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I hope they burn.
August 7, 2005 7:40 PM   Subscribe

"A distressing example of the breakdown of moral and social values . . ." 62 of the 66 accused were convicted and sentenced in France's largest child sex abuse case to date. From 1999 to 2002, 45 children in Angers, aged 6 months to 12 years, were prostituted by their own families in exchange for as little as a carton of cigarettes. Most of the families were monitored by social workers and reports of abuse began in 1999, but an in-depth investigation did not begin until three years later.

Each next news article reveals more horrifying details. Three children were raped by over forty adults; parents would be ". . . smoking cigarettes in the next room while men raped their children and the children were crying". And ". . . one girl was forced to perform oral sex so often that she cannot eat in the company of adults".

It can take a lifetime to recover from being raped once. A nine-year-old who's been raped by forty people, including her parents and grandfather? I pray her psychologist is better than her family's social worker.
posted by schroedinger (64 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
There's a special place in hell for people like this...

...and it's not hot enough.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 7:44 PM on August 7, 2005


Thank you for sharing the links to the story. While it articulates horrors of the human soul that can be difficult to take, it is right that the story should be read and widely known. Death is too kind for these people.
posted by infini at 7:49 PM on August 7, 2005


"Patricia, who is accused of cruelty and admits procuring her own and other children for paedophile acts, was asked by Franck's lawyer what she saw as her failings as mother. She answered: 'I was not great at cleaning, and I smoke.' "
"The 45 alleged victims are children aged from six months to 12 years old. The accused are their mothers, fathers, grandfathers, aunts and uncles. Last week at Angers assizes court, it took three days for four clerks to read out the 430-page charge sheet against the 39 men and 27 women. The charges include abusing 26 girls and 19 boys during at least 100 orgies, some of which included sado-masochistic sex games.

Marine - not her real name - was mentioned time and again. From the age of seven, she was allegedly raped by her grandfather, Philippe, now 59, her father, Franck, and two dozen others. Franck, a 36-year-old former drifter, and his wife, Patricia, 32, allegedly prostituted Marine, her younger sister, Inès, and their little brother, Vincent, in return for small amounts of money and cartons of cigarettes."
Oy. This is a very very sad story. One can only hope that the kids are slowly improving. You have to worry for their minds in the future though.
posted by peacay at 8:16 PM on August 7, 2005


my God...the things we do to each other...

.
posted by amberglow at 8:28 PM on August 7, 2005


These articles make it sound like a solid case, but I can't help thinking about the McMartin Preschool incident.
posted by footnote at 8:45 PM on August 7, 2005


This is really interesting, the last article I read points to a multi-generational aspect. I wonder how this will change a country with traditionally liberal views on sex and trans-generational relationships. It is my understanding that the French do not look down upon adolescent/adult relationships (post-puberty) as much as the USA.

While I always held this as somewhat more sane, as if 18 was some magical barrier that had to be crossed, I'm wondering if this lax attitude actually fosters such behavior. It goes against my own thinking, but it is something that should at least be examined.

I also found it interesting that they would put the poor in wealthy neighborhoods to even things out. This is a terrible, terrible idea as it doesn't necessarily promote pedophilia obviously, but the desire to maintain the same economic stance as your neighbor might have been a strong factor in the severity of this case.

In fact this whole article raises a lot of interesting points about France and the culture that I just wasn't aware of. It even points out the French were quite surprised at the presence of the so-called underclass.
posted by geoff. at 8:57 PM on August 7, 2005


I agree, I hope they burn as well ... but not before they are sent to prison and hopefully some there will give them the same treatment they served upon those poor children.
posted by ang6666 at 9:03 PM on August 7, 2005


I agree footnote. The sheer magnitude of the accusations makes it seem almost unbelievable. If true, it is a tragedy beyond comprehension, yet . . . ?
posted by caddis at 9:04 PM on August 7, 2005


geoff, I don't think you can extrapolate anything about the culture of such a diverse nation as France from a few dozen idiots.

America has its scum too (the polygamists who marry 13-year-olds against their wills in Utah, for instance), but it wouldn't be accurate to judge the entire country by those examples.

