dissabte, 5 de setembre de 2009

The Flesh of the Children (i III)

Traslation of Manuel Delgado, "La carn dels infants. La usurpació de menors en la imaginació persecutòria", Arxiu d'etnografia de Catalunya, Nº. 9, 1992‑1993, pags. 171-181.


THE FLESH OF THE CHILDREN.
The usurpation of minors in persecutory imagination (i III)
By MANUEL DELGADO
University of Barcelona

3. Anti-sectarism, anti-clericalism & pedophilia.

Just partly relieved by the turbulent stories of the soul eaters, the role of them that, literally, prefer the childrens' above any other flesh continues to be the center in the most prevailing persecutory discourses. The horror that produced the children's cannibal of times gone by & all the social hatred that it aroused, are nowadays aimed towards their equivalent, that, not in vain, Michel Tournier identified in "The king of the Alder Trees" (Cfr. 1990) with the tenderness of the Ogres in popular mythology: the pedophile, the one who adores what Gabriel Matznell called "this wonderful skin less than sixteen years old, warm, soft, smooth, perfumed, tasty, near which all other grain of skin seems greasy or rugged or dry" (1988:77). The Man of the Sweets has taken the place of the one that in times of old was the Man of the Sack. The transition of the maliciousness of the eater of children to the one of the pedophile has been, on the other hand, easy. The universal identification of the acts of copulating & eating has favored this -which in Catalan appears very explicitly in the double meaning of the verb "cruspir"-, an analogy that, for the subject that we are interested in here, perfectly gathers the mythological model of the Sphinx, that ate the adolescents with whom she copulated. Alberto Cardin suggested this ability to inter-exchange accurately, when, referring to the double sense of the seducing acts between children & adults, mentioned "the side of ecstasy, through which the unconscious identification temperates the cannibalistic lust with caresses & pettings" (1977:47).
Nowadays, as Adrien Gilesse wrote ("the freshness of the flesh, the undefined of the shapes...", 1992:78) the child as the last of the great taboos of human sexuality {1}. Condemned to asexuality, protagonist of an erased body which is denied the right to a centerless pleasure, the child stays prisoner of a system of taking away any love that might not be adequate for a cultural ideology determined to preserve his improbable innocence & that is holding him hostage not only in the educational plane, but, mostly, of a mass media that leads him more & more towards being in solitude. In this context, the lover of children is doomed to the deepest ends of social disgust, as the ultimate expression of the undesirable. The press -that, on the antipodes of the eaters of fresh flesh, seem to have an acuter fondness towards carcasses every day that passes- pokes periodically into this public inclination to disclose the presence of the most nauseating pervert, of the most dangerous sexual deviate. The collective pleasure is at its peak when this form of total infamy is someone famous: Woody Allen, Michael Jackson, the Duque of Feria. At which time the lynching is even more exciting & the retribution more profitable for those that may experience the least attraction towards the pure.
The great contribution of the work of John Boswell Cristianismo, tolerancia social y homosexualidad (Muchnik, Barcelona, 1993) is the way how he shows us that the alienation & persecution of the ethnic & religious minorities in Europe, mainly after the Xith century, cannot be dissociated from the ones aimed at the sexual minorities. Not a few times, this siege has articulated the repertoire of accusations in a way that the ones implicate the others. Along these lines, the accusations of sodomy & pedophilia -or both at once- have not always walked side by side in regards to judaism or witchcraft, but have often been mutually presupposed. Boswell himself offers a good number of examples on this subject; as well as R.I. Moore mentions, in his genealogy of contemporary persecutory mentality, of "the association of pederasty with Muslims which remained prominent in Western literature" (en El nacimiento de una sociedad perscutoria, Cátedra, Madrid, 1987:94).
The inscription of the culpability of pedophilia as a legatee of anthropophagy in the strategies of stigmatization of the individuals & societies considered as a threat, is easy to recognize in today's journalistic-policing campaigns against the so called "destructive sects". Within the frame of a generalized association between sectarism & sexual debauchery {3}, the charge of "corruption of minors" is often mentioned among them that are used to order detentions & prosecutions. In cases such as Edelweiss, the pederast homosexuality of its leader, Eddie, served to exhibit him as an insuperable & repugnant example of baseness. In that occasion the journals were able to make an unbeatable profile of a gang of sexual criminals: "Children & adolescents fell into the sordid network of a group of pederasts that initiated them in homosexual practices" ("El Pais", September 25th, 1991). No need to say that the whole string of accusations against the Family or the Children of God has been for years based in the fact that the group carries too far their idea of sexual education, so that the "rescues" that the police in France, Argentina or Paraguay carried out during the Summer of 1993 -directly assessed by the Catalonian police, by the way- were aimed at salvaging the children from the immorality of their own parents & from the education they were imparted which was considered excessively un-inhibited.
We could discuss whether the existence of sects is legitimate or not, but, as the editorial of a Madrid newspaper proclaimed at the same time that it requested exemplary punishments, "where these sects fully enter the criminal field is when there are minors involved" ("Diario 16", 18th of June, 1993). The expert's tests of the de-programmers/psychologists & the reports from the Catalonian Police that were presented at the hearing against CEIS remarked, as the media of that time scandalously emphasized, that the children of the members "had inadequate knowledge of sexual matters considering their age" ("El País", November 19th, 1990). Crude reports of the worst populist press usually depict the presumed sexual drama of the members' children. The magazine-dump "Interviu" has found in the affair of the Children of God splendid material to satisfy the sickening fantasy of its habitual readers. By reason of the detention of several members of The Family in Barcelona, it published an article entitled: "Four year olds practiced the 'fellatio' among them" (July 30th, 1990), & by reason of the ridiculing verdict that closed the case, another one, now with the title "Children at the mercy of the sects" (July 21st, 1993). Bill Clinton himself justified the instigation that led to the mass suicide of the Davidians in Waco by invoking the perversion of their leader: "We know that David Koresh maintained sexual relations with children, & that is considered child abuse where I come from" ("El Periodico de Catalunya, April 24th, 1993).
