Van Zinnen ushers in the new year

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By: Giovanni van Zinnen

After having survived the turn of the year without being seriously mangled, receiving only minor damage to the ears, one of my first discoveries was that during the millennium euphoria an unprecedented change had taken place. For on January 6, while I was making use of public transportation, the daily column 'CAMU' on the front page of the well-known Dutch newspaper 'de Volkskrant' caught my attention. This column is alternately written by Remco Campert and Jan MUlder. On this Thursday morning it was Mulder's turn. Imagine my surprise when, under the title 'Seksualio', I read an almost polemical pro-pedophilia article!

What is to become of this world when all of a sudden, merely because three nines have taken the place of three zeros in the year we live in, known heterosexuals start to sympathize with us, pitiful pedophiles, and even speak up for us? Just joking. I was only too glad to discover that there are still right-minded people who realize that the offender/victim pattern the media use these days could rather use a little nuance; people who - without self-interest, I suppose - have studied the psyche of 'the pedophile'; people who are annoyed by the unbridled usage of the term 'pedophile' where what is meant is a sex criminal. I will go into the contents of Jan Mulder's column. The stimulus for writing it had been a small article which had appeared in the paper the day before under the heading 'Victim will be notified of release of pedophile'. Mulder reacts: "What do you mean, 'victim'? Pedophiles aren't cars. Pedophiles are usually gentle, careful people [...]. You, reader (homo, hetero, weirdo, wacko) are being more dangerous and destructive than the average pedophile, who is confronted mercilessly with reality, reality being that their preference isn't appreciated. [...] For people who are drawn to children that much, life must be terrible. He or she is a victim, not an offender." Next, Mulder criticizes the mixing up of the terms 'pedophile' and 'criminal'. When someone oversteps the mark where sexual behavior is concerned, he or she is a sexual delinquent, which term is to be stressed rather than the delinquent's sexual preference. "The fact that these persons who overstepped the mark fall into the pedophile category is irrelevant. But, to the average lout, a pedophile is someone who belongs in prison in the first place. The lout's opinion is affirmed by newspaper headlines, again and again and again." I was quite impressed by Jan's explicit opinion. Obviously, we pedophiles have often criticized the media who stubbornly kept calling the Belgian rapist and murderer Dutroux a 'pedophile'; we have written many a letter to various editors concerning the incorrect usage of this term, and yet - I wouldn't be surprised if the opinion of a 'Dutch celebrity' (on the front page of a respected, quality newspaper) turned out to have more effect and influence than ten letters sent in by unknown people and printed on page 17. So I thank Jan Mulder for making this opinion known!

Meanwhile, I had reached my destination and got off the bus. I never got to reading the rest of the newspaper, but I decided to keep the paper and to bring it to the next MARTIJN meeting, so I could show the column to prove my stunning discovery of the change of the prevailing sentiments in society about pedophilia. Some days later, I arrived at the office where the editorial meetings of our unsurpassed magazine OK are called. I was in an elated mood. I Happily blurted, "Hey, boys, Jan Mulder is doing the dirty work for us! Why? I was asked. Well, a column in which pedophilia is discussed in a rather positive tone, wouldn't you call it rare?" The column turned out not to be entirely unique and 'something new', though. Another member of the editorial staff, who reads different papers and magazines than I do, had already spotted a pro-pedophilia column back in June last year in the newspaper 'Trouw'. Under the heading 'Feeling up little children', Selma Schepel had written about the then topical issue of two girls, eleven and thirteen, who had been caught playing sexual games with younger children and who, having been accused of pedophilia, were to be prosecuted. Selma contended that in a society in which sexuality is expressed everywhere, in which there are even erotic ads at every bus stop, children who had hardly done anything but play doctors and nurses (or 'play gynecologists') did not deserve to be treated as criminals.

