Jul 292012
 

While the fifteen-minutes of this story have apparently passed, I want to bring up an editorial post on Canadian alternative news site Rabble.ca about the RCMP case: Private fantasy, public reality: The RCMP, BDSM and violence against women, by Meghan Murphy.

How could a man who so clearly enjoys degrading women fairly assess a case that is explicitly about violence against women, about dehumanizing women, and that played out as it did (in that the disappearances of women from the Downtown Eastside were ignored by the police for years) because the women who were going missing were viewed as worthless?

As discussed previously, there are some logical errors here: that Brown was one of many police and RCMP officers involved in the Pickton investigation, and that there is a conflation of the pictures he was in and the pictures of another man.

The recent push of a ‘sex-positive’ ideology which has permeated our discussions of sex and sexuality in North America says that anything goes so long as it happens in the privacy of our bedrooms and is ‘consensual’. It’s how we defend pornography, prostitution, and of course, things like BDSM. And while I wouldn’t go so far as to argue that our individual sex lives should somehow be regulated, the whole hands-off, libertarian, ‘whatever happens between consenting adults’ party line we must all toe as progressive, politically correct people makes it next to impossible to address behaviour like Brown’s when it comes to light.

What behaviour? There’s a conflation of several different things here: Brown’s kinkyness, the culture of sexual harassment within the RCMP, and the flawed Pickton investigation. Murphy says they are all connected, influencing each other, thought she is vague about the actual process at work

What is our fear around Cpl. Jim Brown’s ‘private’ behaviour? That it will bleed into reality? That perhaps a man who enjoys abuse fantasies ‘in private’ doesn’t care about the abuse of women in ‘real life’? Well I think those fears are justified. The cycle of abuse has roots.

BDSM is predicated on the idea that the scene is a magic circle, and what happens inside it has no bearing on what happens outside of it. Or at least what I believe.

(There’s also the problem of how does kink that isn’t M/f fit into this analysis.)

In the comments section, there’s a link to a blog post by an acquaintance of mine in the Vancouver Scene (and how now seems to be moving away from it), who claims personal experience with Cpl Brown, citing a history of disrespected boundaries and other sketchy behaviour.

The issue for the pervert community is a complete loss of objectivity, an astoundingly pervasive attitude of naivety about personal safety and privacy, and a total inability to empathize with anyone outside the context in which we all fist-fuck, lead one another around by a leash, or hang from hemp rope hip and chest harnesses. What will it take before the rest of you see the whole picture? Will someone have to definitively prove that this man was involved in the murder spree before you wake up and get the message? This isn’t like the time someone had to fight against charges of sexually exploiting a minor over pictures that involved an adult woman role-playing as a teenager (and come the fuck on — you have to be living in a dream world to not see the connection there). Are you all really so steeped in your social privileges that you can’t connect the dots between a murder spree that primarily targeted aboriginal women, and a surviving relative of one of those women mistaking the photo set for a crime scene? The marked majority of you are white and apparently are also completely unaware of it, as we found out a couple years ago when one among us posted a racially insensitive personal ad, and the first dissenting voice from the targeted racialized group was steamrolled, trolled, and harassed into silence by your privileged attitude as a collective who think that everyone’s sexual preferences (no matter how harmful, grim, or fucking creepy) have to be defended at all costs. Am I still the only white person with ties to this community who remembers that incident? Am I the only white person with ties to this community who even remembers the missing and murdered women of our Downtown East Side?

In the comments section of that post, people ask if this reasoning could lead to something akin to racial profiling, that kinky people are automatically suspect of sexual crimes. The counter-argument is that this would be akin to behavioural profiling (e.g. looking for prior criminal history) rather than racial profiling.

This links into the old “identity versus actions” questions. Recall that the idea of a “gay person” as a fixed identity is only a hundred years old or so. Homosexual activists have worked long and hard to reframe the issue as a matter of identities, that there is a distinctive minority of homosexuals who are entitled to right, and should not be judged unfairly, going against the common belief that homosexuals were more likely to molest children, etc. Profiling of gay people is no longer officially acceptable.

Kink is harder to shoehorn into identity politics: the sheer diversity of expression, the tendency to cut across categories of sex and sexuality, the difficulty with reconciling kink with ideals of monogamy and domesticity.

I really don’t like the idea that someone with a paid Fetlife membership should be considered more likely to commit sexual crimes, or is otherwise automatically suspect. People have spent decades trying to get the ethical system of BDSM understood by the general public, that “BDSM is not abuse”. I do agree that this process is hardly complete (and may never be).

I got part of the way through Roger N. Lancaster’s book Sex Panic and the Punitive State before I ran out of library renewals and had to return it. Lancaster’s thesis is that the “cult of the child” creates an imaginary bogeyman, “the sex criminal”, who is everywhere and potentially everyone, and this is used to justify police state measures. Both conservatives and liberals, evangelical Christians and feminists fall into these patterns of thinking. In sex panic thinking, there is the pure and the impure, and the barriers between the two must constantly be reinforced and pushed back. There is no such thing as privacy, or play, or even proportional response. A sexually harassing email to a twenty-year-old man is the same as the rape and murder of a child.

There are a whole bunch of things in this situation that are duct-taped together into a mess. Cpl Brown is right at the middle of it, the monster under the bed, the scapegoat. There are certainly people who see him as culpable for the Pickton murders, and issues like the negligence or incompetence of the police and RCMP may get ignored in favour of punishing a scapegoat who is satisfactory to both conservatives and liberals.

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