Oct 29 2013

Social Justice, A+ and “Not Getting It”

Naw. Just completely Naw. I’ve tended to agree with almost everything you’ve said in the past, to the extent I’ve been able to understand it without a master’s degree. But this? Fuck that shit. You, Ophelia, and Murdock are all simply wrong. I see in your slimy sounding reply to comment 6 that you’re referring debate about the morality of this to Murdock’s site, so I won’t waste your time with my reasoning, but the fact you three see no problem with this shows a shocking lack of empathy. Basically, you’re so into the activist message (a fine thing to be) that you’ve let yourself be completely blind to the harm this kind of thing can cause.

So Murdock can’t use facebook now. Boo fucking hoo. It ain’t the only social media in the world, and sometimes fuckups deserve consequences. Many people who would otherwise be in agreement about almost everything you guys stand for will not go to bat for this one. Consider it, if you’re willing.

So what’s this about?

Basically? Some people think

1. The lack of trigger warnings on a facebook post about “Virgin Checking” in Africa.

2. The subsequent banning of the poster

3. The usage of the photograph

Needless to say? There are TW here with regards t this topic (again).

There is the notion that this was all unnecessary and in general portrayed “Africa” in a bad light.

But this smacks of three things.

1. While Trigger Warnings are important to some it isn’t to most people. And unfortunately, life doesn’t come with a trigger warning. I have PTSD myself courtesy of being nearly blown up. I am terrified of explosions. It’s Diwali at the moment in India and if I were in the UK it would be Guy Fawkes night soonish.

I cannot demand they go away. I have had to make my peace with fireworks. I cannot force others to make peace with their triggers but frankly? If you are planning to fight for “truth, justice and a boiled egg” then you are going to have to learn to take things in your stride.

I have had to treat acid victims, mutilations, burns. I have seen murders, road traffic accidents and even a damn shark attack. And in this all I have to say this.

If you really want to make a change to everyone else rather than simply feel shocked and appalled over photos then I am afraid you need to have a thick skin. If you cannot? Then this isn’t for you. If you are going to break down and cry at every dead child then what use are you in helping? If you cannot roll with punches. To try and do social justice of the sort Acharya was trying to do with trigger warnings is laughable.

Because real life work doesn’t come with trigger warnings. I cannot tell the people I am around that I fear explosions. So I pretend to be scared of the big bangs to make children laugh. I also go light fireworks myself. Why? Because it builds bridges. If you cannot face down that which scares you and triggers your PTSD then why on earth are you calling yourself social justice?

Or it is it only white people’s worries that you bleed for? Steubenvilles and Rebecca Watsons? I am afraid the problem here is you are telling us to not tell our stories. Acharya S does nothing different to what I do except I am generally good about TW because others want to see them.

However if a topic upsets me then there is a button to close the screen. There are however no buttons for those who actually have to deal with these things. While a person horribly injured in an accident is traumatising to look at, I cannot turn him away lest I retch out my breakfast. I must tough it out. If we are discussing social justice then remember those who actually fight this issue.

Remember, I put TW on my posts because I understand that some of my readers have to deal with PTSD. Others don’t because they don’t realise so. Or don’t see how something could be triggering. One cannot expect the entire world to avoid using fireworks and balloons for my benefit.

2. Yes, boo hoo she lost Facebook. I lost it too. It’s a big “problem” when you have a blog and have a group of friends who actively stay in touch with you through that medium. Imagine if someone nicked your phone. That’s the issue. It was also hypocritical. Facebook errs on the side of caution. It’s easier to satiate the group of people who are horrified at nudity than to deal with people irritated at cultural practices that are bad. Sad and irritating but ultimately fixable.

3. The usage of photos of people having terrible things happen to them is the very basis of journalism. Writing about it is also the basis of it.

From where I am sat, I am horrified because Murdock/Acharya has not written anything different from me. The practice of virginity testing in Africa is found in a variety of cultures. It is prevalent even in the UK where the NHS has done around a 100 Hymenorraphy or reconstruction of the hymen SOLELY for women to pass a virginity test in their culture.

And if you think we should stop talking about it then I am afraid then it’s only social justice for the people who are in western nations.

You are bringing anthropology into charity work. Which is just pitifully wringing your hands refusing to stop people from doing bad things as long as those bad things are justified by culture or religion.

It’s like the goodness gracious me sketch where the white woman in charge of a women’s shelter refuses to intervene in a husband trying to murder his wife because they are Asian and this is a cultural issue and it’s not her place to say that it is bad.

Well bull biscuits to that!

You don’t want to see terrible things. You have the luxury of not seeing these terrible things. Others really do not have such a luxury. The people living there for starters have to live with this sort of thing.

The practice of virginity testing is seen in a lot of cultures. An inordinate amount of emphasis is made on virgins and the honour of women with regards to virginity and it’s an idea older than the Bible.

And there are those who think this is exploitative.

Sure it’s exploitative. It’s putting up an invasive and pointless procedure online for all and sundry to see. We should not put up such a photo.

Instead we should not provide any photos about the events and experiences we have  lest someone be exploited by their presence in the photo. We should not punctuate our arguments with visual evidence. How dare we depict starving children in Somalia! We are giving Johannesburg a bad name!

That’s not how photo journalism works. You inform people about an issue and if you have photos you put them up. I lost my camera hence the rather lean looking blog but the last things that came out of my camera were photos of the Indian Rape Protests. Where people’s anger and rage and sorrow were exploited to show the rest of the world what Indian women were fighting for.

Pornographic? No. It’s not. From a purely anthopological viewpoint it is a cultural practice. From a reportive viewpoint it is evidence for a practice. You think breasts are somehow sexualised? That’s your cultural sensitivity. Many cultures across the world don’t consider women to be “topless” and breasts are just things that feed babies. It is us who sexualised them. They would consider us to be grotesque weirdoes and ashamed of something that is part of being a woman. No it was not pornographic.

Rape? I have heard the term “Birth Rape” being used before. Or the rape of a woman by a doctor when the doctor performs things considered basic and gynaecologically sound. While I think consent is important in medicine I think that in emergencies consent should be assumed. Otherwise the entire field of Emergency and Trauma medicine are buggered.

What it is, is a tragedy. It is a tragedy that young girls are being needlessly tested for a hymen. It is a crying shame. It’s their culture? So what? Not all of culture is good. Do you think Sati was good? Or the Caste System? No? Then if we can discuss those things why can’t we discuss such a pointless and widespread practice as “Virgin Testing”?

II am sure you will call this mansplainin or whatever. But frankly?

