[Newsletter E 8]
Love in a Slave Society
By Jay Baskins
Visualize a society dominated by the institution of slavery. Imagine that this is back in the old days, before TV, before cars, before electric pencil sharpeners. Imagine that it is even before all the wilderness areas were perfectly mapped. These were the days when trolls still ruled the earth. Pretend that was a long time ago.
Suppose that a few slaves escape, and that they are able to survive in roving bands and in small communities hidden in the wilderness. A few even manage to disguise themselves as ordinary citizens and live double lives within the dominant community. Now suppose a slave living in disguise dedicates himself to the escape of other slaves. Call him Mr. Byrd.
One day Mr. Byrd is able to have a conversation with a slave boy named Jason. He explains to Jason that the system he lives under is immoral and unnecessary, and that there is some chance of his escaping. The boy is thrilled, and though he realizes the danger, decides to take the chance. Mr. Byrd makes arrangements for the boy to meet up with Mr. Malcolm, a member of one of the roving groups. They make contact at the appointed time and place and slip away into the woods. However, while they are camping out in the forest, Jason has second thoughts. He is afraid and he misses his mother. He wants to return. Mr. Malcolm tries to talk him out of it, but to no avail.
Slave hunters catch Jason as he tries to return, and beat him severely. Jason has known nothing but slavery since birth, so the slave owners have little difficulty persuading him that it was a mistake to have listened to Mr. Byrd or Mr. Malcolm.. Full of remorse Jason confesses all. Mr. Byrd is caught and condemned to life in prison. A posse is sent in hot pursuit of Mr. Malcolm. He escapes, but the woods are patrolled from then on with dogs to make sure other bad types never again get close enough to the plantations to enable others to escape. Jason suffers permanent injuries from the beatings he received, and his whole family is punished. Jason himself is watched more closely than any other slave on his plantation in case he should he ever entertain more thoughts about escaping.
Is it ever advisable or even ethical, to allow sexual expression to the love feelings a man might have for a boy? The story above illustrates the context in which this question must be understood. We live in a slave society. We want to liberate ourselves and the boys we love from its bondage. Yet when we risk doing so we place both the boys and ourselves at great risk.
Perhaps I am unfair. Do we indeed live in a slave society? And if so, who are the masters?
An old folk tale from Norway describes three troll brothers who have to share a single eye. They pass this eye back and forth as they stumble along together, taking turns using it. Western culture is ruled by three ideologies that stumble along, like the troll brothers in the story, with very limited vision. As any lover of fairly tales is well aware, knowing the names of one's adversaries gives us power over them. The three troll brothers who rule our lives are named:
What then is this one eye that these troll brothers share? What is the one thing that they see when they look out at the world? It is the need to control other people against their will. Around this goal they join hands, and with their limited vision they create a slave society. As a result, we work to make the rich richer, we behave like Pavlovian dogs to provide our behavioral technicians the illusion that life is predictable and controllable, and we repress our sexuality to preserve the Puritans from feeling defiled by our presence.
Sexual activities that are mutually desired between men and boys are not intrinsically hurtful. We know this through the study of anthropological reports, historical analysis, social research, and personal accounts. However our society seeks to repress such behavior through a variety of ruthless and Draconian measures including ridicule, demonization of "pedophiles," public disgrace, imprisonment, and "therapy." Because of these punitive arrangements and attitudes, both men and boys who participate together in sexual activities are exposed to a variety of possible injuries.
Mr. Byrd sits in prison and asks himself whether he has committed a crime against an objective moral order as well as against the state. After all only bad consequences have flowed from his action.
Question: Was he guilty?
[Newsletter E 8]