Sex Crimes and Such
By R. D. Flavin

[Note: The following column was begun before the adoption of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 (2011) to set up a no-fly zone and “to take all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack” in Libya, or “Operation Odyssey Dawn” as the limited mission is called in the U.S.  As events are ongoing, descriptions like “revolution” or “civil war” or “political unrest” remain to be established.]



Gaddafi with female bodyguards and Julian Assange with one of his alleged accusers.

     As the “Pomegranate Blossom Revolution” continues in the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (var. State of Libya), to assign a botanical name to the pro-democracy protests partially inspired by the new “social” communication technologies (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.), conflicting reports place Col. Muammar al-Gaddafi preparing to be martyred surrounded by his female bodyguards and, also, busying making phone-calls trying to arrange for a condo-estate in some country that doesn't extradite exiled despots.  It's said that Gaddafi demands sexual pleasuring from his “virgin” female bodyguards, though any future prosecution for sex crimes and such will likely be superseded by ...charges of murder, assassination, torture, terrorism, and dressing extremely garishly.   Also in the news?  It seems the WikiLeaks director, Julian Assange, will soon be extradited from Britain to Sweden to face charges of sex crimes and such, though no “virgins” are expected to be part of any trial to distinguish creepy guilt from creepy non-guilt.  Yeah, “sex crimes” are bad enough, but the “and such” will surely bring about all sorts of negative ado.

     In 1981's History of the World, Part 1, Mel Brooks first used the expression, “It's good to be the king,” portraying a rather randy Louis XVI of France who recognized and exploited the conjoining of power and sex.  Popularity, as generated through wealth, government or religious office, tacit or expressed accomplishment, and some Warhol-ish “15 minutes of fame,” is often accompanied by a temptation to ...please, fill in the blank.  I'm told by nihilo-vagabonds and bi-polar bears that we live in the “Clinton-Lewinsky” era of sexual allowance (Clinton[s] – of course; chubby chicks – sure, okay; cigars – they killed Freud), ...that sex doesn't mean what it once did.  Saddam Hussein's historical romance novels (Zabibah and the King, etc.) are no better or worse than other supermarket pillow-yarns, Hussein died by execution because he was an evil man and not because he was a bad writer, and he likely had more than a few conjoinings because his status/position was ≥ his rough swain prowess.  Yeah, it's more than a little likely certain champs would choose to be hedonistically advantageous as king, prime minister, president, state senator with a school-board appointment and a bunch of MILFs waiting to take you out to lunch, dictator, tyrant, or a whole slew of opportunistic authority positions by other names and distinctions.  Gaddafi and Assange are simply following human nature, albeit without conscience.

     It's said that Assange spent a night with a Swedish woman, they boozed a bit, and when matters turned sexual the woman insisted that Assange use a prophylactic.  After the condomed coition, both fell asleep.  At some later point, Assange awoke refreshed and amorous, and proceeded to begin copulating with the still sleeping woman.  And, to further dirty the deed, he wasn't wearing a rubber on his willy during the sequel.  While Swedish woman have long enjoyed a blistering hot reputation thanks to such notables as Anita Ekberg, Inger Stevens, and Ann-Margret (along with, more recently, the Swedish Bikini Team), it seems Swedish law is rather tough on sex crimes, with some claiming (not-so-jokingly) that “men need written permission first.”  Sex without protection is certainly irresponsible and risky for reasons of pregnancy and disease, though the legality or lack thereof is beyond this column.  Sleepy sex?  Of course it happens, sometimes in reverse (and, no, I don't wish to elaborate), and discouraging such we don't have to look any further than that rascally rhetorical Spanish Jewish philosopher, Moses Maimonides (1135-1204).  Okay, we're looking, right?

     I've previously, though more privately than publicly, mentioned Maimonides' progressive approach to sex.  His advice (Maimonides 1984) to a husband bored with the ol' in-and-out – it's okay to have anal and oral sex with your wife every now and then, just don't make it a habit, don't enjoy it too much, and return to the ol' procreative in-and-out sooner rather than later, seems like sound advice.  Also, Maimonides opposed a husband having sex with his sleeping wife and strongly suggested he wake her up first.  For the twelfth century of the Common Era, those are way cool recommendations and I wonder where, why, and how we left the path of reason to seek out the undesired country. [Note: My personal fav would be that it's okay for a husband to look at his wife's genitals, he just shouldn't stare.]