Only one of us is actually doing society any justice here. Sure, call me whitewashed. Other Indians do that. I have been called coconut way too many times for it to hurt from white people (Brown on the Outside, White on the inside) but you know what? Not all ideas have the same worth. And some cultural ideas are good.

For every stance for women’s equality I stand for I point out that India has as many female engineers as male ones. Why? Maths is not hard for girls in India. For all that culture of discrimination India is more progressive in some ways than the UK or the USA to its women. We can criticise the USA for it’s treatment of women planning to go into science or mathematics, yet we are suddenly not allowed to criticise vast parts of rural African culture?

And I will point out that the practice of infundibulation or the suturing shut of the vagina except for a small hole to allow urine and menstrual fluid out is linked to virginity. This is a practice that in many parts of Africa is linked to Female Genital Mutilation. Still don’t want to talk about it? What about in the Middle East and Pakistan’s Pashtun regions where a lack of virginity or a hymen can mean death? Still don’t want to talk about it?

And in this entire discussion of the tragedy of these virgin checks we seem to have become more enthralled by the validity of photojournalism and whether or not a photo should be taken despite the good it can do.

For those who think otherwise? The amount of good such photos do if used carefully and sensibly helps. It raises awareness, it raises consciousness and it makes a noise and gets people trying to change things both locally and internationally.

And if you are going “OMG NUDE CHILDREN” then you aren’t bloody getting the point. If the nudity of children is what gets your goat more than the fact that women are effectively being reduced to hymens then you aren’t helping anyone.

Maybe Acharya was wrong in posting uncensored photos but here is the thing. Who is she helping by censoring it? Are we so naive to think that a blurred out breast is somehow not a breast? Do you know what it sounds like?

Good heavens! This practice is primitive and barbaric, please cover up the young girls! There are women and paedophiles about.

Equating this with the Steubenville rape does neither the victim of Steubenville nor of this practice any good.

And that’s the point. Photographs do some good. They change public perceptions and attitudes.

I point out Phan Thi Kim Phuc. AKA The Napalm Girl. A photograph that destroyed the public perception that the USA were heroes in VIetnam and made people realise the human cost of war.

Her photos changed the world. A naked burning child. Had the photographer not taken the shot first and not shown the world the horror of napalm we would probably have never banned napalm and the Vietnam war would have continued long after and with a greater death toll. In a way that photo saved more young girls. If you think it’s porn then shame on you because only a sick mind would consider a young girl being burned alive as porn.

And there in lies my answer. Photos are powerful and speak volumes. Take the shot first then help because it will do more good than not taking the shot, not helping and not discussing the problem.

Virgin testing is a social, cultural and religious problem. There is naught wrong with criticising such a problem. There is however something wrong with sanitising the practice so that it fits our tastes so that then and only then may we criticise it. It is laughable to a medic that people are actually more irritated about breasts than the practice.

If that is the case then do you really think you are helping?


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  1. 1
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  3. 3

    Great post.

    I think most people agree that we need to be wary of cultural imperialism, especially if we are talking about some or other barely contacted Amazonian/Guinean tribe, but most of the time we are talking about countries and peoples who are, at least to some extent, part of the global community and the idea that passing judgement is somehow imperialistic or, worse, racist not only justifies individuals inaction but pressures others into remaining silent also.

    I see much of the objection referred to the fact theat the girls were identifiable in the photo and i think a case could be made that, in an ideal world (and with the benefit of hindsight) blurring their faces may have had some merit. However, the A+ response seemed totally over the top. I noted the claim being made that if this were a western white girl we would not have shown a similar photo but this is a cynical argument used to show racism where there is none. We would handle this different with a western white girl (or a western white boy, or a western black girl or a western asian boy etc etc) because our expectation is that in the wired parts of the world the individual will be quickly identified and may be damaged/shamed/embarassed as a result. I find it hard to envisage that the local tribespeople in these girls social world will be digging their laptops out and satellite hooking up to view these images (as would happen in many parts of the world). On top of that, isn’t the very issue that this is a cultural norm in these cultures, so the idea of the shame and embarassment seems (to me) a little like a group of Saudi men complaining that western journalists are out of order for publishing photos of western women with their heads exposed.

    For my part, I found the image disturbing and motivating in a way I would not have done without the image: it made the practice seem a lot more ‘real’ than had i just been left to read about it.

  4. 4

    Man, this FTB hive mind echo chamber is really getting me down.

  5. 5
    Great American Satan

    Interesting a comment Carrier dismissed as “weirdly childish” provoked so much thought from someone they wrote a blog post about it. Hi there. I also find it funny that your first two comments are spambots. Not sayign that means anything, but I’m just amused by it.

    Well, sir, I haven’t the juice to engage with your criticisms directly, so I’ll just throw more poop at the wall and skate. You’ve been through a lot and that’s a damn shame. As you know, it’s the cost of getting out into the world to directly try to improve the lives of others. Good job.

    But when I see “get a thicker skin,” I think Dear Muslima, and I wonder where you stand on that fine piece of shit. Not everyone has the same abilities when it comes to handling shock and trauma. If Facebook, in all their fetid corporate glory, wants to create an environment where someone who was, say, raped by a doctor doesn’t have to see images of someone being raped by a doctor, I can’t disagree with that one.

    That said, I did just delete my FB account. Those guys suck.

    Also, when Carrier or peeps defending his honor insist on quibbling about the definitions of sexual assault and rape to justify this, it tells me all I need to know about their slimy fucking asses. BTW, I don’t speak on behalf of A+, though it seems some people there are closer to agreeing with me than with y’all.

    Carry on with your side, I’ll carry on with mine.

  6. 6

    A coloured man, engaged in actual hands on social justice lecturing white, female first world feminists on misplaced sensitivity. Awkward, the kyriarchy machine will have to be well tuned to figure this out.

    My guess? There will be resounding silence in contrast to the 100 + comments on other board posts highlighting important issues such as texting while driving. The hive mind (as Sally refers to it) will not, cannot, buzz on this one.

    My take; the type of SJ you “don’t get” is an ideological first world pantomime divorced from the messy pragmatic confusions of the developing world. Best not try and correlate to what sounds like amazing work.

    I personally could not do what you do. Whatever our differences, well done.

  7. 7

    I left a forum because some so called ‘feminists’ pulled the ‘well it’s a cultural thing’.

    Yes, it’s a cultural thing. That doesn’t make it alright. It’s a cultural thing here to get a woman drunk to take advantage of her (which also isn’t rape, according to Carrier) and that’s not okay either.

    It’s rape culture, the many ways in which the culture itself strips away a woman’s ability to say no.