Yet another editor had read Pim Fortuyn's column in the newsmagazine 'Elsevier' back in October last year, where under the heading 'Modern pillory' it was contended that society had become rather too enthusiastic in prosecuting and keeping an eye on pedophiles. Fortuyn began his article by arguing that all children are curious about the other sex, and about sex. Whereas playing doctors and nurses used to be a more or less permissible way for children to satisfy their curiosity that nobody made a big fuss about, nowadays it is immediately classified as indecency and sexual harassment, and before children know it there is a parade of '-gogues' who can't wait to take care of them. This has caused something that used to be all right - discovering the world of the opposite sex - to be turned into an immense problem. And if there's one thing that could traumatize all those children, it's this ridiculous attention and concern about nothing.' Fortuyn furthermore noted, 'Pedophilia is just like heterosexuality or homosexuality. It is determined by the genes, so there is little or nothing that can be done about it, you are who you are. [...] It is as incurable as heterosexuality or homosexuality. Fortuyn denounced the American situation, where the names of convicted pedosexuals are made known in the neighborhood they choose to live in after having served their sentence. Just like we do, Fortuyn called this a 'barbaric custom', and he used the same term for the initiative to expose convicted pedophiles on the Internet. He concluded his column with the remark that currently, society is miles away from the understanding of pedophile fellow-humans that Dr. Brongersma in particular sought to create in the sixties and seventies. "Gay sex became acceptable, and why would pedophile sex not be tolerated as well under the strict condition that the child is willing and isn't forced into having it? This enlightened opinion has been abandoned, and under the influence of the -gogues the child is depicted as being completely void of sexual desire, at any rate for adults. We're very estranged from the understanding Brongersma called for. This is detrimental to ourselves, because you need to consider that everything that's debatable is theoretically controllable."

So much for my notion that there had been an amazing change in public opinion, a change that we probably owed to an après-fin-de-siècle optimism, or to a new zest which had come into being together with the new millennium! There was no new zest, there were no new opinions. Just old hat. Back in 1998 we were already being supported by an 'ordinary', heterosexual clergyman, reverend Van Drimmelen, who publicly pretended to be a pedophile in order to support a colleague of his who really was one. It cost Van Drimmelen his job; solely because he criticized the hypocrisy of the church. The church that doesn't pay attention to the isolated lives of many pedophiles. The church that fails to distinguish between pedophilia and sexual abuse.

So in 1999, Selma Schepel and Pim Fortuyn, the former modestly and the latter strongly, made out a case for a society in which children are no longer considered asexual creatures, and in which pedophiles are also allowed to live without the threat of a hyperactive judicial system and fearful parents excited by the media. In the same year, the beautiful story 'Zeer kleine liefde' by Ted van Lieshout was published, in which the author reflects without grudge on a sexual, pedophile relationship between him as a twelve-year-old boy and a man whose name, after all these years, he doesn't want to mention out of love and loyalty. And now, in 2000, Jan Mulder is the first (and hopefully the first of many Dutch celebrities) who supports our opinion that the word 'pedophile' is used arbitrarily and carelessly in newspapers, magazines, on the radio, and on television.

You'll understand, dear reader, that I was quite disillusioned. The new year, or, if you like, the new century, the new millennium, was only ten days old and what was I forced to conclude? That in fact, nothing had changed. Pro-pedophile sentiments of non-pedophiles were also expressed last year, and the year before last year. What a bummer to have to learn that there had been no revolutionary change! But things would get worse. Somebody asked, "Say, that newspaper with Jan Mulder's column, did you read it in its entirety?" "Why, no, in fact I restricted myself to the front page." "Well, perhaps you should have a look at page seven..." I'd brought the paper with me to the meeting and opened it up at page seven on the spot. I saw an article called 'Pedophiles in a dire situation', which clearly showed that Ireen van Engelen's crusade against pedophilia had only just started. (Van Engelen published a book in Holland in 1999 called 'And They Call It Love', which she wrote after having discovered a correspondence between pedophiles who wrote in a rather sadistic manner about their sexual experiences with children.) Her crusade momentarily focuses on what she calls 'the intellectual pedophile lobby': pedophile scientists, committees of foundations, editors of pedophile magazines, organizational committees of symposia. 'Those men write liberally about whatever comes to their mind,' according to Van Engelen. 'It has to stop. As yet I'm not sure how, but it will stop.' She sounds like a rather frustrated woman. And sadly, there are many people like her.

So I had no option but to conclude that with this gorgeous, festive turn of the year, during which all those expected computer problems failed to occur (I didn't see a bug!), and the biggest problem turned out to be lighting fireworks on the Thames in London, no change, not the slightest hint of change, had come about. Well, actually I never expected a change anyhow. Anti-pedophile sentiments will continue to exist in the new millennium. So it's going to be a matter of much patience, and perhaps once, who knows, there will be a time when, as Pim Fortuyn puts it, pedophile sex will be considered as normal as gay sex. At any rate: in the short term, let us keep fighting together with Jan Mulder for a more accurate usage of the terms 'pedophile', 'criminal', 'sexual abuse', et cetera by the media, for it is the media who, with their opinionated coverage, influence public opinion in a very nasty way. Let's hope that common sense will conquer the fear.

The MARTIJN Organization will continue to oppose society's popular views in the year 2000. I am ready for it. Are you?

source: 'Van Zinnen Ushers In the New Year' by Giovanni van Zinnen; OK Magazine, no. 72; April 2000