These were sick individuals. They could have existed anywhere. In fact, there probably are similar horrific abuses going on in every country on earth.
posted by watsondog at 9:04 PM on August 7, 2005


When I read stories like this, I usually suspect that things like this have gone on for a long, long time in society, but only recently have we begun to take it seriously and drag it out into the open. People seem to have a strangely rose colored view of the past, seeing it as society composed of polite, considerate individuals instead of the nasty bunch of bastards we used to be. I think stories like this, instead of being a "A distressing example of the breakdown of moral and social values", are in fact an example that we are rapidly becoming more enlightened, and doing a lot more to protect the powerless and the vulnerable than we used to. And thank God for that. It's horrifying that this happened, but imagine how horrifying it would be if no one had stopped it...
posted by freedryk at 9:12 PM on August 7, 2005 [1 favorite]


watsondog, while of course the French people and their culture were not the cause of this, the fact this is so large makes me wonder what failed. Even the French authorities seem to be putting some of the blame on the law enforcement. A prostitution ring as large as this did not happen because of just a few invididuals. This seemed to be going on over multiple generations and over the much larger community.

Whether its the lack of acknowledgement that such atrocities exist in "our neighborhood" or something else, I'm sure the French will figure it out.
posted by geoff. at 9:14 PM on August 7, 2005


while of course the American people and their culture were not the cause of this, the fact this is so large makes me wonder what failed. Even the American authorities seem to be putting some of the blame on the law enforcement. A prostitution ring as large as this did not happen because of just a few invididuals. This seemed to be going on over multiple generations and over the much larger community.
posted by raaka at 9:30 PM on August 7, 2005


Concerns about the awful McMartin case are understandable, I think, but I also think there've been more than enough credible reports of child sex markets, not to mention strong suspicions of official cover-ups, to convince anyone that this kind of organized horror does indeed happen, despite the occasional hysterical prosecution. This Christian Science Monitor article from last year offers similar stories from Belgium, Portugal and the Czech/German border:

Well-known personalities are a key element of another pedophile scandal elsewhere in Europe. Portugal has been traumatized by a case brought to light a year ago in which two top TV personalities, the spokesman for the opposition Socialist party and a former ambassador, have been charged with abusing children from state-run homes for orphans and disabled youngsters.

The government announced last year, after children from the Casa Pia homes had been examined, that 128 of them - mostly deaf-mutes - showed physical signs of repeated abuse...

It is still unclear, however, how the abuse continued for so long. A former minister of family affairs, Teresa Costa Macedo, admitted to parliament last year that she had known about it since 1982, when she sent evidence to the police that was never investigated, she said. She kept silent for 20 years, she claimed, because of death threats...

The secrecy that surrounded events at Casa Pia is strikingly absent, however, at the border between Germany and the Czech Republic, where social workers have watched German and other foreign men buy sex from impoverished children for several years, according to a report released last October by UNICEF.

"The commercial sexual exploitation of children in the German-Czech border districts began to flourish in 1996 and has increased substantially in the years since," the report said. "A key reason for the increasing demand is that larger numbers of sex tourists specifically request children."

posted by mediareport at 9:53 PM on August 7, 2005


These articles make it sound like a solid case, but I can't help thinking about the McMartin Preschool incident.

It's an understandable skepticism. On the other hand, this seems — sadly — more plausible to me, in that the overwhelming majority of child sexual abuse is performed or facilitated by family members. I have a feeling that this sort of thing is much more common than we would like to acknowledge and that most such cases are never discovered; and that, of those that are, few are prosecuted and fewer still publicized to this extent.

Also, what freedryk said.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 10:03 PM on August 7, 2005


Guillotine.
posted by buzzman at 10:06 PM on August 7, 2005


I don't know why I keep on living... it sometimes seems like my life has been one long trend of optimism and hope getting chipped away by the realities of human beings. Instead of seeing the universe as having a long moral arc towards justice, I see what freedryk sees, but with less rose-tinted lenses: that we're despicable creatures of hurt and pain and loathing and we've been doing this shit since before we walked upright.

We're all crazy, we're all psychopaths so narcissistic, so self-centered and overwhelmed by our own drives and desires that nothing, absolutely nothing, can dim the destructive flares in our hearts. And we've all learned how to say the right things, to make us all believe the shared lie that none of use are like these people- except we are in our own twisted ways, our own personal hates and angers. Maybe you don't fuck kids, but maybe you shoot daggers of pure loathing out of your eyes when some bastard cuts you off in traffic, or when you're hurt emotionally by someone you [thought] you loved, and feel that your hurt should equate to the destructions of someone or something in response, or when someone with diametrically opposing political views opens their trap and you wanna cram your fist down there. Or maybe you dream up elaborate punishments for the people involved in this, because your blood lust must be sated, because you are a worthy arbiter of universal justice.