    These girls did not give their full, informed, uncoerced consent to this practice because they can’t. Society has been coercing them since the day they were born. Since consent could not be given due to the coercion aspect, the crime is rape.

    If you put a woman/girl in a situation where she cannot say no due to cultural backlash, coercion, intoxication, or other pressures, then you are no different than someone who just plain ignores the ‘no’ in the first place. More subtle, perhaps, but not morally superior.

  8. 8
    Allan Frost

    Thanks for the Napalm Girl comparison. I think that’s really on the money.


    Your lack of self-awareness is humorous. It’s almost as if SallyStrange knew a douche like you would show up in the comments section.

  9. 9

    You know, that is an awful lot of straw you just soundly beat. I can’t speak to the brouhaha on facebook, I have little patience for FB and no account. Thing is you aren’t referring to FB on this post. You are calling out the reaction several of us had on the A+ forums, and here in FTB, shocking that our communities overlap eh?

    Here is the thing, the positions you are railing against, no one on A+ endorses that crap. Did you read any of the objections? Noleplumb seems to get the why of it. Rape victims were shown mid rape with no protection, at all, of their identity. He seems comfortable with the view that these kids will never see the magical internets because Africa people don’t haz technologies. That is some crap. It may be that none of those kids will ever see the internet but I would not bet on it and I do not see anyone offering any reason why they should not be afforded the same protection and anonymity as any other rape victim. However you didn’t engage that argument did you. No you were too busy telling us that we don’t allow discussion about abuse in foreign countries. That pretty much cinches the you didn’t bother to read what we wrote, before you decided to criticize. A+ has been very universal in labeling the virginity testing as rape and we are very clear in how we feel about rape, hint it is bad no matter what color the victim or perpetrator is. (I don’t speak for A+ but I will speak about us).

    But you think we will call you a coconut? Why the hell would you even bring that up? Does it help your argument to proactively martyr yourself?

    You did talk about the napalm picture. It certainly helped end he nalpalming of people, but to claim it had sole responsibility, or that no other image could have done it? That is pure crap. Would the photo be less powerful had her face been blurred? Would it have been less powerful if she consented to its use? Was that the only mage of the human cost of napalm?

    If you want to have a dialog about this how about actually addressing the points of objection that were raised? Hint it wasn’t omg breasts. Otherwise you are just one more pompous ass gassing at length about how exploiting rape victims and children and rape victim children is ok if your cause is nobel enough, and I am just the guy saying that we can fight this crap without adding to the harm already done to the victims.

    Do no harm… Seems I have heard that from somewhere, maybe some kind of oath…it sure seems like good advice.

  10. 10

    Jagwired, I suspect I disagree with you, but will wait till you develop an actual position.

  11. 11

    He seems comfortable with the view that these kids will never see the magical internets because Africa people don’t haz technologies. That is some crap. It may be that none of those kids will ever see the internet but I would not bet on it and I do not see anyone offering any reason why they should not be afforded the same protection and anonymity as any other rape victim.

    Other than me. I just offered you a bunch of reasons. That you choose to disagree with them does not make them pop out of existence.
    One thing that Ophelia Benson called you on was putting words in people’s mouths and you have done the same here. I was, to some extent, minded of the limited extent of internet availability in rural Africa but you misunderstood the point I was making. If this is a normal part of their culture (which we are being told it is) and something which is done out in the open (as many of the photos on the blog linked in the comments on Ophelias posts show) in full view of onlookers then why would their fellow tribesmembers feel the need to look up such images on the internet when, in all likelihood, they either witnessed the actual event or had the opportunity to do so?
    When Nat Geographic show topless pictures of tribeswomen or tribesmen wearing but a tiny loin cloth, do we worry that such images might be used to embarass the people in the picture? i suggest that no-one has such worries because such dress is part and parcel of their culture and, as such, does not carry the baggage for them as it would if you or I were pictured topless or in a loincloth and the images published for all to see.

    I also don’t know why you keep insisting on calling this rape, as if sexual assault is not somehow bad enough. The idea that anything penetrative would take place on an examination aimed at demonstrating that penetration has never taken place seems a somewhat absurd claim to make. It seems to me that this is much more along the lines of some sort of gynaecological examination, and what we really should be railing against is:
    a) that it is a totally unnecessary and invasive of the persons privacy (and, as such, may constitute a sexual assault)
    b) what it represents (negatively) with respect to views of women and their worth

  12. 12

    Apologies for ‘quote fail’. the first paragraph was a quote of ApostateltsopA

  13. 13

    No worries about the quotes, lets see if I can do better.

    First, yes I was accused of putting words in people’s mouths. Go back an look, that accusation was nonspecific and when I attempted to clarify with the person I was accused of putting words in the mouth of, that person refused to clarify and consistently resisted my request that they do so. However what I did to to them is what I did to you, I rephrased the things they said with a lot more obvious negative connotations. I didn’t add meaning, but I did take away the soft language on ugly concepts. Pretty much the same concept. Lets see if I can get the quote to work.

    because our expectation is that in the wired parts of the world the individual will be quickly identified and may be damaged/shamed/embarassed as a result. I find it hard to envisage that the local tribespeople in these girls social world will be digging their laptops out and satellite hooking up to view these images (as would happen in many parts of the world). On top of that, isn’t the very issue that this is a cultural norm in these cultures, so the idea of the shame and embarassment seems (to me) a little like a group of Saudi men complaining that western journalists are out of order for publishing photos of western women with their heads exposed.

    You have two main concepts here, 1. That the risk of harm is negligible because you believe these people lack internet access. and 2. that this is socially acceptable where they come from and therefore should not be a source of shame.

    (If I’m not interpreting your words correctly please let me know)

    1. You don’t know that. It is presumptuous on some very biased lines to assume they will not get onto the internet, especially because they are so young, and facial recognition software is getting so good and because the internet is very, very pervasive. I think that as we move on in time the internet will be more and more widely available globally. I see no evidence to assume that would not be the case. Why risk it? Especially since the good being done by this picture doesn’t need that image to be done.

    2. Culturally acceptable. What the hell? How can you make this argument at the same time you decry this practice as sexual assault? The whole point of this image is that what is happening is wrong. So why would you think they would not share that opinion? Perhaps not right away, lots of victims of abuse don’t recognize themselves as victims, and being treated as not victims reinforces that crap.

    You asked about tribes-people in loincloths, seriously? Do you not see the difference in clothing people choose to wear versus people too young to consent being sexually assaulted? You are trying to argue against me by minimizing what happened, at the same time you seem to agree that what happened was at least sexual assault.

