Well, no, not a paedohpile

The Duke of York held top-level talks in Whitehall as he battled to save his job as a trade ambassador for Britain, amid a growing scandal over his close friendship with a convicted paedophile.

That may be common usage but it\’s wrong. Paedophilia is a primary or exclusive sexual interest in pre-pubescent children.

Such an interest in pubescents (say, 11-14 year olds) would be Hebephilia. For later adolescents (15-19 years olds ish) it would be Ephebophilia.

Now, yes, I agree, in our modern world we do seem to say that, or at least in America they say that, those between 16 and 18 years old (varies by State) are insufficiently mature to be able to give their consent to a sexual relationship. Thus it\’s a criminal offence to seduce them. And the convictions of that \”paedophile\” are for those in the 14/15- 17 range.

Maybe the crime is called paedophilia but the action itself is either hebe- or ephebo-philia.

It\’s also amusing to note that what he\’s been convicted of would not be a crime in some other juridictions: here in the UK his seduction* of a 17 year old would be entirely legal, given our age of consent of 16. In Portugal, that age of consent is 14 so none of his actions would be illegal.

This isn\’t, please note, to excuse his actions: the law is the law where you are. But Paedophilia as a word in general usage has connotaions of buggering 4 year old boys. Which isn\’t the allegation at all, rather, that the bloke chases teenage, post puberty, girls. Behaviour which in most human societies which have ever existed is not just normal but even expected behaviour.

For, for a certain value of \”built\”, teenage girls are built to be attractive to men. That\’s what sets of the great dance that leads to the next generation, after all.

* There are allegations/stories of it being a less than willing seudction which I am ignoring here.

24 thoughts on “Well, no, not a paedohpile”

  1. Yes, I made the same point on Twitter. It’s not even common usage, AFAICS – it’s just an attempt to sell papers/attract online readers by smearing anyone with any kind of dodgy sexual past as “equal to someone who rapes children”, because they’re unlikely to sue.

    Seriously. This blog has many readers. Is there anyone who’d equate “had sex with a 17 year old” with “is a paedophile” (rather than, “is a bad man”)? Is there even anyone who’d do the same for “had sex with a 14 year old”? Genuine survey question.

  2. Wiki: “The ages of consent for sexual activity vary by jurisdiction across Europe. Spain (age 13) has the lowest age of consent”. Does that mean that (some) Spaniards are doing stuff which would be illegal elsewhere in the EU? Does that further mean that they could be pursued by foreign magistrates of the publicity-seeking Spanish kind? There’s room for mischief there.

  3. @dearieme: despite wild made-up allegations regarding the EAW, you can’t extradite someone for something which isn’t illegal in the European country they’re currently in.

    However, if you’re a Brit or German who lives in Spain and has a 13-year-old girlfriend, you’d be ill-advised to leave Spain. We have extra-territorial laws about underagery, and enforce them with some severity.

  4. @john b: err, yes you can.

    Please see Section 64 of the Extradition Act 2003 and compare (2) and (3). If the offence is within Schedule 2 as “sexual exploitation of children” definitely is (and the max punishment is 3 years or more), under (2) it does not need to be, in the words of (3),

    an offence under the law of the relevant part of the United Kingdom if it occurred in that part of the United Kingdom

    Now, whether this is the fault of the EU or of the Blair government, I’m open to discussion (especially as Cat 1 countries are not limited to the EU). But, whichever way, it is the law in the UK.

    PS – Hope the HTML all worked …

  5. Added – to be fair to JohnB – if he had said that “you can’t extradite someone for something which isn’t illegal in the European country they’re accused of committing the offence in.“, you would have been right under UK law.

    That, of course, doesn’t mesh well with those laws that explicitly apply extra-territorially.

  6. So Much For Subtlety

    john b – “Is there anyone who’d equate “had sex with a 17 year old” with “is a paedophile” (rather than, “is a bad man”)?”

    Well not me. Because, let’s say, a “friend” did in fact have sex with a 17 year old. But he may have been 16 at the time. Of course the age of consent back in the day may have been 12 or so.

    “Is there even anyone who’d do the same for “had sex with a 14 year old”? Genuine survey question.”

    I think I would look at the two children in question and examine the man’s motivation. I am sure there are 14 year olds that look legal. And people who go to Vietnam to sleep with 17 year old Asian girls who look like they are 12 have some serious issues. Paedophilia is a crime that takes place in the man’s mind.

    3 john b – “despite wild made-up allegations regarding the EAW, you can’t extradite someone for something which isn’t illegal in the European country they’re currently in.”

    Someone tried it with Frederick Tobin.

  7. Paedophilia is a crime that takes place in the man’s mind.

    There is no such thing as a “crime that takes place in the […] mind”. Crimes are acts, not thoughts. We are now at a stage where we are effectively saying that what you were thinking defines whether a crime occurred or not. This is madness.