Don't pretend we aren't all like that, crazy in our own way. We're all nuts, all crazy. It's being human, and it's ugly.

I guess I can see where the Buddhists are coming from: we all seem to be slaves to the basest impulses of our limbic systems, and all that ooze and sludge just bubbles up through our forebrains to get a sheen of presentability and higher language functions over what is, still, ooze and sludge.

This case is no exception, and we're all somewhat guilty: those who did this, as well as those not directly involved who still stand by, honestly and vigorouslying say that there's no point in trying to make healthier societies; so blithely ignoring correlations of poverty, poor health care, or poor education in creating situations like this.

We're just awful, awful, creatures. And no, there is no redeeming characteristics in us. :(
posted by hincandenza at 10:16 PM on August 7, 2005


Of course, the well-off bastards who were their "clients" will never be brought to trial. That would "uncivilized".

And hincandenza, take heart: I might be a waste of skin and breath, but I haven't raped any toddlers -- and most of us reading this thread can honestly say the same. So as a species we're not as bad as all that. (Probably not even you.)
posted by davy at 10:29 PM on August 7, 2005


everything changes. that's the nature of the universe. your mistake, hincandenza, is in wishing for constancy. if human beings couldn't fall down like this, we'd have no dimension. we'd be boring gods. it's because people can be horrible that there is real meaning in the great goodness that people also sometimes show.
posted by muppetboy at 10:42 PM on August 7, 2005


Of course, I wonder if its true, and not some symptom of a Moral Panic. From what I understand, these false accusations of pedophilia involved a lot more then one incident.

It's also possible that while some of these things happened, other children were perhaps pressured into saying things that weren't true by the prosecutors.

I also agree with freedryk, In the past, this sort of thing would have been more common, I'd bet. Oh well.
posted by delmoi at 10:43 PM on August 7, 2005


"as a species we're not as bad as all that"

who could judge us as a species? if any life form on this planet other than ourselves were to judge us, wouldn't we be considered a genocidal plague?
posted by muppetboy at 10:47 PM on August 7, 2005


I've studied just about every kind of human mental pathology, but this is just fucking crazy.

Somehow when I first chanced upon the news, I assumed that it must have taken place long ago and they were trying the few remaining perpetrators. Something like this, on so broad a scale, has to either change your mind about (cold-blooded) mob mentality, or human nature itself.

Don't pretend we aren't all like that, crazy in our own way. We're all nuts, all crazy. It's being human, and it's ugly.

The problem I have is explaining why 40 adults, found in the same place and time, behaved like this. The problem you have is explaining everyone else.
posted by dreamsign at 11:06 PM on August 7, 2005


dreamsign, what's new about this? witness the stanford prison experiment, jane elliott's work or the third reich. it's all about what's going to be considered normal by others. even if there's a prior conditioning to a certain way of thinking, you can condition people to do almost anything. that's "human nature"... it's totally flexible (as it must be for evolutionary reasons)... and totally open to manipulation... witness the unrecognized evil of advertising.

what's possibly more fucking crazy than even this tragedy is that we will ultimately cut down the last critical patch of rainforest that tips the earth into its final biological death spiral for this reason: to send each other educational flyers on why we should save the rainforests. /that's/ the true nature of humanity. our worst fault is not that we're evil. it's that we're too stupid to survive ourselves. in the end, things will self-correct. without us.
posted by muppetboy at 11:27 PM on August 7, 2005


> I can't help thinking about the McMartin Preschool incident.

The McMartin testimony was so bizzare that it shouldn't
have ever been allowed to fly without additional corroborating
evidence.

This story, on the other hand, fits a pattern that's repeated
over and over again. Plus they have polaroids and videotape.
What more do you need?

Do try and avoid being so open minded that your brain falls
out.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:38 PM on August 7, 2005


muppetboy: everything changes. that's the nature of the universe. your mistake, hincandenza, is in wishing for constancy. if human beings couldn't fall down like this, we'd have no dimension. we'd be boring gods. it's because people can be horrible that there is real meaning in the great goodness that people also sometimes show.