    3. Rape. TW Frank description of the image.

    I don’t know if you saw the picture, there were fingers clearly penetrating the outer labia of the little girl closest to the camera. It is very possible to penetrate a vagina without breaking the hymen, though not likely to happen if a penis, or whatever, is pressed deeply in. Ophelia labeled the same act as rape, are you criticizing her for that? Why walk this line? Why pick a fight over how much penetration has to happen before we call it rape? I don’t even begin to understand the thinking that will give a picture of sexual assault a pass, but turn away from the use of that word.

    4. You agree in a perfect world their identities would have been protected. Why not in the actual world? What do we gain from exposing them further that could not also be gained while sheltering them? Why worry about their tribe members attacking them? What if one of them gets to college? Do you think the others in her dorm will view this event as culturally normal? What about rape culture? Lots of sexual assault is seen as normal, acceptable and even encouraged behavior here in the west. None of that poor attitude makes the victims less victims or worth less consideration.

    So please, explain to me how the image of these girls being abused is not exploitation. Tell me how the cause of ending this barbaric crap can not be furthered by extending the same consideration of these victims humanity as we should to all victims. I don’t see it.

    Or agree with me, the practice of virginity testing, FGM and all the rest outlined above, and really just all the rest, is awful and should stop. The practice of exploiting the people who are victims should also stop. There is no need for these images to be identifiable. We are more than capable of generating the same emotional arguments without them. There are lots of tools at our disposal. That is my activism. I absolutely support the effort to end the abuse depicted above, but I also support the end to the exploitation of the victims.

  14. 14

    Because real life work doesn’t come with trigger warnings.


    You don’t want to see terrible things. You have the luxury of not seeing these terrible things. Others really do not have such a luxury. The people living there for starters have to live with this sort of thing.

    I have a rhetorical question of those who complain(ed) about such photos, not for Avicenna or other posters:

    How did you see the photos if you weren’t actively looking for them?

    Answer: They WERE actively looking for them. They have nothing to blame but their own curiosity.

    The pictures weren’t being shown on the corporate media “news” at 6PM, or posted on a “family friendly” site made for kids, they were on a web page known for discussion of such matters. One can’t be surprised at seeing content that matches the page description.

    Those who complain are like rubberneckers who throw up after seeing a dead body in a car accident, or fundamentalist christians who complain about music or pornography. They chose to look at things they knew might “offend” them, and probably just so that they could complain.

    I’ve worked in places that had industrial accidents and have seen them (including giving basic first aid to one). I nearly vomited each time one happened, but I knew they were a possibility. I didn’t say, “I shouldn’t have to look at that” or blame the employer for it. If I didn’t want the risk of exposure to seeing it, I shouldn’t have been working there.

  15. 15


    Ophelia’s Blog? You consider that,

    a web page known for discussion of such matters.

    Because I’ll happily tell you I did not believe what I saw. I was thoroughly shocked to see such there.

    Here is my question for you, why are you making an ad hominem attack on those of us upset with the image? I mean that is a lot of amateur psychology you are spouting there. Did you approve of the unedited image getting posted? If so why? Can you address any of the arguments those of us in the ‘don’t do that’ camp have raised or are you just trolling?

  16. 16

    My objection is not and has never been to the content of the image. My objection is that anyone who posts that photo is exposing girls too young to consent to the entire world and that’s not okay. I don’t care why you want to do it, stripping someone nude, taking photos, and showing them to the world at large with no attempt to protect their identity when they either can’t consent or are not consenting isn’t okay.

    I agree completely that this practice is horrible. I agree completely that it needs to be stopped. But I see the photo of those girls with their faces unobscured, and I think, “What if that were me?”

    You see, Avicenna, I’m a rape survivor. I don’t know whether my abuser took photos. I do know that if photos were taken, and if they were posted to the internet, even under the guise of “exposing the horror of child sexual abuse,” I would be humiliated. I would be revictimized. I could face social and career consequences. For someone to do that to me, without my permission, would be wrong. Regardless of their good intent.

    For someone to do that to these girls, without their permission, is wrong. Regardless of what they hope to do with it.

    There are ways of exposing this stuff to the world that doesn’t sacrifice the victims’ privacy to do so: I’ve seen very good documentaries on the topic of FGM that humanize the victims, and that don’t expose the victims’ nude bodies with no attempt to protect their privacy and dignity. I’ve seen news articles on the topic of sexual abuse that treat the victims very compassionately. I’ve seen photojournalism on child abuse, FGM, and sexual abuse that protects the victim’s privacy and dignity. Skillfully done, it loses none of its power for considering the fact that the victim is a person with rights and dignity that should be respected.

    Because of that, I cannot condone exposing those girls to the world at large in the name of the greater good. You can do the same good without revictimizing them. Do it another way. Do it in a way that respects the humanity of the victims.

  17. 17

    And, for the record: No, I’m not talking about blurring their breasts. I’m talking about their faces. I’m talking about preventing these kids from having one of their classmates find their photo on the internet and turn it into a Rehtaeh Parsons type of situation, with harassment and photos spread all over the damn place (and, yes, I recognize that the Rehtaeh Parsons case happened in Canada, but there have been bullying deaths in India and similarly impoverished countries, too, so I don’t think I’m out in left field by assuming that Nigerian kids can be jerks just like Canadians). I’m talking about preventing one of those girls having her family discover that she’s being exposed all over the internet. I’m talking about preventing one of those girls losing her job over it in ten years time.

    You’re a doctor. You recognize that privacy is important. This is why photos published in medical journals are done in a way that doesn’t identify the victim, right? You realize that this is done because if the person with the condition in question had it become widely known, that could have social ramifications for them, right? And that it’s their right to choose whether or not to let others know that they got this condition, right?

    Why, then, are you denying that same right to those girls? Why not give them the choice of whether or not to announce to the world at large what was done to them as children? Why not give them the choice of whether or not to identify themselves? You’re a doctor. You recognize privacy is important.

    Why not recognize their privacy as important?

  18. 18

    Does seem totally fucked up that the “sanitised” picture blurs out all the “rude” bits and keeps their faces un-blurred. The pictures should be shown uncensored, apart from faces which should be hidden. No matter how unlikely it is they are identified in later life. It doesn’t diminish the power of the image or the ability to get the information on this out there but does treat the victims with respect. In fact what does impede the message is FB’s stance that “rude” bits need to be hidden for fear of damaging peoples morals. An imaginary, primarily religious, construct that is ironically stopping people raising awareness of this horrible practice that is driven by the same type of religious thinking.

    Why the hell are we arguing over something so trivially obvious that peoples privacy should be respected where ever possible when the real censorship is due to puritanical stupidity. Treating them as real people didn’t occur to either side of this debacle it seems – FB or those promoting the image to stop this practice.

