February 12, 2012
From time to time I get a little mail here at Sharkscage, usually in the form of a comment on my blog. Unlike other blogs, I’m not interested in facilitating discussion from both sides of the issue, and as such I usually don’t authorise the posting of comments that I disagree with. They’ve already had plenty of audience elsewhere, there’s certainly no need for me to provide them with any more.
The posts I haven’t allowed on the blog tend to all follow the same pattern. They start off with a mild threat, often accusing me of ignorance or conspiracy. They will then at length detail a series of opinions which they then try pass off as facts, before lacing in a few more serious threats, culminating with a passive aggressive demand to post their ‘response’ and an accusation that I’m not brave enough to print (their variation of) the truth.
How thick could you get? I mean…really.
The reason I mention this, is because I received a little sulk from an individual who featured in my discussion: Violence for the Masses. The same pattern could be observed in this post, and once again I observed protocol and relegated it to the dustbin.
I’ll hereby name said sook ‘Pugsley’ for future reference.
However, some of the content in this post had me thinking about the language that is often used by these serial haters online. It’s not just observed in postings on my blog, but in many other locations on the Internet.
On this occasion, the post was full of references to ‘homosexuals’, ‘paedophiles’ ‘Socialists’ and ‘Muslims’.
There’s one word that really stands out to me amongst those 4. It’s the only word that I would actually be willing to say is something that is evil.
However, I’m certain that the poster was writing from a point of view that all these things were undeniably evil. I’d even go as far as to say that he even regards all of these things as epitomising evil. Support one of these evils, and you support them all.
I think we need to start looking closely at the language that people like ‘Pugsley’ use while exercising their freedom of speech. They may be just re-using patterns and clichés that they have heard elsewhere, but what they are saying is deliberately manipulative and could have serious repercussions on our community
Let’s look closer at the one real evil in that list: Paedophilia.
Paedophilia has become a major fear in our community in the last decade. This has been mostly because of the unprecedented access that these people (both men and women) have had to communicate with children via online means. The evils that are perpetrated by these people are very real, and will continue to be a large problem for our community indefinitely.
A large problem has also been our community’s reaction to paedophiles. As was demonstrated when convicted perpetrator Dennis Ferguson was released into our community, there was an outpouring of people expressing their wish to cause physical violence to Dennis.
This was a very real concern to the police. In reality assault is assault. And the lines are pretty clear that such violence is equally as great an evil under our law.
However, ask yourself this question: If your father murdered a man, would you be proud of him? If your father murdered a paedophile, would you be proud of him?
We humans often justify the violence and the evils we perpetrate. If we feel a need to inflict violence upon someone, we often justify our actions in order to make ourselves feel ‘not evil’.
This is what I mean by a deliberate manipulation. While we have allowed people to justify extreme violence on others because of their evils, we have given them an out – an excuse to commit these vile acts. The ‘gay panic’ defence which is outlawed in most states of Australia works in this way. It implied that murder was justifiable because the perpetrator committed an act that oddly some people still consider ‘evil’.
But I’m not here to talk about a definition of evil, or even discuss what to do and how to deal with the paedophiles in our community. What I am interested in, is how and why the word ‘paedophile’ so frequently comes into our language these days.
Look around the forums and Facebook, and you will frequently see references to paedophilia; or more importantly, an accusation that someone is a paedophile.
There’s always no evidence for this, but it’s a falsity that is intentionally perpetrated in the hope that someone will take this accusation as fact, without checking the background on it and treat the victim as though they actually were a paedophile.
What they are really doing here, is trying to attach the label of paedophile to a person so that they can justify the extreme and violent actions that they wish, or are intending to do to this person.
The power of this language is so great, that the most vicious and aggressive in our society often speak openly of their wish to perpetuate such violence upon the paedophiles in our community, despite the unlikelihood that they would ever meet one. Mention paedophiles in polite conversation, and you’ll often come across someone who seems to switch personality almost instantly, while they tell you of the vicious actions they wish to perpetuate on a paedophile.
This socially justifiable violence is problematic. In Queensland the issue of ‘gay panic’ has seen a lot of scrutiny lately as a series of grisly murders have come to the attention of the wider community, all of which had attempted to use the ‘gay Panic’ defence in court.
My email correspondence from ‘Pugsley’ was no different. Throughout the text Pugsley speaks of violence that he wishes to perpetuate upon all of these groups, while quietly inferring that he would do suchlike upon myself if I continue to get in his way of his right to attack these people.
I’ve seen Pugsley’s online friends use the same language as well. I’ve also watched his friends and others whom he is acquainted with label quite a broad section of people that have opposed them has ‘paedophiles’, thus diminishing their standing in our community while justifying the kinds of ‘justified’ violence that people like Pugsley wish to inflict upon them.
Another serious side effect of this abuse of the term ‘paedophile’, is that slowly the label will no longer be as powerful as it once was. Slowly the community will become blasé about the label of paedophile, and people making that accusation. Crying wolf, so to speak. This is a dangerous outcome which could quickly put the lives of children at risk.
Where will Pugsley and friends, the great (ineffectual) defenders against paedophilia, be then?
Do you really wish to have a community that can justify all kinds of horrific violence, yet actually make it easier for the real evils in our society to hide?