Non, je ne suis pas Charlie. And here’s why.

sorry-charlie-shirt

Mock on, Mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau;
Mock on, Mock on, ’tis all in vain.
You throw the sand against the wind,
And the wind blows it back again.

— William Blake

No, I am not Charlie Hebdo.

I am not out there in the crowds, demonstrating support for a publication I cannot and do not support.

As wrong as it is that a policeman and several staffers at a French magazine were killed by what are presumed to be Islamist militants, and as much as I decry their murders, I cannot get behind the idea that the dead are all heroes who died for freedom of speech. And my reasons for not doing so are as follows:

Freedom of speech, belief, association, etc., may all be protected and tolerated in France, as much as they are here in Canada, but they are not devoid of consequences, and it is not the government’s job to protect anyone from the consequences of their speech. Whoever speaks must bear those consequences on their own.

free-speech-means

Yes, that’s right. You have the right to say, think, etc. as you will, but no one is under obligation to respect a word of it, or refrain from criticizing you for it. Indeed, it is their right to tell you when you’re being an ass, and that right is equally protected.

The law also forbids murder, but not with any special provisions in the name of protecting free speech or freedom of religion. It forbids all killing with malice aforethought, whatever the “reasons” behind it. So the murders of the Charlie staffers, and the gendarmes who confronted the killers as well, should be prosecuted as common crimes; no special (mis)treatment to elevate the killers to martyr status in the eyes of their few supporters.

And for those who are tempted to get all huffy and claim that Voltaire said something about disapproving of what someone says but defending to the death their right to say it — well, you’re an ass, because he did NOT say that. Voltaire defended freedom of religion even though he was no great believer himself (like many Enlightenment figures, he was a Deist). But when it came to works deliberately setting out to offend the clergy (recall that France was then, and in some ways still is, very priest-ridden), he was much more nuanced. Rather than defend to the death someone’s right to spew blasphemy or heresy (in this case, the philosopher Claude Adrien Helvétius, whose offending work was ordered burned by the parliament of the day), he actually said, “What a fuss over an omelette!” In other words, much ado about an inconsequential mass of fluff. Who reads Helvétius anymore, except maybe philosophy majors, or those curious to see what Voltaire once called an “omelette”?

And who, before this week, read Charlie Hebdo?

Certainly not I. And I still don’t, and will not. What I have seen from that rag doesn’t impress me one bit. The cartoons are puerile, crudely drawn, often racist (and very specifically anti-Muslim, in a country with a long, shameful history of imperialism in Muslim lands), and the sentiment behind them is the same noble impulse that drives pimply schoolboys to moon old churchladies out of car windows. It may be some species of free expression, but as satire, it’s weak sauce. Not even fit to drizzle over an omelette, to be frank. I would sooner bore myself to tears over Helvétius.

Freedom of speech may be a noble concept, but it was never conceived to make saints out of wankers who style themselves as equal-opportunity offenders. One must question just how equal that opportunity really was when they were busy taking pot-shots. To question Charlie‘s motives is one’s right if one is committed to freedom of speech, and indeed one’s obligation if one is committed to considering the facts, and ALL the facts.

And I am thus committed. And that’s why I am not Charlie.

You see, I happen to think that “Come at me, bro!” is a shitty hill to go die on in the name of freedom of speech. Voltaire, too, would say the same. And he would probably say, as I do, that as unfortunate as the consequences of Charlie’s speech may be, they are also precisely what those same scribblers have been angling for, and for several years now. The only halfway surprising thing about it is that it’s taken this long, and it is only halfway surprising because anyone who knows what French Muslims are like (as Juan Cole does, very well) would realize immediately that they have nothing to apologize for in this case. Not only did a French Muslim gendarme sacrifice his life for the sake of protecting the public good, but French Muslim women have used their own freedom of speech to condemn the government’s absurd, ironic, racist and religiously discriminatory ban on hijabs…by wearing them in the colors of the French flag, demonstrating patriotism and dissent in the same instance. And most French imams, like those everywhere outside the Muslim world, routinely use their pulpits to exhort the faithful to follow the laws of the land, not impose against them. In short, French Muslims do not deserve to be singled out as terrorists, whether for special mistreatment under the law, or for abuse by so-called satirists.

I may not share their religion, now or ever, but I will damn well use my freedom of speech to defend their right to express it in any lawful and/or nonviolent way they like. And I hope I will not have to die in order to do so, because I am not the stuff of which martyrs are made. I am, as Monsieur Voltaire might put it, an omelette.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to join him and his English counterpart, John Milton, on the Areopagus. It’s a higher hill by far, and you can see better from it.

Also, it doesn’t reek of merde.

Economics for Dummies: The truth about those “dropping” oil prices

oil-price-suppression

“Dude…and to think there are people who call this a ‘drop’ in the price of oil!”

On the upside, though, this is terrible news for anyone who wants to despoil the Arctic, contribute to the mess that is Mordor (in Alberta), and frack up the US countryside. Because with oil prices down the way they are, it’s going to be highly unprofitable to do any of those things. Ha, ha.

Look who’s meddling in Bolivian politics now

rotten-in-denmark

Oh Denmark…really? YOU? You TOO? WTF is the matter with you people?

Bolivian president Evo Morales affirmed today that “conspiracies will not be pardoned”, in response to a request by the Danish NGO, IBIS, to reverse its expulsion from Bolivia.

“Conspiracies will not be pardoned, interference will not be pardoned,” said Morales in a press conference in La Paz, when asked about IBIS’s petition to remain in Bolivia.

Last December, the Bolivian government announced the expulsion of the NGO, accusing it of political meddling, of financing the division of indigenous organizations, and of expressed in documents “intolerable” criticisms of its relationship with the native peoples.

Bolivian authorities have given IBIS until the end of March to wrap up all their programs.

The secretary-general of IBIS, Vagn Berthelsen, was in Bolivia last week to meet with the authorities and engage in dialogue about the government’s decision, according to a communiqué published on the NGO’s website.

The same source indicated that before leaving, Vagn Berthelsen expressed his satisfaction with the “direct dialogue” he had with various ministers, including the Minister of the Presidency, Juan Ramón Quintana, which allowed him “to understand with greater precesion what had occurred and what happened with intention, and what happened without intention”.

“I must admit that we, IBIS, have committed errors, and I have asked for forgiveness, in meetings and in writing, for these acts, which are not in line with the policy of our work in Bolivia. It also appears that there are some misunderstandings which we are trying to clear up”, said Berthelsen, according to the communiqué.

The functionary expressed his confidence that the meeting with Quintana had “prepared the way for a deeper dialogue on the decision concerning IBIS”.

“We have worked in Bolivia for 30 years and believe that our programs are benefiting many Bolivians…I am aware that the government’s decision will not change easily, but I still hope that we have taken the first steps to find a way to go on”, Berthelsen added.

In today’s press conference, Morales stated that the ambassador for Denmark, Ole Thonke, as well as the IBIS representative who had arrived in Bolivia were “surprised” at “how they handled their money” — meaning the representatives of the NGO in Bolivia.

However, he ratified that “conspiracy and interference are unpardonable”.