    I know Avi has this idea A+ are concerned with the wrong things in SJ, dear muslima level language policing etc, but given what the A+ people above say it seems a clear cut case of caring about the right thing to me. It’s not a matter of suppressing based on “OMG NUDE CHILDREN”, that is FB’s stance, its a matter of treating those children with the same respect we’d afford to richer, less brown children. Some like to pretend this doesn’t exist and its extraordinary to assume there is any racism here. I’m sure they also have a perfectly reasonable explanation why white, blond, blue eyed Roma children are taken from their parents and the brown ones are left alone. None of it can be racism I’m sure, as we don’t treat kids differently based on their colour or what country they are from and internet access level they may have, oh no!

  19. 19

    Also for Noel and his comments about internet access – in Nigeria, where the picture is apparently from, about a third of the population access the internet through mobile phones alone. Very common for people in Africa to use mobiles to get access to the internet given the lack of fixed lines. Won’t be long come the advent of services like 800MHz 4G and mesh that have a much larger range for this to expand, let alone the soon to be attached undersea cable to Nigeria. All this means the availability of internet access is only going to go up and those “tribespeople” you mention will indeed be breaking their phones (not laptops) out. I know some of this because a friend works in the area of researching mesh networks using P2P access and one of the applications is getting internet access to farmers in Africa. Them being able to get price data on crops and sell them direct makes a massive difference to the income they can make. I’m sure their kids will be using it in the downtimes… Expect big changes here in the next decade, Google want to take over the whole world not just the western world (http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57586348-93/google-said-to-deploy-wi-fi-blimps-in-africa-and-asia/)

  20. 20


    1) Once again, you misunderstand the thrust of my point. As far as I am aware, internet access is sporadic in rural Africa but I am sure, like you, that a determined individual could get to an internet cafe, at the very least, to seek out this image if they so wished. The point I was making with my “get their laptops out” comment was to ask why they would bother? You talk about this act as if it is socially regarded as the equivalent to the Steubenville rape case yet it looks for all the world to me (which is part of what I personally found so worrying about the image) more akin to a summer fair, with people stood round observing and a general atmosphere of normalcy and acceptance.
    This appears to be a normal publically held cultural practice and to maximise it by likening it to publishing the trophy photos that a rapist may have taken I thought was way out of line on your part.

    2) You seem to have a problem with me describing it as culturally acceptable because i think you are having a little is/ought moment. Perhaps when you view these images you are assuming all the people are stood round thinking “oh my god, this is sooooo wrong what we are doing here, how bad are we?” but I would suggest to you that it is not the case. Personally speaking, I find the whole business (and even more so the reaoning behind it) abhorrent and I would wish for steps to be taken to change attitudes see such practices cease.
    So this isn’t a case of me treating them as not victims nor treating them as victims. I would suggest to you that both approaches have potential to cause harm in their own ways and neither is necessary (even if we both agree, amongst ourselves, that these girls are victims) in terms of the unacceptability of the practice as we regard it and the reasons for which we maintain that position.

    3) I have just gone back to have another look at the image. It looks like the examiner is holding her labia open to examine whether they hymen is in tact. I don’t see anything penetrative.
    Personally though, I think this is getting away from the issue. Young girls can have far more invasive medical examinations in the west but we do not hold the medical practitioners to be rapists. The ability/inability of the minor to give consent is the same in both cases, the difference is, we hold those examinations to be justified on medical grounds whereas we don’t see any acceptable justification here. So my point here is not to minimise what is happening (I think we all need to neither minimise nor maximise it but try and view it for what it is through both our eyes and theirs) but to say that the issue is not of some evil rapist/molester who needs to be villified and punished but rather a set of cultural norms and assumptions that need challenging with a view to these practices ceasing because they become unacceptable withing their own culture.

    Slightly OT
    Ophelia labeled the same act as rape, are you criticizing her for that?

    Yes. Yes I am. believe me, when I defend Ophelias position here be aware there is absolutely no love lost between Ophelia and I. I am defending her position because I think your reaction, while including a kernal of of argument, was completely over the top and attempted to drag in issues such as racism which seemed more about poisoning her well than anything else.

    4) Why protect the identities in an ideal world and not the actual world? Because in the actual world time flows in but one direction. Ideally the original uploader of the photo, the facebook person and/or Ophelia could and ideally should have blurred their faces. This is the kernal of an argument i mentioned and where I agree with you.
    What is interesting though, is that you did not approach the subject “Hi Ophelia, wouldn’t it have perhaps been prescient to have blurred their faces lest this image revisits the individuals it shows in the future?”. Instead, you launched a volley of *stuff* never even mentioning the idea of blurring their faces. Shall I show you your original message?

    How about not doing that? For hell sakes that is a picture of rape in progress. What is happening is beyind evil but posting it is also evil. That is child porn and I doubt you have any kind of permissin from their parrents. Jesus fuck Ophelia I can see your outrage but don’t add to the list of things wrong with the world while trying to oppose the things that are wrong with the world.

    So Ophelia has committed evil, she has posted what you consider child porn (wow, you have issues) and you seem to imply that if the parents permission had been granted for the posting then things would be different. Can you not see how this is a million miles away from a sober discussion that the picture would have perhaps, giving it a coat more thought, been better published with the faces blurred?

    So please, explain to me how the image of these girls being abused is not exploitation.
    I hold that the image is being exploited (for worthy and hopefully positive ends) but it does not follow from that that the individuals pictured in the image are being exploited.
    In my personal work I cut people out of their vehicles to save their lives (amongst other things). Part of the training for that involves looking at some pretty grisly images of accidents past so that future casualites can be extricated more quickly and given better medical care faster. Are you likewise saying those accident victims are being exploited?
    You need to look at Ophelias motives and the motives of the facebook poster before you start chucking words like ‘exploitation’ around quite so loosely.

  21. 21

    Subjunctive Morality Seems to Have Run Afoul of Something and so is posting through me.

    “I am having some difficulty following your thought processes here, particularly with how these things relate to things social justice advocates have actually said or to A+ more broadly.

    Because real life work doesn’t come with trigger warnings.

    Of course it doesn’t. Who has ever said otherwise? You say you “cannot tell the people [you are] around that [you] fear explosions,” but of course you can; you fear the social repercussions of doing so (and perhaps rightly) because you expect you would be shamed for it. Trigger warnings are a demonstration of empathy on the part of the warner, acknowledging that certain topics trigger unpleasant emotional responses in some people, giving those people the choice to control their exposure rather than merely shaming them for that reaction. We have the power to control our own spaces, and “the offline world is full of terrible people” is not a good reason for purposefully springing shocking images on people. “You need to have a thick skin” is no more constructive than if I were to tell you “stop being triggered by explosions.”

