A change.org petition against a French film Cuties, streaming on Netflix, has the signatures of over 600,000 people. It beseeches people to cancel their subscriptions to the streaming service on the grounds that the film sexualizes kids and normalizes child pornography.
“From Cuties to Big Mouth to other movies mocking religions and exploiting children, Netflix is no longer the family friendly streaming service I once believed it to be!” the petition says. There is another petition, with more than 350,000 signatories, seeking to remove Cuties from Netflix.
Two points need to be made here. First, this campaign is not against free speech, whose champion I am. In fact, I wrote a book, There Is No Such Thing As Hate Speech: A Case for Absolute Freedom of Expression (Bloomsbury, 2017).
Ban on pornography is moral policing, because the people involved are adults, and judging the actions of consenting adults is philosophically untenable and ethically unjustifiable. But child pornography is evil by any reckoning, for getting kids to do things which their bodies and minds are not prepared for.
The second, and more important, point pertains to the ideological tilt of Netflix—which is Left-leaning. Watching its series, Sacred Games, one couldn’t miss the Nehruvian dogma that puts Hindu nationalism and Islamic terror on the same moral footing. It was an egregious example of moral equivalence.
It needs to be mentioned here that, all over the world, the Left is about “mocking religions and exploiting children.” Leftists hate everything in its existing form, be it the economy, society, history, politics, art, culture, law, even religion. Their antipathy towards religion is well known, yet they came up with something called ‘liberation theology.’
They may not be theistic, but they certainly believe that they themselves are God; they want to shape the world in accordance with their discredited ideology. For them, ideology is supreme; everything and everybody else exists for its sake. So, they brainwash young and old alike.
New Left (or postmodern) theorists go a step further. The pink upsurge of 1968—when student and others rose against capitalism, consumerism, indeed everything Western as elitist and iniquitous—was a cultural revolution in more ways than one. Coinciding with a spurt in sexual permissiveness, the revolutionaries also questioned the traditional aversion for pedophilia. A question was asked in France, where the upsurge was in the extreme: wasn’t revulsion for sex with children a ‘bourgeois’ taboo?
Many prominent intellectuals tended to answer in the affirmative. This underlines a disturbing fact: bad ideas can have such a profound, prodigious, and overwhelming influence on men and women of heightened consciousness that their natural instincts get subdued. It is astonishing to know that in the 1970s there was a movement to legalize and normalize pedophilia in a country as philosophically sophisticated and culturally advanced as France.
Muriel Salmona, a psychiatrist and president of the Traumatic Memory and Victimology Association, told Marie Doezema of The Atlantic (March 10, 2018) that in that revolutionary era “pedophilia was considered a sexual orientation.” Obviously, it was not the hated hetero-normative orientation and, thus, acceptable. She said, “It was all part of a vision of freedom.”
There are medical reasons for age-of-consent laws, for children are not capable of making an informed choice; they are especially vulnerable to assenting to those who are in positions of authority and those who enjoy their (children’s) trust. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines child sexual abuse as “the involvement of a child in sexual activity that he or she does not fully comprehend, is unable to give informed consent to, or for which the child is not developmentally prepared and cannot give consent, or that violates the laws or social taboos of society.”
Even before the WHO and medical experts highlighted the importance of appropriate age for sex, pre-pubescent sex was not the norm in even the most backward societies. For instance, in India, where child marriages were quite widespread till a few decades ago, the consummation usually took place only after puberty, after a ritual called gauna.
Even as the incidence of child marriage was coming down in poor countries like India and modern ideas were spreading, in the 1970s something unspeakably ugly was raising its head in France, the native place of most postmodernists. The Guardian reported on February 24, 2001, “Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and the current French health and education ministers Bernard Kouchner and Jack Lang were among the signatories of petitions in the 1970s calling for pedophilia to be decriminalized, it emerged yesterday.”
It just not just support for pedophilia. “A number of extraordinary documents have surfaced in the wake of accusations of possible child sex abuse against the former student revolutionary Danny Cohn-Bendit that are forcing France’s intellectuals to confront the values of the May 1968 revolution and its aftermath.”
The petitions came in the wake of imprisonment of three men in 1977 for “non-violent sex offences” against children aged 12 and 13. “Three years in prison for caresses and kisses: enough is enough,” the petition signed by Kouchner and Lang said.
The one signed by, among others, Sartre, Simone De Beauvoir, and such luminaries of postmodernism as Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, and Jacques Derrida. It said, “French law recognizes in 12- and 13-year-olds a capacity for discernment that it can judge and punish.” Therefore, “it should acknowledge the right of children and adolescents to have relations with whomever they choose” (emphasis added).
Cohn-Bendit, a communist and later a Member of European Parliament for the French Green party, wrote an article in 1975 about the “erotic” nature of his contacts with kids at an alternative kindergarten in Frankfurt. “Certain children opened the flies of my trousers and started to tickle me. I reacted differently each time, according to the circumstances … But when they insisted on it, I then caressed them.”
Later, Cohn-Bendit claimed that the passages “bear no relationship to reality” and the idea was “to shock the bourgeoisie.”
Then there was the author Tony Duvert who spent his life glorifying “the great adventure of pedophilia.” The “fascism of mothers” incensed him.
But the mainstream media and commentators, who regularly highlights pedophilia by Christian priests and slam the church for suppressing such uncomfortable facts, rarely discuss the New Left’s support—at least, at one point—for pedophilia. This is despite the fact that there is a crucial difference between the stances adopted by the church and postmodernists. While the Christian clergy can be accused of shielding their own, they never justified pedophilia on theological grounds; on the other hand, postmodernists provided philosophical arguments, however sophistical, to legitimize the sexual violation of children.
By failing to castigate the New Left for its excesses, liberals end up promoting postmodernists and their rotten concepts. As a result, the postmodernist agenda of blurring the distinction between adults and kids has got somewhat mainstreamed. An example is the new phenomenon of child drag queens. Much to the consternation of conservatives, children are also exposed to drag queens, who are generally associated with the LGBT movement, in a programme funded by taxpayer money. There was a big controversy in America last year when it was found that a drag queen was a convicted pedophile.
Even in India, keeping children away from sex is becoming an outdate idea. In the Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Cheeni Kum, a nine-year-old child is named sexy. Worse, nobody found that this odd or objectionable. Not even Bachchan, who is highly educated and hails from an illustrious family. Despite all his refinement, he didn’t it abnormal calling a nine-year-old sexy. Sexualized kids are a new normal.
In the West, as also in India—and on the net. Thanks to the puerility of public discourse in India. And to the complicity of Left-liberals.