Cover-art by Alan Harmon for a 1950 paperback edition of 1984.

     I grew up with fantasy and science fiction and in seventh grade read with delight such genre classics as the fantastical novels of H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, and others, though I barely made it through Frankenstein and Dracula.  With eighth grade, I experienced a wonderful appetite, and some of my sampling included the dystopian novels, Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World.  In the first half of tenth grade (late 1973 in Muskegon, MI), I got an A- for a book-report on Nineteen Eighty-Four, and also convinced my drama class to do a production which was performed at a few local junior high schools.  At the end of those productions, when the audience asked such questions as, “Could such a future happen?,” I was always the one picked to answer (i.e. bluff some response or another).  In the second half of tenth grade (early 1974 in Dowagiac, MI), my English class picked Nineteen Eighty-Four to study, the teacher hadn't read the book for several years, I produced my A- graded book-report, and was encouraged to goof-off without getting into trouble for the next few weeks...  Lesson learned?  Reading certain genres pays...

     With a jangly segue, hoo-hah, Nineteen Eighty-Four is a dystopian (var. anti-utopian) novel with wicked Stalinist overtones.  Eric Arthur Blair (aka George Orwell) was courageous in his opposition to totalitarianism, put himself (and his wife) in harm's way during the Spanish Civil War and got a bullet in the throat for his efforts, and though an essayist at heart while writing toss-offs for pennies (e.g. Keep the Aspidistra Flying and A Clergyman's Daughter), he's best known for his imaginative fiction, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four.  “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others" still stings, but the “romance” of Winston and Julia, the protagonists from Nineteen Eighty-Four, haunts me.  Job depressingly well done, sir!  So, romance in the future will be a 'thoughtcrime'?  A sex crime?  And, most think that Shakespeare was a bummer...

     We first meet poor Winston Smith scratching scabs on his legs and drinking cheap gin.  It's a post-atomic war world of extreme haves-and-have-nots.  He's got a job, shaves with rusty razors, and is unmarried, but he's visited the “prole” quarters in the past for female companionship.  Though anti-sexualism is encouraged in Orwell's depiction of 1984, with sex reserved for procreation only, passion survives as an act of rebellion.  It would be wonderful to posit that even in a dystopian setting, life, love and fun will win out...  However, Nineteen Eighty-Four was presented as a proleptic, and not some comforting “it'll be alright when folks realize enough is enough.”  In other words, harsh, short-term realism...  Life, love and fun only survive for a short time before totalitarianism (and its ilk) bullies its victory at all costs.  The “romance” of Winston and Julia doesn't last, they're arrested, and eventually betray one another.  Orwell's novel ends with Winston back at work, his “romance” with Julia an affair of error, and a fading memory he has trouble deciding whether it's worth preserving or not.  And, here, we have the artist's depiction of the true opposite of love – indifference.  Winston doesn't care anymore and Big Brother has won.  [Note:  For more on Julia, see Addendum below.]



Unprotected Texts by Prof. Knust and the Ayatollah Khomeni (1902-1989).

     As far as idioms and maxims go, it's said that Nature abhors a vacuum, there's a sucker born every minute, and if there's a way to make a buck someone will come up with the means.  To the short list, sadly, we have to add that if there's a method of governing people by controlling human nature (i.e. what to eat, who to have sex with, what to wear, etc.) some authoritarian group will try and implement such for the advancement of the very few over the significant many.  Blair/Orwell used political allegory with only a subtle theocratic reference (the Jewishness of the name Emmanuel Goldstein, the 'enemy' of Big Brother), yet it's religion that's controlled Western society for the most of the last millennium and a half.  We owe Christianity much, though some would argue it's well past the time for payback.