    However if a topic upsets me then there is a button to close the screen.

    If you know a topic upsets someone, would you purposefully and without warning expose them to that topic? Arguing something like I shouldn’t be expected to care about minimizing harm because people can close their browser windows on the internet after they’ve already been exposed to that harm is morally dubious. Where is the ounce of prevention to obviate the necessity of the pound of cure?

    Furthermore, by saying there are “no buttons for those who actually have to deal with these things,” you are implying that people who are exposed to triggering images—that is, images which invoke negative emotional or physical responses—are not “actually” having to deal with it. Not having been physically exposed to the events depicted in any given photograph does not actually prevent a person from being traumatized by a triggering image.

    You don’t want to see terrible things. You have the luxury of not seeing these terrible things.

    When someone who has a long history of not posting terrible things suddenly posts a terrible thing, I do not think it is an accurate representation of reality to state that a person who was unsuspectingly exposed to that terrible thing had the luxury of not seeing it. Not living the original trauma directly is certainly a luxury, but that isn’t the same as not being exposed to terrible things.

    If we are discussing social justice then remember those who actually fight this issue.

    Only one of us is actually doing society any justice here.

    Your post contains a pattern of No True Social Justice Advocate reasoning. You are suggesting that if a party is not directly involved in the immediate physical proximity of a thing that they are not “actually” fighting against that thing. This is untenable. The physician who administers medicine is fighting against disease; the politician who allocates money for scientific research into prevention (and/or cure!) is fighting against disease; the evolutionary biologist who speaks out against anti-vax nonsense is also fighting against disease. One needn’t be holding the metaphoric syringe in order to be a “true” advocate for a cause.

    Yes, boo hoo she lost Facebook.

    You are offering a subset of a single person’s words to malign one or more groups of people, and this is irresponsible. While I cannot speak for that person, I suspect they would share your distaste for Facebook’s inconsistency. And while I do sympathize with Murdock’s cause, pictures of naked children being abused violate Facebook’s terms of service, which makes having one’s access to that site revoked very much unlike someone stealing your phone. The fact that Facebook doesn’t object to facilitating other violent imagery is a massive failure, but the existence of one bad thing does not justify another.

    I am horrified because Murdock/Acharya has not written anything different from me

    Now I am deeply confused. Where are these criticisms of what Murdock wrote, as opposed to the image used in the process? I do not recall seeing anyone arguing (or even suggesting) that the cultural practice of demanding virginity tests should be supported, and if such an absurd argument were made on the A+ forum, I cannot imagine it would go unrebuked. All I have seen thus far is people objecting to a specific picture.

    I am frankly unable to accept your assertion that someone has said “we should stop talking about” virginity tests.

    You are bringing anthropology into charity work.

    Who is “you?” Is it the person whose quote you included? Is it A+? What exactly are you responding to?

    we should not provide any photos about the events and experiences we have lest someone be exploited by their presence in the photo

    The general consensus from the A+ forum appears to have been that nobody should be using pictures of these girls without taking steps to protect their privacy, which is a far cry from the don’t ever use pictures straw caricature you are attacking here. Is this position objectionable to you? If so, why? If this is not the position you are objecting to, please be specific with your attribution.

    I have heard the term “Birth Rape” being used before.

    I remain uncertain about why you would bring this up the context of a post you have titled Social Justice, A+ and “Not Getting it”. Have you heard a number of social justice advocates saying such a ridiculous thing? If so, who, and why not condemn those individuals for it specifically instead of putting the blame on some unrelated group? Or have you seen this view endorsed by A+? To the best of my knowledge, it has not been. (For any who may not know, I am a moderator at the A+ forum, so if such a position had been endorsed there, I would expect to be aware of it.)

    Not all of culture is good. … Not all ideas have the same worth. And some cultural ideas are good.

    Aren’t these some of the most fundamental tenets that social justice advocates draw on? Who are you arguing against if not straw?

    What about in the Middle East and Pakistan’s Pashtun regions where a lack of virginity or a hymen can mean death?

    That’s abhorrent, and the people who support such a policy are monstrous. That situation is an outrage, and it should not be made worse by further victimizing its victims.

    The amount of good such photos do if used carefully and sensibly helps.

    Absolutely. (Do note the “if” clause.)

    Who is she helping by censoring it? Are we so naive to think that a blurred out breast is somehow not a breast?

    I would absolutely endorse the blurring of their identifying features, but what you are implying here strains credulity. Who exactly has suggested that the children in the picture should have their breasts blurred out?”

  22. 22

    Worth pointing out that beneath the vast mountain of equivocation from Noel, he actually agrees with A+ …

    … i think a case could be made that, in an ideal world (and with the benefit of hindsight) blurring their faces may have had some merit.

    … and …

    The general consensus from the A+ forum appears to have been that nobody should be using pictures of these girls without taking steps to protect their privacy

    I thought agreement with A+ was always impossible for reasonable people, maybe we are getting to Noel?

    Noel ends on a bad analogy though since gristly pictures used for fire fighter training will be of dead people (in theory no consent needed) or if people who survived then there most definitely will be consent. If not then he or his bosses will be in deep shit. I’d guess even if they have pics of dead people without the relatives consent then, while probably legal, they will be in a world of bad PR if it came out. The dead victims are treated with more respect than these living girls. Although I’d agree on the child porn thing, I think if you went out of your way to collect these pictures then you’d be on thin ice. But since they are not created for the purposes of sexual excitement then they are not pornographic by law.

  23. 23

    While the photographs are important, and facebook was hypocritical in closing the account, the faces of the girls should have been blurred. They are people, not tools for a crusade.

    However, I doubt that was facebook’s motive for closing the account. More likely, it was because the photos offended ‘bro-culture’ and facebook’s management is heavily seeped in that culture.

  24. 24

    @ noelplum99

    1. I’m not missing your point, but perhaps I’m not making mine clearly. I think that with the facial recognition software, and the picture searches and things like FaceBook with people being tagged in pictures, that these images will seek them out should they go online. I think that the likelihood of them owning a cell phone with internet access and a social networking presence is rather high and I fear their reaction to coming across that image. I feel that finding such a thing would hurt. It is possible none of that will happen, but we seem to agree it’s not worth the risk.

    2. I am not projecting any views onto the others pictured. I think it is quite possible that they have exactly the attitude that you describe. I don’t see the attitude as particularly meaningful except as a greater tragedy layered over the first horror.