How condescending (and how opposed to the things you said in this thread just after this). Yes, the whole "human beings must sin to show how good the good is by comparison" thing is worn out and tired. We all realized that ages ago, man. It's the downhill slide when you realized the good is virtually non-existent in the world, that it's absolutely overwhelmed by the evil, be it banal or monstrous.

My point is not that people have grey shades, it's that I believe everyone is fundamentally evil at heart, and capable of the evil we see on display here- a notion at once obvious and utterly demoralizing. A point you then made for me repeatedly in this thread.
posted by hincandenza at 12:19 AM on August 8, 2005


Humans. Minds so complex, they can twist against their own offspring, or rise above their own selfish interest--Sometimes, for nothing more than an ideal.

Our capacity for either must never be forgotten.
posted by Goofyy at 12:27 AM on August 8, 2005


People suck.
posted by nightchrome at 12:31 AM on August 8, 2005


what's new about this? witness the stanford prison experiment...

You're talking to the wrong person about this, muppetboy.
That is, I know something about these topics.

Standford (and I'm surprised you didn't mention Milgrim) demonstrate specific aspects of human behaviour, not free-ranging behaviour in society. Is it easy to manipulate a group of people into behaving badly? Yes. (and that *was* surprising at the time) But these people weren't given roles to play. Nor was there some overarching manipulative/threatening presence like the T.R. example of yours. I'm not surprised that people are thinking of historical hoax (or hysteria) examples, not because this story is especially doubtful, but because naturally occurring (non-mob) group mentality like this usually involves a kind of hysteria. This is something else. Much more like a domestic abuse situation, where those involved begin to experience a warped sense of reality within the confined space of their life. Except that this occurred within a community, and the fact that, for a time, there were no effective dissenters, no anonymous informants, even, is actually genuinely surprising.

It's easy to play the unimpressed cynic. That doesn't show an especially profound sense of human understanding, either.
posted by dreamsign at 12:51 AM on August 8, 2005


hincandenza, there are far more examples of positive, beneficient behaviour than there are evil ones, on a daily basis. But they don't make the 6 o'clock news.

Truly *selfless* behaviour is hard to come by, but positive behaviour abounds still.

If my city, today, has 100 murders, it will surprise police.
The fact that a city of this size, given its population evolved for a different life altogether, sandwiched in like ants, doesn't produce a hundred murders every day surprises me.
posted by dreamsign at 12:55 AM on August 8, 2005


It is my understanding that the French do not look down upon adolescent/adult relationships (post-puberty) as much as the USA [...] I'm wondering if this lax attitude actually fosters such behavior.

There's no denying that stories like this are rare in the US; however, it does seem that in God's America a child is more likely to be abducted and killed in the course of a rape, so...
posted by Davenhill at 1:23 AM on August 8, 2005


What you suggest is neither obvious nor correct, as far as I'm concerned. Although it's understandable that you might lose faith in Man based on an event like this (or a dozen others that spring to mind), Mankind is not "fundamentally evil at heart". Our world is more complex than that. The /capacity/ for evil - great or small - is not evidence of The Black Heart of Mankind. It's LIFE.

And I don't see the connection between my observation that mankind is a plague on the Earth and/or too stupid to survive himself and your belief that Man is Evil. Man does not mean to be a plague on the Earth. That would be evil. He just wants to pick up a cold 6 pack in his Hummer down at the 7-11 so he can catch that Friends re-run. Or whatever it is this week...

I think Mankind is neither good nor evil, he's Tabula Rasa for the most part... and even his limitless stupidity has upsides. If you'd stop taking everything so seriously, you'd realize that all his flaws also make Mankind funny, charming, loveable, sad, tragically beautiful and endlessly entertaining.

Life is not some great battle between Good and Evil where the object is to eliminate Evil. That's an ignorant and childish reduction of something sublime. We are not in Hell. We are just in Heck. Life is not so serious and Mankind is no more built to last forever than you or I.