     The ambiguity of sexual ethics in Christianity is inherent in its namesake, the Eastern Mediterranean Cynic philosopher, Jesus of Nazareth, the Cosmic Messiah and Christ of Saul/Paul's gnostic reflections, as well as the hero of Mark's Greek tragedy set in First Century Roman-controlled Palestine, who later became a worshiped image and the subject of much debate as no writing or tradition survives that Jesus was ever married or wanted to be.  The Cynic philosophy of Jesus' teaching combined with a school which suggested active helping, hugging, healing, and reciprocity has always been (and will likely always be) a source of inspiration.  However, cough..., when Christianity formed with the religious responsibilities of what to say, who's gonna' say it, how much is it going to cost and how to pay for it, Jesus' teachings and programs were soon superseded by crock, crook, and improper codes of conduct and belief which were punishable by torture and death.  It got bad, it improved, it's still improving, yet certain authoritarian “Christians” (read: aspiring theocratic totalitarian opportunistic villains) still play religion against reason with profoundly disturbing results.  It's common knowledge, right?

     The newly published study, Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions on Sex and Desire (Knust 2011) by Prof. Jennifer Wright Knust (Assistant Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins, Boston University), admirably addresses the many absurdly hypocritical and felonious “laws” which authoritarian Christians use to make a buck at the expense of others.  Prof. Knust's academic approach is sound, unapologetic, and to her credit she advises the reader to reach their own conclusions apart from the typical pulpit screeds against the sex crime du jour (homosexuality, sex outside of marriage, garden vegetables used as sex toys, etc.).  Fortunately, the sacred texts of the world's religions are easily recognizable as antiquated and their outdated ethical codes are commonly regarded with reserved tolerance.  For the most part, that is, as protest for change exists in many of the world's religions.  Many, but not all.

     In what are arguably the most egregious and quasi-popular perversions of relatively recent sexual ethics, some of the “teachings” and “rulings” by the late Iranian Shi'a Islamic cleric, the Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ruhollah Mostafavi Moosavi Khomeini, border on sick comedy, but are actually incitements to commit evil.  Well, “evil” as in nasty bad stuff which every sane individual capable of distinguishing between right and wrong should unconditionally oppose.  From an online ex-Muslim web-site:

"A man can marry a girl younger than nine years of age, even if the girl is still a baby being breastfed.  A man, however is prohibited from having intercourse with a girl younger than nine, other sexual acts such as foreplay, rubbing, kissing and sodomy is allowed.  A man having intercourse with a girl younger than nine years of age has not committed a crime, but only an infraction, if the girl is not permanently damaged.  If the girl, however, is permanently damaged, the man must provide for her all her life.  But this girl will not count as one of the man's four permanent wives.  He also is not permitted to marry the girl's sister."

&

"A man can have sex with sheep, cows and camels and so on.  However, he should kill the animal after he has his orgasm.  He should not sell the meat to the people in his own village; however, selling the meat to the next door village should be fine."

Read the above again and explain how religious fundamentalism isn't our most immediate threat.  And, this guy took out the U.S.-backed Shah of Iran?  Such encouragement to commit sex crimes with baby girls and animals, to say nothing of baby girl animals, is beyond reprehensible and I must rethink my opinion of the Persians.

     Not all sex crimes are perpetrated through action, as sometimes inaction, prevention, or deterrence may be deemed a malefaction. Of course, laws are constantly modified as society (and its elected and appointed representatives and officials) sway between permissiveness and intolerance and back again.  On December 22, 2010, Pres. Obama signed into law a repeal of the controversial Clinton-era “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy concerning homosexuality in the military.  It's been claimed that service in the U.S. military is a privilege and not a right, except when a judge orders enlistment to stay out of jail or during times of conscription and the “draft.”  The past exclusion of homosexuals from military service may be provincially regarded as a sex crime, as service was denied individuals without a specific incident of infraction of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, in other words, simply being a homosexual in the military was illegal.  Such exclusion, persecution, and prosecution is readily comparable to an Orwellian “thought-crime” or something from a Philip K. Dick sci-fi short story (e.g. "The Minority Report" with its “PreCrime” and “precogs”), that is, one is judged as guilty 'before' any actual transgression occurs.  However, even unjust laws are still laws which should be followed to avoid the pain of punishment – “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” will likely remain enforceable for several more months, as the military needs time to appropriately accessorize.