  25. 25


    There was a long reply and the internet seems to have eaten it. I will retype it but not just right now.

  26. 26

    @ noelplum99 (Sorry about missing part of your nym earlier)

    Lets see if I can quickly pick up where I left off.

    2. ctd. perhaps additional tragedy would have been better than greater. We seem to agree that the girls are victims. I don’t understand your point about how they are and are not victims though I agree with you they may not now see themselves as victims. However since we agree they are victims I think we should also agree they deserve all the protection and consideration we would extend any other victim of abuse. I suspect you feel the same way.

    3. I’m not going to fight with you about how much penetration it takes to move a sexual assault to rape. What bothers me even more than such needless pedantry is the equivocation between this practice and western gynecology. Gynecology has an empirical and proven health benefit. This practice is part of a system to oppress women and values them for the status of a piece of flesh. They are not at all the same, save in some similarity of the crude motions and comparing them would be like likening a stabbing to surgery. I really don’t understand why some people keep trying to equate the two or what could be gained from the comparison. If you agree this is sexual assault you should not think of it as equivalent to a medical procedure, unless you think gynecology is also sexual assault.

    OT Racism – You claim my bringing in racism is well poisoning. I see it as central to this whole mess. Cultural racism seems to me to be the root of the reply, “It’s anthropology” to my objections. The reason so little empathy was available that this picture was trotted out, not to stop the abuse, but to reactivate a Facebook account, with no thought at all to protecting the identities of the girls and pride in showing the image “uncensored”.

    Ophelia has stated she would show the same image of westerners being “tested” she seems to think there are a lot of people who need an image this graphic to understand the concept. She never did respond, save by finally removing the image, to the need to protect the girls identity.

    4. I will admit to being quite triggered when I first saw the image. I could have communicated my objections more clearly, though I think I have since done so at length. For the record, you are the person engaging the objections and you seem to be mostly in agreement with me and the other objectors.

    At any rate I could have posted more clearly, but I remain convinced my outrage was appropriate. This was outrageous. I still see it as a rape in progress, published, with no thought to the protection of the victims and for the purpose of shocking people into helping reinstate a facebook account.

    The parents comment in my mind linked to the action and support shown by Melinda Colemn for her daughter, I clearly did not articulate that well.

    Lastly, consent is the key to exploitation. Without it exploitation is what you get, with it exploitation isn’t possible. I am certain the people in your firefighting texts knew both the purpose of the images and their intended use. (Those who were still alive at least) I am equally certain that while the girls and their families in the photo may have realized they were being recorded that consent for the use and scale of it’s distribution were not covered.

    Anyway I think that all hits the high points of my previous post gone to the nets.

  27. 27


    A little short on time but a couple of bits i wanted to clear up.

    We seem to agree that the girls are victims. I don’t understand your point about how they are and are not victims though I agree with you they may not now see themselves as victims.

    I am sensitive to the plight of people who are victims and do not realise they are, yet feel there is something ‘wrong’, perhaps something they feel guilt over, and the benefits of letting them know that they are the victim and they have no reason to feel they did anything wrong.
    However, sometimes we feel people are victims of something but that to confront them with that fact will cause them more grief rather than less.
    A slightly trivial example would be a relative of mine who was right royally done over with some tree work he had done and paid at least double what he should have done. I know he has been the victim of what amounts to a fraud there, with the amount of work and costs misrepresented – i also know that my relative is not aware of that and is actually fairly happy with what has been done. If I confront him with my thoughts I suspect he will feel sick to the pit of his stomach, as we all do when we realise we have been ripped off, so forcing him to accept victim status seems damaging there not helpful.
    A less trivial, and more analogous, example would be my own upbringing. As far as i am concerned I have never been sexually abused as a child. If you and I had a conversation and during that convo I talked about something that had happened (not saying it troubled me but just matter of factly) to me as a child that you suddenly reaslied WAS sexual abuse (or other abuse) would you really be doing me any favours if you insisted I had been sexually abused as a child and needed to face up and deal with it: you might send me from a happy individual into a deep depression.
    So my point with these girls was not to spend too much time stressing their victimhood (especially as you say yourself they could stumble across these very exchanges (alongside the image), exchanges that now, unfortunately, include you labelling their images as child porn) but to allow them, as they get older, to decide if they feel victims and in need of dealing with it or otherwise.
    I hope that clarifies what i meant there, even if we still end up not quite in agreement.

    The reason I equate the two is because you cannot ignore the issue of motive. If those involved feel they are doing this for legitimate medical and cultural reasons rather than as a sexual act then you cannot simply ignore that. in fact to ignore that might well mean you set about trying to tackle the cultural issues in precisely the wrong way.
    From our perspective we both regard what is going on as a sexual assault so parhaps we should leave that one on the point of agreement rather than the points of disagreement? After all, we are agreeing on the bit that is of concern here.

    Wrt the racism point. You kept referring to how she would treat a ‘white western girl’. Had you confronted her with how she would treat these ethnically sub-saharan african girls were they citizens of the west then i wouldn’t have seen the rascism of your comments. you seemed to be suggesting that skin colour was the important determinent in her decision to show the images, not what part of the world the people live.

    At any rate I could have posted more clearly, but I remain convinced my outrage was appropriate. This was outrageous. I still see it as a rape in progress, published, with no thought to the protection of the victims and for the purpose of shocking people into helping reinstate a facebook account.

    Even if that is the case, even if you are entirely right, put yourself in OB’s shoes for one second. If someone pulled you up by accusing you of evil and of publishing child pornography when you were acting with the very best of intentions, would you be inclined to react positively to that or go on the defensive. I freely admit, whilst I try personally to be detached and objective, almost to the point of infuriating people (not deliberatly) at times, there is no way your original comment could have attracted anything other than a kneejerk response were it aimed at me, even IF I’d ultimately felt your central point was entirely justified.

    I am certain the people in your firefighting texts knew both the purpose of the images and their intended use. (Those who were still alive at least)

    I have discussed this with oolon via pm. That is not the case. All emergency services use such pictures and the situation is that no consent is deemed necessary as long as the pictures are unlikely to cause embarassment and that they are used witjh sensitivity, purpose and kept within the professional environment. That said, as i pointed out to Oolon, if you look at any major disaster (such as 9/11 or famously I recall the footage ihere in the UK of the hillsborough stadium disaster) you will see images of victims broadcast, faces unblurred, across the whole country or the whole world.
    Now you could make a case here that this image could cause embarassment and so is unlike the images we would use at work. But that is besides the point I was making which is that using images in these ways are not exploitative of the individuals in the image if they are done for the right motives. Even when we deem it wrong to use such images it is not on grounds of exploitation but on grounds of personal dignity, privacy and cultural sensitivity.