When the catholic church saw that her traditional role among the hunters of heretics & all kinds of uncommons was becoming reversible & she was the one being besieged, the orientation of the imputations does not imply any modification. Her & her servants were also to blame, inasmuch as they were worshippers of the Devil that were considered as far back as during the historical preparations of the Reform, of possessing & stimulating a sinful & dirty sensuality. It would be long to recount here examples of how nuns, monks & priests have been receiving all kinds of insults related with their reputation as sexually hiper-active & lustful characters. The anti-clerical ideas of the fighters for the Millennium, the Calvinists, the Liberals, or the anarchists are saturated with this nodal preoccupation for the outrageous clerical carnality; the popular songs, the tales & even the jokes of anti?clerical slant hardly talk about anything else than the unstoppable salacity of the church folk, in the same manner that our assaulters of convents were persuaded that, by doing that, they dismantled organizations whose goal was prostitution & pornography & revealed sordid clandestine caves of sadists.
But, beyond the ones about promiscuity & inducing prostitution & adultery, the most severe & recurrent of the accusations against what is considered the anomalous sexuality of the catholic priests has always been pedophilia, especially in its pederast variant. What made the priests utterly repulsive in the eyes of those that wanted them to disappear, even wanting their physical extermination, was the appetite that minors seemed to awaken in them.
It is not by chance that, at the roots of the contemporary fantasy of the pervert, the Marquis of Sade conceived life in a monastery as the most perfect set up for all possible & impossible depravations. The ritual regulation of time & space characteristic of the closed groups -the convent, the religious order, or, extrapolating the sadistic intuition to today's world, the sect-were ideal ground for the presumed activities typical of the libertine community, &, very especially, those that had as their objective the corporal punishment of children & youth. Just like Marcel Hénaff sagaciously remarked (1980: 171-176), it is significant that the narration of Juliette started with the account of her vicious education in a convent of Panthemont under the directives of Mme. Delbène, the diabolic abbess, in the same manner as her itinerary through the Carmelite convents in Paris & Bolonia is paved with the orgies in which she finds herself immersed. On his side, the internment of Justine among the monks of Ste. Marie des Bois is the spine around which revolve all of his misfortunes. Lastly, let's remember that the narrations of Durand in "The 120 days" start by the corruption of which she's object at the hands of the monks of her suburb.
In an identical way to what happens nowadays with the anti?sectarian discourse, the Church was not only guilty of eating the soul of children & adolescents, but also of this criminal figure known as "corruption of minors". This representation of the Roman Church as stimulator of sin consisted fundamentally in an insane control of the minds, exercised by means of the education -Bakunin already indicated that we should not put the education of the children in their hands, as they existed precisely to deny morality (to Dolgoff, 1983:86)-, the affected tone of the sermons & the confessions, perceived as vehicles through which they dirtied the spirits of the children with indecent ideas, as well as through a liturgy & popular ceremonies impregnated with an equivocal sensuality, always bordering obscenity.
In Catalonia, the complaints of cases of corruption of minors in the religious schools used to trigger strong campaigns in the anti-clerical press (Romero-Maura refers to the persistence of this accusation, Op. par. 271-272). The stubbornness of the anti-ecclesiastic imagination in associating catholic religiosity & female sexual danger -one of the issues that was attended to in "The Words of Another Man" (Delgado, 1993:59-108)- could find its nexus in the anti-moral education that was imparted in the religious institutions. In the foreword of "The Catalonian Witch", dated 1910, Cels Gomis brought to us a good example of this type of reasoning: "The ones that go to the churches of Santa Anna del Pi to do their prayers are not women of low standing; they are almost always conceited ladies that use certain religious practices to demand the satisfaction of the desires that morality condemns, many of them educated in convents, wherefrom they come out most of the times full of preoccupations from which they can never free themselves (1987:43-44).
It's worth noting how the literature that denounces catholicism against the perfidy that took place in the confessional schools never spared astonishing chapters. In "A.M.D.G." Perez de Ayala dedicated himself to describe the moral rottenness that presumably reigned in the Jesuit boarding schools & the way in which the infantile purity was systematically contaminated there. The popular image of the religious man as a character that enjoys himself by staining the immaculate conscience of the children is all over the pages of the work, with descriptions such as, in example: "The scene & the supreme minute came back to his mind in which his preceptor had suggested him filthy truths, inciting him to commit sinful acts with the gardener's daughter" (1967:97). Another character of the novel, the detestable Father Mur, is presented as incapable of repressing his inclination towards pedophiliac sadism: "In the cell, he knelt as he was ordered to. The pain & tiredness were wearing him out (...) There, way into the night, Mur suddenly appeared. He came wrapped up in a Palencian blanket & bare footed. Without a word, he rammed into Bertuco punching him & kicking him with the knees, pressing him against the iron bars of the bed. With the furor of the attack, the blanket fell off his shoulders, leaving him in very flimsy & unkempt underwear, through which he showed his hairy & erected parts. When he had beaten up the child real well, he left, slamming the door (Op. par.339)."
In the first part of "The Foundry of a Rebel", published in 1944, Arturo Barea evokes, basing it in his own experience as a servant, this capacity of the priests to fill the vulnerable infantile fantasy with repulsive thoughts, which made of catholic education a real factory of sexual deviates. He describes the situation in which the pupil of a religious school is confessing to a rather ambiguous clergyman.