IBIS’s work in Bolivia consists of “projects of promotion of education for the indigenous peoples, strengthening of governability, intercultural democracy, programs on climate change and health”, among others.

IBIS also aided in the opening of the Gustu restaurant in La Paz, which proposed the beginning of a Bolivian “gastronomic revolution”, along with the Danish chef Claus Meyer, co-owner of the Noma restaurant of Copenhagen.

Translation mine.

No, that rotten smell isn’t coming from the fish, or from the corpse of Prince Hamlet’s murdered father. It’s coming from what astute LatAm-watchers have begun to recognize as The Usual Suspects…namely, foreign NGOs purporting to “help” the poor indigenous people of Bolivia. Or, in this case, apparently to foment unrest among them by turning them against Bolivia’s first indigenous elected president. Or trying to.

It’s not exactly a new strategy; Philip Agee noted that the CIA did it in Ecuador for years using various “aid” groups as fronts, USAID most prominently among them. USAID has been kicked out of Bolivia, along with an ambassador who got caught on camera holding clandestine meetings with prominent putschist opposition leaders. So I guess it stands to reason that any corruption of local leaders must now come from someplace else.

And in this case, the corruption appears to have come from an NGO that for 30-odd years has been operating apparently without problems in Bolivia. A Danish NGO, of all things. The Danes aren’t exactly leading lights on the imperialism scene these days; haven’t been for centuries, in fact. Hence the WTF.

Did USAID or the CIA or someone with ties to them infiltrate IBIS? Or has IBIS always been a meddler, and has it only come out recently, under the ever-watchful eyes of Evo and his government, who have been the targets of numerous foreign-sponsored coup attempts and thus have good reason to be constantly on the alert?

I don’t know. I’m not party to IBIS’s internal workings, and indeed only learned about their existence today. But it’s not improbable that someone offered them a lot of money to “subtly” interfere with indigenous politics in Bolivia, is it? If the NGO relies on donations to keep it going, some wealthy foreign “philanthropist”, perhaps from Gringolandia, could easily have taken an interest in it on behalf of a third party more wealthy and powerful still. And along with the cash, that unknown “benefactor” may have slipped them a list of stipulations and conditions to keep the money flowing. This is what I suspect might have happened.

I’ll be watching this case with interest to see what else shakes out. I have a hunch that there are quite a few more smelly herrings in the barrel there, and not only in Denmark.

Posted in All About Evo, Scandinavian Smorgasbord. Comments Off »

Music for a Sunday: Just to see if they would dance

I just swabbed a bloody deck, and I’m feelin’ mighty hearty now. So, with no further ado…

“It’s your money that we want, and your money we shall have!”

Posted in Music for a Sunday. Comments Off »

Dershowitz’s “abuse excuse”

abuse-excuse-cover

Hey everybody! Remember this shitty book? Well, guess what. The dude who wrote it, who is an apologist for pretty much everything disgusting being perpetrated by the government of the US and/or Israel these days…is now implicated in the same teenage sex-slave scandal that has also caught up to, among others, good ol’ Randy Prince Andy:

A federal lawsuit in Florida accuses Alan Dershowitz, the famed advocate for Israel, of sexually abusing a minor. Dershowitz has denied the charges and vowed to hit back.

The allegations come in a lawsuit by four women against the federal government for violating the rights of crime victims when it made a plea deal in 2008 with Jeffrey Epstein, the notorious financier, over allegations of sexual abuse of minors. Epstein ended up spending more than a year in prison.

The suit says that Dershowitz routinely had sexual relations with Epstein’s “sex slave” at a time when she was under 18 years old, and before she escaped Epstein.

Apparently, the charming Mr. Epstein is a repeat offender with a taste for under-age flesh and a loathing for all semblance of consensuality. And one of the girls was “recruited” for her “services” when she was just 15.

Naturally, the Doosh denies it:

The Harvard law professor and esteemed criminal defence attorney who later advised Epstein on how to respond to the FBI’s investigation is accused in the court motion of having sexual relations with the woman when she was a minor and of witnessing the abuse of other minors.

On Thursday he told the Guardian: “There is no more strenuous denial than the one I am giving. I never met her. I don’t know her. I have never had sex with an underage person.”

He added: “This person has made this up out of cloth, maliciously and knowingly in order to extort money from Mr Epstein.”

Dershowitz, who has occasionally written op-ed articles for the Guardian, said he could not comment on the woman’s allegations against Prince Andrew or any other men, but he said her claims against him were demonstrably false and challenged her to file criminal charges against him.

“It is a totally fabricated charge in every possible way,” he said. “It just never happened.”

He said he was considering taking legal action to have Brad Edwards and Paul Cassell, the lawyers who filed the motion, disbarred for “knowingly filing … a false, malicious and defamatory statement in a lawsuit”.

In the immortal words of the recently departed Mandy Rice-Davies: “He would, wouldn’t he?”

It will be interesting to see what kind of excuse he will use when/if he ever has to answer these charges in criminal court, though. I’m guessing it will be some variation on the general theme of “I couldn’t help myself, I was abused!”

Meanwhile, I suppose that for legal reasons, I am obligated to play you the following song:

You can sing along, if you like.

Who is Charles Bentley? A short investigation

Hey! Remember when I wrote about Maricori’s little friend from the US Embassy, the one who appeared in this video, taken the day she was charged with conspiring against the Venezuelan government?

Well, guess what. Maricori’s little friend has a lot of big friends. Some of them with names you might recognize…

Charles Bentley, the US diplomat who “accompanied” María Corina Machado on December 3 when she was indicted for conspiracy by a Venezuelan prosecutor, is an “expert” in social media networks and is closely linked to Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft.

The functionary, who uses a photo of Caracas on his Twitter profile, is a regular collaborator on Bill and Melinda Gates’s official blog, www.impatientoptimists.org, where he has published more than a dozen entries promoting the use of the Web and social networks to mobilize users in so-called “global causes” and the common good.

Bentley, who was caught on video during Machado’s appearance before the Public Ministry, is the founder and editor of Armchair Advocates, dedicated to sharing, connecting and analyzing the tendencies of the “social good” in an ever more digitized age.

Before coming to Venezuela, Bentley worked for USAID, according to his LinkedIn profile. USAID is known for financing plans against legitimately elected governments, especially in regions such as Latin America. He has worked there from May 2009 to October of this year. He was also a member of the political section of the US State Department.

This is not the first time that Bentley has appeared in public openly supporting opposition groups in Venezuela. On September 30, he turned up alongside Lilian Tintori Parra in a judicial hearing against her spouse, Leopoldo López, director of the “Voluntad Popular” opposition party, who was accused of promoting street violence in February.

Translation mine. Links added.

Just like so many other US State Dept. and USAID functionaries, Charles Bentley really gets around…at least where the disloyal opposition is concerned. Remember Bolivia? Yup, that happened. Nice to see the State Dept. and USAID up to their same old tricks, and nicer still to see those same old tricks exposed and failing in the predictable epic way.

Here’s a picture of Bentley with Leo’s wife, Lilian:

bentley-tintori

Bentley’s the suit, Lilian Tintori is the gloomy-looking blonde.

