which are harmful to others.

    As it happens, I feel considerable compassion for paedophiles. However, I could never condone them putting their fantasies into practice, whether directly (through actively abusing a child) or indirectly (by downloading child porn), because, however you look at it, this puts our children at terrible risk. And as to the paedophile who recognises his or her problem and seeks help to control their urges, I have the deepest respect for that person as I do not underestimate the battle they'll need to fight to keep their demons under control.

    I've posted this about six times, but for some reason it's not going through. One of those happy blog days!

    xx

  56. At 06:55 PM on 04 Aug 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Big Sister @ 54 (answering in two bites, as you wrote)

    No argument; I don't think there should be any place for any child being abused. (I don't get the impression mac does either.)

    A question I ponder occasionally: if at this time we cannot prevent some individuals from having what we regard (I think rightly) as at the very best inappropriate, at the worst downright wicked, lusts, in this case for sexual images of children, would the situation be different if no actual child were in any way involved in those images? Supposing that computer-generated images, difficult or impossible to tell from the 'real thing', were available to satisfy what seems (given the risks they run to get such images) to be an appetite that it is impossible for some individuals to resist -- would viewing such images be as utterly reprehensible and as deserving of the most severe punishment that the law allows, as viewing current child-based pornography is?

    That's a serious question. If the real objection is to children being forced to behave in these ways, if no children are being thus forced does the objection vanish?

    After all, as somebody pointed out a while back, not everyone who watches violent films then goes out and commits acts of violence; I'm prepared to assume that the same is true of child pornography, and that not everyone who watches it then goes on to abuse a real child. So if the watching is all that is desired, if that desire is sated without a child being harmed in any way, is that perhaps a good thing in the long run?

    If there were acceptable ways to satisfy a deviant sexual drive, in other words, might those who suffer from this aberation be better able to escape their compulsion, since they would be able to admit it to those whose business is to help people who don't conform to societal norms, and seek help? At the moment it is clear they cannot possibly dare to do that for themselves, since the penalties for being even suspected of being a paedophile can be so dreadful.

  57. At 09:10 PM on 04 Aug 2007, RJD wrote:

    Chris - You are in danger of being as big a plonker as mac.

    " ...child pornography, and that not everyone who watches it then goes on to abuse a real child." By watching it they are both doing and condoning exactly that!

    And have you any idea how nonsensical your whimsy about harmless computer-generated child porn is?

    Chris – it’s not essential to have an opinion (and express it) on every subject. You eventually make yourself look stupid.

  58. At 11:03 PM on 04 Aug 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    RJD @ 57

    I think you will find that most people who were raped by strangers at the age of nine have opinions on the subject of paedophilia.

  59. At 12:23 AM on 05 Aug 2007, RJD wrote:

    Chris - If that is true and I have no reason to doubt you, then you have my sympathy and respect and I apologise for questioning your right to an opinion.

    It doesn't however alter my view that your suggestions are nonsensical.

  60. At 12:56 AM on 05 Aug 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    I think the point can only remain academic, Chris, as it would be a risk too far.

    Without a doubt, this is a deeply complex issue, and I don't ignore that there's a whole debate to be had about children's clothing, etc., but I'll think I'm going to bow out of the discussion now because I'll be too busy tomorrow to take it any further.

    Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

  61. At 01:44 AM on 05 Aug 2007, mac wrote:

    To Chris in another place.

    Well, I'm the persona non grata of the piece not Chris. so hugs from me are a kiss of death.

    However I do think RJD does not realise how painful the derogatory names he throws about are.

    But then I don't think lots of very self confident people realise that about themselves. Including Eddie Mair who has huge self confidence in the protected environment of the PM support team. he chucks about are.

    We may not know
    We cannot tell

    whether what Chris is saying is part of an evolutionary process or not.

    But RJD, to put that point in such a harsh frame seems to me to be counterproductive.


    If it helps you,, Paul I am not an academic. They wouldn't have me.

    (Pause for cheap jibe posts)


    This afternoon a friend and I were talking about a ward (we're in the same political party) where the academic vote seems to follow one trend after another. Never Tory, that would be too naff, my dear.