    Ok, shopping to do :)

  28. 28

    Holy shit Noel, did you just argue that ignorance is bliss? I mean, WTF! On an *atheist* blog network you argue that disabusing people of their happy misconceptions might do more harm than good?! Despite the bizarre idea that someone can be subject to child abuse and live their lives in ignorance of that fact until someone points it out to them … Don’t see how that would work or what basis you would argue it on! Even so it’s rather infantalising and condescending to other adult human beings to decide you/we know what is best for them and not say anything. So tell your relative and equip them to not get ripped off in future, trees grow and they’ll need more work, they may even thank you that they will save money next time. Tell them to always get three quotes for any work and never accept the first one, all good advice that will improve their savings. By saying nothing you are helping make them an unknowing victim through their ignorance and letting shysters rip them off.

    /rant over and a weird point that smacks of point scoring over Apos, they have “also” hurt these girls with their intemperate language and truth telling!

  29. 29


    Holy shit Noel, did you just argue that ignorance is bliss?

    Not a lot gets past you, does it mate. Well, suck it up honeypie, I almost used the analogy, when I left my previous comment, of the selfishness of disabusing an old person of their faith, for whom it is a source of comfort, and forcing them to face up to what may be, for them, quite an alarming set of alternatives.

    Of course there is another relevant analogous scenario here, in the religious sphere, and that is the justification of the religious parent teling their offspring of the very real horrors of hell (as they see it): no point letting the child live in blissful ignorance when such frightening realities need to be faced up to, right?

    I think a balance needs to be struck in all cases and part of that balance is understanding the difference between the honesty of answering a direct question and informing people of what you think of their situation without being asked.
    Sometimes I fear that ideologs, such as yourself, tend to base that balance more on what sits best with your own ideology and sensibilities than what is really in the best interests of the other person. Maybe i am being unfair, Oolon,: you tell me.

    As far as my relative, thank you for your sensible concerns but the practicalities of future arboricultural requirements have been dealt with to ensure we can secure them an *even better* deal than they managed to secure last time :)

    /rant over and a weird point that smacks of point scoring over Apos, they have “also” hurt these girls with their intemperate language and truth telling!

    Tell me then – as you accuse me of indulging purely in a point scoring exercise – when i made the same point to you privately in an email (regarding the intemperate language/accusations and potential damage esp wrt ‘child porn’) you never accused me of point scoring, you seemingly accepted it as a genuine point on its own merits (not saying you agreed with it, you understand).
    So what are you saying exactly?
    That it was alright for me to make that point privately but if I say it to the person involved it then ceases to become a legitimate point and suddenly becomes point scoring?

  30. 30

    @Noel, you misunderstand, I don’t agree it is child porn because the definition doesn’t fit, and said that in the email. I do however understand why they used those words, anger. They were correct to be angry as all three of us agree the faces should have been blurred when depicting a sexual assault. One of us is engaged in adversarial argument with them and seems unable to ignore the intemperate words they themselves admitted were intemperate. Seems to score a cheap point over something they have admitted was an angry response. Same with this bizarre “ignorance is bliss” argument … Can only say how it seems to me as I cannot read your mind.

    Analogies are difficult things to utilise without muddying the waters, you seem to be an expert in choosing ones that simply don’t fit. Again with your religious parents telling their child about hell – how is that relevant? The truth being told here is one we all agree on is true, we are not addressing them directly but you think there is some infinitesimal chance they may see this comment thread O_O! Therefore it is damaging to discuss the important subject of keeping peoples privacy in situations like this. So we shouldn’t do it? Taken to its extremely illogical conclusion and applied to your religious example all atheist activism and blogs like this should shut up about it in case they stumble across it and lose their faith. Being of the position that certain truths need to be hidden is both patronising to the people you are hiding them from and in reality a practical impossibility. I’m with the Atheist Experience crew as it’s come up there on a number of occasions that “militant atheists” shouldn’t “take” peoples comforting lies from them and be nicer atheists. You can argue it out with them.

    In this actual example they’d either be of the opinion that we are silly white folk who don’t get their culture and dismiss what is said. Or have already come to the conclusion that what was done to them was abuse and likely be happy that people like Apos were concerned for their privacy. Anyway vanishingly small chance, orders of magnitude smaller than an image on Google being linked to them. And totally different and irrelevant to not respecting their basic privacy.

    Finally “ideolog”, really? Used as a pejorative? You really think you are not espousing an ideology yourself! Your stance on rape culture, feminism, is all an ideology and it seems you are an outspoken ideolog yourself mate. Only one of us is fooling himself that what they are doing is somehow neutral or not an ideology, supporting the status quo is an ideological position as well.

  31. 31

    Hi Ool0n,

    I think we are now at crossed purposes with respect to this ‘child porn’ issue. I wasn’t suggesting you regarded this image as child porn, I agree with you that your position, as stated via email, was the same as mine. The point I was referring to was the issue I raised via email of how referring to it as ‘child porn’ online may be disturbing for those featured in the image (in this hypothetical ‘stumbling across’ which is central to all the arguments we have had in this debate). My point above, was that when I made the same point via email you never accused me of point scoring – when I make it here you state that point scoring must have been the driving force of why I offered the remark.

    I must admit to being somewhat nonplussed with your perspective regarding what has been written on this blog. You seem to simultaneously see it as highly unlikely they will stumble across this blog (or Ophelia’s), yet highly likely they will stumble across the image. Now whilst that may be true (in fact, I agree with you), Ophelia linked to the image, she did not publish it, so unless they’d arrived at the image via Ophelia’s blog (which you say is highly unlikely) I don’t see what impact Ophelia’s actions have had or why the outrage was aimed at Ophelia and not the uploader and host of the image.
    So when I initially saw Opos’s objections, alongside others from A+ forum, I had assumed their outrage was on the grounds that by linking the image here she had provided another venue where that image could be seen by those involved or those close to them. If, as you say, that is so exceedingly unlikely, then what exactly was the original problem (outside of a point of principal)?

    With regard to me terming you an ideolog, I will clarify what I mean. I mean someone who holds an ideology (as we all do) and then insists on applying it whenever and wherever over and above pragmatic considerations. This is where I suggest we differ. I hold ideological positions on many things but they simply inform my stance in each case, they do not dictate it. I am not sure the same is true of you.
    I actually vlogged about this a week or two ago “Principles vs Pragmatics in Recent Hot Topics: Scum Thoughts” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFcoPUwraqk

  32. 32

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