I Know What’s Funny: Thoughts on Pedophilia

“Okay here’s the the thing: I have two children and the thing that scares me the most is that they disappear.  There is nothing that scares me more than them disappearing; that’s every parent’s worst fear.  Now why do kids disappear sometimes?  I think it’s because somebody took them and had sex with them.  And once you have sex with a kid you have to toss them because people hate folks who have sex with kids — more than pretty much anybody.  If you murder somebody, folks will find you a reason – ah, you were upset, you were dehydrated, whatever. So if you have sex with a kid you gotta chuck ’em out cause if the kid tells anybody, you’re screwed.  I can’t help thinking that if we could take down a few notches the hatred for people having sex with kids, at least you’d get the kid back.  So what I’m trying to say is that the guy could just call you, ‘Hey, I just fucked your kid. You want me to take them to soccer, or drop them at your house? Does he have any nut allergies because he just ate some cashew butter out of my ass.’ I know. Listen, listen, listen to me, listen to me, I know that’s hard to hear. I know that’s hard to hear, but it’s true.  It’s true that if we minded child molesting less, less kids would die; that’s true.  Now, I don’t know what to do with that information.  I don’t have a way to apply that to anything that’s helpful.”
— dialogue excerpt from the television show Louie, season 1, episode 10, FX channel

Last Friday I went against my little rule about debating on Facebook. I ended up in a bit of a back-and-forth on this photo in my newsfeed.

pedophile-animal testing
I broke down and commented because I’m losing my mind over all the rationalizations of violence I see these days. Ones like, “we-have-to-bomb-you-because-that’s-the-only-way-to-bring-peace-to-your-nation,” “anyone-who-rapes-should-be-raped,” or my personal favorite, “I-spank-my-child-to-teach-my-child-that-hitting-is-wrong.”

To me, the logic is so glaringly flawed. More of something begets more of itself, that’s it. Very simple. Yet I fear there will always be masses of asses to defend these broken way of solving issues. It doesn’t matter that starting more wars has never ended war, or that our spanked children still often times grow up and hit people. We as a society still largely insist that these are the solutions. The way to make it all better.

And then we have what I commented upon. This photo, hinting that it would be a right and good thing if inhumane testing normally reserved for animals were instead performed on humans incarcerated for crimes associated with pedophilia.

The thrust of this is of course that these people are so disgusting, so monstrous, that as punishment we should be able to do whatever we deem fit. They deserve no respect, they deserve no choice in what happens to their bodies, they in now way deserve any compassion. Basic recognition for the sacredness of life does not apply to them. Instead, they are worthy only of the pain and victimization we heap on non-humans through our shitty rationalizations of dominion over the animal kingdom.

I commented that all lives matter, and I didn’t see how victimizing someone who victimizes others was any decent solution. To be clear, I wasn’t – and am still not – trying to champion pedophiles in any way. Their actions are horrible, and they cause unspeakable pain. To overlook or diminish that in any way is to add more hurt to hurt.

The thread conversation rapidly devolved from there, hitting a nice low when a fellow Facebooker informed me that the real issue is my lack of ability to relax and understand tongue-in-cheek humor.

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So this is supposed to be funny?! I just need to loosen up and let the humor sink in? I have my doubts. And I’m pissed that dispersions on the character of my funny bone have been cast.

I know a little bit about what’s funny. I can appreciate and participate in all sorts of humor. From mediocre dick jokes to Dame Edna and British comedies, I’m down with the giggles. I watch cartoons. I’ve read books written by comedians. I wrote my first good joke when I was eleven (and my second good joke when I was thirty seven). I have made people laugh. Not just therapists, real people. My aunt Patty has told me no less than once that I should consider stand-up comedy, and I don’t think that’s just because I haven’t had a real job in a long time. And if all that wasn’t enough, I have real proof. A dive bar drunk once side-ambled up to me and offered to buy me a drink, because I kinda looked like Sarah Silverman. So you see, I know funny. I am funny – and not just in a special needs way. Therefore I am particularly qualified to let you know: This shit ain’t funny.

Part of the reason there is no humor in abusing inmates is because it is in fact not a moot point, as asserted in the post commentary. Unfortunately, it is all too true. We have a long and gross history of doing monstrous things to those we’ve locked up for doing monstrous things.

No one should ever look to me, or this blog for a history lesson, but here’s a nice summary of the fuckery to which I am referring:

“Until the early 1970s most pharmaceutical research was conducted on prisoners—everything from studying chemical warfare agents to testing dandruff treatments.”

You can read more from this article here. A brief, but more complete look at our history of involuntary experimentation on our prison populations can be found here.

All lovely stuff. So you see, we’ve already been awful. Even supposed humor about more of the same doesn’t make for a civil society, but rather an asshole one.

These days there is mounting scientific data that points to brain abnormalities in people with pedophilia. Whether we should come to accept pedophilia as a true mental illness is probably up for near infinite amounts of debate. However, we do all seem to agree for the most part that acting on any impulses associated with pedophilia is horrendous – and wrong.

So does Louie have a valid point? If we could develop more compassionate ways of dealing with people with pedophilia, would we see less victimization of children? When it comes to more repulsive crimes, if we dimmed our burning torches a bit, could we help more people before they harm?