And in case you’re wondering just how much our charming young Charlie actually gets around, here’s a rather amusing look at how he tried to winkle his way into the confidences of one ardent Chavista, who writes for a well-known Venezuelan socialist website:

Diario VEA informed of Bentley’s interest in this year’s PSUV party congress:

“Cordial greetings. My name is Charles Bentley, functionary of the political section of the US Embassy. I just read your article today (“Venezuela: Aristóbulo smoked crack* at the PSUV Congress”) — super interesting! I don’t know if you’re interested, but I would love to meet for a chat and talk more about your perspectives and point of view…especially your opinions over 2014, the political panorama in Venezuela, and the PSUV Congress”, he wrote in an e-mail to Arturo Ramos, who writes articles for the website Aporrea.

The message was forwarded to this newspaper by Ramos, with the following message: “Dear friends of VEA: The attached e-mails were sent to me by Charles Bentley, a functionary of the US Embassy. They are a clear interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela. You are the first ones to see them in a public manner. Please explain, if you decide to publish them, that I did not give any information to the Embassy.”

Arturo Ramos responded to Bentley with the following message: “Thank you for your interest in my article. For reasons of time and work, it would be very complicated for me to take up your kind invitation at this moment. However, if you wish, we could exchange impressions this way.”

Days later, the US functionary replied: “I understand completely that it is a very busy/complicated time of the year. Nothing will happen.” He added: “I would like to know your perspectives on the United Socialist Party of Venezuela during this year. What do you think are the objectives of the party for 2014? What are your impressions of the PSUV Congress and the Great Patriotic Pole, which are to take place this year? I imagine it will be super interesting and important for the party and the Bolivarian Revolution.”

Translation mine; linkage added.

Isn’t it funny (peculiar AND ha-ha) how a US embassy functionary’s presence could be catnip to the opposition, but poison to a loyal PSUV member, even when the latter wrote a critical article about a long-time government minister and the bad footing on which the last PSUV party congress got off? Guess young Master Bentley was hoping to exert a little behind-the-scenes influence on a local opinion shaper. Unfortunately for him, Arturo Ramos is a loyal Venezuelan, and a loyal PSUV member. Be it here noted that the PSUV, far from being monolithic (as it is often portrayed in the commie-mad US media), is quite tolerant of dissenting opinions from within the ranks; in fact, it’s rife with them. And what’s more, within Venezuela (and the PSUV in particular, at least), there is a strong climate of informational and journalistic openness. So that means that when one opinion columnist gets wise to a US diplomat’s attempts to poke his nose in, the entire country will hear the sniffing.

And in this case, it’s chuckling once more at the transparent ineptitude of the gringo rube.

*The Venezuelan expression fumarse una lumpia was used. It figuratively means that someone is delusional or out of their mind. To me, it suggests drug-induced hallucinations, so I used “smoked crack”, in the colloquial sense, in my translation. As far as I know, however, Aristóbulo Istúriz is not a drug abuser, and there is no intent on my part or that of Arturo Ramos to imply that he actually smoked anything during the PSUV congress. But I’ll bet that Charles Bentley doesn’t realize that, which may be why he found Ramos’s article so “super interesting”!

Raúl Castro’s reminder

raul-castro-never-forget

“The gentlemen of the north shouldn’t forget that we are followers of Martí, Fidel, Bolívar…and Chávez!” In other words: NOT gringos.

Just in case any of you folks out there were wondering whether Cuba would change its ways now that the US has taken steps toward lifting the decades-old embargo and re-establishing normal relations with the island, here’s your answer…straight from the mouth of Raúl Castro himself:

The president of Cuba, Raúl Castro, warned that there would be a “long and difficult struggle” for the United States to decide to lift the blockade against the island, and said that there must still be international and North American calls for an end to that embargo.

“It cannot be expected that in order to improve relations with the United States, Cuba must renounce the ideals for which it has fought over more than a century, for which the people have spilled much blood and taken many risks,” Castro said.

The president, speaking before the Cuban National Legislative Assembly, stated that the end of the blockade requires persistent international calls and that US society must also increase pressure in that direction.

For Castro, the decision to re-establish relations with the United States — which both governments recently announced — constitutes “an important step”, but “the essential remains to be resolved”, which is the end of the more-than-50-year-old embargo. “The re-establishment must be without shadows upon our national sovereignty,” he said.

For that reason, he expressed the hope that his counterpart, Barack Obama, “use executive prerogatives with determination to substantially modify the blockade in those aspects which don’t require congressional approval”.

The embargo against Cuba has been formally in place since 1962, although prior to that, there had already been other types of sanctions, and was elevated to the level of law in 1996 with the Helms-Burton Law, which is subject to congressional ratification.

“All the information indicates that the great majority of the US citizenry wants the normalization of bilateral relations with Cuba,” Castro affirmed, saying he was aware of the “virulent criticisms” which Obama received for his rapprochement with Havana.

According to Castro, “after decades of confrontation, they are doing everything they can to sabotage this process, not ruling out provocative actions,” but his administration will respond with “prudent conduct, moderate and reflective, but firm”.

Interrupted several times by applause from the legislators, Castro later insisted that Cuba would not renounce its socialist system, despite the accord for re-establishing diplomatic relations with the US, although he is disposed to discuss all topics in “equality” and “reciprocity”.

“In the same way in which we have never proposed that the United States change its political system, we demand respect for ours,” he warned, and asked for “understanding” that Cuba is a sovereign state, whose people decided “in a free referendum” for the socialist way.

The session was attended by perhaps the most symbolic representatives of the ideological struggle between Havana and Washington: the “Cuban Five”, heroes who were for many years imprisoned in the US, accused of espionage; and the “raft boy”, Elián González, whose mother died in 2000 in an attempt to reach Miami.

Elián was retained by relatives in Miami, and later returned to the island to live with his father after heavy diplomatic pressure.

“Do you remember little Elián, the struggle for Elián?” asked Castro, almost laughing. “We’re proud of him as the youngest of our heroes,” he said, and presented the young man, now 21, with a small medal which he wore on his lapel as a “memento”.

Legislators applauded while the “Five”, members of the Cuban intelligence network, captured and placed on trial in the US in a process which many organizations considered fraught with irregularities, and who recently returned to reunite in Havana, where two of them had already returned upon completing their sentences.

In his speech, Castro also confirmed that he would attend the next Summit of the Americas, which will take place in April 2015 in Panama, and which will mark in all ways the return of Cuba to the inter-American system.

“I confirm that I will attend in order to express our positions with sincerity and respect for all the heads of state and government, without exception,” said the president, who emphasized that Cuba’s participation in that summit is the result of “solid and unanimous consensus” in Latin America and the Caribbean, a region which he said “is living a new era and has united amid its diversity” in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

Castro thanked the president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, for the invitation, and underscored the “permanent pressure and support” of all the countries of the region for “the elimination of those odious old sanctions against Cuba” which the OAS established, and which were lifted in 2012.

Castro also addressed some of the island’s economic numbers, although the question passed to a second phase, overshadowed by the new step in relations with Washington.

The president stated that in 2014, there had been an increase in the Gross Domestic Product “less than originally forecast”, but predicted that in 2015, the island would “consolidate and reinforce a major development of the economy”, projecting a growth in GDP of approximately 4%.