"- Do you know what the sixth commandment says, my son?
- Yes, father. The sixth, not to fornicate.
- Explain to me what is to fornicate.
- I don't know, & I can't explain it to you. I know that it's something bad between men & women, but I don't know anything else -Father Vesga starts getting serious.
- You cannot lie to the holy tribunal of the penitence. You tell me what the sixth commandment is & now you retract it, saying that you don't know what fornicating is.
- To fornicate, father, is...things that men & women do & that are sinful.
- Come, come! Things that men & women do. And what do men & women do, you rascal?
- I don't know, father. I have never fornicated.
- That would be something, you punk! I'm not asking you if you have or have not fornicated; I'm asking you if you know what fornicating is.
- I don't know. The boys say that it is men making children to women. When they are married it is not sin; when they are not then it is.
- But what I need to know is that you tell me how men make children to women.
- How can I know! They get married, they sleep together & they have children. But I don't know anything else.
- You don't know anything else, eh? The boy is so innocent; he doesn't know anything else. But you do know how to touch your parts.
- Sometimes, father.
- Well that's fornicating -He continues with a lecture of which I don't understand a word; better said, that horribly messes me up. Women are the sin. Through one woman the human race was lost, & all the saints suffered from the temptations of the evil one. Naked women appeared unto them, with bare breasts, moving lasciviously. And now the devil does not even spare the children. He comes to take the sleep away from them & to show them naked women that perturb their purity.
He keeps on & on, for half an hour, & he tells me about loose hairs, shaking breasts, lascivious hips, king Solomon, obscene dances, the street women, in a torrent of furious words of which the result is that women are a bag of garbage & maliciousness & that men lay with them & go to hell. When I walk away from the priest to pray my penitence I cannot pray. My head is full of naked women & of curiosity to find out what they do with men (1983:143-144)."

