Paedophilia has recently been a topic of much discussion by the press, mostly due to the horrible murder of Sarah Payne, and many other more recent cases such as that of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. Now that the media has picked up on this it’s becoming very much like a witch hunt, a man who smiles at a child because he thinks the child is cute, or funny is labelled a paedophile, the recent controversy over Michael Jackson is another example of media hype. The fuss over the Brass Eye special in which Chris Morris took the Mickey out of the press’s hype is an example of how angry the excitement behind the issue is making people. The program wasn’t bad, it was funny, it made some excellent points about people jumping to conclusions, but it wasn’t this the public objected to. It was the fact he was talking about paedophilia, and not using the hushed, serious tones it is felt should be used.
Talking about paedophilia has become taboo. Not talking about it in a horrible, disgusting way, but merely discussing the subject of it is no longer acceptable in public places. For example, my friends and I were having one of our long conversations about a great many subjects in Burger Star. The conversation turned to paedophilia; it was something along the lines of “what do you think should be done about it?” Anyway, no sooner had the P-word been uttered when a woman said very loudly “shut the fuck up!” We carried on talking, assuming she wasn’t talking to us, after all, we hadn’t said anything rude or offensive. Suddenly she was standing next to us, “I said shut the fuck up about that!” We were stunned, we asked her what we should stop talking about, she answered “you know, paedophilia, you don’t talk about that in public, it’s disgusting,” we agreed with her that it is disgusting and that was why we were talking about it, we explained our conversation, she seemed un-affected, she repeated that she “don’t wanna hear that word so you can shut the fuck up!” the irony of that made us laugh, she was swearing at us for using a word she didn’t want to hear. Possibly laughing was a mistake, because the manager threw us out, but the point still stands.
The above incident is not isolated, I have been told not to discuss paedophilia in public by no fewer than five people, all seemingly convinced that paedophile is a dirty word. It isn’t if it becomes so taboo we can’t discuss it, how are we meant to deal with it? Media hype is turning a serious subject into a taboo which must be kept secret, that helps nobody!