Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More Tabloid Garbage

In my first post of 2009, I voiced the hope that it would turn out to be a fine kinky year for all of us, and I added: "Preferably without any of the idiotic tabloid garbage we had in 2008." Well, it took less than two weeks, and along came this piece in the Sunday Mercury, a newspaper (I use the term lightly) published in Birmingham, UK:

Seedy spanking shame of sleazy pensioner

It is, as you can see, a fairly typical example of the "tabloid expose" article, with the usual mix of sensationalism, half-truths and faux moralism: pandering solely to the mob's bloodlust for scandal, wallowing in all the delightfully "dirty" little details, while at the same time pretending hypocritically to do society a service. For any person with an IQ over fifty, the whole thing is so obviously asinine and trivial that it wouldn't even be worth talking about, were it not for the fact that such hounding does, of course, hurt real people. Like the hapless victim of this story. That is when the merely ridiculous becomes annoying (and immoral).

Journalists (again, I use the term lightly) traditionally hide behind two things to justify this kind of nasty and intrusive gossip as newsworthy: one is the trumped-up allegation of Nazism / mocking the Holocaust (which was used in the Mosley story), the other is the trumped-up allegation of child abuse. The Sunday Mercury has chosen the second route:

"A PENSIONER is luring teenage boys to take part in seedy spanking sessions – which he is filming just down the road from a Birmingham primary school...."

The article goes on to explain that the "boys" are actually young men between 18 and 28 years of age - adults, in other words. The pensioner is looking for adult models who want to take part in spanking films. That's all that is going on here, folks! He places ads and states his intentions openly - there is nothing "seedy" or misleading about it, no "luring". According to the article, the guy then sells the videos "to perverts in the United States". Ignoring the archaic term, I still have to wonder: does the nationality of the "perverts" really matter?

I also wonder why it should be relevant to the story that the films are being made "down the road from a primary school". Don't most of us live within, say, a half-mile radius from a primary school? I do - there are about 130 of them in Munich, so it's hard not to live near at least one. So here I am, basically just down the road, writing this kinky, adult-oriented blog. Good grief, I must be a menace to children!

Needless to say, all the nonsense about "boys", "luring" and schools is desgined to give the impression that some dirty old pedophile is running loose on the streets of Birmingham (Preying On Our Children!). Without that, they wouldn't really have a story, would they? When you subtract the hyperbole and the cheap scare-mongering, all that remains is: "Elderly guy advertises for adult men to shoot fetish films, which he then sells online." And nobody gives a toss about that. (By the way, thanks to Adele Haze for the wonderful acerbic reduction I just quoted, and for making me aware of the article in the first place)

There is no correlation - none whatsoever - between sadomasochism and pedophilia. Actually, there is no correlation between what kinky, consenting adults do and any form of crime. Research is very clear on this. Kinky people are no more likely to have mental disorders than the average person, they are no more likely to be violent, and they are no more likely to be a threat to anyone. Which is why I tend to get a little huffy when some unscrupulous hack tries to place what we do on the same level as child abuse just to sell a few more newspapers.

Tabloid journalists routinely use lies, half-truths, bribery and open blackmail as tricks of their trade. In this case here, a reporter posed as an interested male model to meet the victim of the story. They, of all people, are not well placed to tell this man that what he does is in any way shameful or questionable. What's shameful is that a kinky, but harmless old guy who makes spanking films with consenting adults is portayed as if he were the next Marc Dutroux. That kind of fear-mongering is not only grossly offensive to spankos everywhere, it is also irresponsible, because it propagates unfounded prejudices against us.

When I wrote my piece The Prolefeed Menace about the Mosley story, I argued that voicing our righteous indignation here in the kinky community, among ourselves, is all very well, but it doesn't change a damn thing unless we also get involved in the wider public discussion. While I appreciate "Good post, Ludwig, I agree!" comments, it makes me even happier if you leave a comment under the newspaper article itself, politely but firmly informing them (and the readers) of your objections.

You could even write to the journalist himself, his email address is jonny ~dot~ greatrex ~at~ sundaymercury ~dot~ net. Don't be too hard on the poor lad, though. He is just a young man straight out of university, trying to find his feet in his profession, and I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Who knows, with the right influences and a bit of eye-opening, he might still develop into a proper journalist instead of a cynical old hack. A conciliatory approach will work better towards that end than a verbal flamethrower attack!

Finally, in the same "get off your well-spanked ass and take action" spirit, I would like to draw your attention to this blog post from Pandora Blake. Sunday this week at 2 PM, she will be at Parliament Square in London, protesting against the thought police law with which the UK government has criminalised the possession of so-called "extreme pornography". You can find more info about the rally, which is organised by the Consenting Adult Action Network, under this link. If you live in the London area (or if you simply happen to be there on Sunday!), I urge you to join in and make your voice heard against this erosion of liberty. The law is ill-conceived and pointless populism at its worst, it won't reduce violent crime of any kind, it's a blow against the freedom of kinky people in the UK, and it sets a very bad precedent for the rest of the Western world.

Unfortunately, as much as I'd like to finally meet Pandora in person and say hello, I can't hop on a plane to London this weekend and bolster the ranks. But I'm sending solitary greetings from Germany, and for what it's worth, I'll be with you in spirit.

