Man's ability to rationalize the most corrupt and egregious behavior is remarkable. Ever since Daniel Patrick Moynihan described our culture as "defining deviancy down" it has seemed that the ability of people to make moral and ethical distinctions has been continually eroded and corroded to the point where all distinctions now are seen as relative.
In my post History Repeats, I wrote about bright high school students who could not bring themselves to say that Osama bin Laden was an evil man who committed evil deeds.
In a related post, The Rise and Fall of Cultural Relativism, I described another group of bright high school students who were unable to agree that there were any images and/or information that should not be freely available to whoever has an interest:
Middle Son proposed that the internet should be kept free of unnecessary censorship and malicious software. He cited three specific areas in which regulators would be empowered to censor the internet:
Any media that advocates or incites violence.
Any media that advocates or shows real rape.
Any media that advocates or shows individuals under the age of 18 in acts of sex.
When the bill was introduced, the split was approximately 50:50. The content of the objections was what was most amazing to the Middle Son. All the objections had to do with setting limits to people's freedom to see whatever they want on the internet. These quotes are examples of the level of rhetoric and discourse among this group of very bright, very well educated, fairly well-to-do young people living in a wealthy suburb of New York City:
"I object to limiting what people can see. What if they are into those things? Shouldn't they be allowed to see what they want?"
"This bill is narrow minded because its just a stupid American view. Other countries don't have to do what we want."
"We shouldn't have an opinion on what is proper to see because it would impose our opinion on others."
We now have a report in Variety that our entertainment industry is taking the logical next step:
Around the holidays, the biggest challenge for many theater companies is convincing audiences to care about yet another staging of "A Christmas Carol." This season in Atlanta, however, Actor's Express wants to stir up buzz about a less familiar property -- namely, a pedophile musical.
The Express has already started pushing "Love Jerry," a new tuner written and composed by Megan Gogerty that follows the tortured story of Jerry, who develops a sexual relationship with his nephew while trying to stay friends with the boy's father.
A delicate, often heart-wrenching piece of theater, the show, which preems Jan. 22 at the Express, never descends to shock-value tactics as it explores volatile terrain, and its lilting country songs give the characters emotionally vulnerable texture. Should it manage to attract a crowd, "Love Jerry" could very well leave them cheering.
This story manages to introduce child sexual abuse, with a little incest, as the subject of a play that offers, and this bears repeating, "a delicate, often heart-wrenching piece of theater."
There are two aspects of this article that are particularly cringe inducing. The first is that a playwright was able to convince himself that such a play should be made and found a theater, actors, stage hands, et al, who agreed to make it. Second, the reporter is apparently unable to see that there is something questionable about the play's premise; his major concerns appear to be how to market such a "controversial" play.
The arguments of those who support such works are threefold:
1. Adult-Child sexual relationships are not universally damaging and the subject is more complicated than the usual depiction; therefore, this type of work is necessary and timely.
2. Even if such relationships are wrong, it is the job of the artist to provoke and the play is certainly thought-provoking.
3. To paraphrase what the youngsters at Model Congress told my Middle Son, who am I to tell other people what they should or shouldn't see?
In answering question 3 first, I would suggest that I am perfectly positioned to offer such direction. I work with people who rationalize all the time and have some capacity for recognizing when people are, essentially, lying to themselves about their true, conscious and unconscious, motives. Therefore, I would like to offer my services for all those who are ethically and morally challenged.
As for question 1, there is some scant evidence that some victims of Adult-Child sexual contact are not necessarily permanently traumatized by the experience. However, even if you were to find iron-clad evidence that Adult-Child sexual contact could be helpful to a child (and I do not think you could ever find such evidence) it would still be an abomination. Children are incapable of offering consent to such contact for reasons too numerous to elucidate here. Anyone who tells you that a child has entered into such a relationship of his or her own free will is a liar of the most heinous kind; one who seeks to excuse his vile behavior, using an innocent for his own gratifications, with the thin crust of rationalization.
The second point is mere sophistry. There have been many plays, books, and movies about child abuse. The new ground broken by this play is the effort to mitigate evil by suggesting things are more complex than the simple minded, moral absolutists and Philistines would suggest. The article states:
In "Love Jerry," there's no question what's going on, yet Gogerty refrains from demonizing the title character. She focuses instead on the entire family's attempt to comprehend what's happened.
This moral grayness makes the play even trickier to market, yet it's also what convinced Express artistic director Jasson Minadakis to produce it. He says he "absolutely believes" in the show and is continually "shocked by how powerfully it expresses itself."
Again, for those who need assistance in this area: there is no moral grayness in child abuse. It is wrong, it is evil, it is, as Leonard Shengold has stated, nothing less than Soul Murder.