    Despite having a Labour MP who has a better anti war profile that George Galloway, the end of their anti - war romance has not resulted in a return to Labour but to another cause enitrly that they espouse with their usual exhibitionism.

    That is almost certainly because they are on the run from working class socialism, which seems back on the Labour agenda, and which might well come reasonably to enquire exactly what it is we get for the 40 K a year we pay the all too many social science (broadly defined) vague number crunchers at their place of work.
    And at that august institution many of them are second and third generation (real) work shy academics.

    Do I worry that so many yahoos share my opinion? Well thats another story.

    But I should be interested to hear whether what I feel about academia causes cognitive dissonance in Pal.


    Chis, the way you have handle arguments of enormous complexity and subtlety like those you have deployed on the rule of law, and the way you so often capture with startling clarity the gist of news stories (eg some the police knowing that it wasn't a terrorist coming out of the flat headed for Stockwell tube) you come across having a philosophical dexterity that (other(?)) academic philosophers would give their eye teeth for.

    If you are an academic I say to you you are the exception to the blanket description I gave here above.

    Chris, I was and am greateful to you for shielding me from RJD's and Paul's blows.


    When one struggles to cope with a personal tradegy of the sort that has become the subject of public media ping pong one may find that one's wish to forgive makes ones perspective on exactly that topic and that topic alone a little too soft hearted. That is I think what Paul and RJD in their way would want to say to you. No one could could regard you as other than diamond hard, and as brilliant, on every other one of the topics on which you have treated (genuinely) us to your opinions.(That's not a hug but it is a tribute and you deserve it). But on this topic they think you should think again. But one always does of every opinion doesn't one?

    Don't worry about me. The arm you put round me has done its job and next time (eg on ... well, I can think of three other topics where I could call down all hell on my head) I shall be much more careful.

    Cheers, Chris.

  62. At 08:15 AM on 05 Aug 2007, Paul wrote:

    RJD Yes, I agree with what you say. I was attempting to explain that people who view and download these images are looking at pictures of children some as young as 6 months old who are actually, not virtually, being raped, sodomised and brutalised. It is also known that some of these children die as a result, some are abducted. The act of viewing perpetuates the industry.

    Childhood sexuality was not being discussed, although that in itself is a complex issue.


    I also made it clear in earlier comments that to be a paedophile is to be in an undesirable postion in society because sexual gratification is aimed at children. It isn't simply about having 'wicked lusts' it's about having sexual feelings/desires for children this needs to be discussed by paedophiles themselves.


    Big sister. I think to suggest that the subject can only remain academic is totally wrong. There are academics who have experienced child sexual abuse and there are academics/teachers who sexually abuse children, indeed, some seek the teaching profession simply because they have access to children. The point I was making is that Chris who has rigid rules on academic excellence does so from what he considers to be a privelaged position. What I am saying is that the voice of experience or understanding in many cases transcends rigid thought. I'm afraid intellectual arrogance has little maturity to offer.

  63. At 08:29 AM on 05 Aug 2007, Paul wrote:

    Chris (53)

    I refer you to 'ranteratti' a word YOU use when dismissing the views of others. The question I put to Mac was valid because some people seek to explain many issues using the application of one ideology in this instance academic leftist liberalism.

  64. At 12:00 PM on 05 Aug 2007, mac wrote:

    Paul (62), (63).

    The things you describe are disgusting, obscene and shocking beyond belief.
    I find it difficult to understand how you are willing to describe them as in any remote sense sexual.
    To include them in the category is like saying the sexuality in Lady Chatterley is of a piece with the 'brick' scene in Last Exit to Brooklyn which in turn is of a piece with Romeo and Juliette. As far as I'm concerned the one in the middle doesn't belong there and neither does any form whatsoever of child abuse - every instance of which is to be condemned.

    Hands up all, including exponents of liberal academic ideology, who believe 'who does what' should be decided by a directed labour market which reverses intergenerational exploitation - including making second and third generation liberal academics put their shoulders to the plough.
    What, just me and the Stalinists?

  65. At 12:04 PM on 05 Aug 2007, mac wrote:

    My last post (!).