“That’s not to say that it will be easy. We must continue to confront the global crisis and the North American blockade which are still in place, denying countless resources to our economy,” Castro said.

Castro recognized that “the economy is the principal unfinished business” in Cuba, “and we have the duty of putting it on the road to irreversible socialist development.”

Translation mine.

Uncompromising words from an unhoodwinked leader. Hasta la victoria siempre, Comandante Raúl.

Posted in Cuba, Libre (de los Yanquis). Comments Off »

El Narco’s deep doody

uribe-narco

Are you all fired up for the New Year, kiddies? I sure am. Especially since I know that someone is going to be facing the music and dancing then…on hot coals, natch:

The information is surfacing and the circle is narrowing: Álvaro Uribe Vélez, president of Colombia from 2002 to 2010, is the subject of an investigation by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, as a possible author of crimes against humanity.

Everything indicates that Uribe will be charged with being mastermind and organizer of actions which have caused a number yet to be determined of murders of peasants and political opponents, actions perpetrated by paramilitary groups, members of the Colombian army, and agents of state security. In fact, he who was head of the secret services under the rule of Uribe, Jorge Noguera, who was jailed last year and tried in Bogotá for various crimes, has been accused as well of having organized the assassinations of various opposition politicians.

Uribe is also under investigation for having organized an armed gang which carried out “clean-up jobs” on his own cattle ranches.

Among the crimes which The Hague is investigating are the so-called “false positives”, referring to murders of peasants accused without proof of being members of the FARC, whose deaths were presented as if they were those of “enemies” killed in combat. In an attempt to justify these crimes, Uribe declared on various occasions that the “false positives” were “isolated cases”; that is, few and the product of errors.

Against that excuse, the facts at the hands of the International Criminal Court indicate that the deaths caused “by mistake” in the so-called “isolated cases” add up to more than 3,000. This number, which is not yet definitive, is based on the information supplied by, among other sources, the authorities of that self-same South American country, including the Commission of Peace of the Congress of Colombia.

The investigators consider that the paramilitary actions and some of those carried out by the armed forces and state security were part of a political plan of institutional character organized at the uppermost echelons of the government.

With the intent of mocking justice, the ex-president tried to set in motion a political force called the “Pure Democratic Centre”, in order to head up a political campaign for the next senatorial elections, since if elected, he could mock (or at least try to) the actions of the International Criminal Court.

Translation mine.

3,000 “false positives” is more victims than died on September 11, 2001, for those who are keeping track of such things. So yeah, that makes El Narco worse than any terrorist. And bear in mind that the full death count isn’t even in yet. It could go a lot higher.

Something tells me that he won’t be thumbing that coke-smeared nose of his at international justice for very much longer, though, since he’s hugely UNpopular in his homeland. As befits a civil-war criminal, naturally.

When perverts become “victims”

sebastian-edathy-chutzpah

Sebastian Edathy, personifying chutzpah on Facebook. In English, no less.

Right now, in Germany, there’s a huge scandal going on. A former parliamentarian, who resigned shortly before his home was raided by police, has been found to have bought and downloaded child pornography, and even pretty much confessed that he whacks off to it. So, why is this self-admitted pervert not behind bars yet? Well, as the Störenfriedas blog has found, the problem lies in German society itself, and their way of addressing — or rather, NOT addressing — the nature of the problem:

On Thursday, December 18, Sebastian Edathy gave a press conference. The 45-year-old Edathy is facing criminal charges for possession of child pornography. An investigation is now under way to find out exactly who knew what, and when, about the accusations against the Saxon state politician. Also to determine if Edathy was warned. SPD parliamentarian Thomas Oppermann and federal delegate Michael Hartmann play a particular role.

It is surely important [to know] who warned Edathy, because it tells us something about the social position of children and sexual violence in our society, and of complicity in their trivialization. Above all, Edathy is using this question right now to present himself on the media stage — and the media are playing along — to push the actual acts into the background and thus whitewash them.

There’s talk of the “Kiddy-Porn Affair”. Just this headline contains an ugly verbal distancing and a further objectification of children for purposes of sexual exploitation. It is not a “kiddy-porn affair”; it concerns actual children, who were and are being made to serve as masturbation fodder for men. These are not some films that have nothing to do with reality, but children with real feelings, who remain forever caught in the net of men’s sexual exploitation. How must a person feel when he or she knows that their own body is serving again and again as wank-fodder, and one can never do anything about it?

Says Adrian P., who was affected, about that: “The pictures of me are horrifying. I can never get rid of them.”

Edathy himself talks of “purchases” when he’s talking about the children to whom he masturbated: “I believe that the majority of the critical public voices on the purchases — to be honest — are right.” In the final analysis, Edathy takes no responsibility for his own conduct.

A reporter asked: “Are you a pedophile, Herr Edathy?” Edathy replied: “Are you homosexual or heterosexual? Maybe you’re a pedophile…you know what, that simply doesn’t concern you.”

This response is very clever because it brings pedophilia down to the same level as homosexuality and heterosexuality. This excuse is symptomatic of Edathy’s position, which resonates with that of the pedo-criminal organizations, such as the “Crooked 13″ and others. These have been trying for decades to sell sexual interest in children as normal sexuality, which should be acted upon. Because this is, according to their definitions, normal, and the results of such “normal sexuality”, as they call it, meaning the sexual exploitation of children, is consequently whitewashed and negated. Finally, it’s all the same in fact whether Edathy’s conduct fits the definition of pedophilia or not. On exactly which grounds children have suffered violence is unimportant. The consequences must be borne by those who have exerted sexual violence, and by those who have profited from it (after the fact). The perpetrator-type of one Herr Edathy is, in fact, irrelevant.

This justification of such deeds is socially widespread. The grounds for it will be laid out here, because they have very real effects upon the Edathy case and its medial reception:

The concept of “pedophilia” comes from the Greek and is made up of παῖς (“boy, child”) and φιλία (“friendship”). It seems to suggest that men with sexual interest in children, and those who sexually exploit children, actually act on the basis of a real, genuine friendly inclination. Even in this case, language reshapes what is actually a very gruesome reality. The motive of a friendly inclination can be doubted, anyway, and even if one considers it valid, it could still be laid to rest, at latest, when power relations are used and boundaries overstepped, as in when sexual violence is used against children.

Pedophilia is listed as a “disease” in the ICD-10 and the DSM, and above all, it is a “disease” in the mind of society. That brings much sympathy for “afflicted” men as a result. It has also led to the notion that people are under pressure, and thus “understanding” — for the perpetrators, that is, not the victim — is necessary, and to look at “both sides” when it comes to sexual violence by men against children. “Aware” men, who are “ready for therapy”, are celebrated. And people who are against that celebration are characterized as heartless, without character, and devoid of empathy. At any rate, we must discuss how much of “pedophilia”-as-sickness is a social construct; if we leave out this consideration, we can still at least ask ourselves who has ever celebrated a victim of sexual violence when she or he has gone into therapy (insofar as there is even a slot in therapy for them; the totally inadequate psycho-traumatological care of victims of violence is worth an article in itself).