Think of life as involuntary performance art. You've been cast in a role that you didn't ask to play. You can either spend your time on Earth hating Life and dividing things up into categories, or you can do the smart thing, which is to give in and participate. Yes, you should try to be Good. Yes, you should fight evil. But you cannot fully suceed at either. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Add a chapter. Be free. Move. Dance. Love. But above all: stop thinking so much. Thinking might reduce stupidity, but it will not eliminate Evil.
posted by muppetboy at 1:32 AM on August 8, 2005


"Nor was there some overarching manipulative/threatening presence"

what about the group itself? don't you think it constituted an implied threat to anyone who knew about it (most especially the participants)? it sounds like cult behavior to me. think about it. if a bunch of people would do this to /children/ without any kind of internal dissent... what does that say about the capabilities of the members and especially of the ringleader? it must have been a very tight cult that grew one person at a time. and since these people are obviously operating outside the boundaries of civilization, i'd imagine them capable of literally /anything/. not threatening? i can scarcely think of anything more scary than these individuals.
posted by muppetboy at 1:55 AM on August 8, 2005


.
posted by nj_subgenius at 4:11 AM on August 8, 2005


I'm French, and during the trial, I would read testimony extracts in Liberation. What really struck me, is that the perpetrators were far from being regular joes who somehow slipped out of social norms. The majority of the accused had been repeatedly raped and beaten as kids, were illiterate, could barely understand the prosecution questions, some were downright retarded, and it was clear some did not even comprehend their acts, the trial or even the charges brought against them. From their confused statements, you could tell they had a different way of understanding family, sex, authority, all the social structures that allow society to exist. It's actually pretty amazing that they went about their sick ways , undetected for years, as I seriously doubt anyone meeting one of the accused would fail to notice something very disturbing about them. (And that's one of the sore points, they had been monitored by social services for years before they were caught. It seems social workers warned the cops, but to no avail.)

In a sense, it makes it all the more pathetic and tragic, but it is chilling to witness how abuse repeats itself throught generations, and it's sickening to think that if any of the victims manage to rebuild themselves into (apparently) functioning adults, they might just perpetuate the vicious circle and inflict this ordeal on their own kids.

I'd also like to point out that this trial was quite exemplary, as French justice had to wash away the memory of a similar trial a year earlier, at Outreau, which turned out to be a complete mess for all involved...

Oh yeah: that comment about that case revealing anything about French culture: Please. Seriously.
posted by Oneirokritikos at 5:01 AM on August 8, 2005 [1 favorite]


That's a hell of an act, what do you call it?
posted by TonyRobots at 5:54 AM on August 8, 2005


Well said Oneirokritikos.

It's interesting watching all the reactions around mefi and the press - casting around for the most significant causative factor. Reduced intelligence, national societal attitudes, social worker miscommunication, poor socioeconomic status, welfare accomodation, inherent human evil, cycling of child abuse as adults....did I miss any?

What's the link?

Family.
posted by peacay at 6:02 AM on August 8, 2005


I like what Oneirokritikos said. It's almost like child abuse is its own ideology, or even species of life, struggling to survive underneath such things as religion, morality, culture and empathy.
However, my mother was beaten as a child, and she's one of the sweetest women I know; I don't know if it's because she's intelligent, or if it's another, common reaction towards being beaten.
Last but not least, I have to say I hope the parents receive rehabilitation, and not brute retribution. In an abstract way I almost have respect for their bizarre mindset; perhaps the complete objectification of a child, and a total lack of empathy towards that one being. Or it might be "reverse empathy," where the pain seen in another is translated as signs of pleasure.
All in all, I find it curious, and I think it's best if people investigate how things like this come to be, and not take the easy way out; retribution and abstinence.
posted by Citizen Premier at 6:11 AM on August 8, 2005


So as a species we're not as bad as all that. (Probably not even you.)

Question of degree. As a wise man once said "You're either part of the problem, or you're a fuckin' liar," and that applies to the whole human race.
posted by jonmc at 6:51 AM on August 8, 2005


I accept your point, Citizen Premier, but statistically abusers tend to have been abused. It is not a causative link, but it is a strong correlation that may help to explain the impulse to abuse.