     The sequel, a February 23, 2011 response by Pres. Obama to the “Defense of Marriage Act,” another Clinton-era compromise, is offered with a directive to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder not to actively defend the law in federal courts.  It seems Obama's stint as a lecturer on constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School has prepared him to skip congressional approval and proceed directly to implementation.  [Note: Not to be confused with our limited bombing of Libya, which is just a U.N.-thing.  Move on, these aren't the constitutional violations we're looking for...]  Obama holds that the “Defense of Marriage Act” is unfairly discriminatory against homosexuals who have entered into domestic partnership or civil union contracts in various states.   With cynicism fully engaged, while religious fundamentalists (be they full-fundi, quasi, pseudo or poseur) have long been conceited enough to believe their opinions may intrude into the bedroom, I suspect that the bottom line has been about money.  Many benefits and privileges enjoyed by heterosexual married and so-called “common-law” couples are denied to homosexual couples, especially concerning taxes and insurance, with federal and state treasury coffers and insurance companies gaining the most from the blatant bias.  Laws, no matter how unjust, can't be held accountable, but they can be changed.  One time presidential candidate, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), recently supported change with an opinion piece in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender weekly newspaper, Bay Windows, in which he describes the “Defense of Marriage Act” as “legalized discrimination – not to mention an abuse of the Constitution for political purposes.”  Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes!

     All sex crimes are not equally reprehensible, with some being much worse than others.  All and such share degrees of wrongness, as do the laws of some 29 states which treat public urination as a “sex offense” and require registration as a sex-offender.  Gaddafi is currently concerned with other crimes and Assange ...may have to get resourceful to maintain his freedom.  As they say, crime doesn't pay, in fact, it's quite costly.

Bibliography:
Knust, Jennifer Wright.  2011.  Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions on Sex and Desire.  New York: HarperOne.

Maimonides, Moses.  1984. Treatises on Poisons, Hemorrhoids, Cohabitation.  Translated and annotated by Fred Rosner.   Haifa,
  Israel: Maimonides Research Institute.

Addendum:

     In the fall of 1974, the FM airwaves were abop with the sounds of David Bowie's Diamond Dogs album, featuring the hits, “Rebel, Rebel” and the title track, “Diamond Dogs.”  I'd been aware of Dave's “Ziggy” persona in a peripheral way for a couple of years.  As I was then residing in Livonia, a suburb of Detroit, there was also much radio-play of the B-side to the third single from Diamond Dogs, “Rock 'n' Roll With Me,” a kick-ass live version of “Panic In Detroit,” originally from 1973's Aladdin Sane album.  Okay, the sci-fi 1984-ish theme of the Diamond Dogs album interested me, and, 'doubleplusgood', I liked the music, too.  There had been some media coverage about Blair/Orwell's estate (I seem to remember it was his widow, Sonia Brownell Blair) who rejected Bowie's request to adapt the Nineteen-Eighty Four novel as a glam-rock musical.  A combination of an uncompleted “Ziggy” production featuring the related “Halloween Jack” Bowie persona and several 1984-themed songs, Diamond Dogs was to be Dave's final foray into glam-rock, as during the Diamond Dogs tour he began to incorporate a “Philly Soul” sound and image, a transitory period before his next full morph, the “Thin White Duke” of the Station to Station album.  That specific transition-Dave was captured in the David Live double-album from late 1974, which featured, of course, many songs from Diamond Dogs.  While the live album's versions of “All the Young Dudes” and “The Width of a Circle” are personal required listening, the “Sweet Thing” suite (“Sweet Thing,” Candidate,” and “Sweet Thing (Reprise)” on David Live has remained a weakness that continues to summon feelings of comfort, embarrassment, rage, and beguiling disappointment.  Haunting, for the lack of a better term, comes to mind...  Ah, Julia.

[Part One: Sweet Thing]
MP3 "Sweet Thing"


1953 - CBS/Westinghouse
Eddie Albert and Norma Crane

It's safe in the city to love in a doorway
To strangle some screams from the dawn
And isn't it me, putting pain in a stranger?
Like a portrait in flesh, who trails on a leash
Will you see that I'm scared and I'm lonely?
So I'll break up my room, and yawn and I
Run to the centre of things
Where the Knowing One says:

"Boys, Boys, it's a sweet thing
Boys, Boys, it's a sweet thing, sweet thing
If you want it, Boys, get it here, then
'For hope, Boys, is a cheap thing, cheap thing"