Like Louie, I don’t have a bunch of answers either. It just disheartens me that there is so much dickishness in the world. It makes me wonder what in the hell is wrong with us. Are we ever going to figure it out?

Later that day I went back to the thread. This time I clicked back to the very first poster of this image. It was a public Facebook page with many followers, thousands who had commented or hit “like” on the original post. This comment though, had the most “likes” of all. It was at the top, it bolstered my spirit, and was the only thing on this subject that gave me a real reason to smile.

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Bloodletting

“Bloodletting [or blood-letting] is the withdrawal of blood from a patient to cure or prevent illness and disease. Bloodletting was based on an ancient system of medicine in which blood and other bodily fluid were regarded as “humors” that had to remain in proper balance to maintain health.” Wikipedia

“We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”J.K. Rowling

“Haven’t you ever heard that quote? We’re all everything, Sal – even the shit you’re uncomfortable being. For you, I would guess that’s being even a little bit gay.”

I heard a snort on the other end of the phone just before my brother shot back, “Shut up, daniella. I’m not gay.”

I dug in, “Yes you are; I can prove it. You have those grey cotton short shorts you love to wear despite the fact that they still don’t come in men’s sizes, and you have a pretty extensive Mariah Carey album collection.”

Silence drew out as I waited for the barrage of protest. “Daniella. This conversation is over.”

And it was. We went on to a brief exchange over some mundane bullshit, and then we both hung up and went about with the remains of our day.

I live for giving my brother shit, but what I had thrown out was proof of nothing. Technically, he was right. My answer didn’t shine a light on anything real about him that could be considered to be of a homosexual nature/origin. I didn’t have the courage for that conversation.

But what about me? I started to wonder how things would have gone if Sal had started poking around the dark recesses of parts of myself I’m uncomfortable with. What lives in me that I haven’t changed, can’t accept, and still feel shame about.

Racism.

On the surface, it would be easy for me to make a dismissal of that term as a personal character trait. I’m a pretty socially liberal person, I have zero white robes and pointed hoods hanging in my closet, I don’t think people of different races are below me, and I consider diversity to be one of the great gifts in this world. So I’m not a racist, right?! (Yay!)

But wait a minute, there was last Friday.

Love your phlebotomist as you love yourself.

I had to have some blood drawn and had made an appointment at a diagnostics lab I have never been to before. I stepped in just before my appointment time and looked across the waiting room to the front desk. Three petite, brown skinned women in pastel hued scrubs moved about helping people. One of these women was speaking fairly loudly into the phone, and I realized I had trouble understanding what she was saying through the thickness of her accent. The other two were working at computers with paperwork, inputting patient information.

I signed in on the counter’s clipboard and took a seat. After a few minutes, one of the women who had been working at a computer called my name. I hesitated before answering. Had she actually called my name? A few minutes before, I had answered to the name called, thinking I had heard the tones and syllables of my own. I hadn’t. It was someone else who has been called, and I felt like a bit of a heel.

I still hadn’t said anything, and now she turned to look at me. I smiled and stood up to walk towards her. We politely exchanged the cursory dialogue required to get my information inputted into they lab’s system. As I leaned against the counter looking slightly down upon her where she sat, I was relieved I had understood enough to get through that. But even so, I couldn’t shake a feeling of unease I had picked up very soon after arriving.

I was instructed to go through the door to my right and wait in area one. I checked myself at that door. Why was I feeling so nervous and scared? Normally, I would chalk it up to my rabid hypochondria and fear of public humiliation, (You know, like when you jerk away from the needle and dislodge the vial, spurt blood everywhere, slip and fall in that puddle of blood trying to run out of the place, conk your head on the floor, fall into a coma, and die two weeks later. That sort of public humiliation.) but I could feel that wasn’t it. Just a few weeks before, I had had blood drawn, so I wasn’t nearly as worried about this appointment as I had been when I went to the earlier one.

It was something else entirely this time. I had been ratcheting up to higher and higher levels of discomfort as soon as these women became known to me as immigrants to this country. But I don’t have a problem with Asian people, and I don’t generally have an issue with immigration, so why would that bother me.

I’ll tell you why: deep down in some little shitty dark nougatty bit of my core, I was worried – I held an unexamined belief – that these women possibly weren’t trained to do their job well because they weren’t born in this country. My prejudice made me feel like I was in danger, and I was scared. Racism.

As I passed through that doorway, quickly fleshing this out in my mind, I felt like an asshole, but that was the truth of it.

And that was also the end of it. Bringing awareness to where my head was at wasn’t easy, but it had calmed me down, and helped me to realize how full of shit I was. I was also relieved that the bullshit of my fears was a much more real thing to contend with than the chances of the negative outcome I was so afraid of before.

The woman who had been working with me at the computer was also the woman who drew my blood. She had come in and sat down next to me just a few minutes after instructing me where to go. With hands cloaked in deep purple latex gloves, she adeptly found a vein in my right arm, inserted the needle, and filled the necessary vials. I don’t think the whole thing could have gone any better – or faster.

As I held the tiny gauze wad to the fold of my arm, she gently taped it in place and advised me to leave it on for at least thirty minutes and avoid lifting anything heavy for the rest of the day. We exchanged smiles, goodbyes, and good weekend wishes before I turned to leave. I hadn’t had any trouble understanding her at all. I left feeling like maybe I understood myself a little better too.