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The Modern Pillory

12:00 AM, Jun 8, 2002
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The Modern Pillory

by Pim Fortuyn

The subject of pedophilia is all over the newspapers. Following the Doutroux affair in Belgium, the Netherlands has its own affairs, ripe and green, from murder to children's' mutual fondling.

When I was a child, children's' explorations fell under the rubric of "playing doctor"--a phrase which protects mothers from imagining something vile. We had a large house, with an attic that we (our group of little boys and girls) used as the site for our play, which one day gradually metamorphosed into the "doctor" thing. My mother, noticing the unusual state of quiet, intervened with a tray of glasses of orange drink. Outside of that, she didn't do or say anything. Soon, wholly naturally, we moved on to something else.

Ever since adults colonized the world of the child, simple solutions such as my mother's have become rare. The child's play of concern may be categorized as that involving "illicit and uninvited intimacy." Before a child appreciates what is going on (not so much in his mind and the minds of other participants, but in the minds of the adult intervenor), a whole parade of citizenry will intervene in solicitousness for him, thereby transforming a non-problem--the discovery of the wondrous world of the opposite sex--into a central worry of life. If some children are traumatized by this heedless adult intervention, the adults are not to blame (or so goes the attitude).

Meanwhile, the prime minister has seen fit to concern himself with this complex of social problems, whether of his own urging or that of others. The focus being on pedophilia, which is the intentional sexual involvement by an adult with a child or underaged boy or girl. The law quickly has its say in these matters, and if caught, the adult perpetrator is due for a period of residence away from the scene (namely in a penitentiary).

Pedophilia is neither heterosexuality nor homosexuality, but a sui generis urge that is said to be in the genes, an urge which is little susceptible if at all to a "cure." It is part of the essence of its subject--"you are who you are." The "social context" is of little effect; sooner or later, the propensity will surface and will prove irresistible. One can no more cure it than one can cure heterosexuality or homosexuality. Accordingly, the risk of recidivism is very high. There lies the problem. During and after a period of imprisonment, the pedophile is told in strong terms that his offending behavior is wrong and that he must conform. But the offender is human just like you and me. It cannot be assured with 100 percent likelihood [with any form of treatment] that the supposedly reformed pedophile will not relapse.

In America, as is so often the case, ingenuity has been applied. After an offender returns to society, his name is published in the neighborhood where he goes to establish residence, so as to give notice to parents and give them an opportunity to keep their brood away from the possible recidivist. A barbaric solution, to be sure, but an effective one. After all, the United States is a place where no one raises a hand in protest against the trying of an eleven-year-old delinquent as an adult for pulling his sister's underpants down and pressing his clothed crotch against her bare behind. This on the evidence of a neighbor's statement!

Lately the authorities need not even go to the trouble of publishing the offender's name in his neighborhood. They can make use of modern Internet services which parents can consult. If the convict moves his residence, the task of announcing it can also be performed by the Internet. As they say, a good example is well followed, and now in the Netherlands we have an initiative on the ballot which will provide for the posting on the Internet posting of convicted pedophiles. The modern equivalent of the pillory!

In reaction to a number of incidents which have been covered to excess, the Dutch minister of justice is considering possible modes of counseling for pedophiles who have served their sentences. It has been proposed to involve the local beat policeman, and to impose mandatory rehabilitation counseling through the parole system. One expects the minister to eschew any solution which does not better line his agency's (or his own) pockets. The fact that the Netherlands has very few convicted pedophiles will little impress the police or the parole officers, who know a good thing when they see it (the fewer the subjects, the less impossible the nearly impossible task becomes, it is said).