“Do you even regret anything?” asks a reporter. Edathy replies in a roundabout way. In his opinion, it’s wrong to expect persons in public office to be flawless. He sees himself as a victim of the rule of law. “The children are victims too”, says the reporter. Can Edathy be sure that children have acted without duress? Edathy, again, blames the Criminal Prosecutor’s Office: “I have paid a high price for what I’ve done. I will try to build up a new existence for myself. Maybe someday it will be possible for me to live without fear in Germany.”

The “flaw”, to have had [sexual] contact with children or youths, will always stick with someone — even when such charges are proven false. The Canadian company from which he obtained the films in question has been under criminal investigation without charges for years. Edathy keeps emphasizing that the films are “legal”, but only once does he say, in an aside, that it “was morally not okay”.

Again and again, the question gets asked: Were the nude photos legal? The headline reads: “Harmless nude photos, or criminal child porn?” Edathy himself says: “I didn’t act conspiratorially. I was firmly convinced that the pictures are not criminally relevant.” He also says: “We are not talking here about a capital crime.”

He also says it’s okay to consume such pictures or films whose production “did not use recognizable violence”. In the Stern, it says: “It was wrong to buy the films. But it was legal.” Where is the responsibility on the part of a currently active federal delegate to society, when he sees everything as “okay” and “legal”, but as a consumer he can’t tell if violence was behind it or not? Can he still shuffle off responsibility for that onto others? Or would it not be better to take responsibility in this sense: “As long as I can’t be 100% sure that no violence was used, I am morally and legally obligated to keep my hands off it”?

If everyone were to act that way, there would be no market for prostitution or pornography with adult “protagonists”, because it is simply impossible to rule out force. Aside from that, why should one be absolved if one assumes that no violence was used because that is “not visible”? What does Edathy mean when he speaks of violence? Must violence be “visible”? Does it depend on that? It does not. It speaks to Edathy’s posture, and that of society, that there can be a context of “under normal circumstances” and “violence-free”, a moral-ethical as well as judicially representable one, in which such photos can be produced, distributed and commercialized. Ergo: When it comes to minors, the question of force or no force cannot even be asked.

The manifold attempts of the sex-industry lobby to make even children into “self-determined actors” and to legalize “child prostitution” and “child pornography” (these concepts are real bones of contention), point to yet another way.

A further question should be what difference it really makes whether a politician masturbates to “legal” or illegal nude photos. Doesn’t the whole affair show that there are loopholes in the law, and that as a result, the legal framework for nude photos of children must be urgently evaluated and made stricter? On what grounds does a man (or woman) even need nude photos of children? Is “art” not simply the usual excuse for sexual violators to get off scot-free? It is a sheer insult that politicians, whose job it is to make laws and be responsible for the protection of women and children, to make legalistic excuses for their acting-out of power. So the assertion that people were acting out “sexual urges”, not crimes, calls into question why this is not a crime. With legal silence, society leaves countless victims in the lurch and betrays them. Edathy’s dismay that despite his immunity a search raid took place on his home clearly shows that powerful men enjoy particular protection.

During the press conference, Thorsten Denkler stated that there surely is a difference between legality and moral rightness. Edathy aggressively waved that off: His private life surely doesn’t concern anyone!

This reference to the private sphere is a cheap trick, but it works when it comes to offering criminals protection. It’s self-evident that everyone has their private sphere, and that this must be protected. But it is also self-evident that this cannot come at a cost to others. A collective looking-away from pedocriminality on the part of society doesn’t protect the private sphere, it supports criminals. Edathy is aware that in this society, sensitivity toward dealings with children is very high, but goes hand in hand with hysteria. This perception supports him in his self-portrayal as victim. He would never get rid of that stain. His recurrent aggression when talk turns to the film material is noteworthy. Again and again he attacks the questioner verbally, and sticks to excuses over the legality. He sees this film material as “art”, not child pornography. It is obvious that even here, mostly economically weak children are serving rich men. But when only visible violence is relevant, then economic forces, violent experiences, addictions and other consequences are obviously of no interest to either criminals or lawmakers. To shrug off he exploitation of these children as problematic sexual practice clearly shows the media’s trivialization of the subject. That the earnings of legal recordings obviously also finance criminally relevant materials, is a clear and present danger that is not being debated.

“Is it not humane to warn others?” runs an oft-asked question. That surely depends on the conscience of the person. Whoever has empathy will hardly be in the mood for that. When it comes to sexual violence, it must be clear that there can be no protection for perpetrators. How the many witting individuals still in public office can live with the knowledge that they didn’t care about the fate of the children, and that they let a criminal go on offending, is hard to imagine. “What do you think goes into the making of those posed photos of little boys that you got off on? Have you any idea of what production process takes place, and when did you begin to think about it?” asks Dieter Wonka. Even here, Edathy can’t think of anything but that it was not illicit material, and right away goes on the attack, saying that Wonka has mistaken him for a jurist and hasn’t done his homework. The same thing happens to a female journalist, who points out to him reports of heavily traumatized children from various films. How does he stand regarding that? Angrily, he counters that she wasn’t paying attention for the last two hours, and that the Phoenix TV channel should just send her a transcript. No matter how many times this reporter looks at that transcript, she will look in vain for a sympathetic word for the children. He has no answer either for the questions of a children’s aid representative.

“Pedophiles” are very creative in their use of masturbation fodder. It doesn’t take much, in a pinch, to make their fantasies come alive. One genre, for example, is the use of child models in tights, in various poses. Do children have to be served up for men on silver platters in order to serve their sexual interest in them? Does society want that for its children, and would we want such a society? Is it important and necessary for children to have nude photos of themselves on the Internet?

In the Stern issue of December 17, 2014, the headline reads: “The Edathy Affair”. Even here it’s not about children, but party politics. Nothing is coincidental, and the slogan on the front page reads: “The Power of Forgiveness”. It has to do with other people in another article, but naturally, an association with Edathy is meant to be established here. It is in fact a mistake to believe that forgiveness helps. This idea has more to do with Christian beliefs, which have forced the idea that good people can forgive, and bad and weak people can’t. In fact, for many victims of violence, it is very important that a perpetrator be punished, and in a fitting manner. For many victims and their families, life has become hell on Earth, and just the thought that a perpetrator can go on committing crimes with a smile on his face is hard to tolerate. Forgiveness is a concept, and helps no one other than predators and their irresponsibility. The idea of forgiveness even puts victims under more pressure, because they can’t even face their feelings, because with religious people, feelings like hate and vengeance are seen as “bad”. But victims can and should be able to feel whatever they want. That’s all.

