Doublethink on some dark materials

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No one who saw the news last month that a guy in Texas had been given a 40-year sentence for running a website featuring fantasy stories about the rape, torture and murder of infants and toddlers would have been surprised that a long prison term had been imposed.

Few would have been upset, either, although it is disturbing to note that Thomas Alan Arthur, 65, had managed to make a living from his Mr Double site for 20 years, telling us there must a substantial market for his dark materials, and one imagines these customers will be dismayed.

For a very practical and ethically sound reason, so should we be. We may find fantasies of this type loathsome and nauseating (I certainly do), but the "safety valve" argument is a strong one, backed up by significant research: where pornography of all kinds is permitted, real life sexual offences go down, not up. People who get their appalling jollies reading about nasty things being done to kids are actually much less likely to do actually do nasty things to kids.

At pretty much the same time, ironically, as the Americans were making their counter-productive knee-jerk response to (presumptively) bad guys having (definitely) bad thoughts, the literature-loving French were celebrating sadistic child porn, declaring a famous example of such writing to be a "national treasure". Seriously. This month the French state bought the manuscript of 120 Days of Sodom by the original sadist himself, the Marquis de Sade, for over $5 million. The culture ministry hailed the text as a "monument" that had influenced numerous authors. The leading French news agency (AFP) reporting the story called it "the 18th-century erotic masterpiece".

No one in the French literary world appeared to be saying the text had corrupted other writers, or that if published today the author of such a depraved work could expect a long prison sentence.

But be in no doubt, Sade's work is every bit as disgusting as anything that could possibly have been on the Mr Double site. I won't go into detail here. I have no wish to churn stomachs. I will simply point out that there is a Wikipedia page on the 120 Days, which specifies the (many) fictional child victims in question, with their names, ages, and the ghastly fates assigned to them by de Sade's poisonous pen.

Astonishingly, the French think their Mr Double is marvellous! Funny old world!

source: Article 'DOUBLETHINK ON SOME DARK MATERIALS' by Tom O'Carroll;; Herectic TOC; 20 July 2021