(It seems that paintings of the 1848 Revolution are becoming pretty popular around here lately. The uprising in Germany failed, of course, but looking back on it today, it was undoubtedly a noble undertaking. Indeed, one wonders how German (and European) history might have turned out had the national-liberal movement succeeded back then. In any case, I've always subscribed to the belief that the very act of standing up for a good cause is what really counts, regardless of success or failure.)


Irelynn said...

Thank you for drawing attention to this particular piece of garbage "journalism", Ludwig. I wrote an angry post about it myself, too. The more people know about this, the better.

I'll be in London on Sunday too, and I urge everyone who can come down to do the same. It's a long journey for me too, but it'll be worth it. And as masks are acceptable, there really isn't any need to worry about being recognised.

! said...'s WAY too early in the year for this. Thanks for addressing it, Ludwig. I intend to write to the journalist about his article, but it'll have to wait until after my physics exam.

I wish I could be in London - alas, I am an ocean away. Hope it goes well!


"it makes me even happier if you leave a comment under the newspaper article itself, politely but firmly informing them (and the readers) of your objections."

I attempted to leave a comment on this article, it was never published. I found the same phenomena on the several articles that I tried to comment on during the Max Mosley legal battle last year. Using both "Prefectdt" or the name on my birth certificate, combined with my vanilla email address, made absolutely no difference.

This is not going to stop me trying to make comments but it is highly frustrating to find that the time and effort has been, repeatedly, wasted.

This may not be the case and has a high probability of being a consequence of my over sized paranoid streak but after writing 2 reviews for Niki Flynn's "Dances With Werewolves", on Amazon's UK site (again under both of my identities), I found that neither ever appeared on the site. This did make me wonder if there is some kind of IP address black list, that is being used by larger websites to bounce comments, before they even get the chance to be properly moderated.


Ludwig said...

Prefect: I left a comment under the article myself yesterday, as "Ludwig". Comments appear on the site instantly, they are not moderated. Whatever difficulties you have been experiencing must have been technical, at least in this case, rather than the result of censorship.

What you have to do, though, before you can make a comment on the Sunday Mercuary site, is log into their forums at least once. That is something I discovered when I got an error message after my first attempt. So I logged into the forum, and then, the second attempt worked. You probably had the same issue.

It's possible that some papers, who moderate their comments, suppress some of the highly critical ones. But an automatic "IP black list" sounds very far-fetched to me. All the more so in the case of Amazon - they aim to sell books, so why would they censor your (presumably favourable) review? It doesn't make sense. Again, I'm pretty sure that tech issues are the root of the problem.

Anonymous said...

If it's any consolation to anyone the Sunday Mercury is rubbush at reporting football too.

Pandora Blake said...

Only just noticed this post - thanks very much for your support. The demonstration was promising, and I've made some useful contacts as a result. (And some unexpected ones!) I don't know if attitudes towards sexuality will change any time soon, but in our lifetime? I don't think that's too much to hope. Which means it's down to us.

Ludwig said...

Pandora: I'm glad to hear that the demonstration was promising.

I'm more pessimistic than you when it comes to the speed or, in some cases, even the possibility in principle of change in attitudes towards sexuality. I used to be cautiously optimistic, but after the Mosley mess last year and the realisation of how widespread, deeply entrenched and hostile the prejudices against kinky sexuality still are, I had to readjust that a bit. To be honest, I now don't expect any significant change in my lifetime, if ever.

However, pessimism should never be an excuse for complacency. As I wrote above: "I've always subscribed to the belief that the very act of standing up for a good cause is what really counts, regardless of success or failure." So I write my share of blog posts, comments and letters to the editor, and I try my best to contribute a little something to our struggle. I'd rather fight for a lost cause than lie down and do nothing.

I believe it's the right thing to do, it makes me feel good and, if nothing else, it helps me to work out my frustration. For me, these are good enough reasons for doing it, even though I remain skeptical about the real effect it has.


we always have this moral panic in Britain everytime a conservative government gets back into power!remember the 'oz' trial during the heath era,and of course the hysterical overreaction to 'video nasties'during the thatcher era and the homo phobic 'clause 28' of course that prevented local councils 'promoting homosexuality'and the 'back to basics' campaign of john major-quickly abandoned after his ministers involved in sex scandals-the 'tories' certainly like to throw stones in their corrupt glass house!

Ludwig said...

@ SECRETSPANKER: Wow, that is a very old post you are commenting on here. Actually, back in 2009 when this story happened, a Labour government was in power in Britain. So it seems that moral panics do not only happen under a Tory government.

From my personal experience, leftists can be just as prejudiced, ignorant and harmful towards kinky people as conservatives. The conservatives usually come from a "family values" angle or a religious angle while the leftists usually come from a misguided feminist angle (their idea is that BDSM and pornography are inherently "degrading to women" and, therefore, evil), but the result is the same.

So, I really don't have a political preference in regards to how the parties treat kink - both conservatives and leftists can be total idiots about it. I think one of the main causes of prejudice against sexual minorities is that some people are uncomfortable with their own sexuality or with sex in general, and therefore, they tend to be fearful of and aggressive towards others who are into stuff that they consider strange. You find such people in all political parties, and they will always come up with some rationale for their anti-kink and anti-porn feelings.