I tend to agree with Oneirokritikos that in this case we are confronted with somewhat exceptional circumstances, with people not directly integrated into the broader community in which they lived. This sort of phenomenon is pretty much universal, and by no means serves as an indication of "the breakdown of moral and social values." However, one might argue that this sort of disintegration is exacerbated by the a broader loss of communal social norms, or a shift from 'Gemeinschaft' to 'Gesellschaft.' I have a strong suspicion that abuse was if any thing more common prior to the twentieth century (though the category abuse likely had a shifting referent), but this sort of disintegration- not the result of geographic isolation but urban living- is somewhat new.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 6:51 AM on August 8, 2005


You know, it just occurred to me that this has the proportions of a witch trial, and maybe some of the aspects as well. I'm sure there's truth behind it, but maybe some innocent people are being accused as well, as the children get egged on and start to exaggerate...
Not necessarily true, but something to chew on.
posted by Citizen Premier at 6:55 AM on August 8, 2005


muppetboy: well said!!!
tonyrobots: LOL!!!
posted by dontrememberthis at 7:13 AM on August 8, 2005


Citizen Premier: Indeed. That was the Outreau scenario. Similar things must have happened time and again, but only the (relatively) pretty recent media focus on child abuse gave us the opportunity to realize the conundrum facing judicial institutions: Either the inquest gets deep to the bottom of the affair, which implies questioning the children far beyond their trust/dignity threshold, either it protects the victims and tends to sacralize a child's words, with all the pitfalls it implies - unreasonable doubt, affabulation, fantasy made reality, memory manipulation, innocents condemned... I feel like either way, the poor kids lose in the end. Way too heavy a burden to develop as a sane adult. Trials are supposed to be a catharsis for them, it has become further trauma.

Combined with an ever-increasing tendency from the Law to provide revenge for victims, families, and society at large since it is so much easier than to actually *judge* acts and people, it's no wonder the hammer falls down hard and at times indiscriminately. When faced with such an assault on so many of our basic civilized triggers (the moral horror, corruption of childhood, wounds that never heal, innocents condemned, family twisted ) , it's always easier to lash out blindly, in the hope of destroying, metaphorically, the monstrosity that lives in our hearts, as a species, and as cultures/civilizations.

(I really wish Michel Foucault was still around at times, to dissect cases like these.)

Maybe it is when our sense of compassion is so severely put to the test that it becomes our only hope of remaining a human/humane/humanist society.
posted by Oneirokritikos at 7:33 AM on August 8, 2005


This case still seems fishy to me, and the handful of essentially sensationalistic news articles in the FPP don't explain enough. 65 defendants tried in the same proceeding? The fact that many of the accused's statements were "confused"? The fact that "The children - 40 of whom are in care and five are with relatives - will not testify in open court. Videos will be shown of their testimonies"? That this is France's largest criminal trial ever? A special courtroom built just for them? Did they even all have their own defense attorneys?

The public becomes (understandably) riveted on these kinds of dramatic accusations, and is sometimes loath to have its anticipated morality play interrupted mid-reel (e.g., PeterMcDermot's cliched insult.) The Outreau case cited earlier actually makes me more suspicious. It suggests that the same kind of child sex panic exists in France as it does in America, and that the French authorities may have felt they had something to prove in the Angers case.

At the same time, children's suffering elsewhere on a massive scale fails to arouse such passions and handwringing about human nature because it's structural, not the result of an identifiable human agent. Something as simple as a bar of soap could save millions of children's lives -- why isn't that fact as breathtakingly nauseating as the accusations in this case? Answer: because there's no one we can burn in effigy in blame, and there's no sex involved.

As a side note, I do think that the "argument ad Kaycee Nicole" is sometimes overdone on MeFi. But I there are enough grounds for skepticism here that my doubt isn't just ironic posturing. I would welcome any additional facts by French speakers with legal training who can explain why trying 65 people at once before a single jury, when the chance of prejudice is so high, was justified in this case.
posted by footnote at 7:36 AM on August 8, 2005


hincandenza:
This case is no exception, and we're all somewhat guilty:

Speak for yourself. Don't go casting blame in all directions. Much as I understand the desire to hang your head when confronted with such atrocities, sloppy thinking does nothing to identify, much less address, the issues.

those who did this, as well as those not directly involved who still stand by, honestly and vigorouslying say that there's no point in trying to make healthier societies;

Who says such things? Most everyone, of every political stripe, expresses belief in the necessity of a healthy society. They differ in their definition of what such a thing would look like and in the methods they prescribe for achieving it, but the goal is common enough.

so blithely ignoring correlations of poverty, poor health care, or poor education in creating situations like this.

