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Thoughtcrime is being penalized in England, as you know. This is an interesting twist: the Advertising Standards Administration has banned an American Apparel ad because the 23-year-old model depicted LOOKS like she MIGHT be underage. And her nipple is visible (barely.)

In effect, this is banning an image not because it is itself objectionable, but because viewers might THINK something objectionable while looking at it. Thoughtcrime. [Shudder.]

Natalie Rothschild has a brief article about this trend in Spiked:
http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/7334/

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“Can there be any greater cruelty for a lover than the unfaithfulness of the woman he loves?”

“Indeed!” she replied. “We are faithful as long as we love, but you demand faithfulness of a woman without love, and the giving of herself without enjoyment. Who is cruel there – woman or man? You of the North in general take love too soberly and seriously. You talk of duties where there should only be a question of pleasure.”

“That is why our emotions are honorable and virtuous, and our relations permanent.”

“And yet a restless, always unsatisfied craving for the nudity of paganism,” she interrupted, “but that love, which is the highest joy, which is divine simplicity itself, is not for you moderns, you children of reflection. It works only evil in you. As soon as you wish to be natural, you become common. To you nature seems something hostile; you have made devils out of the smiling gods of Greece, and out of me a demon. You can only exorcise and curse me, or slay yourselved in bacchantic madness before my altar. And if ever one of you has had the courage to kiss my red mouth, he makes a barefoot pilgrimage to Rome in penitential robes and expects flowers to grow from his withered staff, while under my feet roses, violets, and myrtles spring up every hour, but their fragrance does not agree with you. Stay among your northern fogs and Christian incense; let us pagans remain under the debris, beneath the lava; do not disinter us. Pompeii was not built for you, nor our villas, our baths, our temples. You do not require gods. We are chilled in your world.”

The beautiful marble woman coughed, and drew the dark sables still closer about her shoulders.


                                   – Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, Venus in Furs
, 1870

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A French minister, from a “grand Socialist family” (the Mitterrands, perhaps you’ve heard of them…) writes about how much he enjoys buying sex from young Thai boys. It’s part of his autobiography, published to little outcry in 2005. It took the arrest of Roman Polanski to get anyone angry.

Now, it’s not the paying-for-sex that I object to; it’s not the young-boys, it’s not (exactly) the imperialist-sex-tourism-in-Thailand. It’s the bald statement, “The slave market excite[s] me enormously.”

Forgive my tendency to extrapolate an axiom from a single case for a moment. I know, I know, nationalismAmericanhegemonyetc etc etc. But it’s just so FRENCH: the willingness to abstract and legitimate the suffering of others in deference to one’s own aesthetics and appetites. ‘Sure, sure, slavery is horrible…but it’s just so HOT.’

Of course, “One could judge this abominable spectacle from a moral standpoint….” Um, yes. ‘One’ certainly could. But? “But it pleases me beyond the reasonable.” Oh, well, in THAT case, why would one judge it at all? I mean, one’s personal sexual pleasure certainly takes precedence over the evil of an inescapable social structure that systematically degrades and dehumanizes whole segments of the population. You go right ahead and dip your dick in it, Frederic. We understand. [Shrug.] It’s erotic; who can blame you?

And it’s not primarily that the boys are young, or Thai, or paid, that appeals to Mitterrand. It’s the FACT that he is participating in a “slave market.”

Why was this man not symbolically (or actually…?) pilloried in 2005 when this book came out? Come to think of it, why didn’t any of his editors or political handlers or FRIENDS stop him from making the statement in the first place? Well, you could say that it goes back to my first assertion: that his is an especially French malaise. (By this I emphatically do NOT mean an ‘exclusively’ or even ‘particularly’ French malaise.) Sure, there are some objections now, but his breed of erotic cruelty does not meet with overwhelming opposition among his French allies and constituents. Recall, please, that we are not discussing the personal habits of a private citizen, but the published statements of a public figure holding a governmental office. At risk of sounding over-patriotic: I sincerely doubt that any American politician could write a book that associated slavery with his sexual predilections and then go on to win national office. Sure, my country is FAR too concerned with the sexual habits of its politicians. And of course, what is done privately between consenting parties should not be policed. However, I do wish that those who proclaim Socialist and Republican values would show just a little smidge of DISCIPLINE and refrain from bragging about their exploitive habits. Really.

Thank you, Milos, for calling attention to the Telegraph article.

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