The reactions of the media and many people are explainable, but not very helpful:

Most people see the world through rose-colored glasses, in order to feel good. Otherwise, they would not be able to handle the real proportions of gruesome crimes and violence. At least not without being forced to deal with it. Some even say “there is some good in everyone”. This saying is obsolete and trivial, even laughable, because with many crimes, it doesn’t matter if there’s anything “good” in a person. Who cares here if a man who, for instance, has raped children, cares about his sick wife or children, or likes flowers or animals? In the English-speaking world, sexual criminals, regardless of type, are called predators. They seek out their victims in a goal-oriented way, and plan exactly how to successfully carry out their crimes. In German-speaking spheres, meanwhile, there is much to seemingly legitimize the criminals and their crimes. There is talk of “urges”, which expresses a lack of control, and opens the way for criminals to give up responsibility and suggest to society that these criminals can and should not be accused of anything. A further, very common designation is that of “inclinations”, a further total whitewashing of terrible violence against children. Some people also say “sickening”, which surely comes from the fact that some behaviors make us sick because they are so repugnant and gruesome, which is true in and of itself. But that cannot mean that these criminals are “sick”, because that would mean that they can’t do anything about their behaviors, and that their actions are free of blame.

Many people make the mistake of believing that they can recognize a lie. But people are very bad at recognizing lies, as studies have been showing for years. Even police officers are no better than other people or psychiatrists. All professions had the same results as pure chance. Even in the case of Herr Edathy, maybe some believe that based on their seemingly great knowledge of human beings, Edathy could not have done anything bad.

There are many theories as to why people, almost always men, are attracted to children. But in fact there is no proven knowledge. The modes of conduct, however, are known. There is always a long period of planning and fantasizing in advance. The obsession with children is supported by constant masturbation to fantasies about children, or actual pictures of children.

Maybe we don’t always have an answer to the question as to how to stop men like Edathy, or how to explain their behavior. We, and those responsible for the media, should however stop making excuses for them. It is not our job to explain and justify the actions of criminals. That is, ultimately, a distraction and doesn’t help the victims. We should take an interest in the victims and give them a space. The criminals are responsible for ending their own criminal behavior, and they should have to bear the consequences for it in all regards. Victims must bear the consequences of sexual violence all their lives. Edathy has gotten a lot of space in the media. And there, the victims were reduced to a “kiddie-porn affair”.

Translation mine.

So you can see clearly what kind of linguistic gymnastics we’re talking about. Germany has a pedophilia problem in its major media. Germany has to take a long, hard look at itself. No doubt about that.

Well, I hate to say this, but the exact same thing happens all the time in English-speaking media, too. There’s a lot of sympathy for pedophiles who claim to be “aware of their problem” and “seeking help”. On the other hand, one has only to look at how the media covers the acts themselves to see what kind of contempt still exists toward victims. Sexism, racism — you name it, the prejudice is there, coded right into the language. The New York Times, of all “respectable” publications, fudged the gang-rape of an 11-year-old black girl in Texas three years ago. Rather than treating the perpetrators as predators seeking out the youngest, the weakest, the lowest on the social totem pole, the Times report painted them as the victims, and insinuated that the girl was a prematurely grown-up temptress:

…the paper of record speculates on how the small town of Cleveland, Texas, has been rocked by the story, and the torturous question of “how could their young men have been drawn into such an act.” How, indeed? It’s surely a horrifying scenario when 18 young men are implicated in a crime of violence and degradation. The victim’s affidavit says the assault began when a local 19-year-old offered her a ride in his car, and escalated to a protracted group assault, featuring “threats she would be beaten if she did not comply” and participants recording the abuse on their phones. How could these boys have been “drawn into such an act”? Was it drugs, sociopathy, coercion? Or was that little girl just asking for it?

After all, as the Times helpfully points out, “Residents in the neighborhood where the abandoned trailer stands — known as the Quarters — said the victim had been visiting various friends there for months. They said she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s. She would hang out with teenage boys at a playground, some said.” Gosh, I wonder if she’s pretty or you know, developed, because that’s relevant too.

So you can see it’s not just the Germans who have a language problem when it comes to child rape and sexual abuse. Americans have it too. And Canadians. And Britons. And…you name it.

Any country where sexual assault occurs, you are bound to run into language barriers when it comes to talking about it. Not because adequate words don’t exist to cover the problem; most of us surely have a big enough vocabulary of those. The problem, as the Störenfriedas piece makes clear, is not words, it is the willingness to use the correct ones. To “make nails with heads”, as the German saying goes, implies that you can’t properly hammer a thing together without them. And this is true, for it is the head of the nail that takes the hammer’s impact, and drives the shaft into the boards. Headless nails are just bits of wire that get bent out of shape and won’t hold anything together at all. So it is with language, too: The wrong words, like headless nails, won’t hold together; they distort, they bend out of shape, they are worse than useless.

And that is what all this perpetrator-friendly talk of “being drawn into” gang-rapes, or “purchases” of child porn videos, also does: It distorts a situation, bending our mental view of it out of shape. It is worse than useless to the victims of those crimes; it takes the blame off the perpetrators and throws it right back onto those who have already suffered the most. Especially if, like bad Christians, they refuse to “forgive” those who “trespassed against” them. Don’t you love that phraseology? It makes the body sound like property. Like turf. Only — and this is grist for a whole other article — whose property, whose turf, is it? Surely not that of the victim, since women have long been legally reckoned to be property of men, and children likewise. The horrific implication is that one can do what one wants to them, as long as one owns them. Human chattel, it is still a thing.

And yes, law enforcement has long supported that view, too. I can still remember when the phrase date rape first hit the media (yes, I’m that old), and when police routinely refused to “get involved” when a man beat the shit out of his wife, even if it put her in hospital, because that was “only a domestic matter”. Even now, there are still people who think that if a man buys a woman dinner, he has essentially bought her sexual consent, and she is “a real bitch” if she doesn’t “give it up” to her entitled date. Or that Ray Rice had a God-given right to punch out his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer. She has since married him, believe it or not, and even “taken his name”, i.e. signed herself over as his chattel under the old coverture laws, though she probably has no idea that the slave-era implications of name-changing are still there, wriggling away below the surface of things.

Coverture may have fallen out of legal fashion, but he idea that a woman has a will of her own, which deserves respect, has yet to be adequately — i.e. FULLY — transmitted in English. Can you imagine what that implies for the children?

Sebastian Edathy certainly goes about whitewashing his own actions with a great deal of chutzpah, but he didn’t figure out how to do that on his own. Just as kids learn how the world works by watching the grownups, so a pedocriminal learns how to twist language to his own advantage by watching others do likewise. The media may ask him all kinds of hardball questions, but in the end, they too are complicit in the overall mishandling of the problem-with-the-fancy-Greek-name.

And that’s not just a German thing; it is a problem everywhere. Edathy bought those movies from a Canadian company, so we as a country share in the scandal and the blame of this trans-Atlantic miscreant. Who knows where, in turn, those movies were made?

In the end, adult male supremacy is a global problem, not limited to any one country. And the globalization of capital, the global nature of capitalism itself, has proved to be nothing but a boon for the abusers of children, traffickers of women and girls, and perverts who whack off to not-technically-illegal photos and movies of naked boys. One cannot stamp it out at one end and declare the whole thing dead; it will only look for another, more congenial place to resurrect itself, hydra-headed, worse than ever. The problem is global in nature, and demands a collective, global solution in turn. And it demands that we all, together, change the way we look at women and children — radically. We must, collectively, give up all ideas of people-as-property, infinitely interchangeable, disposable, and exploitable.

