TRUE CONFESSIONS

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Endnote to Let the Children Play (Luther Blissett, Datacide 4)

In a chapter of the book Lasciate che i bimbi. Pedofilia: pretesto per la caccia alle streghe (Let the Children…Paeophilia as a Pretext for a Witch Hunt), Luther Blissett recounts the loving cultivation of the Child Internet Pornography menace by media, police forces and Non-Governmental Organisations up to 1997, the date of publication. Last August saw a new development in this debacle, when some web sites were discovered on which men who molest children describe what they do, paying earnest attention to detail. It was reported that some of the sites offer live, “real time” coverage, while others invite readers to suggest the paedophile’s next move.
Therapists and journalists should have been paying close attention here, because the extremes of guilt and innocence are threatening to converge. The new, confessional style of pornography is strikingly similar in content to accounts by survivors of abuse, whose moral authority is unquestionable. The only substantial differences are in packaging and a vague sense of “perspective”: elements of style which indicate to the reader who to “identify with”. (At present this is easy to decide, because the “porn” and “confessional” genres are strictly autobiographical. However this may not always be the case, as it’s a pornographic commonplace to write from the point of view of the “object” of the reader’s desire: eg. a 40 year-old man writes “as” a 16 year-old schoolgirl.)
Whatever its source, the invention of confessional child-pornography means that the same measure of authenticity determines the moral weight of the survivor’s story on one hand and the depth of damnation of the Internet pervert on the other. The allegation that readers were invited to suggest new forms of abuse makes the kinship between these two confessional forms still more obvious: just like survivors, abusers now need help from sympathetic volunteers. The readers’ advice causes the victim’s ordeal to be prolonged; counselling and therapy do the same, by ensuring that it is interminably “out in the open”, talked through and lived through again and again.

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