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________________________________________ From: David Sonenschein [email@example.com] Sent: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 3:53 AM Laura Agustin is correct in calling our attention to Professor Roger Lancaster’s August 21 opinion piece in the New York Times. Such views are still historically rare at the level of popular consciousness as the hysterical mentality continues to hold firmly to its myths and suppressions. The very few liberal academics who feel an unease almost entirely confine their critiques to their own insulated world with little effect beyond adding another quarter inch to one’s CV. Lancaster has, rather courageously, chosen to extend the criticism to a mass audience. As an example, the Sex Offender Registry in Texas is notoriously befouled by zealousness and contaminated by massive errors. An editorial in our local (Hearst) newspaper tried to appear reformist by making a call that only the truly guilty be placed on the rolls. I wrote a critical response which they refused to print, and within a couple of days featured a commentary by a local child service agency urging the villagers to “battle sex abuse” by, among other things, believing a child unconditionally, by watching for signs of “abuse”, and by reporting any and all suspicions to the authorities. For many of us on HistSex, however, Lancaster’s points are hardly new, and for some of us his approach in its bow to conventionality is severely disappointing. Without nit-picking his whole article, I am distressed by Professor Lancaster’s language. As a fellow anthropologist, he should show more consciousness of this. He refers to “perpetrators of sexual abuse,” and states that “No one can doubt that child sexual abuse is traumatic and devastating.” Aside from the fact that there are considerable doubts about this, this is the language of the “loyal opposition,” speaking of efficiency, of technological and bureaucratic expertise rather than a critique of basic scientific and ideological issues (the Australian situation reported by Gavriel Ansara points to this). He buys into the rhetoric of the hysteria and actually reinforces the very panic he appears to criticize. Adding the weight of his institutional power base to his remarks fortifies the conventional view against authentic critiques. I look forward to reading his latest book and comparing it to other liberal reviews; I hope it will have much to offer in making some kind of scientific and humane progress in all this. His review of the issues, though basically unconfronted, are valid. Most troubling is the spread of “indefinite detention” powers. I noted long ago (1987, J Sex Res) that police in many jurisdictions keep lists of suspected “pedophiles” and at least in the 1980s some prosecutors attempted to pass laws authorizing their apprehension and detention solely on the basis of being on the list. I myself, due to my (admittedly provocative) activism, have been reported to the police by a young and under-educated social worker as a “pedophile” and have subject to entrapment attempts and surveillance. Professor Lancaster seems above this (so far), and I hope he continues to develop his views. David Sonenschein Independent Scholar firstname.lastname@example.org