Snapped Up #4
Legal or illegal? Flip a coin!
A Swedish man, 20, is accused of having done something sexual with a 10-year-old boy three times. Once again the legal term “rape of a child” is used literally by the journalists, who think (and write) that the man actually “raped a 10 year old”, despite the legal term can mean very innocent things that normal people wouldn’t think of as “rape”.
The man denies the accusations. The interesting part of this story, however, is found further down in the article. The man is also accused of possessing child pornography. But he wasn’t suspected of this from the beginning. The police had seized “youth magazines” (what, like “Bravo”?) and photos of the boy who is said to be the victim. The article says:
Initially, the material was not considered to be containing child pornography.
“As I understand it, the prosecutor has simply re-evaluated it”, says [defender] Björn Hurtig. “But the question is whether it will work. We’ll see.”
(Inledningsvis bedömdes inte materialet innehålla barnpornografi.
– Såvitt jag förstår har åklagaren gjort en omvärdering av det helt enkelt, säger Björn Hurtig. Men det är frågan om det kommer att hålla. Vi får se.)
This is becoming more and more common: It’s not evident what’s legal and what’s illegal. Different prosecutors can draw totally different conclusions from the same circumstances, as was the case with Assange; one prosecutor said that there was no crime involved in that case, but a prosecutor on a higher level said there was, based on exactly the same information.
Well, that’s a side story.
In our case, the photos the man had of the boy were “not of a sexual nature”, according to another article. So did the whole context somehow transform them? If the man was aroused by them, they suddenly ceased being innocent and turned into evil child porn? Same with the “youth magazines”. The article mentions that they contained articles where the readers could ask questions about sex. Did that, in combination with the man’s purportedly sexual purpose of buying them, turn the magazines into child porn? We will probably never know (if deemed CP they will be destroyed), but if this is the case, it’s just another example of fantasies being criminalized, a process which is well under way in Europe now, after first having been completed in the Anglosphere.
I have even more relevant examples for you, but will save them for another forum which allows us to go in depth in this matter.
Also in Sweden, the Swedish Academy, who maintains the national word list called SAOL, have decided to omit the word “negro ball” (“negerboll”) for a kind of pastry which is nowadays called a “chocolate ball”. They could have added information that the word is old and/or insulting, as they have done with some other words in the new edition. But they chose to remove the word entirely.
By removing the word, they hope to stop people from using it.
To me, a linguist once specialized in the sociology of language, this is a totally alien stance in a democracy, where the language institutions should describe language use, not dictate it.
It’s another thing to remove words that are not used. But that’s not the case here. The word “negro ball” is in use. Probably mostly in a meta way nowadays, as a provocation or reference in discussions about controversial words and whether they should be used or not. But it doesn’t matter how a word is used, as long as it de facto is used!
The purpose of a national word list is to let everyone understand the language, especially linguistically developing groups such as immigrants, children and mentally disabled people. It’s a way to make it accessible for those who didn’t grow up with it, or who can’t understand a certain word from the cultural context. A way to spread the language outside the privileged circle of the middle class. That’s the democratic ideal that academics used to hail and defend, especially since 1968.
In this case, an immigrant might hear the word “negro ball” in a discussion. Everyone who was born in Sweden knows the word. They grew up with it. (More than that; they ate it.) So everyone “gets it” – except the immigrant. Who goes to check up the word in the SAOL word list, just to find out that this word, so often referred to, does not exist and has no explanation.
That’s not how a national word list should work. They should be descriptive, not normative. The Swedish Academy has taken the first step to try to decide over language use. And that’s why this piece of news made it into this magazine, because once you start trying to eradicate phenomena by pretending the words don’t exist, oh the possibilities … (Read more.)
Medicating the disease called “boy”
I saw a Swedish documentary about ADHD boys in the US and Europe, and how the US is diagnosing ever more boys with ADHD; 15 percent of boys are now on medication. For what? Being exceptionally wild, or just being typical boys? Is it the “boy” part of the boys that is being sedated, because it doesn’t fit in anymore in today’s society?
The documentary in Swedish (but with original English and French interviews) can be watched here:
The subject is discussed in a lot of other places too. English speakers can read this article in Esquire for the same theses: The Drugging of the American Boy. The introduction says it all:
By the time they reach high school, nearly 20 percent of all American boys will be diagnosed with ADHD. Millions of those boys will be prescribed a powerful stimulant to “normalize” them. A great many of those boys will suffer serious side effects from those drugs. The shocking truth is that many of those diagnoses are wrong, and that most of those boys are being drugged for no good reason—simply for being boys. It’s time we recognize this as a crisis.
Child porn is the new underage smoking
And so it has happened again, as often reported on now deceased Breaking Boy News: A group of teenagers (14, 15, 15 and 16) had sex and filmed it, and are now in custody (!) for child pornography charges after the 15-year-old girl’s mother reported her daughter to the police after learning about the footage. A classic example of protecting the family’s honor, as we sometimes learn about it from Arab and Kurdish cultures. Way to go, America! And kudos to the mother who sent her daughter to jail and may have her end up as a registered sex offender for the rest of her life. That will teach her a lesson!
On a more serious note, it’s funny how the once horrible word “child porn” has decreased in value and is now on par with underage smoking or other banned activities that teens might find exciting.