MOLOCH, horrid King besmear’d with blood
Of human sacrifice, and parents tears,
Though, for the noyse of Drums and Timbrels loud,
Their children’s cries unheard that passed through fire
To his grim Idol. – John Milton, Paradise Lost (Book I)
Moloch is the traditional (via the Bible) name for a Semitic god worshipped by the Canaanites, Phoenicians and Carthaginians. There is some debate over whether the word is actually the name of the god himself, or else the type of sacrifice he demanded in times of crisis: living human children thrown into a furnace at the base of the idol, sometimes in the shape of an open mouth. Some historians dispute the scale of the practice, claiming that it was exaggerated by enemy writers, but there is little doubt of its historicity considering that it is described independently in Hebrew, Greek and Roman sources. A cemetery in which the charred remains of such offerings were buried was called by the Hebrews tophet, a word which has since become synonymous with “Hell”. And the name of Moloch has come to mean any institution or cause which requires a horrible sacrifice, especially of children. Some Victorian writers used the name as a metaphor for industry which employed child labor, and modern America has its own Moloch: our viciously-misnamed “justice” system, into the maw of which uncaring functionaries hurl kids by the thousands for the sake of a “war” as barbaric and ultimately futile as those lost by the Carthaginians over two millennia ago.
In the early ‘90s, politicians responded to rising crime rates with a number of measures designed to convince the Great Unwashed that they were “tough on crime”, including “three strikes” laws, wildly disproportionate sentencing and trying juvenile offenders as though they were adults. And while some ruthless teenagers undoubtedly deserve more serious sentences than those available in the juvenile court system, most do not…and some states allow even prepubescent children (most of whom have not even achieved adult cognitive levels) to be tried and convicted as adults, with results that endure for decades if not for life. Furthermore, this draconian “crackdown” occurred just as America was relapsing into a state of hysteria about sex, especially sex among legal minors; despite a total lack of evidence for the belief, the public and legal establishment became convinced that any kind of sexual contact (including mere conversations or the taking of nude or simply suggestive photos) before the magical age of 18 was inherently harmful, and that the older party – even if under 18 himself – was automatically “exploiting” the younger one, even if they were not in physical proximity to one another or the younger one was unaware of the sexual interpretation the older placed on such interaction. This eventually led to the absurdity of charging teenagers with “child pornography” for “sexting” (because the little monsters should know better than to sexually exploit their innocent, childlike selves), and when combined with the nightmare of “sex offender registration” we arrive at a formula for mindless, destructive tyranny and child-sacrifice on a scale that would’ve made the Carthaginian priests avert their eyes in horror.
This article, which appeared in Time on January 8th, gives some idea of the full scope of the injustice:
…more than one-third of the sexual abuse of America’s children is committed by other minors…these juvenile offenders pose a profoundly complicated challenge for the child-protection and criminal justice systems. It’s a diverse group…encompassing a minority of youths who represent a threat…and a majority who are…unlikely to reoffend…[Our] public policy includes a federal law…with a requirement that states include…offenders as young as 14 on their sex-offender registries. Many [experts]…object to the requirement, saying it can wreak lifelong harm on adolescents who might otherwise get back on…track…Some states have balked at complying…even at the price of losing some federal criminal-justice funding. Other states have provisions tougher than the federal act, subjecting children younger than 14 to the possibility of 25-year or lifetime listings on publicly accessible registries that include [their] photos…Delaware recently [registered] a 9-year-old…Several other states have registered 12- and 13-year-olds. “We’re bringing down a very heavy hammer on the head of kids, with significant life-altering consequences,” said Marsha Levick…of the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia. “It’s a knee-jerk reaction that’s foolhardy beyond imagination.” [And] Nicole Pittman, a Human Rights Watch researcher…says states should halt the practice…”Most legislators do not believe children should be on the registry — yet it’s the kiss of death for most politicians to vote against any sex offender law,” she said.
…[A government] analysis…found that juveniles accounted for 35.6 percent of…[those accused of sex offenses]…against minors…93 percent [of them] were male [with an average age of 13]…and…59 percent [of “victims”] were younger than 12 and 75 percent were female. The report referred to a popular misconception that juvenile sex offenders are likely to reoffend, and said numerous studies over the years have shown the opposite — that 85 to 95 percent of offending youth are never again arrested for sex crimes. University of Oklahoma pediatrics professor Mark Chaffin…says efforts…are complicated by the tendency…to lump them together with adult sexual predators…”Now that the data has shown most of those assumptions were wrong, it’s difficult to undo those messages that people in the advocacy and treatment fields were putting out a generation ago.”
…While some youths commit violent, premeditated acts of sexual assault and rape, others get in trouble for behavior arising from curiosity, naivete, peer pressure, momentary irresponsibility, misinterpretation of what they believed was mutual interest, and a host of other reasons. Some cases involve sibling incest; sometimes the offenders have autism or other developmental disorders that lessen their ability to self-police inappropriate conduct…sociologist David Finkelhor…of the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center…[says the system] “…needs to differentiate between the kids we should stigmatize as little as possible…and others who need a lot of intervention…”
…The latest juvenile crime data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics indicates that arrests of juvenile sex offenders declined by about 25 percent from 2000 through 2009. That would mesh with a decline in child sex abuse committed by adults, as well as a decline in the overall juvenile crime rate. But data from New York City, Florida and elsewhere indicates that the prevalence of child-on-child sex hasn’t dropped noticeably. In any case, forms of abuse evolve with the times as sexting becomes a common youth activity and easily accessible online pornography affects some children…”There’s a fear of technology — parents don’t think they can control it,” said Marsha Levick, who has been working…to dissuade prosecutors from criminalizing commonplace teen sexting activities…Nancy Arnow of Safe Horizon, a New York-based victim services agency…said the child-on-child sex abuse cases are among the most difficult. “We have to distinguish between sexualized behavior that might be pretty normal — experimenting, touching each other — versus molesting, subjecting another child to harm,” she said. She recalled investigations of children as young as 7, and the arrest of an 8-year-old…
Another challenging type of abuse cases involves youths who are autistic…[Jay Deppeler, who runs a treatment program for adolescent male sex offenders,] recalled one autistic young man who…had committed a sex offense as a 14-year-old and later — after turning 18 — committed a property…offense…[he was then] obligated to apprise prospective employers of his full record, including the juvenile sex offense — making him “virtually unemployable…Long term, I fear his prospects are quite bleak,” Deppeler said. “What do we end up doing with a guy like that?”
Though there’s some good information in the article, it has a major flaw: it doesn’t actually question any of the established “child sex abuse” narrative. Oh, we’re told that the majority of the “offenders” are no real threat, but the assumption is still that they did something wrong and need “correction”. The basic idea that it’s OK to punish someone for life for a non-lethal offense goes unchallenged, and though the article calls the belief in high recidivism among sex offenders a “misconception”, it wrongly qualifies the term with the adjective “juvenile” (in fact, adult sex offenders have a low recidivism rate as well). Even Nancy Arnow, who clearly states that adolescent sexual experimentation is normal, feels compelled to add the qualifier “pretty” and to say it’s “difficult” to distinguish harmless activities from crime. Adolescent sexual experimentation isn’t just “pretty normal”, it’s absolutely normal. And there’s a very easy way to distinguish sex play from molestation: did the supposed “victim” complain or draw adult attention via obvious stress or anxiety, or did some busybody adult discover the young people together and impose “exploitation” and “crime” paradigms on what was actually a harmless and mutually consensual activity?
One Year Ago Today
“Aggressive Ignorance” demonstrates the truth of James Baldwin’s statement that “ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.”