    PS. I forgot to clear something I said up. I talked of the 'romantic' anti war movement.

    I am anti war and so so so impressed by and admire so so so many in the movement from leaders to foot soldiers.

    But I fear there are some young Blairs in there, who was in CND, and some Lib Dems who would have changed their policy at the drop of a hat as they got nearer to power, without even noticing they had.
    As for the tactical peaceniks from the Tories and the National Front ----well..... words fail me (so again how can I be a liberal academic?)

  66. At 02:28 PM on 05 Aug 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    RJD, I apologise for having lost my temper with you last night. Special pleading is never anything but a cop-out in discussion, and I am ashamed of having allowed my strong feeling to goad me into behaving badly. In any case it wasn't even you in particular that I was angry with, you just provided a last straw. I'm sorry. I am glad that what I said then doesn't alter your view of my opinions: it would be very wrong if it did. (But perhaps you might try to rid yourself of the habit of calling anyone whose views you think silly 'a plonker'? That just makes people get cross, and isn't likely to convince them of anything except that they dislike you for it....)

    Mac, I am likely to go on disagreeing with you about many things: our ideologies do not match, and if I think you're writing a load of tosh I am going to respond with fervent disputation. My ideology requires that I go on defending your right to write a load of old tosh if that's how it happens to take you, but I reserve the right to try to refute your arguments, and even to tell you if I feel they're so badly expressed that I find them incomprehensible... ;-)

    My problem in this discussion is that I am not interested in vengeance, nor in shouting about how loathesome I find people who abuse children (presumably in order to demonstrate my right-mindedness: what other purpose would it serve?); I am interested in considering ways for *stopping these things from happening*. It's clear to me that avenging after the event doesn't help the child or children who have been brutalised, and that saying "oh this is too dreadful, we shouldn't even talk about it" is as much use to them as a chocolate fire-guard. I hold that prevention is better than cure, and I also think that punishment doesn't actually cure -- either the victim or the abuser.

    (I also worry quite a lot about the possibility that if mob-think gets into its stride, the wrong people get attacked, like the paediatrician in Southampton. That *really* doesn't help.)

    If an individual can be proved to have treated a child in this way, my personal feeling is in favour of a death sentence -- not for revenge but because that's the only way to be sure that individual will never do it again. But (big but) I don't feel that those who think about it, or want to know about it, or for whatever reason have their sexuality fixated on images of it, are necessarily incurable. The difficulty is that at present, it is very difficult to identify and reach such people in time for them to be stopped and cured before they act, precisely because they are so demonised that there is no way to find them until it is too late and they have been caught because a child (or children) has (have) been harmed. For so long as all we do is condemn anyone who is believed to have ever had anything to do with child-porn, and refuse to hear them at all or consider them as human beings, we can't even find out what proportion of those watching this vile muck hate themselves for it, are horribly ashamed of their actions, and want to stop, but don't know how and dare not ask.

    In fact we have no idea what the size of the problem really is; all we know is that it is too big. (One case is too many!) We have no idea how many children are damaged, we have no idea how many people may be viewing or wanting to view this filth, we have no idea how many people provide it. We aren't going to find these things out by shouting "Burn the witch!" or rushing around being self-righteous.

    What is horribly clear is that the steps being taken at the moment *are not working*. The numbers that we know about have not gone down: they have increased. They may have gone up for any number of reasons, not least that it is both easier for people to get this sort of material over the internet than it used to be when it was only available in hard copy, and easier for the police to catch people who access the internet material, but we don't know that either. We're fighting in the dark.

    If this follows the pattern of other child-abuse (about which because it isn't so utterly abhorrant to everyone who hears about it, and so can apparently be discussed and investigated more rationally, we know rather more), then it is likely that the abused are at the greatest risk of going on to become abusers. Those who were beaten up as children are more likely, as far as we can tell, to beat up their children than those who were never beaten up. (I don't understand this at all, because I would have thought that the opposite ought to be true and that knowing about how horrible it was to have it done to one would stop one from ever wanting to do it to anyone else, but the fact is there and I have to accept it.) Getting angry about this and shouting at them is not the way to prevent it; I know that 'academic' is being used as an insult, but how about 'calm' or 'rational'? Unless we can find out the *why* of it happening, we can't really work out the *how* of preventing it from happening, and we won't find out 'why' by terrorising the perpetrators. They'll be too frightened to be able to be any help even if they wanted to.