In this point, I agree with you. Most seem very eager to discount the influence of poverty. But poverty alone can't entirely account for such a situation. If it did, this wouldn't seem strange at all. It would be entirely common.
posted by wheat at 7:47 AM on August 8, 2005


"And no, there is no redeeming characteristics in us....
it's that I believe everyone is fundamentally evil at heart"
Whoa hincandenza. How can you recognize the
work of Buddha and not see the way out? The path is there, it just takes a bit of time (ten thousand lifetimes, often much more) and work.
In this particular lifetime, I prefer to turn the beast against itself. Monsters we are lest Monsters we become.
But I ultimately agree with Wilde - we’re all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars.

“What's the link?

Family.”

Which irritates me, peacay. Because one can do something about the child prostitution rings, the slavers. One can hunt them, One can neutralize them. What can’t be done - without truly becoming an irredemable monster - is to go into people’s homes and families and put a stop to it. That takes compassion, not fury, however righteous. And that is where most of this occurs, and ultimately where it starts.

This is one of those things that is unbelievable because it is so horrific. But all of this is based on choice. We choose to embrace and understand it or we don’t. We risk our souls and innocence in understanding but as horrible as that loss is, we can choose to end that which gives rise to it. We can choose to stop being monsters.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:07 AM on August 8, 2005


I really wish Michel Foucault was still around at times, to dissect cases like these

So do I, but given the growing hysteria surrounding the idea of childhood (especially in the United States), I have a strong suspicion his desire to historicize our ideas of 'abuse' 'pathology' and 'punishment' would go largely ignored, to the detriment of the child victims, their abusers, and the society at large.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 8:09 AM on August 8, 2005


Footnote: I have no legal training, but as I already observed, Angers was payback for the Outreau trainwreck. Loud and clear. The media demanded it, so did the outraged public. The link with justice or law? Absolutely none. Pure media frenzy, combined with seat-of-their-pants thinking by the ministry of Justice.

Dr_Johnson: Spot on. Foucault had even more impact in US universities than french ones at the time, so it's quite disheartening to see both our countries navigating so cluelessly the realms of Law, punishment, sex, power and education.
posted by Oneirokritikos at 8:26 AM on August 8, 2005


Oneirokritikos: Media frenzy and outraged public do not, in my opinion, bode well for fair legal process. Or am I misunderstanding what you meant earlier when you called this an "exemplary" trial?
posted by footnote at 8:32 AM on August 8, 2005


"If God does not exist, everything is permitted." -Dostoevsky
posted by aaronshaf at 8:34 AM on August 8, 2005


aaronshaf: (and I say this as someone who believes in God), tell that to the victims of the child abusers the Catholic Church sheltered.
posted by jonmc at 8:43 AM on August 8, 2005


I dunno, aaronshaf, your god seems pretty weak and impotent if he can't even stop a bunch of aging child molestors from fucking little kids.
posted by cmonkey at 8:53 AM on August 8, 2005


Footnote: I was indeed being ironic. Sad state of affairs for the judicial system :(
posted by Oneirokritikos at 9:12 AM on August 8, 2005


That's a hell of an act, what do you call it?

Am I going to hell because I smiled at this?

I wonder when we will see The Aristocrats: The Reality Show

Don't laugh. FOX would pay good money for this.

what about the group itself? don't you think it constituted an implied threat to anyone who knew about it (most especially the participants)? it sounds like cult behavior to me. think about it.

Exactly!

if a bunch of people would do this to /children/ without any kind of internal dissent... what does that say about the capabilities of the members and especially of the ringleader?

In a lot of cases, mob mentality doesn't even need a ringleader. Beyond a certain point, and sometimes even from the start, self-organized systems don't need a powerful leader. These systems just arise from the collective activity of the group. If the boundaries are pushed, little by little, by anonymous individual members of the group, the group consensus can drift pretty far from usual social norms.

As it clearly did in this case.
posted by theorique at 9:37 AM on August 8, 2005


and I think it's best if people investigate how things like this come to be, and not take the easy way out; retribution and abstinence

Why not both (substituting rehibilitation for retribution)?

If a manufacturing process (society) creates a defective product (individuals) then you fix the product (rehabilitation) and the process. If the product is unfixable, you can remove it from circulation (incarceration / institutionalization) or destroy it (execution).