Language plays a definite part in that radical change; a wonderful German word comes to mind. The word is both verb and noun: Umdenken. A re-thinking; to re-think. That is what we need to have, and to do. Until then, we’re just spitting into the wind, and we shouldn’t be surprised if it all just blows right back in our faces.

Why the Marquis de Sade is nobody’s hero

martyrdom-of-st-barbara

Detail from “The Martyrdom of St. Barbara”, by Jean Bellegambe, 1528. Musée de la Chartreuse, Douai.

What gives with the idea that a notorious 18th-century aristocratic sociopath — a chronic, pathological liar who ruthlessly took full advantage of his high social rank to carry out the vilest depravities with near-total impunity — could somehow be transmogrified into a modern-day hero of democracy, freedom of speech, and sexual liberty? The Marquis de Sade, who could rightly be called the Jack the Ripper of late-royalist France, literally got away with murder…almost. For the crimes he committed, his head should have rolled off the block of the guillotine when the Revolution stormed the streets of Paris. Yet he was somehow, stupidly, spared, and wound up being locked away in a religious hospital for the rest of his days. Now, he’s being lionized for the same repugnant sort of things we would have condemned in the lower-class “Jack”, whose real identity is still much debated (although it was claimed to have finally been revealed just this past year).

It’s worth noting that class differences make all the difference here. It was his class alone that assured that the Marquis would go free and unpunished (though closely surveilled by police) for many years while France was still a monarchy. He eventually landed in the Bastille (for sodomy and poisoning), but was later transferred to a mental asylum, from which he was released in 1790. And even after the old class hierarchy was shaken up, his cleverness at lying, and feigning libertarian-democratic ideals in line with the new order, served to keep him free for a short time longer, and eventually, in the eyes of the modern public, rehabilitate a name that had already fallen under criminal suspicion during the reign of France’s last two kings.

Or so it would appear.

French historian Olivier Blanc has taken exception to Sade’s modern-day apologists, however, and called out their blindness, disingenuous motives, and general stupidity in an open letter occasioned by a new exhibit on Sade at the Musée d’Orsay:

I am surprised at the patience with which the public, more or less feminist, supports the numberless untruths and fallacious interpretations of the facts and acts of the Marquis de Sade. Since the [era of the] Surrealists, who have, if one may say, returned the personage to fashion, one witnesses a multitude of idolatrous, literary, theatrical or media productions (from Le Figaro to Le Monde) paying homage to the “Divine Marquis”. He shook off the yoke of oppression, which crushes the body and spirits, and to him alone flies the flag of liberty.

But all that is currently said of Sade, whose name applies to great national impostures, be they historic or intellectual, resides in the calculated omission of facts, or removes their abusive interpretation. Or these attempts at rehabilitation, enterprises with commercial ends, today attain the proportions necessary to make the point about this personage by relying minimally on historical method — mostly on his own texts about himself — and in the first place, by taking context into account.

When he was arrested during the Revolution, on December 4, 1793, Sade had acquired the reputation of being a patented liar. And at that time, when the law cracked down on suspects, his wife and in-laws, the family of Cordier de Montreuil, his constant “accomplices”, no longer had the means to smother the new accusation by the Parisian sansculottes who had taken aim at their protégé. In the ledgers of the surveillance committee of Piques, where his residence was located, the revolutionaries expressed their reservations about the duplicity of the former marquis, who had succeeded in being elected president: “From August 10, when he arrived at the section, he has never ceased to play the patriot. But these (patriots) here were not fooled.”

Biographers of Sade, notably Maurice Lever, have abundantly shown that Sade was neither a defender of new ideas nor an admirer of the Revolution. And no one, in 1792, was in fact fooled by his claimed republican convictions, nor the writings of circumstance which he published after the fall of the monarchy. At first he cited the democratic Girondins, braiding garlands to Roland — and then, when that same was in trouble, he turned toward Marat, one of the principal artisans of the fall of the Gironde. As everyone knows, it was not 24 hours before Sade was to be executed, the same day Robespierre retrenched in the Paris Commune and was caught. If Sade, according to the accusation well and truly drawn up by Fouquier-Tinville, was not on the last carts to the guillotine, it was because of an administrative error, which did not permit them to localize the prison in which he was detained.

At any moment, furthermore, it must be underlined that it is not a question of the “immorality” of Sade’s writings, which, according to modern legend, had justified the prosecutions and persecutions to which he was subjected during the Revolution. During the Ancien Régime as well, in an era of practically no rights for the weakest and poorest, it was not Sade’s writings that posed problems, but his comportment as a sexual and criminal predator.

Titled and immensely rich through his marriage to the heiress of a powerful family, beneficiary of an incredible indulgence on the part of his own and the protections of ties to his caste of origin, Sade acted up time and time again, such that his turpitudes nonetheless reached the highest spheres of the police institution which, in 1764, advised the madams of Paris not to send him any of their girls. Police inspector [Louis] Marais, very well informed, wrote: “One never has to wait long to hear tell once more of the horrors of the Count de Sade.” An informer to the count and minister of Sartines, who transmitted to King Louis XV himself, by regular bulletins, the sexual indiscretions of debauched courtiers, Marais was not wrong when he spoke of the horrors of Sade.

The troubles had begun for Sade when one of his victims, Rose Keller, who was subjected to a bloody sado-masochistic ritual at Arcueil — which was certainly not the first — had the bad idea of undoing her bonds, and escaping him through the window of the room wherein he had imprisoned her. And, even more extraordinary under the Ancien Régime, this young person was able to register a witness statement attesting to sexual abuses and attempted murder, even if that same were challenged as, apparently, a false statement. Since Sade’s life did not in fact revolve around his writings, which interested almost no one during the 18th century, but around his endless lies and also his impunity, scandalous in the eyes of his contemporaries, which his status as a nobleman, privileged son-in-law of the influential parliamentary family of Cordier de Montreuil, procured for him.

At a time when the rule of law did not exist, the conclusions of judiciary affairs are, for historians, to be regarded with much circumspection. It is understood that the monarchic powers, and the parliamentary caste, had the tendency to protect their own, favoring, for example, the flight abroad of those who had been accused of crimes (sometimes also their internment, via letter of cachet, to prevent the unpleasantness of a scandalous court process and condemnation to death). One also knows that innocent men of the people were sent to the gallows, and that they willingly abandoned to the gibbet young servants vaguely suspected of having stolen a silver spoon. The processes by which such things took place — without a jury of their peers, reposing on a minimal inquest — which, whether before the Châtelet de Paris, before Parliament, whether that of Paris or the provinces, offered no guarantee of equity and the certitude of pressures from above, and eventually of false witness statements aimed at neutralizing complaints from below.

The judicial tribulations of Sade under the Ancien Régime have not, however, shed any significant light establishing his culpability in the disappearances of young women (often beggars or prostitutes, therefore numerous), or the attempts at murder exercised upon two or three who survived more or less unhurt (at the same time removing the force from their statements). But what are we speaking of? Sexual phantasms not ritualized or limited, or the delirium of sexual compulsions inscribed in the very real suffering inflicted by a man and suffered by an unconsenting, kidnapped woman?

