The vulnerable lose the right to name their oppressors

BBC News in 2014:

The Paedophile Information Exchange was affiliated to the National Council for Civil Liberties – now Liberty – in the late 1970s and early 1980s. But how did pro-paedophile campaigners operate so openly?

A gay rights conference backs a motion in favour of paedophilia. The story is written up by a national newspaper as “Child-lovers win fight for role in Gay Lib”.

It sounds like a nightmarish plotline from dystopian fiction. But this happened in the UK. The conference took place in Sheffield and the newspaper was the Guardian. The year was 1975.

Child rapists were trying to go mainstream.

The group behind the attempt – the Paedophile Information Exchange – is back in the news because of a series of stories run by the Daily Mail about Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman.

The Daily Mail has revisited the story of PIE to ask how much Harman and her husband the MP Jack Dromey knew about the group during their time working at the National Council for Civil Liberties, now Liberty, in the late 1970s. PIE was affiliated to the NCCL from the late 1970s to early 1980s.

I guess paedophiles were Identifying As liberators of children.

PIE was formed in 1974. It campaigned for “children’s sexuality”. It wanted the government to axe or lower the age of consent. It offered support to adults “in legal difficulties concerning sexual acts with consenting ‘under age’ partners”. The real aim was to normalise sex with children.

Journalist Christian Wolmar remembers their tactics. “They didn’t emphasise that this was 50-year-old men wanting to have sex with five-year-olds. They presented it as the sexual liberation of children, that children should have the right to sex,” he says.

I guessed correctly. “Won’t somebody please think of the sex-starved children?”

It’s an ideology that seems chilling now. But PIE managed to gain support from some professional bodies and progressive groups. It received invitations from student unions, won sympathetic media coverage and found academics willing to push its message.

It’s wrong to say that PIE was tolerated during the 1970s, says Times columnist Matthew Parris. “I remember a lot of indignation about it [PIE]. It was considered outrageous.”

I don’t think there was any equivalent in the US.

One of PIE’s key tactics was to try to conflate its cause with gay rights. On at least two occasions the Campaign for Homosexual Equality conference passed motions in PIE’s favour.

Lemme just repeat that.

One of PIE’s key tactics was to try to conflate its cause with gay rights. On at least two occasions the Campaign for Homosexual Equality conference passed motions in PIE’s favour.

Sound familiar at all?

Most gay people were horrified by any conflation of homosexuality and a sexual interest in children, says Parris. But PIE used the idea of sexual liberation to win over more radical elements. “If there was anything with the word ‘liberation’ in the name you were automatically in favour of it if you were young and cool in the 1970s. It seemed like PIE had slipped through the net.”

That sounds so quaint, doesn’t it? Now the magic word is “identity” – so much more sensible and reality-based than “liberation.”

When Polly Toynbee interviewed O’Carroll and Hose in the Guardian in September 1977 she heard men incredulous at the lack of support from the press. They seemed genuinely aggrieved at what they called a “Fleet Street conspiracy”. One of them told her: “We would expect the Guardian, a decent liberal newspaper to support us.”

Again, so very familiar. All right-thinking people agree with us, and dissenters are terfs prudes.

There were divisions within progressive circles. In 1977 the Campaign for Homosexual Equality passed by a large majority a resolution condemning “the harassment of the Paedophile Information Exchange by the press”.

A Guardian article in 1977 noted with dismay how the group was growing. By its second birthday in October 1976, it had 200 members. There was a London group, a Middlesex group being planned, and with regional branches to follow. The article speaks of PIE’s hopes to widen the membership to include women and heterosexual men.

Toynbee talked of her “disgust, aversion and anger” at the group but added that she had “a sinking feeling that in another five years or so, their aims would eventually be incorporated into the general liberal credo, and we would all find them acceptable”.

Familiar at all? Yeah?

I found the BBC article via a thread of Debbie Hayton’s.

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