Proposing, Veiling and Prosecuting Thoughtcrime

January 24th, 2009 by The Administrator

[Reposted from ATC]

In George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four the government attempts to control not only the speech and actions, but also the thoughts of its subjects, labelling disapproved thoughts with the term thoughtcrime or, in Newspeak, “crimethink”. In the book, Winston Smith, the main character, writes in his diary: “Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime is death.”

In this post, I will present three very real news stories and assess whether in my opinion they constitute thoughtcrime. For the purpose of this article, I will define thoughtcrimes as crimes convicted with laws and/or rationales entailing explicit and deliberate prejudice against the thought processes of a defendant. I do not deny that in reality many child porn convictions are based on faulty rationalisations, leaving no arguable rationale other than thoughtcrime.

1. Concerns over Exeter porn charge man.

“Mr Bennett told the court that other “material” was found at the defendant’s home when it was searched by police. “These images have to be seen against the fact there is clear evidence they are fuelling some very unlawful fantasies,” he said. “This is borne out by the fact that there are artefacts fuelling these fantasies, although fantasies are as far as they go.”"

The prosecutor is suggesting that the defendant’s fantasies are illegal in and of themselves. But as anyone well studied enough in British Law will tell you, there is no law on the statute that can be legitimately used against pedophilic fantasies. Whether through his own stupidity or opportunism, the prosecutor is therefore talking rubbish. It can therefore be concluded that what we are seeing here is a proposed thoughtcrime, and one from a biased, non legislative source at that.

2. Pervert had sick baby fantasy.

“A PERVERT has been jailed for four years for fantasising about kidnapping and raping a baby before strangling it. (…) Lloyd told how he wanted to steal a baby, rape and strangle it before burning the body to destroy DNA evidence. (…) Mr Roberts said: “Lloyd admitted what he said – but said it was stupid fantasy talk and he never meant it. “He told police he had downloaded sexual images and films on to his girlfriend’s computer from the internet but had deleted them.” Lloyd was sentenced to four years in prison for threats to kill and downloading child pornography.”

Whilst Lloyd’s fantasies are sadistic and fundamentally non-pedophilic, they form an important part of our analysis. Despite his suicidal admission to downloading child pornography, Lloyd was also convicted for threats to kill. One can only assume that whilst there was no solid evidence that Lloyd threatened any particular child or was about to victimise one at random, the court nevertheless convicted the “pedophile” with extreme prejudice. This case can not be described as statutory or explicit thoughtcrime due to the good intentions of the law used to convict and the justification given for using it. However, the conviction may be better characterised as a phantom thoughtcrime – not explicitly stated, but implicit in the prejudices of those who lawyered for it.

3. Judge refuses to reduce 48-year prison sentence.

“A Champaign County judge refused Friday to reduce the 48-year prison sentence of a former Urbana teacher convicted of child molestation. (…) Clem sentenced White in early April on eight counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse to which White pleaded guilty in February. White admitted that he had eight blindfolded girls, about ages 7 to 9, lick sauces off a banana for his own sexual gratification (…) Olmstead argued 48 years was excessive given that the offenses did not involve actual sexual contact, that White never threatened or intimidated the girls, and that his conduct didn’t cause or threaten physical harm. “The acts were made criminal because of what was in his mind, something they couldn’t know,” he said of the victims who played White’s “tasting game.” (…) “Teachers should be safeguarding children in their care. They (children) certainly shouldn’t be reduced to bit players in someone’s sexual fantasies,” the judge said.”

This case differs markedly from the one above. Whilst the charge (sexual abuse) is again, not specifically tailored towards the conviction of thoughts, it is very clear that through the “pedophilic gaze” of the prosecution and judge, White’s thoughts modified a harmless, non-criminal tasting game into an abusive “sexual act”. In deciding whether this case should be described as an explicit thoughtcrime, we may ask ourselves whether there really is anything implicit about redefining “acts” as criminal based on the thought processes of a defendant. On that consideration, only one conclusion is appropriate. From this case alone, we can say that explicit thoughtcrime is alive and well in the United States of America.

One Response to “Proposing, Veiling and Prosecuting Thoughtcrime”

  1. Steve Diamond Says:

    Case #1…

    …I’ve never herd of an “unlawful fantasy”, ever before. That sounds like a license to abduct and lock away, anyone you please.

    Case #3 is very alarming.

    Redefining activities, in order to force a successful prosecution [and potentially locking someone away for the rest of their life], is the sort of behavior which should be a crime, in and of itself.

    This is a very dangerous path, because if a case like that is allowed to stand [though it will probably be overturned, eventually], simply finding yourself in the presence of a child, when you are a child lover, and getting involuntarily aroused, could be prosecuted…if anyone found out.

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