I'm glad that you're older than me
Makes me feel important and free
Does that make you smile, isn't that me?
I'm in your way, and I'll steal every moment
If this trade is a curse, then I'll bless you
And turn to the crossroads of hamburgers, and

"Boys, Boys, it's a sweet thing
Boys, Boys, it's a sweet thing, sweet thing
If you want it, Boys, get it here, then
'For hope, Boys, is a cheap thing, cheap thing"


1954 - BBC
Peter Cushing and Yvonne Mitchell

[Part Two: Candidate]
MP3 "Candidate"

I'll make you a deal, like any other candidate
We'll pretend we're walking home for your future's at stake
My set is amazing, it even smells like a street
There's a bar at the end where I can meet you and your friend
Someone scrawled on the walls "I smell the blood of Les Tricoteuses"
Who wrote up scandals in other bars

I'm having so much fun with the poisonous people
Spreading rumors and lies and stories they made up
Some make you sing and some make you scream
One makes you wish that you'd never been seen
But there's a shop on the corner that's selling papier mache
Making bullet-proof faces; Charlie Manson, Cassius Clay
"If you want it, Boys, get it here, then"


1956 - Columbia Pictures
Edmond O'Brien and Jan Sterling

So you scream out of line:
"I want you! I need you! Anyone out there? Any time?"
Tres butch little number whines "Hey dirty, I want you
When it's good, it's really good, and when it's bad I go to pieces"
If you want it, Boys, get it here, then

Well, on the street where you live I could not hold up my head
For I put all I have in another bed
On another floor, in the back of a car
In the cellar of a church with the door ajar
Well, I guess we must be looking for a different kind
But we can't stop trying 'til we break up our minds
'Til the sun drips blood on the seedy young knights
Who press you on the ground while shaking in fright
I guess we could cruise down one more time
With you by my side, it should be fine
We'll buy some drugs and watch a band
Then jump in the river holding hands



1984 - Atlantic Releasing/MGM
John Hurt and Suzanna Hamilton

[Part Three: Sweet Thing (Reprise)]
MP3 "Sweet Thing (Reprise)"

"If you want it, Boys, get it here, then
For hope, Boys, is a cheap thing, cheap thing"

Is it nice in your snow storm, freezing your brain?
Do you think that your face looks the same?
Then let it be, it's all I ever wanted
It's a street with a deal, it's got taste
It's got claws, it's got me, it's got you ...

     Bowie's “Sweet Thing” suite reminds me of Julia, Blair/Orwell's fictional character creation from his novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four.  In the novel, Julia is a twenty-six year old worker in the Ministry of Truth who instigates a relationship with Winston Smith, who's somewhat older, likely approaching or beginning his early middle-years, that is, 40-ish.  Julia readily admits to having been a member of the Junior Anti-Sex League when she was younger, and also that she'd had her first sexual relationship with a Party member when she was sixteen.  Winston, as an 'everyman', is conflicted by illegally receiving the affections of a woman, proud of Julia and personally emboldened that she is (sexually) active against Party policy, and that they seem to be beginning to develop true feelings for one another (read: falling in love).  Fighting the future through sex?  Yeah, there's some of that...  However, the relatively modern classic that is Nineteen Eighty-Four projects romance as superfluous compared to strict Party policy.  Sex at least is necessary for procreation and more Party members, but romance doesn't vigorously promote the totalitarian Party ideology.  The ol' “sleeping” with someone, as in engaging in sex, as opposed to sleeping with someone, as in feeling comfortable and secure enough to lose consciousness, is subtly distinguished as something bad versus something really bad (or 'doubleplusungood' bad).  After his arrest and re-programing, Winston could have visited the “prole” quarters for casual (read: purchased) sex, a need is a need, but he more than likely never fell in love again.  I'm reminded of the narrative development employed by Stephen R. Donaldson in his Thomas Covenant books, with the protagonist experiencing leprosy, writer's block, impotency, a divorce, a nervous breakdown which send hims into a fantasy world, then he gets his wife back, but unfortunately she's way-whack with a thirst for blood.  Lesson: How do you really hurt a man?  Take away something or someone he loves and, after a period, give it back ...broken.  Sure, I'm writing it now; it's called “Invalid Love” and the first line is “Her eyes were a shade of crazy I hadn't seen before.”

thinking about a different tulip revolution,

Rick

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