    That's why I find it very frustrating that merely to suggest other possible approaches (however daft: sometimes daft and off-the-wall turns out to be of some use) is also now taboo, it would seem. If the present approaches to the problem don't work (and they clearly don't) and no other approaches can be considered even for a moment before being rejected out of hand and the person putting them up for consideration being subjected to personal insults, how are we going to get anywhere? The suggestion that 'on this occasion name calling is appropriate' is one of the least helpful things I have read in a long time, and it made me angry enough to cause me to respond in an ill-considered way, for which, as I said, I am sorry.

  67. At 05:44 PM on 05 Aug 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Paul: I think you have misunderstood my response, which was addressed to Chris, and concerned this point from him:

    "A question I ponder occasionally: if at this time we cannot prevent some individuals from having what we regard (I think rightly) as at the very best inappropriate, at the worst downright wicked, lusts, in this case for sexual images of children, would the situation be different if no actual child were in any way involved in those images? Supposing that computer-generated images, difficult or impossible to tell from the 'real thing', were available to satisfy what seems (given the risks they run to get such images) to be an appetite that it is impossible for some individuals to resist -- would viewing such images be as utterly reprehensible and as deserving of the most severe punishment that the law allows, as viewing current child-based pornography is?"

    That is the point which I feel should remain 'academic', and had nothing to do with anything been said anywhere about academics! I used the term to mean that we could not put his suggestion into practice, i.e. it would need to remain a theory, because we couldn't risk such an experiment. Well, that is certainly my view.

    Good lord, this is becoming very convoluted!

    But, back to Chris.

    Chris, I would love to be able to discuss all this with you face to face (and - no! - I'm not suggesting that we do) because your ideas very much mirror my own on this matter, and (as you've probably realised) it exercises me greatly. I couldn't agree more that it is not helpful to demonise, although I do feel that the public message has to be clear.

    There is most certainly a need to provide help for people who experience such inappropriate and dangerous desires and where they can discuss their darker side honestly and without fear of recrimination. There also need to be tighter controls on access to material which can stimulate such desires. But there does, too, need to be public acknowledgement that these desires are inappropriate, and I guess for that reason we'll keep getting results like Thursday's from the courts.

    Locking Mr. Langham up, however - if that's the way it goes - won't solve anything by itself. We certainly need to adopt a much more enlightened approach in such matters.

  68. At 07:15 PM on 05 Aug 2007, RJD wrote:

    Chris - No apology necessary and I take on board your urge to adopt a "plonkerless" discussion technique.

    For almost 20 years, through various voluntary activities, I have come across and had to deal with many examples of child abuse - mental physical and sexual. I'm afraid I am more concerned, whether rightly or wrongly, with the victim rather than trying to understand or analyse the abuser. Blinkered I know, but that's where I am.

  69. At 09:15 PM on 05 Aug 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Big Sister, maybe if we use the word 'hypothetical' rather than 'academic' to mean 'for discussion rather than for implementation', it might make life easier! My point was to wonder whether the notion I put forward (which according to my sources in special effects filming and computer graphics would be possible now, but very expensive, and certainly has been legislated against both in this country and the USA) would change our view of what is at present a horrific thing *because of the damage to children* -- if there were no children, just pixels, would *we* feel differently? I am honestly unsure: my first, gut reaction, is "no, it's still horrible", but I'd be interested in hearing arguments for and against, rather than relying on a gut-reaction. The most obvious drawback has to be, who on earth would *make* the thngs? But perhaps it might be a way to stop the people who might otherwise abuse actual children: if they could learn how to make the images.... I simply don't know. If I had thought I *knew*, I wouldn't have asked!

    I think the public message is reasonably clear already in one respect: anyone over the age of sixteen had better keep his (or her) hands and thoughts off anyone under that age, or face being a social pariah, with imprisonment, exclusion from a large range of careers, and other penalties, exacted if s/he is caught at it.