    We’re now at such a stage of this moral panic that all sense has flown out the window. It is now routine to declare that which is true to be evil; for instance that many girls (and indeed boys) of, say, 15 are sexually attractive. Indeed to even say that will attract a charge of “paedophilia”.

    It is beyond absurdity to call a 17 year old a child. But that is what is happening now. To give a particular example, pictures of page 3 girls like Sam Fox (started age 16) from the 80s are now classed as child porn. The inconsistencies are also ludicrous; the same Parlamentary act which lowered the gay age of consent to 16 raised the “age of porn” to 18, so declaring that it is fine and approved of for me to bugger a 16 year old, but if I take a photo of it, I turn into a “paedophile”.

  8. I think a general point here is that if we hope to get out of this craziness, we’re going to have to reject the entire radfem/child saver discourse and start from ideological scratch. The subject is virtually impossible to rationally discuss within this discourse, which is of course the whole point of constructing hegemonic discourses in the first place- to prevent dissenters from being able to make an argument.

  9. Ian B – that’s always been the case that for some crimes we distinguish based on what was in the person’s mind, eg the difference between murder and manslaughter. Or murder versus self-defence.

    On the other hand, I agree that the redefinition of paedophilia to include sleeping with teenagers is ridiculous. It’s one thing to say that, okay, even though many of this age are sexually mature, they’re not necessarily mentally mature enough to deal with a significant age difference, but this odd American thinking that the whole topic is squick is seriously bizarre. I think the Brits were both immoral and very smart to shift the Puritans off to the colonies.

  10. I think the Brits were both immoral and very smart to shift the Puritans off to the colonies.

    Unfortunately we didn’t get rid of them all, and failed to load the boat such that the plimsol line would have been well submerged, thus they disastrously made it across the Atlantic. I hope we don’t make that mistake next time.

    Going backwards-

    even though many of this age are sexually mature, they’re not necessarily mentally mature enough to deal with a significant age difference,

    Sorry, I call bullshit on this discourse. It makes a presumption that people need protection from doing something normal and natural; it is simply the puritan belief that people need to be morally ruled, wrapped in pseudo-psychology. It begs a question that “dealing with a significant age difference” is in fact a meaningful truth of reality. Which it isn’t.

    that’s always been the case that for some crimes we distinguish based on what was in the person’s mind, eg the difference between murder and manslaughter. Or murder versus self-defence.

    Not the same thing as crimes of the mind. Common law recognises mitigating circumstances in criminal acts. If you are starving and steal a loaf, you may get a lesser sentence than a regular theif. And so on. That is the difference between murder and manslaughter. It’s nothing to do with thoughtcrime, in which motivation becomes the crime itself. The Common Law defines all killings as illegal, but mitigates some due to particular extenuating circumstances. Different thing.

    Anyhoo, broadly speaking we’re now in a Victorian revival of puritanism, and we’re going to have to start seriously re-engineering the hegemonic discourse if we want to get back out of it again.

  11. Pingback: Line of the day from the comments section here

  12. So Much For Subtlety

    Ian B – “There is no such thing as a “crime that takes place in the […] mind”. Crimes are acts, not thoughts.”

    Sorry but no. All crimes require mens rea – a criminal state of mind. Few acts are criminal in and of themselves. They require a guilty state of mind to make them crimes.

    “We are now at a stage where we are effectively saying that what you were thinking defines whether a crime occurred or not. This is madness.”

    No it isn’t. It is simply the basis of criminal law in the West. A rape is not a rape if the person committing the act *reasonably*thinks* he has consent. Even if he doesn’t. A murder is not a murder if the murderer *reasonably*thinks* he is acting in self defence.

    “It is beyond absurdity to call a 17 year old a child.”

    Well no it isn’t. We have to draw the line somewhere. Why not there?

    “so declaring that it is fine and approved of for me to bugger a 16 year old, but if I take a photo of it, I turn into a “paedophile”.”

    And indeed, an American policeman has gone down for a mandatory 15 years recently for precisely this. He was having a consentual sexual relationship with a 17 year old and a 16 year old. Both legally. But one of the girls offered to take some pictures for him. Which was classed as child pornography. Although I don’t know if he was buggering either of them.

    The law may be inconsistent, but that is only an argument for consistency.

  13. So Much For Subtlety

    Ian B – “Not the same thing as crimes of the mind.”

    Are you now changing the argument so that you have a chance of winning?

    “Common law recognises mitigating circumstances in criminal acts. If you are starving and steal a loaf, you may get a lesser sentence than a regular theif. And so on. That is the difference between murder and manslaughter.”

    Sorry but what mitigating circumstance is there for manslaughter? You know, apart from intent? That sort of thing. That is to say, the state of mind of the person doing the killing.

    “It’s nothing to do with thoughtcrime, in which motivation becomes the crime itself.”