The very detailed witness statement of Rose Keller, tortured in a house in Arcueil, gives an idea of what pleased Sade: slow bloodlettings, cuts rubbed with salt or hot wax, cuttings and excisions of the skin, maybe even partial dismemberment. Death, by infection or assault upon a vital organ, was nothing but the logical end of such criminal acts.

This type of phantasm, which could have come to the attention of those who may have had the task of gathering witness statements in Paris or in the village of Lacoste, explain how justice could have sought to avoid that due process, even behind closed doors, be done, giving way inevitably to contradictory debates and crudely revealing these deadly practices. Not so much to protect Sade himself, but to avoid public condemnation — even limited to the aristocratic sphere — it did not extend to his immediate family.

An interesting and little-used witness statement was published in the 19th century by the author of Memories of the Marquise de Créquy, a Breton compiler and very erudite royalist, who had gathered an impressive mass of diverse documents about the end of the 18th century and, notably, exemplars of “news at hand”. These unauthorized texts, under Louis XV and Louis XVI, passed from hand to hand, and were read in the literary and political salons, and their reliability is today scientifically recognized as much greater than even non-censured writings. They have to do with Mme. de Boulainvilliers, the chatelaine of Passy and wife of the provost of Paris, himself the younger son of Samuel Bernard, and the mother of three influential ladies of the court — Madame de Faudoas, Madame de Crussol, and Madame de Clermont-Tonnerre. The descendants of this powerful and highly esteemed lady, in their day, could not let their names be associated with anything imprecise or inexact. So this witness statement from the Marquise de Boulainvilliers, who of course ran in aristocratic circles, consolidates in all points the veracity of that given by Rose Keller, who escaped from Sade. In this case, it concerns another woman, held prisoner and tortured in a house in the village of Passy, where her cries of pain alerted Monsieur de Boulainvilliers, who by chance was passing close by at an early hour of the morning. Imagining that it was a childbirth going badly, he ordered that his wife be awoken so that she could come by with a physician. While first aid was being rendered to the victim, badly cut with a partially flayed leg, two individuals were intercepted who turned out to be the Marquis de Sade and his valet. The death of the victim, a few hours later — incapable, they say, of signing her deposition, gathered by the bailiff of the marquisate of Passy — thus extinguished the legal proceeding which had begun under the guidance of the president of Boulainvilliers himself. Sade alleged that the woman, even though bound and gagged, was consenting, and that the wounds which he had inflicted on her were aimed at testing, with her agreement, a healing balm of his own manufacture. “The examining magistrates were unable to listen without horror, but respect for the formalities got them to the bottom of it all, and if the Count de Sade was not hanged, it was due to the delicacy and magistral probity of M. de Boulainvilliers. The king does not lose his rights, as is just, and that abominable man was locked up with the brothers of St. Lazare in perpetuity, via letter of cachet…though it may displease these adroit criminals against whom the laws and the judiciary can do nothing.”

There are other witness statements along the same lines, notably those of Jeanne Testard, Catherine Trillet, or even the witnesses of the “Marseilles affair”, which provoked predictable condemnation of the marquis for contumacity, a judgement which his wife tried to have quashed. What to conclude, except that Sade was not a libertine but a criminal, and that in his case, the rare witness statements which have come to our attention constitute but a small part of reality? It seems useful to us to remind here all those who, through ignorance or deliberate calculation, at this moment, with very consequent means, great lack of awareness, or decidedly poor faith, have rehabilitated an individual whom the sansculottes of Piques, and a number of his contemporaries, were not fooled by.

All those persons who practice BDSM respect conventional codes regarding limits not to be overstepped in consensual games of sexual domination. These enshrined practices, whose practitioners belong to organizations, apparently have nothing to do with the unrestrained and deadly sexuality of Sade, but the paradox is that his name serves as well to designate BDSM practices and games deemed “safe”. This semantic ambiguity is the breach into which have fallen those sycophants of Sade who conflate sexist violence, murderous sexuality, and literary audacity.

Translation mine. Linkage added.

It’s also worth noting that many BDSM practitioners of the current generation, realizing that Sade was not at all like them (he relied on the poverty and powerlessness of his victims, as well as their youth, to help protect him from charges of abuse), are now distancing their parasexual pastimes from the term “sadism”, which should better be understood as a form of sexual psychopathy, rather than a consensually staged power-play that stops with a safeword. The D and S now typically stand for “dominance and submission”, and are generally understood to be roles played, as in a drama, rather than real-life states of master- and servanthood, as they were in Sade’s day and in his real-life practice.

That’s not to say that there aren’t quite a few would-be real-life Sades in the mix, and it’s a problem that the BDSM community still has to contend with on a regular basis, as the Jian Ghomeshi affair, among others, has shown. Trying to join such a community is often hazardous for young newcomers, especially submissive females, and abuses are rife. Abusers gravitate to that community, in large part, because it makes them harder to stop. Sometimes the law catches up to them; sometimes, the details are too murky for much to be done. The dangers of libertinism are much more than just a psychological fillip; the potential for damage is real, and great. Here in Canada, the importance of consensuality wanes as the danger level of any given activity rises; if it endangers life and limb, “but-but-but she consented!” is no more an excuse for what happens than it was when the Marquis unsuccessfully tried to evade a murder charge. (Which only failed to be lodged on the grounds that the tortured victim died, unable to sign her own deposition against him!)

For those willing to look beyond the usual platitudes about sexual freedom as an absolute human right — a notion that ought to be good for more than a few cynically raised eyebrows by now — it is clear that the old adage about power corrupting, and absolute power corrupting absolutely, holds true in the case of the Marquis. He was close to the royal court, and that degree of power offers a great deal of protection that a common man of similar predilections could never enjoy. The Marquis was the quintessential spoiled brat, debauched from an early age. His entire upbringing predisposed him toward the abuses of power, and toward sexualized abuses in particular. His own nihilistic “philosophy” — the Randian objectivism of its day — makes it clear that the Marquis was the very opposite of a libertarian, at last of the small-l kind. (The capital-L kind, on the other hand, wishes it were more like him, minus the mitigating powers of a king and judicial system.) “Don’t you see, Justine?” says his fictional Bressac, to the heroine of that eponymous novel. “Man does not repent of what he is in the habit of doing. Get used to evil, and remorse will vanish. If you so much as feel a twinge of remorse after having committed a crime, commit still another one. Ten, twenty or thirty evil actions shall remove all possibility of remorse.” If that is philosophy, it is the philosophy of the psychopath, of the serial killer. It does not deserve to be elevated any higher in the public’s esteem. And neither does it deserve any protection under law.

Had Sade’s crimes been more fully investigated in his day, we might today recognize him not as the revolutionary hero he tried (and failed at the time) to pretend he was, but as the prototype for a Ted Bundy or a John Gacy. There is no doubt that he killed and disposed of a great many of his impoverished victims quite unnoticed. The ones who lived to tell, or to accidentally gain the attention of the authorities in the case of the victim who later died, were merely the lucky ones.

Most of all, we would not be in danger of continuing to mistake him for some kind of great sexual freedom pioneer, when he was in fact no better than the medieval torturers France had supposedly left behind in a previous century. You know, the ones who tortured and killed countless women for daring to exert any sexual choice or agency at all.