    So the problem isn't really that people don't know perfectly well what the rules are; it's that for whatever reason, they elect to break the rules. What seems to be needed is to find out what the compulsions are that they seem to feel, why and how they arise and lead to that rule-breaking. Once we know the causes for those actions, we're closer to finding ways to prevent both the actions and their causes, or so I reckon.

    RJD, well yes, of course the victim comes first! No argument there either. What I suppose might be a good way to put my wish to understand what makes people do this stuff is the old maxim 'know your enemy'. I am not, repeat not, in any way getting into a 'to understand all is to forgive all' preachy schtick. (Not that it isn't healthier for the victim if he or she *can* forgive, because once s/he has managed that then the abuser no longer has any power in the victim's life, but that's a whole different subject.) Understanding is *power*, isn't it?

  70. At 10:38 PM on 05 Aug 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Very briefly, Chris, my issue with the pixels would be that I'd presume they would have to sufficiently resemble living people to satisfy the dark urges of the viewer in order to be effective.

    From what we know of deviant behaviour, it tends to work up from lesser to greater harm, and therefore the presumption might have to be that the pixels would lead on to the real thing. While not all flashers develop into rapists, many do progress onto more serious sexual assault, if I can use that analogy, in order to satisfy their urges.

    Unless, of course, you are suggesting that the viewing of these computer generated images was accompanied by, for example, electric shocks, or some other deterrent, with a view to replicating early psychological experiments?

  71. At 01:27 PM on 06 Aug 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Big Sister, your escalation point does make sense: that's a risk we dare not take. Drat. Though I do sometimes wonder about the level of causality that it is safe to assume: yes, we know that more serious sexual offenders generally started out doing less horrific stuff, but we also know that all alcoholics drank alcohol before they started drinking to excess, and not everyone who drinks in moderation is doomed to become an alcoholic. What we lack is any evidence about how many minor sexual offenders *don't* go on to more serious offences, but eventually stop flashing because they have lost interest, and never get caught and prosecuted at all.

    I was trying to think of some way to 'demystify' the illicit thrill a bit, and make the perception of it just a sort of 'oh, yes, some unfortunate losers have this aberrant condition and obviously can't be allowed to live as they would choose, but this way we can help them to cope with it and still protect the children'. If it is clear that what is going on is *fantasy* rather than being possible in real life, that seems a great deal preferable, as it were.

    The attack on this wickedness needs to be both preventing those who are already in thrall to it from ever acting out their fantasy, and reducing the numbers of newly-enthralled, is where my thoughts were tending.

    If child-porn could just be regarded as "only for sad losers", the young and impressionable (apart from those who were already interested in inappropriately young children) probably wouldn't find it as interesting as say Britney Spears' head superimposed on some wench with unreasonably large mammaries. As it were. Nobody believes for a moment that those are 'real', I wouldn't have thought, and they don't put children at risk in any way, though they must annoy the heck out of Ms. Spears. So at least some of those who might go either way would come down on the acceptable side of things rather than being encouraged in wrong directions.

    The fact that *I* would continue to find anyone whose fantasy sex-life involved brutalising children absolutely unacceptable, and would not wish to have anything to do with them, is *my* problem at that point, and really isn't as important as keeping real children from actual harm. I am trying to think for the children who haven't yet suffered, rather than concentrating only on the ones who have.

    As for the whole One Flew Over The Clockwork Orange's Nest scenerio, no, I don't think it's a good plan, with or without Beethoven. I am unsure exactly where the line is drawn between 'influencing' and 'brainwashing', but I am fairly sure that is well on the wrong side of that line! If we once start accepting that brainwashing is a good idea, where do we stop?

  72. At 02:07 PM on 06 Aug 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    No, I'm not for Cuckoo's Nests either. But if aversion therapy was helpful to those who want to tackle their inner demons, it could be a choice for them to consider. Or hypnosis. Or anything which might help them to hit those demons on the head.

    Anyway, we're pretty well agreed on this topic. Perhaps it's one to return to next month when Mr. Langham is sentenced?

This post is closed to new comments.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.