Both product and process should always be corrected.
posted by Bort at 9:46 AM on August 8, 2005


Why is it that Scores of borderline retarded, poor illiterates get prosecuted to the fullest extent, but the Catholic priests just keep on rolling?
posted by Megafly at 10:24 AM on August 8, 2005


"aaronshaf: (and I say this as someone who believes in God), tell that to the victims of the child abusers the Catholic Church sheltered."

The argument whether Dostoevsky actually said "If God does not exist, everything is permitted" aside, and the dogmatic Judeo Christian knee jerk definition of "God" aside, and the morality argument aside, and the issue that it wasn't Dostoevsky actually espousing the view, but Ivan from The Brothers Karamazov who espouses this view - more or less only intellectually - while other characters take it much more seriously which causes lots of evil - there is the existentialist idea there in Dostoevsky's work - et. al (I'm thinking Sartre) that man is nothing else but that which he makes of himself.

Which is relevent and which, in quoting Dostoevsky over say Bible scripture, may be where aaronschaf was headed. If not, still worthy of consideration.

Asking (philosophically) about these people's lack of connection with God is also questioning their connection to the rest of society. Clearly, they were not connected. Also clearly, that would be part of the problem.

Of course, all this is predicated on the facts of the case being consistent with reality - which has been adequately questioned upthread.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:18 AM on August 8, 2005


The IHT has reported that the jury deliberated for a week -- that boils down to one hour per defendant, at most.
posted by footnote at 11:23 AM on August 8, 2005


Yeah, here we go:

"The existentialist, on the contrary, finds it extremely embarrassing that God does not exist, for there disappears with Him all possibility of finding values in an intelligible heaven. There can no longer be any good a priori, since there is no infinite and perfect consciousness to think it. Dostoevsky once wrote: “If God did not exist, everything would be permitted”; and that, for existentialism, is the starting point. Everything is indeed permitted if God does not exist, and man is in consequence forlorn, for he cannot find anything to depend upon either within or outside himself. He discovers forthwith, that he is without excuse. For if indeed existence precedes essence, one will never be able to explain one’s action by reference to a given and specific human nature; in other words, there is no determinism. "

http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/sartre/works/exist/sartre.htm

(excepting - again - Dostoevsky didn't say it)
posted by Smedleyman at 11:25 AM on August 8, 2005


Ah... I love marxists.org. Although it really has moved past that nomenclature.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 11:38 AM on August 8, 2005


Jeff Wells has covered stories like this from time to time on his blog, other than that I just have no words.
posted by hortense at 1:28 PM on August 8, 2005


Just finished reading Oliver Twist, which deals with similar themes in 1830s London. Child prostitution, child sex abuse, etc.. freedryk's comment was pretty good.
posted by stbalbach at 1:37 PM on August 8, 2005


The first thing I'd thought of when reading this was Big Black's Jordan, Minnesota.
Also wasn't too sure about bringing it up, but maybe it's appropriate, maybe not. Everyone in Jordan was aquitted but I'm sure a spectre remains.
"...and then they grow up and they have babies and like i said, you don't think about it because you go crazy."
posted by Zack_Replica at 6:01 PM on August 8, 2005


Here's what one source has to say about Jordan:

"In the Minnesota case all of the charges were eventually dismissed against the parents, and the only person found guilty was a trash collector, James Rud. Ultimately, it was learned that Rud had begun the hysteria by "cooperating" with the prosecutor by giving her the names of those involved in the "sex ring" which she was certain existed, in a swap for a plea bargain deal for Rud. Most of the public is still unaware of this. The public is also largely unaware that the prosecutor, Kathleen Morris, was found guilty of malfeasance after investigations by the FBI and special task force appointed by the Attorney General of Minnesota. She was later voted out of office."
posted by footnote at 8:18 PM on August 8, 2005


very very unfortunate
posted by amberglow at 8:29 PM on August 8, 2005


footnote - yes. From my second link "By all accounts, although there probably was some abuse, it wasn't as bad as Steve would have us believe." I thought of the connection when I read it, be it true or no. And as for the synchronicity or happenstance or whatever you want to call it of the pic that quonsar found/took, that amberglow noted - *oooWWWWch*. You know?
Just *owch*, dammit.
posted by Zack_Replica at 11:55 PM on August 8, 2005


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