It goes without saying that this prevailing erotic attention that the figure of the religious deserves is absolute. Classified among bizarre sexualities -together with the ones of the old folks, the handicapped, the insane, the incestuous...-, that arouse so many morbid feelings among the public, that of the monks, nuns & priests foster , yesterday & today, as much curiosity as disapproval. Mostly when the matter disclosed is the pedophiliac or pederast inclination of the pervert, which makes of him the most definite & un-recoverable expression of the sick or sexual delinquent. Not a long while passes by without the press feeding the popular need to expose & castigate the integral transgressor, this complete infamous being which is the lover of children, especially when he is discovered in the heart of an institution such as the church, that keeps on being the objective of latent but powerful hatred & bitternesses. In December of 1986, a priest was judged, in the Navarran town of Castejón, for inviting his 8?10 year old pupils home to pervert them. Everyone remembers the case of the clergyman from Polinyá, that in 1988 was accused of being the lover of his 13 year old choir boy. On Easter 1990, a Franciscan, professor of physical education in Alpicat, was denounced for secretly filming his pupils while they were showering. It was that year the archbishop of Terranova resigned when it was revealed that fifteen of his priests had abused more than fifty children from the school where they worked as teachers. In July 1993, the Pope himself, as a consequence from the public declaration of the North American Episcopalian Conference along those lines, admitted to the extent of the sexual harassment of minors among the ministers of the church. Television series such as the Canadian "Children of St. Vincent" -broadcast by Antena 3 in June of 1993? or films as the one inaugurated here in 1992 with the tittle "Faith in Justice", with Keith Carradine, are examples of the catholic clergy's sexual young victims' dramatization.
Today, like that moment that Boswell & Moore detected as the birth of the model that's now in vogue of persecutory society, to settle in the periphery or beyond of that which is homologated as being a normal & tolerable sexuality continues to constitute a factor of social alienation. And, inversely, social alienation automatically makes of him that suffers from it a probable owner of such a deviated & irregular sexuality as the attitude that's attributed to him as having towards the community. All sexual un?yieldedness bears with it the alienation of the disobedient one, at the same time that all alienation of the opponents, whichever be the real or fictitious reason of their stigma, presupposes the sure presence of a sexual abomination in them. The figures of the persecuted because of sex & the persecuted because of religion are reflected in each other, they intersect, till the point of blending & forming a unique image that has to be execrated & punished.
Among them that have been marked with a cross made of chalk on the back, considered as incarnating unacceptable styles of existence, the one who loves the little ones occupies a privileged spot, & that he loves them so much that, using the words that Michelet sarcastically dedicated to the Jesuits, that "they would have liked to raise them all" (1845:21). From this perception that's made of this will of the illegitimate friend of the children to gather them for himself, stealing the children, this is the basic nourishment, of the State & society, there is from the group a very powerful sentimental atmosphere that abhors the deepest & most long lasting form of delinquent, the perverted, the heinous soul vampire, or the one that caresses the youngest skins or whispers in the ears of the innocent to contaminate them with his filth. Behind, it's always thought to be discovered, agitating itself, his unspeakable intention to eat them, his secret lineage with the Wolf of the fairy tales. And there can be no pardon for those that dare to disregard the only cannibalistic order possible, not even his infinite bulimia for the most tender of the spirits, the freshest of all flesh.

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