    It is not merely motivation, but all the mental elements of the crime. OK, usually motivation. It is precisely motivation that makes murder a murder. Nothing else. (Well, apart from constructive murders like felony murder but they are mostly a relic of the past.)

    “The Common Law defines all killings as illegal, but mitigates some due to particular extenuating circumstances. Different thing.”

    Homicide is not a crime in the Common Law. Killing someone is not illegal in and of itself. The Court has to decide if it is justifiable, or excusable. And if it is neither, they then have to look at the state of mind of the killer to decide if they had the *intent* to kill. Someone who is insane does not plead guilty and ask for mitigation. They plead not guilty due to insanity. That is, they cannot form the necessary criminal state of mind. They cannot know what they did was wrong. Same act, different thoughts.

  14. So Much For Subtlety

    Tracy W – “I think the Brits were both immoral and very smart to shift the Puritans off to the colonies.”

    Those Evangelicals went on to build virtually everything of any value in modern Britain. It is odd that British writers hate them so much, but there is also no denying their massive and lasting contribution to the world.

  15. “It is beyond absurdity to call a 17 year old a child.”

    Well no it isn’t. We have to draw the line somewhere. Why not there?

    I dunno, why not 25 or 45, if we just want a random line? The answer is, because calling a 17 year old a child is as stupid as calling a 25 year old a child. Neither of them is a actually a child, are they?

  16. So Much For Subtlety

    Ian B – “I dunno, why not 25 or 45, if we just want a random line?”

    Mainly because we want to draft 18 year olds as people who are 45 are too smart to risk their lives in combat. There is actually a reason.

    “The answer is, because calling a 17 year old a child is as stupid as calling a 25 year old a child. Neither of them is a actually a child, are they?”

    It is not stupid. I assume you do not need many 17 year olds, or at least not in many normal social situations. Assuming there is some perfect Platonic “Child”, a 17 year old comes a hell of a lot closer than a 25 year old on average. And actually even though there may be 17 year olds who do a good job of passing as adults, most of them are fairly close to that ideal. They are simply not old enough to cope with adulthood. As can be seen by the life of your example Samantha Fox. Too much, too soon.

  17. Those Evangelicals went on to build virtually everything of any value in modern Britain.

    What does this mean? How do you define Evangelicals? Or things “of any value”? I’m not going to engage with this argument until I’m confident that you’re not running a circular argument whereby any example of something built by someone who wasn’t an evangelical is either attributed to the influence of evangelicals or claimed to be of no value.

  18. Common law recognises mitigating circumstances in criminal acts. If you are starving and steal a loaf, you may get a lesser sentence than a regular theif. And so on. That is the difference between murder and manslaughter.

    Actually no. Say I ran a red light and ran over an ex-lover with my car while he was crossing with the lights, killing him. This could be murder if I intended to kill him, or manslaughter, if I was just being a really careless driver. (Showing which one was right could be difficult.)

  19. What makes me laugh is Chris Bryant calling the Duke of York and “embarrassment”. No more embarrassing than taking pictures of yourself in your y-fronts and posting them on the interweb.

    The BBC have taken up the narrative of “guilt by association” and every news bulletin this morning has Jeffrey Epstein suffixed with “convicted paedophile”.

    Perhaps we should take a similar line and prefix some Labour figures with apt descriptions:

    Eric Illsley, convicted fraudster
    Jim Devine, convicted fraudster
    Phil Woolas, liar
    Kevin Maguire, alleged listener to ladies having a wee-wee

  20. I’m amazed no one’s raised the issue of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff’s recent conviction in Austria. The judge found Wolff guilty of “denigrating religion” when she described 56-year-old Muhammad having sex with 9-year-old Aisha as pedophilia. Why? Because Muhammad still had sex with Aisha when she was an adult. Interesting reasoning…

  21. So Much For Subtlety

    Tracy W – “What does this mean? How do you define Evangelicals? Or things “of any value”? I’m not going to engage with this argument until I’m confident that you’re not running a circular argument whereby any example of something built by someone who wasn’t an evangelical is either attributed to the influence of evangelicals or claimed to be of no value.”

    I am certainly not running a circular argument. I tend to think, like pornography, I know an evangelical when I see one. But as you are unlikely to buy that argument, let’s go with an evangelical is someone who believes in a direct and personal, unmediated relationship with the Christian God informed only by Holy Writ. As for things of value, well, YMMV. But take the Universities. Useless from an academic point of view until the Evangelicals either created them or took them over. The prisons likewise. The British system of museums and libraries. How long do you want me to go on?

  22. So Much For Subtlety

    georgesdelatour – “Because Muhammad still had sex with Aisha when she was an adult. Interesting reasoning…”

    He died when she was 18. For some definitions of adult he never had sex with her when she was an adult. The guy had erotic dreams about her when she was six. Textbook I’d say.

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